From New and Unusual to Common (or Maybe Not): The Dynamic World of Specialty Varieties

“Specialty” — as it applies to vegetable varieties – usually refers to ones differing in at least one noticeable way from the mainstream version of the crop preferred or expected by most buyers. That difference can be in size, shape, color, flavor, texture, and/or other characteristics. Oftentimes, specialty varieties are initially grown specifically to attract or meet the stated interest of buyers looking for “something different from what they can get everywhere else” and willing to pay higher prices for it. In a small number of cases, markets for specialty varieties increase to the point that the specialty designation or perception falls away, i.e., the variety is so widely grown that it resets what is considered normal or mainstream, but that process can require years to complete. The opposite can occur, too, as markets for individual specialty varieties can remain small and fade quickly. In any case, when grown and marketed well to a sufficiently large number of buyers, even if local, specialty variety production can be profitable. Well documented cases of specialty vegetable and variety production being significant for many growers on both coasts and within easy reach of urban areas in states between them fill the extension, research, and industry literature. Some growers are, more or less, always searching for the next unusual variety that will help set their farm apart.

A variety just being different is not enough to attract and maintain the interest of most buyers. The difference must be meaningful. In the well-chronicled case of ‘Honeynut’ squash (e.g., see https://www.bonappetit.com/story/honeynut-squash-history), the most meaningful difference may be size since ‘Honeynut’ is positioned as a mini-butternut. Its small size makes ‘Honeynut’ more versatile and appealing to buyers looking for the culinary/dietary benefits of butternut fruit but in a smaller package.

We included ‘Honeynut’ squash in two experiments in 2019, planting it in the same rows as ‘Metro PMR’. ‘Honeynut’ was used as the “spacer” between plots of ‘Metro PMR’, the actual focus of the experiments, both of which were managed organically. However, observing ‘Honeynut’ during the season and completing informal eating quality assessments, its appeal is clear. ‘Honeynut’ serves as a reminder of the benefit of considering alternative varieties, especially as the period for selecting varieties and ordering seed for 2020 gets underway.

One Example of How Grafting May Benefit Pepper Growers

From a buyer’s point of view, many characteristics contribute to pepper fruit quality. Quickly and at all points along the chain from farm to plate, quality is assessed based on a lengthy list of fruit characteristics (e.g., size, shape, color, weight, wall thickness, taste, texture) and using one or more of the senses and/or various instruments and technologies. Although most consumers expect high-quality versions of individual types of peppers (e.g., bell, habanero) to have specific sets of characteristics, others look for “new” or “different” versions of familiar crops and are often willing to pay more for them. With that and other important production-related considerations in mind, research at The OSU-OARDC is evaluating the effects of physically hybridizing different types of pepper plants – i.e., using bell, habanero, and other types of pepper as rootstock and scion during grafting. Varieties of different types of pepper are known for their vigor, maturity, disease and abiotic stress tolerance, and fruit size, shape, color, texture, taste (including “hotness”), etc. As with all other vegetable crops that are routinely grafted (tomato, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe), plants and fruit resulting from combinations of pepper varieties made through grafting are being tested to determine if they provide growers with advantages so far unavailable from standard variety development. Grafted plants within this group were prepared months ago and include bell and “hot” varieties as rootstock or scion. When healed, the grafted plants and their ungrafted comparison plants were placed in containers in an outside growing area and managed using standard approaches. On Sept. 21, the plants were moved into a greenhouse so that fruit development could proceed more reliably, given the date. Going forward, fruit they produce will be examined in the laboratory, including for their level of capsaicin and relative “hotness”, in a process led by Dr. Joe Scheerens. Grafted and ungrafted versions of tomato and watermelon plants and fruit they have produced are being studied in four other large-scale field experiments also now moving into their laboratory and data analysis stage. Reports from these and other experiments will be issued throughout the fall-winter but Matt Kleinhenz can be reached for more information in the meantime.

Harvests of Data Hopefully Increase Harvests of Money

Experiments planned in Fall-Winter 2018-2019 and initiated this spring at the OARDC in Wooster, OH are now yielding crop-based data. Additional experiments initiated this past week or to be initiated within several weeks will provide additional numbers of potential value to growers. Overall, these experiments are supported by: (a) the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (https://nifa.usda.gov/program/specialty-crop-research-initiative-scri), (b) the USDA-NIFA Organic Transitions Program (https://nifa.usda.gov/program/organic-agriculture-program), (c) the USDA-NIFA Potato Breeding Research support program (https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/potato-breeding-research), (d) North-central SARE (https://www.northcentralsare.org/), and (e) companies. Along with our collaborators, through these experiments, we look to provide growers and other members of the industry with information they can use beginning immediately, especially when making decisions involving the use of grafted plants, microbe-containing crop biostimulants, reduced-tillage approaches, high tunnels, and/or new potato varieties. Ideally, this information will increase the yield of money on Ohio farms.

Two ongoing experiments will help identify the optimal growing practices when grafted watermelon plants are used. Grafted watermelon plants are showing high potential in- and outside Ohio. However, their wider use has been slowed by their higher cost and the fact that yields from them are not always higher than from standard ungrafted plants. Importantly, an increasing amount of evidence provided by researchers and farmers suggests that growing practices may have to be altered in order to get the best return on investment from grafted watermelon plants. Studies and farmer experience point to changes in plant density, and/or nutrient and/or irrigation management as possibly beneficial. This is reasonable given characteristics of some watermelon rootstocks. So, since 2018, like others, we have been asking if yield can be maintained or increased even as grafted plant density or fertilizer inputs are modified. These two experiments total twelve variety-fertility program and eight variety-plant density treatments. On 8/21/19, the VPSL and OARDC Farm Crew harvested 849 “Jade Star” watermelon fruit from the forty plots spanning roughly 0.7 acre (including pollenizer plants). The 849 fruit totaled 6.2 tons (11 over-filled pallet boxes) and averaged 255 lbs/plot (nine plants). “Fascination” fruit will be taken from the same experiments the week of 8/26, fruit quality will be evaluated in the lab, and the harvest-evaluation process will be repeated for the same experiments to capture total crop yield potential. At the same time, we will continue to focus on: (a) tomato experiments testing grafting, strip-tillage, and/or microbial inoculant effects on fruit yield and quality; (b) butternut squash, carrot (fall high tunnel), and spinach (fall high tunnel) experiments testing microbial inoculant effects on yield and quality; and (c) potato experiments completed in cooperation with breeders at USDA, the University of Maine, Cornell University, and North Carolina State University.

Lab to Field to Basket: Potato Research and Extension to Strengthen the “Chip Business”

Pounds upon pounds upon pounds of potato chips are consumed each day. Few give the hard work on the farm or science and teamwork required to bring good chips to market one thought. Here, though, is a brief summary of recent activity in Ohio and elsewhere designed to help growers and processors and all others who rely directly and indirectly on local-regional “chip business.”

The Big Picture. USDA (e.g., https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/pots0918.pdf) and other information makes clear that potato production and processing remain important, enormously valuable industries throughout the U.S., Great Lakes, and, still, Ohio. Nearby on the ground evidence includes Lennard Agriculture (https://www.lennardag.com/) and impressive investments it and its cooperators have made in infrastructure (e.g., center pivot irrigation systems), expertise, research, and other assets in a four-county area of the Scioto River Valley, among other locations. Early, summertime harvests of large, high-quality crops suitable for use in chip-making are important to them. This activity maintains the strong tradition of supplying local-regional chipmakers … page 20 of the USDA report mentioned earlier shows that the U.S. contains approximately 89 chip-making plants with 15 (16% of the total) located within Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia. Thankfully in this case, it appears that little has changed since 2008 (https://www.potatopro.com/news/2008/ohio-boasts-second-most-potato-chip-manufacturers-us) and before.

Potatoes used to make chips must meet strict specifications. Tuber shape, size, specific gravity, sugar/starch content, flesh color, natural or man-made damage, and other characteristics influence the chip-maker’s desire for the crop. Since these traits hinge on each combination of potato variety, crop management, and growing conditions, the pressure is on growers to optimize each combination. Improved varieties better able to thrive in various conditions are always needed. With important exceptions, potato varieties used in chip-making in the U.S are bred by teams at USDA and a small number of universities, including Michigan State Univ. (http://potatobg.css.msu.edu/). In 2019, led by Chris Long of MSUE (https://www.canr.msu.edu/people/christopher_long), plots of a total of fifteen experimental selections from MSU, USDA, Cornell Univ., and North Carolina State Univ. were planted alongside ones of “check” varieties in fields in Ohio coordinated by Lennard Agriculture. During Aug 13-16, the OSUE team including Chris Bruynis and Ross Meeker (https://ross.osu.edu/about/staff), Brad Bergefurd (https://scioto.osu.edu/about/staff), Mike Estadt (https://pickaway.osu.edu/about/staff), Will Hamman (https://pike.osu.edu/about/staff), and the VPSL (http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/) harvested the plots and collected key data on the tubers. The VPSL has a long history of cooperating with potato breeders and others in developing improved varieties (e.g., see reports at http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/technical-reports/).

Yield was measured first and it ranged from 1.3 to 2.6 pounds per foot of row across all selections and varieties (these values equate to 226 and 452 hundred-weight/acre, resp.). Tuber specific gravity (S.G.) using the weight in air, weight in water method and a hygrometer was measured next (see URL above). This method involves placing exactly eight pounds of tubers (air, at left) into a basket attached to an air-filled bulb and calibrated meter. The basket-bulb-meter unit is then placed in water (middle and right). It will sink to a depth roughly consistent with the tubers’ combined moisture and dry matter (especially sugar/starch) levels. Tubers high in S.G. are needed in chip-making; S.G. is influenced by variety, management (especially nutrient and irrigation), and other environmental factors. The S.G. of experimental selections … lines still being tested and not yet named … is always benchmarked against the specific gravity of well-known standard varieties.

Next, tubers were peeled and placed in cold water until chipped. Tuber flesh that has been damaged and exposed to air typically begins to oxidize and brown. Submersion in cold water slows the process. Commercial chip-makers and other potato processors remove potato skin using various methods often involving pressure and/or steam.

In commercial chip-making, peeled tubers are then sliced to product-specific thicknesses. Chip enthusiasts know that products vary in chip thickness, a variable that has multiple significant implications for the chip-maker and for research teams working on their behalf. Slice thickness influences fry time, oil-absorption, chip texture, and many other variables which influence the suitability of a variety for the specific product. As in our other potato research, here, we produced slices measuring 0.051 inches thick using a DeBuyer Kobra mandolin slicer.

Slices were then fried for 3.5 minutes using oil provided by a local chip-maker (Shearer’s Foods, Inc.) and a standard tabletop fryer (left). The target oil temperature was 350 deg F and the actual oil temperature was monitored throughout and allowed to reach the target between batches. Finally, the color of completed batches was scored against the industry-wide standard Color Chart developed by the Snack Food Association of America (sfa.org; below right). A rating of 1 (upper left of chart) is desired by most chip-makers. Many batches completed on 8/16/19 using tubers harvested in the Scioto River Valley area scored 1-3, a very promising result. Remaining tubers have been placed in cold storage and will be chipped again later, as one assessment of the rate at which each genotype converts starch to sugar when exposed to storage-like temperatures.

Land. Equipment. Good varieties and growing methods. Proper inputs. And, crop-friendly weather. These are just some of the resources needed for success on the farm. However, a great team is also essential … just as in research, extension, and other activities. In 2019, for the VPSL, like for other teams, data collection is ongoing. The potato evaluation outlined here will be followed by work with tomato, squash, watermelon, carrot, and other crops, with plots in fields and high tunnels and at OARDC and on commercial farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responses to Pumpkin/Squash/Melon Grower Stress Survey

On July 5th I posted an article acknowledging the difficult spring and early summer planting conditions most Ohio growers faced, and asked to let us (OSU specialists and Extension educators) know what kind of issues you were experiencing. Once these issues were identified, I began researching possible solutions in order to help growers salvage as much of the season and market as possible. Attached at the end of the article is a PDF with my responses to your questions.

I wanted to thank the 36 growers farming just over 500 acres who took time to respond to the survey. In general, most growers were delayed 2-4 weeks but had a crop in the ground now. The biggest concern besides the ability the control the weather, was that OSU specialists continue to post current information about crop management, pest management, and markets. Several articles along those lines have recently been posted to the VegNet Newletter and we will continue to do so, but if there is a specific topic that has not been addressed, please reach out and contact that specialist directly. Below is a list of OSU specialists and Extension educators with their contact information.

Best of luck to you for better weather this summer and a fair harvest this fall.

Specialist                    Area                            Contact

Doug Doohan              Weeds                        doohan.1@osu.edu

Celeste Welty              Insects                         welty.1@osu.edu

Sally Miller                  Diseases                      miller.769@osu.edu

Jim Jasinski                   IPM/Insects                  jasinski.4@osu.edu

Brad Bergefurd             Horticulture                  bergefurd.1@osu.edu

Matt Kleinhenz             Horticulture                  kleinhenz.1@osu.edu

Steve Culman                Fertility                         culman.2@osu.edu

In case you are not aware, we are having a Pumpkin Field Day on Aug. 22 at the Western Ag Research Station. Read more about it here http://u.osu.edu/vegnetnews/2019/07/25/pumpkin-field-day/

Response to Cucurbit Growers Early to Mid Season

 

Keeping Tomatoes Healthy in Wet Weather

We are in the middle of a period of wet weather that is predicted to deliver multiple inches of rain to central Ohio and even more to other soaked parts of our state.  Tomatoes are a crop that can suffer several problems related to heavy rainfall that can shorten the harvest period and affect yield.  There are a few things that the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer can do to keep their tomato plants healthy and productive though heavy rain periods.

Key Garden Tasks to Keep Tomatoes Healthy in Wet Weather

  • Mulch – organic or non-organic can both be used.  Be careful if your plasticulture is not permeable to air and water,  the heavy constant rainfall may saturate the soil and drown the roots if the soil cannot dry out. Mulch also acts as a barrier to keep soil borne fungal spores off lower tomato leaves.
  • Fertility – contstant rainfall can leach fertility from soil making it unavailable to the plants. Make sure to monitor plant growth and health carefully to avoid a nutrient deficiency.  Foliar feeding can be used when the ground is too saturated to irrigate with water soluble fertilizer.
  • Pruning – promote air circulation by pruning lower leaves.  Try to minimize lower leaf contact with soil.  Use sterilized pruners to remove any diseased leaves and make sure to put diseased leaves in the garbage and not the compost after pruning.

 

This plant needs mulched around the base to prevent soil borne fungal spore contact with leaves. Pruning of the lower leaves will also promote air circulation to assist in disease prevention.

 

These discolored leaves suggest fungal disease in this tomato plant. The leaves need pruned with sterilized pruners and then discarded into the garbage and not the compost pile.

 

This tomato has both organic and plasticulture mulch at the base to keep fungal spores in the soil and off plant leaves. Pruning needs to be done to allow air circulation at the base of the plant.

 

This tomato plant has had lower leaves removed for air circulation with a combination of compost and plasticulture mulch at the base of the plant.

 

Monitor tomatoes carefully for signs of blight, remove the diseased leaves promptly with sterilized pruners and dispose of disease materials in the garbage, not the compost pile.

Make sure to address fertility needs as production increases.  Heavy rain can leach nutrients into the subsoil where they are unavailable to plants, decreasing yield as the season progresses.

Ohio State University Extension has an excellent fact sheet on Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden.   There is also a plant disease diagnostic laboratory on campus where the grower can send samples if an accurate diagnosis needs confirmed on possible diseased leaves.

Farmer Focus – Vest Berries

Rick Vest, of Vest Berries farm, had a record sweet potato crop this year. The two largest specimens weigh 13 and 14 pounds each! They are Beauregard traditional orange variety; and the other big ones are Murasaki white sweet potatoes. His total sweet potato crop yield for this year was 10,000 pounds.

They were planted on May 21 during very good weather. No fertilizer or chemicals were used on the sweet potatoes. According to Rick, this was an exceptional year for sweet potatoes. They got the rain and sunshine needed at just the right times. Rick said he hilled this year’s crop extra high – up, fifteen inches. Due to the rainy hurricane season, namely Hurricane Florence, they were dug three weeks later than usual.

Sweet potatoes of all sizes are available at the Athens Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9am-noon. He also sells wholesale to local restaurants, and takes orders to sell to individuals.

Since the State does not keep official vegetable records, this is an unofficial record sweet potato.

 

Growing from a young age

Rick began his passion for farming as a young child, as he worked on a truck farm near his hometown of Harrison, Ohio. He moved to Nelsonville to attend Hocking College after high school and never left Athens County. Rick met his future wife, Terry, at Hocking College, and soon began a life together. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. The couple just celebrated 40 years of marriage.

Rick and Terry have owned and operated Vest Berries since the early 1980’s. While maintaining the farm, Rick also had a career as a graphic designer at McBee from 1978-2006. After McBee relocated, Rick rekindled his love for farming. He has been farming full-time ever since. During the spring/summer months, they operate a pick-your-own strawberry farm in Stewart, Ohio.

Over the years, Vest Berries has grown to include much more than just their staple crop, strawberries. On any given Saturday, Rick can be seen at the Athens Farmers Market selling carrots, beets, potatoes, lettuce, kale, squash, and berries, among other fruits and vegetables. He is an active member in the local farming community, serving as a member on the Athens Farmers Market executive committee, and previously on CFI’s Board of Directors.

For those who know Rick, they know what a lively spirit he has. He enjoys talking to people and socializing with fellow farmers at the market. He is a hard-working family-man who would give the shirt off his back for anyone in need. His family is proud of his accomplishments in the community and appreciate the recognition of his gigantic sweet potatoes.

Giving Back

Vest Berries put in a call to the Community Food Initiative’s Harvest Hotline for help harvesting all of this year’s sweet potato crop. Together, they yielded approximately 700 pounds of Yukon potatoes and 1,100 pounds of sweet potatoes that may have gone to waste, but instead has gone to feed people facing food insecurity.

 

Spring Vegetable Climate Predictions for Planting 2018

When I am planning when to start seeds in order to get ready for an upcoming spring or fall planting season.  I take the frost date into account, but then I adjust that date according to the weather projections as that gives me insight into how I can maximize production by using weather data plus season extension.

For example,  the fall frost date in central Ohio is around mid-October.   The fall climate prediction data was for a delayed frost date and a warmer fall.  Once I read about this I planted my fall vegetables using this data in anticipation of a longer fall growing season for summer vegetables.

I planted green beans and zucchini in the first week of August 2017.  Both are about 50-60 day vegetables so they would mature long after the frost date normally, and both do not like frost.

Germination was about a week or so later

Because of the delayed frost date, I was able to enjoy a harvest late into fall and ate green beans and zucchini fresh for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Picture taken Mid-October. Notice due to delayed planting their are no cucumber beetles or stink bugs infesting the plants.

This year the climate prediction center states that we will continue to have a February with temperature swings and periods of heavy precipitation.

For the growing season the prediction is for a gradual warm up from March through May with a wetter than normal spring.  Summer is looking like the warm up continues with a drier than normal precipitation forecast.

BIG THANKS TO THE C.O.R.N. Agronomic Newsletter for data assist. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK FOR THE CLIMATE DATA FROM NWS/NOAA

 

Make sure you check the prediction models when you are making your plans.  It might save you some time and trouble and might  get you some extra production.

Pumpkin Hybrid Review – 2017

In an effort to help growers select and grow the best pumpkins for their operation, the Integrated Pest Management Program planted a demonstration trial at the Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston to highlight foliage, handle, fruit size, and fruit quality. There were 20 entries from four companies in the trial, with emphasis placed on hybrids that offered some type of disease resistance, primarily to powdery mildew. The intent of the trial was primarily for growers who attended the pumpkin field day to observe differences in plant and fruit quality in person, in order to generate a visceral opinion and appreciation for the hybrid.

The trial was originally direct seeded June 1st, but due to mice damage and flooding rains, was replanted with transplants June 16th. Approximately 75 pounds of nitrogen was side dressed as liquid 28-0-0 on June 9th, with no P or K applied per soil test recommendations. Strategy and Dual were used pre-emerge to control weeds, with shielded applications of glyphosate followed by hoeing and hand weeding throughout the season. Once powdery mildew was detected in these plots on July 24th, they were sprayed on a 7-10 day schedule with a standard fungicide program that alternated several modes of action, per OSU recommendations.

While specific trial data was collected, because it was not replicated or randomized, all calculations for yield and fruit size should be seen as estimates taken from one site, under a specific set of weather conditions. When making decisions about hybrid selection for 2018, this information should be combined with other trial data from around the state or region. This trial was not irrigated, and received above average rain fall for this location based on historical records.

Group shot of pumpkin hybrid trial, large fruit in top row, medium sized fruit in middle row, and small fruit in bottom row.

To obtain average fruit weight, 3-5 fruit of each hybrid per plot representing the largest, smallest, and average sized fruit were chosen and weighed. All other marketable fruit in plot were counted and used in yield calculation, which was based on a 15’ row spacing, 35’ length of row, with plant spacing 3-4’ apart.

If you have additional questions about the trial, contact me directly at jasinski.4@osu.edu.

Yield data from pumpkin hybrid trial, see above for yield estimates. *indicates reduced stand in trial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed companies and other pumpkin hybrid attributes from 2017 trial. PMR = powdery mildew resistant, PMT = powdery mildew tolerant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monitor and Predict Conditions during Production, Storage, and Transport

Vegetable growers rely on an increasing diversity and quality of information to succeed. This information includes what the temperature, humidity, and other conditions around their crops have been, are, and are likely to be in the near future. Of course, past, current, and future weather conditions are hugely important to all growers. However, conditions in confined spaces at any point during crop production, storage, or transport also influence the farm’s bottom line. This article has three sections. Section 1 highlights grower-friendly pieces of equipment making it easy to monitor and, in some cases, record important conditions in fields, high tunnels, storages, sheds, trailers, vehicles, containers, and other locations nearly anytime. Section 2 references an online source of past growing condition data for various locations in Ohio. Section 3 includes a link to a site offering local forecasts for nearly any location in Ohio and the U.S.

Monitoring. Personal “weather stations” are increasingly reliable, durable, widely available, and lower-cost. Stations are rarely moved and are commonly placed in or near production areas. Stations that fit nearly any budget and interest are available from ag/forestry and other equipment suppliers. Costs hinge on variables monitored (number, frequency), data storage capability, quality of instrumentation, extent and type of connectivity, and expectations for maintenance. Upper-tier stations track and record temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, and rainfall. Simpler systems that monitor temperature and send data by text are popular with some growers (especially ones using high tunnels during spring and fall), or others wanting to monitor conditions in storages, packing sheds, and other areas. Not surprisingly, applications for ultra-small, battery-powered, durable, portable, and relatively inexpensive sensor-datalogger units measuring about 1.5-inch square are also increasing. Growers, distributors, shippers, buyers, and retailers — everyone in vegetable supply chains — look to document conditions surrounding crops or shipments from field to delivery and through display. Crop production researchers have long-used sensor-datalogger units to record temperature and humidity in soils and air in many plots simultaneously. People focused on post-harvest topics, such as conditions affecting crop condition in storage and transit, have done the same. As unit prices drop and questions about crops increase, people in supply chains look to temperature, humidity, and other data for partial answers. Individual sensor-datalogger units take and record readings often (e.g., every five minutes) and store data collected over periods lasting weeks, if needed. Data are downloaded to a laptop or uploaded to a personal website and imported directly to a worksheet.

I am often asked to help determine the cause(s) for various crop defects, all of which have cost the grower real money. More and more of these cases involve defects discovered after harvest, e.g., after delivery or transport. Also, the situations can involve a disagreement between grower and employee, shipper, or buyer, etc. regarding where the problem began. In all cases, some reliable record of the temperature and humidity surrounding the crop from harvest through delivery (and storage on-site, if used) would have helped the diagnostic process. Obtaining those records is easier and less expensive each year. Also, three complex challenges may intensify peoples’ interest in crop monitoring on the farm and past the farm gate: 1) spray drift, 2) maximally effective application of crop protectants, perhaps especially fungicides, and 3) food safety. Regarding weather monitoring and forecasting, personalization of the process has helped fuel https://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/overview.asp and related groups.

Past Weather/Growing Conditions. The OSU-OARDC manages a set of weather stations (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weather1/) and daily or hourly data from the stations can be viewed/downloaded soon or long after they were recorded (e.g., http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weather1/stationinfo.asp?id=12). Like all stations, the OARDC ones provide data specific to their location. So, the data should be used cautiously. Still, the stations provide numbers for important locations over many years.

Weather Forecasts. There is no shortage of weather forecasting services and apps and everyone has their favorite. I have come to appreciate being able to obtain current, multi-variable National Weather Service forecasts for nearly any location in the U.S. quickly and easily. The process outlined at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hourly-weather-graph requires only a minute and a few mouseclicks or taps on the screen of your mobile device but no downloads. I have bookmarked several locations and can see forecasts for them quickly.