From Across the Field – Should I Plant?

Hopefully, everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and got through the severe weather alright. We were fortunate to avoid the worst of it, which was primarily south of US 30. As I enjoyed the three-day weekend with my family it was evident that there is quite a bit of variation in planting progress across the state. South and east of Columbus, I estimate that 70% of corn and 25% of the soybeans are in the ground. That is certainly not the case here in the Maumee Valley.

In most years the question “Should I plant?” is often in the back of many farmer’s minds as raising a crop is what they do best; it’s how they make a living. With the calendar changing to June this weekend with minimal progress made in west and northwest Ohio, that question is more real now than ever.

My colleagues have done an excellent job keeping up to date with articles regarding #plant19, or perhaps the more accurate #noplant19. Sam Custer, my counter part in Darke County has put together an easy read regarding a couple of decision-making tools for producers considering the option of preventative planting for 2019. For farmers that have questions about those tools don’t hesitate to give me a call. That article, and others regarding late and preventative planting can be found at u.osu.edu/ohioagmanager. As always, information pertaining to agronomic production practices can be found at corn.osu.edu.

While wet, the slightly warmer weather has allowed some to get into their gardens and plant. Tomatoes, peppers and cabbage can still be planted, and pumpkins and sweet potatoes can be seeded as well. Besides managing weeds, other things we can do in the garden include putting down row covers for cabbage and broccoli to reduce insect problems, pruning tomatoes at first flowering, and staking them can be done as soon as they are large enough. Tomato plants can also be mulched. The season is changing fast. We are still three weeks away from summer, but it already feels like it is half over.

I do want to finish up discussing a great plant to put in the garden that is currently thriving in this weather and takes very little maintenance; rhubarb. This is a large perennial vegetable grown for its tasty stalks (petioles), but the leaves contain oxalic acid which is toxic and should not be eaten. Rhubarb is available in many garden centers as a potted plant. When planning for rhubarb, select an area with plenty of sun and well-drained soil. Heavy, wet soil will lead to crown rot. Work plenty of compost into the planting area. Rhubarb is large, so place plants at least 3′ apart and 4′ from other plants. Use mulches to control weeds and conserve moisture. Fertilize in the spring with 5-10-10 or similar fertilizer.

Do not harvest the first year, and harvest only a few petioles the second year. After that, stalks can be harvested through late spring or until new stalks become thinner, a sign that the plant is running out of energy. An additional application of fertilizer can be made mid-summer to help the plant build up reserves for next year. Remove flower stalks as they appear.  Flowers are not ornamental and take energy from the plant. Consider using rhubarb as part of the ornamental landscape. Its large leaves and colorful petioles make it a reasonable candidate for perennial beds or mixed plantings. I’ll end this week with a quote from Vince Lombardi: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Have a great week.

Garth Ruff,
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
OSU Henry County Extension

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