We had a break from the summer heat last week, but this week the heat dome has moved back over our region creating very hot, humid conditions. With 95-100° temperatures and heat indexes ranging from 105-120°, much of the field work in our high tunnels is completed before noon with lots of water and fan breaks.
Fortunately for us, the majority of our tomato crop was harvested before this week’s oppressive heat. Peppers are still sizing and continue to be harvested every 7-10 days. We will stop collecting research data the end of August on the tomato, pepper and cut flower crops included in our research project, “Strategies for Improving Biological Control of Insect Pests for Vegetable Growers Utilizing High Tunnels.” This will give us time to get the tunnels cleaned out and prepared for planting of fall cover crops the first week of October.
- Hydroponic cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, green beans, specialty melons, and edible flowers/herbs are still producing.
- The cucumbers and strawberries especially loved the break in temperatures that was felt in the previous couple of weeks.
- As expected, spider mites and thrips have been our biggest insect pests within the hydroponic tunnel.
Our last 2023 Southern Illinois Summer Twilight Series meeting was held on August 21 at The Patch farm in Williamson County. Samantha and Adam Dahmer hosted about 20 growers interested in their no-till pumpkin production and agritourism/marketing strategies.
With over 70 varieties of pumpkins spread across 10 acres, the Dahmer’s offer a u-pick pumpkin experience that allows customers to create memories and make a connect to farming activities. With a strong focus on soil health, their pumpkin production benefits from a 14 species cover crop mix and crop rotation. The networking and sharing of information on a diverse range of crops and livestock, production practices and marketing continue to be of benefit to all types of participants whether they are local foods customers, beginning farmers/ranches or seasoned, experienced growers and producers.