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Growers are Producing Great Transplants Despite Tough Weather Conditions

Crystal Stewart-Courtens, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

April 25, 2018

The cold, cloudy weather which has defined this spring so far hasn't prevented growers throughout the region from producing quality transplants. Here are some of the key points which are keeping plants healthy and vigorous:   

1) Start plants off right: a well-built germination chamber will effectively regulate temperature and relative humidity using minimal amounts of energy. You can find a couple of easy to build designs for chambers here. Germination chambers should only be used to "pop" seeds—as soon as you see the first seedlings emerge, remove plants to the greenhouse so they don't stretch.

2) Water with care: Cold is ok, cloudy is ok, but cold and cloudy causes real water management challenges. When growers are using supplemental heat to keep temperatures in an acceptable range it can be tough to make the decision to vent excess humidity, so often walking into the greenhouse during those conditions is like walking into the rainforest. High humidity and low light means almost no transpiration by the plants, so soil that is wet stays wet.  The best solution to this problem is prevention—if heading into a period of cold, wet days, minimize watering.  And don't be afraid to use gable end vents or ridge vents if it is too wet in the greenhouse!

3) Fertilize equally carefully: There are a few challenges with fertilizing during cool, cloudy weather. One is that if plants are not taking up water, they aren't taking up fertilizer, either. This might lead to the impulse to fertilize more, which can lead to excess salt buildup and root burning. Another issue is that when temperatures are below 60 degrees F, N fertilizers can convert to ammonium which can be toxic to plants at elevated levels.  Successful management of this issue involves scaling back the nitrogen fertility during periods of cool, wet weather, and managing watering to prevent plants from staying waterlogged. Media with optimal moisture levels will have more nitrifying bacteria, which convert ammonium to useable forms. A full factsheet on managing ammonium can be found here.

4) Practice good sanitation: A certain amount of disease is almost inevitable during the growing conditions we've been facing this spring. Scouting the greenhouse regularly and carefully removing flowers with botrytis, watching for crown rots, and adjusting spacing to maximize airflow and light infiltration make it possible to keep plants going through tough times. 

Growing Great Transplants


This article is from the April 26, 2018 edition of ENYCHP Vegetable News.  To read the full newsletter, CLICK HERE.



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August 15, 2024 : ENY Orchard Soil Health and Beneficial Fungi Meeting
Peru, NY

The soils that we grow our trees in play a critical role in the success of our orchard's productivity.  Mycorrhizal fungi provide many benefits to the soils, though it is still unclear to what extent inoculating our soils with commercial blends of these fungi may have on the growth of trees during orchard establishment.

Join the members of CCE ENYCHP and the Cornell Soil Health Program for a field meeting on the basics of soil health, the potential benefits of mycorrhizal fungi, and an update on the current project status of our SARE grant on orchard mycorrhizal products.

This meeting is intended for farmworkers, young and beginning orchardists, and experienced orchard managers wanting to learn about the basics of soil health and mycorrhizal fungi within the orchard.

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Plattsburgh, NY

North Point Community Farm Twilight Meeting

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2172 Military Turnpike, Plattsburgh, NY 12901

$10 per farm

Join us for a tour of North Point Community Farm, a diversified vegetable, berry, and flower operation in the North Country. Farmers Marisa and Mike will give us an overview of their decision-making as they expand their business, increasing their high tunnel production, investing in new tillage equipment, and transforming an old dairy barn into an efficient wash-pack shed with food safety in mind. We'll end the evening with local food refreshments and an opportunity to network with growers from NY and VT.

DEC credits: 1.5 credits in categories 1A, 10, 23

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September 16, 2024 : Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting
Ticonderoga, NY

Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting

Monday, September 16th 4-6 pm (rain or shine)

1512 Street Rd, Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Join us for discussions on high tunnel tomato production and sweet corn and pumpkin IPM at Drinkwine Produce in Ticonderoga. Henry Drinkwine will provide an overview of his practices for maintaining high yields of tomatoes, including pollination and soil fertility management. In the second half of the meeting, CCE specialist Chuck Bornt will review integrated pest management for sweet corn and pumpkins, with hands-on scouting and identification of key pests and diseases.

DEC Credits: 1.5 credits in categories 1A, 10, 23

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This website (https://enych.cce.cornell.edu/) contains our calendar of upcoming programs and registration links. For updated programmatic information, technical resources and links to newsletters please see our program blog site: https://blogs.cornell.edu/enychp/.
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