Season Extension Terry E. Poole Extension Agent Frederick County, MD
Season extension is a way to extend cash to the farm business operation over a longer period of time. Often early and out-of-season products will bring a higher price, so it can be in the producers favor to be the first and the last on the market.
Season Extension How do we extend the season? Method 1: Modify the environment * cold frames * row covers * greenhouses * plastic mulches
Greenhouses offer the best in environmental management
Season Extension Method 2: Diversity of Crops *Vary varieties (can be 2 or more weeks difference in maturity dates) *Vary species (some species are earlier maturing than others during the season) *Vary planting dates (maturity of a crop can be staggered by planting at different time intervals)
Season Extension *Pasture utilization can be extended in much the same way. - using different varieties of forages - using different species of forages - using management techniques such as stock-piling, crop residues, and grazing management.
Root Cellars Cost effective way to extend season * economical for small farms Root cellar considerations (plan ahead) store for quality some crops store better storage capacity production, handling, storage crop storage compatibility crops are not all that can be stored
Other things besides produce can be stored in the root cellar. Those of you considering poultry operations will find that fresh eggs can be stored in the root cellar.
Root Cellars Planning recommendations a) the cellar - about anything can be used - choice affects size/scope - most use whats at hand b) temperature - cellar should be cool (32-40 0 F) c) humidity - second only to temperature in importance - crops cant replace lost moisture (need 90-95% humidity)
Root Cellars d ) ventilation - important after temp. and humidity - regulates temp. and humidity - exhausts smells and gases - correct airflow is essential e) accessibility - design for convenience - wont be used otherwise f) darkness - light deteriorates some crops - use light only while you are in there
Root Cellars g) drainage - humidity, not waterlogged h) shelving - need materials to stand dampness i) size - this is the big question - will be a limitation - estimate storage needs now and the future - room 5 ft. x 8 ft. holds 30 bu. of produce
The timing of when you harvest has a direct impact on how well your crop stores.
Post Harvest Treatment Preserving product quality * crops continue to breathe * crops are limited on storage time * storage temperature is the key Harvesting * not over-mature or immature * pre-cooling
Post Harvest Treatment Timing * it is everything * frost is a big factor, affecting pre-harvest, post-harvest, and frost protection * root crops are best left as long as possible * harvesting during cool weather keeps crops cool * avoid harvesting during muddy conditions
Cleaning harvested crops * dust is okay, just do a light brushing * too much scrubbing may cause damage Handling * be gentle, no bruising Selecting crops to store * cull out damaged, over and immature crops * quality control is essential Curing * some crops need 1 to 2 weeks curing Clipping * green tops should be removed Post Harvest Treatment