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Season Extension Early and Late
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  1. Season ExtensionEarly and Late Keith VanderVelde Marquette Ag Agent Kingston-Feb 27, 2008

  2. Methods of Season Extension • Low tech to high tech • Plasticulture • Cold frames – drip tape – high tunnels – greenhouses • Low $ to High $$$$$ • Light, water, wind, colors, bugs, benefits, temperatures, fertilizers, plastic, wood, glass and varieties

  3. Variety Selection – Days to Maturity • Easiest way to get earlier crop • May be limited on varieties • May not be best flavor as longer season crops • Earlier to market, better price • Consumer may be tolerant of smaller size/ less flavor if they are the first available

  4. Variety Selection – Days to Maturity • Easiest way to get earlier crop • May be limited on varieties • May not be best flavor as longer season crops • Earlier to market, better price • Consumer may be tolerant of smaller size/ less flavor if they are the first available

  5. Time of Harvest • Consider size of vegetable at harvest • Early red potatoes • Small pickling cucumbers • Small summer squash • Baby carrots • Cherry tomatoes

  6. Differences Amongst Vegetables

  7. New Vegetables Swiss Chard 55 Days Arugula 42 Days Lettuce Blend 40-70 Days Spinach Mustard 35 Days

  8. Considerations with New Veggies • Growing requirements for new crop • Samples?? • Consider providing recipe cards • Suggestions for use • Information on nutrition • Engage the customer – “I bet you’ve never seen this before”

  9. Starting Seeds Plants Earlier • Light very important – quality and duration • Fan on young seedlings – helps prevent leggy plants • Temperature – daytime 60 - 70°F – nights no lower than 50°F • Size of container – prevent root bound plants • Timing – getting plants in the ground in a timely manner

  10. Lighting Considerations • Incandescent – not good for plants needs • Good for heat, day length control • Fluorescent – supplement sunlight well • Combination of cool white with warm white will provide full light spectrum • Cool white bulbs are more efficient than grow lights in providing supplemental light • High Pressure sodium and metal halide • 1/3 more efficient than fluorescent - costly

  11. Cold Frames / Hot Beds • Mini greenhouses • Old windows • Plastic film on wood frame • Rigid plastic • Hinged top needed to regulate heat

  12. Cold Frames • Don’t have to be covered • Used to harden off plants before going to field • Can use lattice or snow fence to shade plants

  13. Other Cold Frame Use • Earlier plantings of leafy greens • Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, parsley • Better in cool weather and lower light • Wintering containers – Early forcing of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and crocus • Force early spring • New markets???

  14. Other Cold Frame Use • Late Summer Seeding • Plant broccoli, pepper, spinach, lettuce • Early winter harvest • Something to market other than root vegetables and winter squash

  15. Heating Cable Hole 6 inches deep Lay cable Cover with sand Manure 10 inch deep hole Add horse or chicken manure Cover with window screen Cover with soil Hot Beds

  16. Shade Houses • Propagation of woody cuttings – some perennials • In containers or in ground bed • Misting may be needed • Finishing/conditioning plants – from greenhouse before field planting

  17. Row Covers • Flexible transparent material • Perforated plastic, spunbonded polyester – polypropylene • Floating or supported by hoops • Can cover one or more rows • Trap heat of day – warm air and soil • Wind protection, less moisture loss • May be insect barrier depending on type • Think of crop needs when deciding on type of row cover – temperature needs, pollination, growth habit

  18. Supported Row Covers • Also Called Low Tunnels • Can use PVC pipe, heavy wire • More labor needed • Support needed for crops such as tomato, pepper and summer squash • Weed control needed between rows

  19. Low Tunnels

  20. Floating Row Covers • Spunbound polyester or polypropylene • 70 – 80% light, air and water transmission • Placed directly on crop • 0.5 – 1.25oz. /sq yard • Covers under 0.5oz. – very little heat retention • Over 1.75oz. Significant light reduction • 2° - 4° frost protection in spring, more protection in fall

  21. Floating Row Covers • For large covers weigh down centers to prevent damage with high winds • Insect control may improve • Maggot control • Squash bug control • Remember needs for pollination • Don’t trap insect pests – CPB • 2-6 weeks earlier depending on local conditions

  22. Floating Row Cover

  23. Zip Houses • Mini greenhouse • Ability to easier regulate temperature, light and ventilation • Frost protection down to 26° • Open and close easily from end of row • Reusable for 2-3 seasons

  24. Zip Houses • Protects from heavy rains, heavy winds and small hail • 20-30” wide and 21-25” tall • Cut to any length – strings stay ready to pull • 500’ roll $158 + S&H

  25. Zip House Opened Several hundred feet opened with one string pull No dirt moved when opening Opens in seconds Allows pollination Can be sprayed thru open top Zip House Closed Release strings at end of row Closed in seconds Double layer walls Protects from wind, rains and blowing soil Much earlier growth Zip Houses

  26. Colored Plastic Mulches

  27. Plastic Mulches • Used for years in vary colors • Advantages – increased yields, earlier crops, higher quality, weed control and enhanced insect management • Work well with drip irrigation • High value crops – melons, tomatoes, peppers cucumbers, squash, eggplant ………………. • Many considerations for color

  28. Plastic Mulches 2 • Colors – black, white, clear, white on black, red, green, silver reflecting, blue-green, brown, yellow, ect. • Red and black raise soil temps comparably • Blue-green and brown warm soil like clear without weed problem • Red, blue, yellow, gray and orange have distinct optical characteristics and reflect different radiation pattern into the crop

  29. Plastic Mulches 3 • Blue and green plastic increased root:shoot ratios in turnips • Yellow, red and blue increased green peach aphids • Yellow attracted cucumber beetles • Silver repels certain aphid species and reduces or delays virus in summer squash • White or grey may require herbicide for weed control

  30. Mulch Color and Tomatoes • Penn State Study – ‘Sunbeam’ ‘Mountain Supreme’ • Best yields on black – worst on green infra-red thermal • Blue, silver and brown reduced fruit sizes • Varieties differ in response to same colors • Colors affect microclimate in variety of ways • Reflected wavelengh, temperature, moisture, humidity, insects and diseases

  31. Mistakes in Plasticulture • Lack of firm uniform bed – hot air funneling • Loose plastic – can cover transplants, wind • Poorly placed irrigation tape – plant health, cut tape when planting • Failure to operate drip system immediately after planting • Not monitoring temperatures • Not calibrating fertilizer injectors/rates • Not removing row cover from cucurbit crops during pollination

  32. Hoop Houses • High tunnel • Many manufacturers • Build your own • Anchored in ground • Many heights/lengths • Some large enough for tractors • Sides and ends for ventilation

  33. Crops • Anything high value • Anything with early season premium • Fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, etc • Keep a crop later in the season – extend harvest • Starting plants earlier • Wind protection / temp modification over winter – nursery plants, perennials and herbs

  34. Dan Mielke – tomatoes, peppers and cukes Penn State Research Facility

  35. Hoop Houses • Selling fresh local tomatoes in June • Give you months of extra hours in a growing season • Cultivating spinach and leafy greens year round

  36. High Tunnel Houses

  37. High Tunnel Houses

  38. High Tunnel Houses

  39. Benefits • Extending cropping season • August/September seeding – spinach, broccoli, other greens • Harvest until December • Limited by sunlight w/out supplemental light • Mulch with straw and harvest root crops throughout winter

  40. 20 x 96 foot tunnel 4 rows tomatoes 2 rows of peppers 1 row of cucumbers Yields 4,500 lbs of tomatoes 13 bu of peppers 300 lbs of cucumber Cost of tunnel - $2000 Sales > $5000 One Growers Experience

  41. Outside Tunnel Inside Tunnel

  42. Strawberry Crop • Started on 4/15/03 by lowering sides • Temperature monitoring critical • Use floating row cover on cold nights • Picking started on 6/1/03 – tunnel • 6/11/03 – plastic mulch with row cover • 6/26/03 – berries without mulch or row cover • Berries were sweeter, cleaner, less distorted, larger • Tunnel vs no-tunnel from 200 – 380 % increase in yield

  43. Strawberry Varieties • Early Glow – 200% increase in tunnel • Honeoye – 380% increase in tunnel • Jewel – 330% increase in tunnel

  44. Raspberry Crop • Fall berries • First ripe berries inside or out September 26 • October 1st outside crop froze • Tunnel berries produced until November 2 • Let berries freeze because of extended cold weather • Too costly to heat for amount of sales

  45. Other Considerations • Diseases and rotation • Moving hoop houses • Drainage around tunnels

  46. Simple Hoophouse • Simple to Build • Frame of plastic or metal pipe • Anchored by ground posts • Open ends • Ventilation important • Doors, sidewalls other vents

  47. Classic A-Frame • Very easy construction • Steep roof sheds snow • Limited space (no room for benches) • Growing space for tall plants • Ventilation important • Can have second layer of plastic on inside

  48. Gothic Arch • Can be portable or anchored to foundation • Curved walls shed snow • Inexpensive • Lets in lots of light

  49. Modified A-Frame • Steep roof for shedding snow • Sits on frame of 4x4 posts + insulation • More headroom • Room for benches – storage underneath • Roof Vents • Can use triple wall plastic panels for more insulation