Gearing Up for the 2023 Vegetable Production Season
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It will be time to plant those early season vegetables before you know it so make sure that you are ready for the upcoming growing season. Here are a few tips of what commercial vegetable producers can do now to prepare for the upcoming growing season:
- Soil Test- If you haven’t completed soil testing already, now is the time to do it. Soil testing will help you best estimate soil fertility needs specific to the crops that you are going to plant. Taking and sending off soil samples now will make sure that you will have results back in time prior to when you need to to determine how much fertilizer to apply. A soil test may also be very beneficial in deciding the best planting location for specific vegetable crops. However, remember that soil testing does cost $4 per sample between Thanksgiving and April.
- If you are going to turn soil, go ahead and plow as soon as soil conditions allow. If you have cover crop, make sure to spray down, or turn it under now to make sure that the roots and cover crop debris do not create a problem for your crops. Plowing now will take advantage of the freeze/thaw that is to come. Plowing and exposing soil to the freeze/thaw cycle will make the soil easier to prepare. Turning soil now will allow ample time for cover crops to decay which will allow obtaining their maximum benefit.
- Now is the time to really consider your markets for the upcoming year and plan accordingly. This is a great time of the year to have conversations with potential buyers, and start lining up wholesale markets. It is always much better to plant when you already have an idea of what your market is going to require. If you can get contracts, or written commitments, great! Knowing where you are marketing your crops, and having an idea of what they might bring will be very helpful for budgeting.
- Line up plant and seed orders. It is almost too late to order seed so if you plan to raise your own starts, you better get your order in soon! Many commercial vegetable seed varieties are in short supply this year. You will want to order so that you can make alternate plans if your preferred varieties are not available. If you purchase plants, make sure that you have had a conversation with your provider to make sure you are able to get what you want.
- Go ahead and order field supplies. Last year saw an unanticipated shortage of greenhouse supplies. This year, shortages are anticipated yet again. Expect higher prices for supplies such as black plastic mulch, drip tape, fertilizer, fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides. If you know that there are products or supplies that you will need, go head and purchase them if you can to make sure you have them on hand when you are ready for field work.
These are just a few of the steps that I am taking in my vegetable operation. As you consider your needs for the upcoming vegetable production year, remember that we can help! Feel free to contact N.C. Cooperative Extension of Yancey County if you would like additional tips or assistance in planning for the upcoming production season on your farm!