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Monday, March 10, 2014
I hope this message finds you all well. This is the first weekly fruit and vegetable crop update for 2014.
1. 4 inch soil temp ( Monmouth): 28.6 degrees F.
2. Percentage of normal seedlings produced at cold temps. Obviously, little to nothing is being direct seeded outdoors ( other than high tunnels). For perspective, at 33 degrees F we would expect leaf lettuce to germinate but it would take 49 days to achieve 98% germination! Lettuce and spinach are growing in our area's high tunnels. If you don't have a season extension plan, take a visit to a grower doing so. You will be impressed at what is growing.
3. Wait on the mulch. When you do get plants in to the high tunnel, consider waiting on using a mulch of any type right now in order to take advantage of the solar gain you can achieve without the mulch. Be sure to get the row covered in time to not lose the heat produced during the day.
4. What are the garlic prospects this year? It is too soon to have any real feel for answering this question. I will, however, give some thoughts. Although this past winter was extremely cold and soils have been frozen (hard) for a long time, we should have a successful garlic crop if you planted in a timely manner last year..hopefully Halloween through Nov 15. This would give the bulbs enough time to establish a root system and convert the water in their cells to sugar (the antifreeze of garlic). Also, if you kept the plants mulched well. We have had good snow cover and that helps insulate as well. We will really know about survival in the next few weeks. More to come.
5. Thinking ahead. Have your shade fabric ordered and ready to go. The fabric can be placed on the high tunnel when the ambient (outside) air temperatures exceed a maximum of 85°F for tomatoes and peppers. Pollen formation in peppers is reduced at temperatures above 85°F. Shade fabric will reduce sunscald of peppers and increase marketable yield.