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Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Growers

Southwestern Illinois(Waterloo) Update: Spring plantings off to a good start

sweet corn seedling emerging in field through a brown mulch of dead cover crops

Out in the field, spring plantings have been off to a good start.  Cool season crops have been very happy.  I have early planted radishes and spring greens approaching harvest.  Potatoes are planted and I set out some spring cauliflower and broccoli the first of the month and it is really starting to take off.  Also, I had my earliest planting of sweet corn in on 4/9.  It is now at the 2 leaf stage and with some rain and warmer weather starting to take off.  With some cooler temperatures it was a little yellow at first, but now starting to take off nicely.  Asparagus has been early, as I mentioned last month but since, yield reports I have heard from growers have been very good!  During some cooler days, harvest slowed as typical but overall total harvest and quality is excellent.  Cover crops are also starting to take off and I’ll share more updates later in this issue.

Fruit crops have been progressing well.  I found my first strawberries of the season in southern Illinois April 11.  Blueberries have finished bloom and brambles are just starting or getting close to bloom.  Apples have a good set of fruit and thinning time is just around the corner.  The peach crop is variable by location and microclimate and specific variety.  Tart cherries also look good so far as well.

We started off the first half of April with continued dry and average, but variable temperatures.  Temperatures have been in typical swings with some very warm days up in the mid 80s but also even as late as the 3rd week of April some morning lows dipping into the upper 30s.  We have only had minimal to patchy frost recently, but enough cool to warrant concern for sensitive plants. As of the last weekend of the month from Friday afternoon until Monday 4/29 we have gotten over 3 inches of much needed rain.  Overall, April has been one of the wettest months we have had in quite some time with a total as of 4/29 of 6.20” of rain.  While this does (finally) slow down any planting or spring field work, the rain is needed and good early planting windows were available so the rain is very welcomed! 

Hopefully after this weekend’s moisture, we will get a window to continue with field work to keep up with spring planting!