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Supplemental Heat for Winter Greens Production: What's the Cost?

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

April 25, 2018

Winter Greens PFPWinter greens in high tunnels at then Poughkeepsie Farm Project

There seems to be little agreement among winter greens growers regarding the true costs and potential value of using supplemental heat all winter. With support from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (NE SARE) and the generous cooperation of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project (PFP), we tried to start gathering some data to add to the high tunnel heating debate. We tracked yield, soil nitrate availability, total nitrogen uptake, propane use, and soil temperature all winter in the two identical side-by-side 42'x196' double layer inflated poly Harnois high tunnels with one tunnel set to 33 degrees ambient air temperature and the other set to 40.

 

The data from the trial is still being analyzed, but here are a few key results that have emerged:

 

  • Maintaining adequate soil moisture and, ideally, living roots in the high tunnel before planting is necessary to preserve the soil microbial community that makes nitrogen available for plant uptake.
  • Soil nitrate levels were not significantly or consistently different between the two temperatures; however, total nitrogen uptake in the warmer tunnel was higher for curly kale, spinach, and especially for Salanova lettuce.
  • The warmer tunnel yielded three harvests in the same time that the cooler tunnel yielded only two.
  • It took 979 gallons of propane to heat the tunnel to 33 degrees from November through March. It took 2.1 times as much propane to add the extra 7 degrees to reach 40 over the same period.
  • Fertilizing to 70 pounds/acre of nitrogen in September provided sufficient nitrogen to kale, spinach, and Salanova until mid-February.
  • Targeted early spring fertigations with soluble Chilean nitrate carried those crops to maturity in early April

 

A big thanks to the great crew at PFP for all of the help tracking yield! Going forward, a group of vegetable specialists with Cornell Cooperative Extension hopes to continue to investigate fertility management in winter high tunnels generally and specifically the interplay between supplemental heating and nitrogen. If you are interested in collaborating, please reach out to Ethan at eg572@cornell.edu.

 

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



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Upcoming Events

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 25, 2020
Albany, NY

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.  At least one person per farm producing more than $25,000 worth of fruits and vegetables must attend this course once.  Participants will receive a certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials.

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2020 ENYCHP Fruit & Vegetable Conference

February 25 - February 26, 2020
Albany, NY

Join us for two days filled with informative sessions on Tree Fruit, Vegetables, Small Fruit, Grapes, Hemp, and more!

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Hands-on Pruning Demonstration with Dr. Terence Robinson - Capital Region

February 27, 2020
Altamont, NY

Join us for a morning of hands-on pruning discussion and demonstration with Dr. Terence Robinson.  Terence will walk us through the key steps of pruning the tall spindle orchard, and will also review pruning techniques for other orchard systems commonly grown across the Capital Region. Please note this meeting will be held the morning following our annual winter conference in Albany.  

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Announcements

2020 ENY Fruit & Vegetable Conference


Join us for two full days of informative sessions on Tree Fruit, Berries, Vegetables, Grapes, Hemp, and more...many of which will offer DEC credits.

When registering, please be sure to choose the correct cost option depending on your enrollment status with Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture and whether you will be attending one day or two.

Lodging: Individual guests may call The Desmond directly at 518-869-8100 (or 800-448-3500) to book rooms at the discounted rate of $115.00 per night. Reservations must be received no later than February 9, 2020 to get the discounted rate. When requesting a room, guests may refer to the "Eastern NY Fruit & Vegetable Conference Room Block" or by referencing Block Code: FVG.

2020 Fruit & Veg Conference credits are as follows:
  • Tree Fruit - Day 1 morning - 2.0 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Tree Fruit - Day 1 afternoon - 2.25 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • FSMA - Day 1 all day - 2.0 credits for 10, 1a, 23
  • Grapes - 2.25 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Berries - 2.75 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Veg - Day 2 morning - 1.50 credits in categories 1a, 10, 23
  • Veg - Day 2 afternoon - 2.00 credits in categories 1a, 10, 23
  • Hemp - 1.75 credits in categories 10 and 1a; 1.25 credits in categories 21, 24


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Tomato Disease Resistance

February 17, 2020
Teresa Rusinek discusses new tomato varieties being developed by Dr. Martha Mutchler-Chu at Cornell University with improved resistance to early blight, late blight, septoria leaf spot, and other foliar diseases. Rusinek also covers the basic biology and current management options for the primary tomato foliar diseases, including bacterial spot and speck, found in Eastern New York.

Dr. Meg McGrath: What’s New in Managing Tomato Diseases in 2019 (fungicide efficacy trials for several tomato foliar diseases, including OMRI options)
http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/Tomato%20Diseases-McGrath-NJ%20ACTS-2019-NY.pdf

Tomato Disease Resistance Breeding http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/Cornell%20Disease%20Resistant%20Tomatoes-2019.pdf

Hot Water Treatment
http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/HotWaterSeedTreatment.html

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