High Tunnel Crop and Market Period Diversity

High tunnel use is very popular and has been increasing in Ohio and many other states for decades. Growers are now asking new questions partly because high tunnel production is so popular and increasing and has been practiced for so long on some farms, creating new challenges and opportunities.

“How can I utilize my high tunnel(s) more effectively year-round or fall through spring?” is one very frequently asked question. Many agree that spring-fall tomato harvests can offer the greatest revenue or profit potential. However, others have shown or are learning that harvesting other crops from their high tunnel(s) during summer and/or fall through spring can also be lucrative and beneficial in other ways. Many examples of this have been shared in recent Extension and other programs in Ohio and neighboring states. Working with multiple crops across more of or the entire year requires being familiar with conditions affecting their growth, quality, and potential costs of production and market (profit) potential. Labor and other input costs and how one figures costs of production are obvious factors. For example, one grower-speaker at a recent conference recently described high tunnel space on their farm as “rented,” meaning that their costs of production include how much time is required for a crop to be market-ready. This approach (calculation) directs them and, possibly, others: a) to include lower-cost, quicker-cycling, high value crops in their systems, and b) to be selective when devoting space to high value crops demanding more space, time, and labor. For some, producing multiple crops, managing their investments in crops prone to boom-bust supply-price cycles, and accessing markets through most of or the entire is key to their business. They describe how the approach can limit risk and increase opportunity.

As described in our Feb-3 VegNet article, we seeded Mokum carrot, Red Russian kale, Oriole Swiss chard, Red Pac pac choi, and Music garlic in early Oct-2023 and have given them “minimal” care since that time. Our goal was to discover/demonstrate the potential yield and quality of these crops when grown and overwintered in this way, although the kale, Swiss chard, and pac choi were appropriate for some markets in December-January. This approach may interest growers unfamiliar with and/or currently lacking the ability to make large investments in fall through spring production-harvesting. Recent samples taken from the carrot seedings demonstrate that growth is accelerating and roots are likely to be market-ready soon. A large number of other edible and non-edible crops can be overwintered and/or harvested successfully fall-through spring in Ohio.

Please contact Matt Kleinhenz (330.263.3810; kleinhenz.1@osu.edu) for more information.


A Minimalist Approach to Ensuring Fall through Spring Vegetable Harvests

Interest in marketing locally-grown, freshly-harvested vegetables fall through spring is strong and increasing among high tunnel growers in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South, and Northeast. Scanning the agendas of industry meetings and listening to growers and others in these areas makes clear that fall through spring harvest and marketing of high tunnel-grown crops is an established and increasingly common practice. Importantly, some growers have transitioned to cash cropping their high tunnels only fall through spring and leaving summer to grow cover crops and focus on other priorities, including field-based production. Conversations with and public presentations by these growers and other experts make clear that fall through spring income from high tunnel production can be significant if the correct crops and varieties are chosen and suitable practices are used.

We have long wondered which crops, varieties, and practices may be ideal for Ohio high tunnel growers looking to harvest fall through spring. Much of our previous research focused on a relatively small number of crops and the use of various tools and practices (e.g., films, fabrics, and/or soil heating). Our goal was to describe potential production outcomes when high tunnel growers invested in the process to various levels. Results from those experiments suggest that yields are likely to be greatest when investments are also highest, for example, when soil heating, plastic films, and row covers and the effort to maximize their utility are used. Those studies were summarized previously in this blog.

We are asking a different question in Winter 2023-2024. As the three panels below describe, seven crops were seeded in two high tunnels in October-2023 and grown without any supplemental heating, films, or row covers. This “minimalist” approach explores the worst-case scenario, the minimum that can be expected from these crops under the conditions they have experienced since seeding. This approach may appeal to growers unfamiliar with fall through spring production and/or those who are unwilling or unable to invest much time, money, or effort in it, at least at this time. The test outlined below is one example of what can be expected but many others exist. Of course, different outcomes may be possible when other varieties, planting dates, and growing practices are used. Upcoming evaluations will push the “minimalist” approach further as all crops capable of being grown and harvested fall through spring do not require a high tunnel. Please contact me (Matt Kleinhenz, 330.263.3810, kleinhenz.1@osu.edu) if you would like more information.


Maximize Success with Summertime High Tunnel Crops by Enhancing Soil Conditions Fall to Spring

The April 29, 2023 addition of the OSU Fruit, Vegetable, and Specialty Crop News included a short video summarizing challenges associated with maintaining the productivity of soils in high tunnels (see https://u.osu.edu/vegnetnews/2023/04/29/maintaining-soil-productivity-health-in-high-tunnels-whats-the-problem/). This article focuses on specific examples of those challenges and steps that can be taken to address them from fall to spring.

So, tomato harvest and other chores are complete, and the high tunnel may be taken out of production until next spring. What can be done fall to spring to help maintain or improve high tunnel soil productivity before the next cash crop is established?

First, consider how productivity and profit potential may be lost if nothing is done. Many high tunnels contain tomatoes soon before they are taken out of production in the fall and, chances are, the same high tunnels contained tomatoes for at least one season, if not multiple seasons, before that. Importantly:
a) most core stand establishment, fertilizer/input application, irrigation, and other cultural management practices occur in the same places in the high tunnel each season;
b) fertilizer use can be high;
c) spaces between rows may be covered or uncovered and receive variable amounts of foot and equipment traffic;
d) crops remove major and minor nutrients selectively, in different amounts and ratios; and
e) water lost to evapotranspiration differs by location and depth in the high tunnel.

Combined, these factors can lead to significant variation in soil physical, chemical, and biological characteristics depending on position on the floor (crop row or between) and depth. Crop access to soils with optimal characteristics may be limited. Fertilizer may be present in excess where it does not mineralize. Salt levels may rise where evapotranspiration rates are greatest relative to water supply. Compaction may develop. And, beneficial soil microbial activity may decline or cease due to these conditions and/or a lack of water.

Second, take one or more steps to help correct or limit the development of these and other unwanted soil conditions. For example:

1. Mix soil comprising the footprint of the high tunnel. Move soil past crop row-furrow, if possible, and to below rooting depth. Add organic matter (e.g., green manure, compost) and other key materials (e.g., lime) before or during the process.

2. Consider deep tillage. Past research completed at Penn State Univ suggests that occasional deep tillage in a high tunnel can be beneficial, especially when plow-pans, salt layers, or other symptoms of sub-optimal soil status develop.

3. Regardless of approach, test soil before and after mixing and other interventions, keeping samples separate when submitting them for analysis (e.g., see https://u.osu.edu/vegnetnews/2021/02/20/soil-sampling-and-analysis-for-high-tunnel-production/). Soil test reports from samples taken from the same locations (in and between crop rows) before and after mixing and other steps can be informative.

4. Establish and incorporate a suitable green manure and/or subsoiling cover crop(s) that can perform some of the same functions as machinery and provide many other benefits. Resources for selecting cover crops for high tunnels include: a) https://projects.sare.org/wp-content/uploads/CoverCropsHT-fact-sheet.pdf, b) https://www.sare.org/resources/managing-cover-crops-profitably-3rd-edition/, c) https://www.midwestcovercrops.org/getting-started-correct/, and d) https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=ID-433.

5. Flood the high tunnel slowly. Move water through the profile carefully to dissolve and disperse salts and help mineralize and increase the future availability of remaining fertilizer without contributing to runoff or unwanted leaching. Moist soils may also remain more biologically active, and mix and open pores by freeze-thaw action, providing other benefits. Some of the same benefits of purposeful fallow period irrigation can be achieved by removing the high tunnel cover to allow precipitation and natural freeze-thaw cycles to work for you.

Please contact Matt Kleinhenz (kleinhenz.1@osu.edu; 330.263.3810) with questions or for more information.

Avoiding Problems Associated with Too Much of a Good Thing

Just like folks who wish for rain or look for irrigation during dry times, growers experiencing more than optimal rainfall look for ways to handle soggy conditions.

Rain is obviously good but too much of it can be a huge headache or worse. While rainfall in some areas has been just about right in recent weeks, rainfall in other pockets of Ohio vegetable production has become troublesome lately.

Open field growers can prepare only so much for excess rain, especially when it falls in large amounts over short periods of time. However, predictions indicate that doing what is possible to prepare for deluges will be useful. Five steps familiar to most experienced growers because they always support positive production outcomes – not just during wet periods or seasons — can help.

1. Use a set of varieties ranging in maturity and seed/transplant multiple times (stagger plantings). This helps manage workloads, blanket market opportunities, and distribute risk since individual plantings will be at different stages in development when dry, wet, or other unwelcome conditions occur and, therefore, possibly be less affected by them.
2. Select naturally well-draining fields whenever possible. Fields that tend to hold moisture may be a blessing during dry periods but a problem during wetter ones. Assuming irrigation is available, naturally well-draining fields are likely to be more reliable across seasons.
3. Improve and maintain the site’s drainage, i.e., its capacity to withstand and “process” excess rain. Grade, tile, and employ rotations and soil management and production practices proven to limit the site’s potential to flood and for saturated conditions to persist.
4. Use appropriate crop-specific tactics to manage beds or hills from the start of each production cycle. Potato, Cucurbit, and other crops are often in direct contact with the soil. So, they can benefit from hills and beds being set and managed as if flooding is a real possibility.
5. Prepare for harvest in advance. Advanced preparation can help ensure it will be possible to harvest sooner than expected, if possible and needed.

Mid-Late Season Check of Fertilizer Programs: Are They Right?

Four Rs are the cornerstones of successful fertilizer application: the Right Material, applied at the Right Time, in the Right Amount, and to the Right Place. In the last several weeks, troubleshooting with growers and others about under-performing squash, sweet corn, tomato, and watermelon crops led us to conclude that incorrect fertilizer application rates were probably to blame. The information available suggested that too little fertilizer had been applied to the squash and sweet corn while too much had been applied to the tomato and watermelon plantings.

Ohio growers produce many different vegetable crops, each with a farm-specific fertilizer program that is best or most “right” for them. Very important, those fertilizer needs are set by the biology of each crop and its growing conditions and market. Crops, growing conditions, and markets are diverse, and that calls for setting and monitoring fertilizer applications very carefully; material, timing, rate, and placement must be optimal to have the best chance of success.

Errors at each step in the application process from selecting the rate to applying the material can lead to under- or over-applying fertilizer. For example, target rates can be miscalculated. Hoppers and injection tanks can be under- or overloaded. Gears, valves, and other equipment can be poorly calibrated or malfunctioning. Applicators/spreaders can be driven over too much or too little ground. Irrigation and/or injection valves can be closed when they were supposed to be open or vice versa.

Overall, some appear to worry less about applying too much instead of too little fertilizer. Their desire to maximize yield and quality is understandable. That said, the consequences of significantly over-applying fertilizer should also be considered since they may be wider ranging and last longer. Applying too much fertilizer in one season can create the problems of under-application in that season (lost yield, quality, and income) while also complicating fertilizer programs in the following season(s), supporting unwanted changes in soil chemistry, and contributing to other issues. Benefit the most from investments in properly selected fertilizers by applying them at the right rates and times and to the right place.

Crop Vigor and Weed Pressure

The middle of the main season can be a pivotal stage in crop-weed relations. Weed growth may begin to overcome steps taken earlier to control it, including herbicide application and cultivation. Also, pre-harvest intervals or plant-back restrictions, concerns over potential crop damage, and other factors may limit the use of additional chemical or mechanical tactics like applied before crops emerged and closed rows. Further, weed seed produced mid-late season can increase weed control challenges in following years. Under these circumstances, vigorous crops able to slow weed growth for even a short time can be beneficial. Creating shade and utilizing water and nutrients are two ways vigorous crops can tip the crop-weed competition in the grower’s favor. The vigor and “out-grow/out-compete the weeds” factor may be most important for crops for which cultivation and herbicide options are relatively limited. The two pictures below partially illustrate the crop vigor-developing weed pressure relationship as it stands in a potato planting before the potato vines fall, the canopy opens, and vines eventually decline or senesce. A large, vigorous crop canopy as a product of the variety and good growing conditions and supportive management is its own type of weed suppression.

“Can I …?”, “What about …?”: Farmers Improving Their and Other Farms through Research

The season for field days, crop walks, twilight tours, tailgate chats, blog posts, phone calls from the field, and other ways to share and receive input is underway, and the goal is always the same – learn, and improve farm operations in some way. On-farm research contributes much to that learning and improvement process. That message has been driven home to my team and me many times through our years of working closely with vegetable growers in designing, completing, and summarizing and sharing findings from on-farm research they and we completed. The same message was also highlighted in a recent conversation among farmers, researchers, and educators (view/listen at https://www.youtube.com/@OSU-organic).

For background, the OSU Organic Food and Farming and Education and Research Program (https://offer.osu.edu/home) hosts monthly online discussions focused on recent, on-going, or future research pertinent to Ohio organic production. Participants include farmers, researchers, and educators and many comments also inform and are informed by experiences with conventional production. Recordings of the meetings are available at the YouTube channel URL above.

The conversation on July 7 featured a presentation by Stefan Gailans from Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI). Stefan leads PFI’s Cooperators’ Program (https://practicalfarmers.org/programs/farmer-led-research/cooperators-program/), where he helps farmers turn their research ideas into relevant and shareable knowledge. Information from Stefan’s presentation is below but taking in the entire presentation and follow-up discussion is encouraged (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVAdWGG0w0).

1. PFI (https://practicalfarmers.org/), OEFFA (https://grow.oeffa.org/), and OPGMA (https://www.opgma.org/) have similar goals.

2. The PFI Cooperators’ Program helps farmers learn from each other through farmer-led on-farm investigation and information sharing.

3. The PFI Cooperators’ Program is a community of curious, creative farmers including scientific methods in how they improve their farms. Their investigations (e.g., paired trials) inform their decisions. The process involves putting ideas and farm practices to the test using simple but effective scientific methods. Intentional observation focused on what the farmer is keen to learn about and important to them is the foundation of the process.

4. Many questions are often straightforward “A versus B” or “yes versus no” types. Investigating them often leads to a-ha moments and other more complicated questions. A-ha moments can also reveal that some (new) practices reduce other costs, providing indirect but real benefits.

5. Asking “Can I …?” or “What about …?” and completing an investigation relies on curiosity, creativity, and commitment because extra work is required. Farmers receive a small stipend through program sponsors.

6. Farmer participants can discover that on-farm research helps them “train their eye” and look for or pay attention to other things then ask questions about them. They also become better able to evaluate other peoples’ research and its findings, allowing them to select and use information from industry, university, and other sources more effectively.

Comment from a PFI Cooperators’ Program participant.

7. The program is not all about only the investigations. Much effort is also put in to ensuring that lessons and findings reach other farmers through programs, publications, and YouTube videos offered on an ongoing basis.

8. About the 2022 research program –

(a) seventy-five trials were led by forty-five farmers.

(b) Most farmers had at least eleven years of farming experience and most of them took part primarily to improve their production.

(c) 88% of trials spurred new ideas or other observations. Seventy-six percent of participants reported a moderate to very large change in knowledge after completing a trial. Fifty-four percent of participants reported they will make a change on their farm following their trial but 22% said they would not make a change. Both outcomes are productive because they represent learning and increased confidence in decision-making.

It is never too late or early to start investigating a question important to you using on-farm research. If needed, consider connecting with another farmer, member of industry, or research-extension person familiar with the process.

Optimize Potato Seeding Depth and Hill Management for Your Varieties, Soils, and Markets

As a potato grower, the number, size, shape, and color of the tubers you dig at harvest affect your income. These four characteristics are influenced by how deep seed tubers or pieces were placed at planting and the width and height of the hill created and maintained from planting to crop maturity. This article provides examples of how seed depth and hill size and shape affect tuber yield and quality. Given these examples and other information, growers may wish to evaluate their variety-specific seed placement and hilling operations, particularly because stolon or tuber initiation is underway in many area potato plantings.

1. The plant genetics factor. Tubers form at the tips of stolons which arise from the stem(s) developing from the seed piece or tuber. Most stolons extend from points on stems above the seed piece/tuber, although stolon tips may reach below it. Similarly, the number of stolons most likely to develop on a plant and, therefore, its tuber yield potential, tends to differ among varieties. Once initiated, stolon length can vary with growing conditions, leading hills to hold few to many generally tightly or loosely bunched tubers. Carefully hand-digging young plants to examine their stolons and newly initiated tubers and completing test digs at various stages of tuber development is very informative. The combination of stolon number and length and growing conditions shapes tuber characteristics. Optimal planting depths and hill conditions maximize tuber yield and quality. Proper hilling increases the volume of soil available for light-free tuber development and can assist with weed control.

2. The soils factor. Regardless of seed depth, stems and young plants must develop before stolons and tubers can, so promoting rapid, high, and uniform emergence is key. Warm, loose/friable soil with the optimal level of moisture promotes grower-friendly stand establishment, a foundation for large, high-quality crops. Of course, what is required to maintain those soil conditions planting through stand establishment and tuber initiation and development differs by soil type (especially texture), at minimum. Indeed, research and experience have shown that optimizing seeding depths and hilling operations requires adjusting them for coarse-to-fine textured soils and varieties used in specific fresh and processing markets. Reviewing reliable resources and completing on-farm tests will help determine the seeding depths and timing, intensity (e.g., amount of foliage buried), and number of hilling operations that are optimal for your operation, given the major soil-variety/market combinations you work with.

3. The market factor. Individual fresh (tablestock) and processing (e.g., potato chip) markets require tubers with many specific characteristics. Tuber number, color (greening), shape, size distribution, and specific gravity are among the market traits that can be influenced by seed depth and hilling operations — i.e., seed depth and hilling as they interact with and are influenced by soil and other conditions. Taken together, plant genetic, soil, and market factors explain why planting depths and hilling regimes should be tailored to the operation and adjusted within and across seasons as varieties, as soils and markets require. Currently, potato seed in Ohio and the region is often placed 4-8 inches deep in single-row hills which are reshaped once or twice after emergence while vines remain mostly upright. Approximately 20-30 percent of the visible foliage or rosette is buried at each hilling. Burying a large percentage of foliage at any time or hilling after vines “flop” and begin to close rows can be damaging. Similarly, hilling under conditions that may promote compaction or interfere with further vine or tuber development is also counterproductive.

Electrical Weed Control in Vegetables and Field Crops

This article is provided by Chris Galbraith, MSU/OSU Extension & Jenna Falor, MSU Extension.

Late-season weed management is essential to consider when developing a weed control plan for your operation. Despite one’s best efforts, weeds can often escape early-season control. This can be a result of poor timing, missing the plants with cultivation, spray applications or flaming, or due to herbicide resistance. If allowed to reach reproductive maturity, escaped weeds can cause management problems in future years due to replenishment of the weed seedbank. These larger weeds can also harbor crop pests and diseases, interfere with harvest by obstructing equipment, or degrade final crop quality through contamination from weed residues.

Management practices for escaped weeds are notoriously limited due to the difficulty of controlling weeds when they have reached a significant size. Weed wipers use an applicator made of an absorbent material, such as sponge or a rope wick, that is saturated with herbicide and used to contact weeds growing above the crop canopy, killing the weeds but leaving the crop unaffected. The downsides of this method include a lack of herbicide options effective on larger weeds, limited efficacy on herbicide-resistant populations (depending on what product is being applied), and its unsuitability for use in organic systems. Another option is sending in hand weeding crews to manually weed the fields, which is particularly common for managing escaped weeds in vegetable production. While this method does tend to be effective, the labor is expensive, time-consuming, and hard monotonous work for employees.

The major manufacturer and supplier of electrical weeding equipment in the United States is The Weed Zapper, a Missouri-based company that began production in 2017. Electrical weed control technology has also been developed by the Brazilian company Zasso and the European companies AgXtend, Rootwave, and Crop.Zone. While electrical weeders from foreign companies are as of yet rare in the U.S., familiarizing oneself with the technology that has been developed overseas shows the versatility of this technology in different cropping systems and gives a clue as to the future of the equipment in modern agriculture.

Pro-environmental attributes of the equipment are that it does not disturb the soil and does not require the use of any chemical herbicides. Electrical weeding provides systemic control of even larger plants, making it an effective option for controlling weed seed bank inputs by terminating weeds at or prior to reproductive maturity. Similar to mechanical weeding and certain herbicides, it is non-selective and therefore caution must be taken to prevent crop injury. This typically restricts in-season use to crops with low-canopy growth habits that don’t come into the path of the electrode. While this limits the application of electrical weeding, there still remains many crops where growers might benefit from integrating this equipment into their weed control plan.

Read the full article “Electrical Weed Control in Vegetables and Field Crops”.

View the factsheet “Basics of Electrical Weed Control”.

Impacts of Drought on Vegetable Production and Potential Solutions

Much-needed rain on Sunday has given agricultural producers some reprieve from the “flash-drought” that has been building across Ohio over the past few weeks. Ohio has seen abnormally-dry to moderate-drought conditions across much of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has activated its Rapid Response Team to address the dry weather and provide extension resources for agricultural communities, including commercial vegetable producers. More information can be found at the OSU Early Drought Response webpage.

Periods of drought have plagued humanity since agriculture began. In modern vegetable production systems, dry conditions can lead to issues at multiple levels. This article will unpack the impacts of drought on vegetable production and discuss possible solutions.


Crop moisture stress

Crops vary widely in their water use efficiency (WUE), i.e. the amount of carbon produced per unit of water taken up by the plant. Many grain crops have been specifically bred for high WUE to maintain productivity in dryland systems. Vegetable crops, on the other hand, have comparatively low WUE and are typically irrigated via drip tape or center-pivot. Due to their higher water needs in “normal” seasons, many vegetable growers are already set up for irrigation and so may not be witnessing as severe crop moisture stress as field crop growers who rely on the rain.

Heat stress

In addition to the lack of rain, temperatures in northwest Ohio climbed into the high 80s near the end of May. High temps can threaten young plants in other ways apart from increased water demand. When crops are transplanted into black plastic mulch they can be stressed by heat radiating off the mulch surface. Young plants can also be burnt if any plant tissue is contacting the black plastic, which may be common if soil moisture levels are below wilting point. Transplanting into wet soil, overhead irrigation, or applying kaolin clay to plastic mulch surfaces to temporarily increase sunlight reflection can help keep temperatures around the plant cool and conducive to crop health.

Dry weather pests

Hot, dry weather in the spring can lead to earlier and increased activity in plant pests like thrips, aphids, and spider mites. These insects thrive in warm and dry conditions, which is why infestations in greenhouse environments are common. Insect feeding can reduce crop yield and quality and the pests can also vector viruses that affect vegetable plants.

Outbreaks of thrips, aphids, and spider mites can be managed in part by supporting natural enemies of the pests. These include ladybeetles (adult and larvae), lacewing larvae, and minute pirate bugs. Aphids are also preyed upon by damsel bugs, assassin bugs, aphid predatory midges and several predatory wasps. Species of predatory thrips and mites can also help keep pest thrip and spider mite populations in check. Find information on identifying natural enemies in this guide from OSU Extension and this educational video from Dr. Mary Gardiner at OSU.

Insecticide/miticide recommendations can be found in the 2023 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide. Avoid broad-spectrum products to conserve natural enemy and pollinator populations in the field. Read more on the topic in this article from Zsofia Szendrei at Michigan State University.


















Pests that prefer hot, dry conditions: aphids (top), thrips (middle), and spider mites (bottom). Photos by University of Illinois Extension (top), Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (middle) and Mississippi State University Extension (bottom).

Weed control

Drought conditions also have implications for early-season weed control. With low moisture in the topsoil, weed emergence may be delayed and prolonged. Applying layby residual herbicides is important to keep weeds under control until canopy closure. Weeds that are heat/drought stressed also do not respond to postemergent spray applications as well as vigorous weeds. Plant leaves develop a thicker, waxier cuticle to minimize water loss which can also reduce herbicide absorption. Adjuvant usage may be needed to improve conditions for herbicide uptake. Weed growth and metabolism is also slowed, which reduces movement of systemic herbicides around the plant. Spraying in the morning can be advantageous for weed control, not only because of calm winds, but also because targeting plants at a time of day when they are the least heat stressed can improve performance of systemic herbicides. Read more on this topic in this recent article from Erin Burns and Christy Sprague at Michigan State University.

Wildlife damage

 Wildlife damage to crops can be worsened in hot, dry weather. Rodents and other vertebrates may increase feeding in vegetable fields when food and water is scarce elsewhere. Irrigation equipment may be damaged by wildlife (coyotes, mice, etc.) looking for a drink. Options for keeping away wildlife include netting, fencing, repellants, trapping, and other lethal/non-lethal deterrents. Resources include the Ohio DNR Nuisance Animal Control Manual and Wildlife Management Factsheets from the USDA/Michigan State University Extension.

Farm safety

Last but not least, the safety and well-being of agricultural workers is important to keep front of mind. Working in hot and dry conditions poses a risk of heat-related illnesses. Continuous hydration and proper attire can go a long way towards ensuring worker safety. Find more information on the major heat-related illnesses and their mitigation in this article from Penn State.

Dealing with drought-stressed crops and dusty fields can also take a toll on growers’ mental health. Ohio State University Extension offers resources to help handle farm stress. Farm worker/manager performance is dependent on good mental health, so be sure to take this aspect of your vegetable operation seriously.

To sum it up, hot and dry conditions impact multiple aspects of vegetable production. While the material here mainly addresses the consequences of a dry spring, drought can cause different issues depending on when in the growing season it occurs. OSU Extension is a resource to help vegetable growers through periods of drought by providing information and support. Please reach out to your county educator or a vegetable extension specialist to explore ways OSU Extension can help you make your vegetable operation more resilient to drought conditions.

Thank you to Ben Werling and Ben Phillips from Michigan State University Extension for observations and ideas that contributed to the writing of this article.

Chris Galbraith

Vegetable Extension Educator

Northwest Ohio
Ohio State University Extension
Office: 734-240-3178