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MOF&G Cover Summer 1998


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Marigolds in Strawberry Rotations
Shaded Lettuce Grew Best
‘Fall Seedings’ Are An August Activity
Ads as Market Research

Marigolds in Strawberry Rotations

Marigolds are used in strawberry rotations in Europe to suppress weeds and nematodes, according to Dr. Marvin Pritts of Cornell University. Speaking at the New England Vegetable and Berry Conference, Pritts said that seeding marigolds (4 to 5 pounds per acre) is more expensive than other cover crops, but a study at Cornell showed a 60% yield increase in strawberries grown in a hairy vetch-marigold-rye rotation versus continuous strawberries.

At the same conference, Alan Eaton of the Univ. of New Hampshire warned growers not to plant alfalfa near strawberries and then cut the alfalfa just as the strawberries bloom. Alfalfa attracts tarnished plant bugs, which move to strawberries en masse when the alfalfa is cut.

Source: “Improving Your Strawberry Crop,” by Anita Kelman, Country Folks Grower, Feb. 1998.


Shaded Lettuce Grew Best

Brazilian Researchers grew lettuce in the open or in plastic tunnels that reduced solar radiation hitting the crop by 18, 30 or 50 percent. Growth rates were greater in tunnels than in the open and were greatest with 30% light reduction.
Source: HortIdeas, Feb. 1997, originally in Horticultural Abstracts 66(12), Dec. 1996, 1303.


‘Fall Seedings’ Are An August Activity

The success of cropland seeding is related to the timeliness of this practice. August seedings, mistakenly referred to as fall seedings, can be highly productive over time. Seldom if ever is a true fall seeding a success. Hardly any crop, except winter rye, germinates and establishes sufficiently to produce well when seeded after the middle of September.

In general, forage seedings should be made before the 15th of August in the northern parts of the state [New Hampshire] and in other short season areas of the southern part of the state. The remaining areas should be seeded before the 25th of August. Seedings made after these dates are subject to greater risk of seeding failure or the likelihood of partial establishment at best. Such stands are costly as they are tolerated too often and too long at the cost of reduced production.

August seedings are made when soils are warm, soil moisture conditions will be improving and cool night temperatures favor the root growth of seedlings. Some steps, in addition to timely seedings, will further improve the chances of success:

1. Prepare a weed-free seedbed that will encourage rapid growth of forage seedlings. A firm seed bed allows greater control over seeding depth and assures better soil moisture conditions for the germinating seedlings.

2. Choose forage species that will respond well when seeded in August. Legumes such as alfalfa, red or white clover will establish easily at this time of year. Birdsfoot trefoil should not be seeded at this time. Timothy and bromegrass establish exceptionally well from early August seedings. Grasses such as orchardgrass and reed canarygrass are slower to establish and are generally recommended for early spring seedings.

3. Combining hay crop seeding mixtures that are compatible allows a full contribution from each component over the early life of the stand. A mixture of white clover combined with timothy for pasture is an example of a compatible mixture that establish well during the fall growing season. Alfalfa or red clover combine well with timothy or bromegrass for hayland seeding. Orchardgrass, although slower to establish, can be successful in either of these mixtures as a replacement for timothy and, if successful, will out-yield the timothy.

4. Some nitrogen – 0 to 40 pounds for legumes and legume/grass seedings and 30 to 50 pounds for straight grass seedings – can be beneficial when a similar amount of N is not provided through manure or other organic sources. All legume seed should be inoculated with the proper bacteria at seeding.

5. All seedings will be more successful if the soil nutrient status has been determined. All fertilizer needs can be satisfied at seeding, but, if the pH needs significant adjustment, you may want to delay a seeding until next spring. Alfalfa will establish best at a pH of 6.5 to 7.0; most legume grass mixtures will establish well at pH 6.0 to 6.5; and straight grass seedings will establish well at a pH of 6.0.

Source: “‘Fall Seedings’ Are An August Forage Activity,” by James R. Mitchell, Univ. of N.H. Cooperative Extension, in Weekly Market Bulletin, N.H. Dept. of Ag., July 3, 1996.


Ads as Market Research

Use advertisements as a type of low-cost market research. Patti Belmonte, a marketing consultant in Olympia, Washington, relates how a client ran an ad inviting customers to “Send blueberries to someone you love.” The purpose of the ad was to test-promote the gift pack line they were considering expanding. Although the ad cost $600 and did not pay for itself in cash returns, losing a few hundred dollars on an ad was cheaper than investing heavily in gift packs.

Excerpted with permission from Sell What You Sow! The Grower’s Guide to Successful Produce Marketing, by Eric Gibson. Free brochure on request or send $25 postpaid to New World Publishing, 3085 Sheridan St., Placerville, CA 95667. Tel. (916) 622-2248.



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