From Across the Field: 4/16/2020

Patiently Planning to Plant

Patience is a virtue, or at least that is what my mother used to tell me. We are in that time of the growing season where perhaps some patience is required, especially after last spring. This snap of colder weather and cold soil temperatures are likely testing the patience of some as they look forward to planting. Jim Noel, from the National Weather Service, a regular contributor to our OSU Extension C.O.R.N. newsletter suggests that we will see a warm up coming in late April.

I’ve noticed that the dandelions are blooming. The green grass contrasts very nicely against the yellow dandelions and I honestly don’t mind them. Perhaps that opinion is influenced by the brand of farm machinery that I grew up on.

Anyways, if you object to these plants, dandelions can be controlled with a selective herbicide now or you can try to dig them out, the more of the root you get, the better the chance is of killing the plant.

I know many are getting the “itch” to get things planted in the garden and the low temperatures in the forecast certainly put things on hold. This is the time of year when plants are subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations; this can be an issue. The ability of annuals and vegetable plants to survive being transplanted into the cruel, cold world of outdoor survival after being tenderly nurtured in the warm cocoon of a greenhouse is enhanced by the process commonly called “hardening-off.” Gradually introducing seedlings to outdoor growing conditions increases their food reserves, reduces the severity of transplant shock, and increases their ability to withstand light freezes and frosts. Even cabbage can succumb to a light freeze if it is planted directly from a greenhouse into an outdoor environment without proper hardening.

Containerized seedlings should be placed outdoors in an area that can be protected at least 7 to 10 days before being planted. If they had been grown in a relatively low light environment, they should be placed in a shaded area and be gradually exposed to longer periods of light each day.  They should also be protected from strong winds – but exposed to moderate breezes and be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. Good commercial growers will harden plants in a greenhouse by providing maximum ventilation, heating only when necessary to prevent them from freezing, and reducing watering or by moving them to outdoor beds, reducing watering, and providing necessary freeze protection.

We are certainly in an interesting time in agriculture here locally and across the country. Our food system is facing a challenge like most have never seen as demand and processing capacity are greatly reduced. The commodity markets in large parts have responded negatively as well, with futures prices for livestock and dairy dropping 32 to 48 percent since mid January. Grain crop prices and futures have been depressed as well. So far 2020 has been tough on just about everyone, as we continue thru this pandemic, be sure to check in on our neighbors, coworkers, family and friends. I’ll end this week with a thought from Thomas Jefferson: “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. Have a great week and stay healthy out there.

Garth Ruff,

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator

OSU Henry County Extension

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