42 articles tagged "Crop Culture".

Figure 1. Strawberries were covered with straw mulch and row cover. Picture were taken in Jan. 9 2018.

Although strawberry plants can be quite cold hardy, they need protection to survive the winter. In North Carolina, growers use floating row covers to protect strawberries in the winter. In Indiana, straw mulch is a more traditional way of winter protection for strawberries grown in a matted row system. After two relatively mild winters in 2015 and 2016, I heard successful stories about growing strawberries with the plasticulture system and using row covers for winter protection in Southern Indiana. Can the system also be successful in a colder winter, like the one that just passed? Our ongoing strawberry study will provide the answer. This article provides an update from this project comparing strawberries covered with straw mulch (about 4-inch thick) and row covers (two layers of 1.5-oz/yard2 row cover laid on wire hoops) this past winter (Figure 1). Temperature Between Dec. 27 to Jan. 6, we had the coldest nights[Read More…]


Figure 2. Plants died in the second day after average soil temperature was 54 °F

Growers start to plant tomatoes in unheated high tunnels around the end of March in southern Indiana. Around that time, there may still be a few light frosts, or even heavier ones, like the one we just experienced in the past week. With additional help from row covers inside of high tunnels, temperatures normally can be maintained above 32°F. Tomatoes typically do not have problems with the short-term low temperatures. However, this may not be the case for cucumbers. Although they are both warm season crops, Cucurbits (cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelons) are much more cold sensitive than Solanaceous crops (tomato, pepper). From a temperature perspective, this article discusses important considerations for deciding the time for planting cucumbers in a high tunnel. The best condition to grow cucumbers is when soil temperatures are above 70°F. This situation may not happen until the middle of May inside of the high tunnels, according to our[Read More…]


On January 1, products containing >6.5% dicamba and an agriculture use label are now restricted use pesticides. In order to purchase these herbicides, buyers must carry a private or commercial pesticide applicator license. While dicamba herbicides have been on the market for over 50 years to control broadleaf weeds, the recent development of dicamba resistant soybeans has given soybean producers a new post-emergent option for the management of herbicide resistant weeds. The new soybeans are XtendiMax® soybeans and FeXapan®, XtendiMax®, or Engenia® herbicides, all dicamba-based products can be sprayed on them. Those producers who plan to apply any of the three soybean dicamba products MUST attend a training before any of these products are applied. This is a requirement mandated by the EPA approved label. These trainings cover basic drift reduction techniques, as well as label requirements. One requirement is before application of a soybean dicamba product; producers must visit[Read More…]


A grafted tomato plant grown in a high tunnel

Awareness of tomato grafting has increased tremendously in the past years. Some growers fall in love with this technology and apply it to every tomato they grow. While others find this technology is not cost effective. The growers who have successfully adapted this technology are often small-scale, high tunnel or greenhouse growers who have mastered the grafting technique. They graft tomatoes by themselves and often can achieve a high survival rate. In this case, the added cost for grafted plants is mainly the cost of rootstock seeds, which is roughly 30-50 centers per plant. A small amount of yield increase could easily compensate for the added cost. This is particularly true for tomatoes grown in high tunnels that often sell at a higher price. In situations that farmers buy grafted plants, the cost rangs from $1 to $3 per plant. Farmers would expect a high percentage of yield increase to compensate for[Read More…]


Strawberry production in Indiana primarily utilizes matted row systems, in which bare root strawberry plants are set in the spring, fruit is first harvested in the second year and plants are maintained for a few seasons. Strawberry production using an annual plasticultural system is popular in the southern states, at where strawberry is planted in the fall and harvested in the next spring. In the annual plasticultural system, strawberries have a longer harvest period and produce fruit with better quality. Growing strawberries as an annual crop is a challenge in Indiana. This is because our short fall makes it difficult for plants to reach the desirable sizes that lead to a sufficient yield in the following spring. This impression can be changed with the use of high tunnels that provide additional heat units and moderate frost protection. In a trial conducted in a 30 ×96 high tunnel at the Southwest[Read More…]


In the past season, we tested performances of eight specialty melons grown under high tunnel, greenhouse, hydroponic, and conventional field systems. The melon varieties we have tested in our trials include Lilliput, Inspire, Sugar Cube, French Orange, Tasty Bites, Escorial, Savor, and Artemis. Many of these melon varieties are Charentais (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis). A specialty melon type with an outstanding fragrant smell. If you are wondering how to grow these specialty melons, please follow us at the Indiana Hort Congress. We will present what we have learned about growing these specialty melons under different production systems.


Figure 2. Demonstration soil solarization in a high tunnel.

Soil solarization can be used as a tool for soil disinfestation. It is accomplished by covering moist soil with transparent polyethylene film for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. During this period, soils are heated to temperatures that are lethal to many soil pathogens, nematodes and weed seeds. This summer we conducted a demonstration trial in one of the high tunnels at Southwest Purdue Ag Center. The high tunnel was divided into three parts that were covered with 6-mil plastic, 1.5-mil plastic, and no plastic. The 6-mil plastic is the old covering of the high tunnel, and the 1.5-mil plastic was purchased from a paint store. Air temperature and soil temperature at the depth of 12 inches were recorded. We saw little difference between temperatures of the soils covered with 6-mil plastic and 1.5-mil plastic, which indicated that the old coverings of high tunnels are as good as thin[Read More…]


Figure 3: The pumpkin plants in the foreground of this photos have yellow leaves.

This time of year, I receive many complaints of pumpkin plants with yellow leaves. There can be many reasons why pumpkin plants have yellow leaves. The most common reason for yellow pumpkin leaves doesn’t have anything to do with a disease that can spread from plant to plant. Usually, the reason for the yellow pumpkin leaves has to do with lack of water, weather that has been too hot, nutrient deficiency or other stresses. The photos and discussion below will, I hope, illustrate my point. Let’s say you have a pumpkin field where you have pumpkin leaves that are yellow and you are wondering about the cause. You may want to ask yourself, which leaves are yellow and where are they yellow. In Figure 1, yellow pumpkin leaves may be observed.  When one looks a bit closer to find out where the yellow leaves are, one can see that the[Read More…]


Figure 1. Tomatoes are grown under a retractable tunnel system.

Tomato foliar diseases such as early blight, Septoria leaf blight, bacterial spot and speck that are commonly seen in the field are often less common on tomatoes grown in greenhouses and high tunnels. It is also true that high tunnel tomatoes have smoother skins than tomatoes grown in the fields. An important factor that determines this difference is rainfall. Pathogens that cause foliar diseases require leaves to be wet in order for infection to occur and rely on rain for spread. In addition, heavy rains cause tomato physiological disorders such as rain check. It is great that greenhouse and high tunnel structures prevent tomato canopies from direct exposure to rainfall, however, a significant initial investment is required for building the structures, and it is hard to relocate them after they are built. This summer, we used a retractable tunnel to grow tomatoes and peppers in the field (Figure 1). The tunnels[Read More…]


Figure 3. Broccoli ready to harvest.

A fall broccoli trial was conducted in a high tunnel at Southwest Purdue Ag Center in 2016 to test the potential of growing broccoli in high tunnels after tomatoes. This article describes what we found from the trial. Broccoli is a cool-season, frost-tolerant crop. The harvest portion of broccoli is the compact, slightly dome-shaped head that is comprised by numerous immature flower buds. Broccoli that forms a single large head and thick stalks requires 50-70 days to harvest. Vegetative growth occurs over a wide range of temperatures, but high-quality head development requires temperatures in the range of 54-68 ºF. If temperatures are below 41ºF, plant growth is significantly reduced. In Indiana, fall production of broccoli in an open-field can be challenging because of the relatively long growing season. But with increased heat accumulation in high tunnels, it is possible to have a second crop of broccoli following tomatoes. Broccoli can[Read More…]


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