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March 3, 2013

Farm briefs: March 3, 2013

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“‘Hungry’ crops are a common sight in Northern New York vegetable fields, and growers’ commonly used solutions are costly and often insufficient to meet crop needs. Our short growing season makes it especially important for growers to keep crops growing at full capacity all season long to get the maximum yield possible in just a few months,” Ivy said. 

With NNYADP funding, Reiners and Ivy developed educational outreach to help growers increase their potential for season-long productivity and to respond to new and smaller-scale growers who need training on how to best manage production challenges due to the Northern New York region’s colder climate and short growing season.

“Many growers in the Northern New York region were suffering the effect of mid-season nutrient deficiencies when crop needs are greatest. Plants experiencing deficiencies of the macro-nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium will have lower yields, and that negatively impacts farm income,” Reiners said.

He said pH issues and uneven applications of soil amendments to try to combat the deficiencies were frustrating growers further.

Working with Cornell Cooperative Extension educators across the Northern New York region, Reiners and Ivy encouraged growers to submit soil samples for nutrient analysis in the fall of 2011. At day-long workshops in Watertown and Plattsburgh in 2012, they presented the results of five soil tests reflecting a range of soil nutrient levels and led growers in discussions on how to solve the issues each test revealed.

Of the 40 Northern New York vegetable growers who participated, nearly half indicated they would begin testing their soil on a regular basis. Eighteen indicated they would begin using cover crops to improve soil fertility and 20 said the training convinced them that investing in irrigation would be worth the cost.

More information can be found under Horticulture on the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org and is available from local Cornell Cooperative Extension offices.

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