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Research Reports

Keeping PA Vegetable Growers Profitable: Statewide Broccoli Cultivar Trials. In the 2014 growing season we evaluated 25 broccoli cultivars in a spring and fall crop in three locations to determine which are best suited for Pennsylvania.

Cucumbers mature quickly and produce high yields but are extremely sensitive to frost. As the demand for locally grown cucumbers has increased from major grocery chains in central Pennsylvania, many growers are seeking to extend the cucumber growing season to take advantage of periods where local market supply is relatively low.

Many vegetable producers grow fall-planted cover crops to improve soil health and protect the soil from winter erosion. But it is difficult to plant early spring vegetables after winter cover crops. Overwintering cover crops like rye and vetch can be difficult to kill and take weeks to decompose, delaying spring planting. Winter-killed cover crops like oats create a mulch which keeps soils cool and wet. Tilling dead oat residue warms and dries out the soil for early plantings. But tillage destroys some of the soil health benefits of the cover crop, and decomposing small grain residue may release nitrogen too slowly for early crops.

High Tunnel acreage in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic continues to grow due to improvements in tomato quality and substantially earlier harvests in crops grown in tunnels.

High Tunnel acreage in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic continues to grow due to improvements in tomato quality and substantially earlier harvests in crops grown in tunnels.

In 2010-11 we evaluated kabocha and buttercup types of squash cultivars in a conventional system in three locations across the state.

To provide growers with information for successful, region specific, cultivar selection in 2010-11, we evaluated several acorn squash cultivars in a conventional system across the state.

To provide growers with information for successful, region-specific cultivar selection, in 2010-11 we evaluated several types of squash cultivars in conventional and organic systems across the state.

PDF, 212.3 kB

The following report includes general mid-demonstration conclusions, hints from farmers, and experiences from each of seven participating farms.

PDF, 2.0 MB

Every farm has a field that just does not perform up to expectations. Nine farms in Southeastern PA used the Cornell Soil Health Test in 2009 and 2010 to learn more about which soil properties might be holding back poor performing fields on their farms. The soil health tests yielded interesting results. Some results confirmed farmer expectations and provided a catalyst for change. For example, “This is what I might have guessed for that field,” said one farmer, “It is nice to have the experts confirm my suspicions.” Other tests revealed unseen below-ground problems. For all who participated, the project provided a valuable learning tool. One grower stated, “I can honestly say that the Soil Health Study has taught me more than any other class or workshop.” Six of nine farmers acted on their Soil Health results, planting cover crops and monitoring possible benefits. At the remaining three farms Soil Health test results indicated few problems and/or cover crop attempts were thwarted by environmental conditions.

Due to increased consumer demand and higher prices per pound (than green bells), colored bell peppers have great potential to be a profitable crop.

The Best of the 2011 Penn State Tomato Trials.

Transplanting short day onions between March 15 and April 1 coupled with optimum growing conditions would make it possible to grow some short day onions in Pennsylvania, specifically Chianti and Pinot Rouge.

Both ‘5059’ and ‘1819’ produced the highest yields in both number of fruit and weight compared to both ‘Aristotle’ and ‘Archimedes’.

Results of the 2012 broccoli variety trial at Rock Springs, PA.

PDF, 339.9 kB

Soil-borne diseases can be devastating to crops. Unseen they may persist in the soil for years. Harold Weaver, from Meadow Gate Vista Farm in Bowers, Pennsylvania, tried a new strategy for combating soil-borne disease: cover crops. This update contains results from both 2011 and 2013 when we repeated the experiment.

In order to look at the possible labor and resource savings, Penn State Extension educators working with growers, laid biodegradable mulch at seven sites in Northampton, Berks, Schuylkill, Snyder, and Bucks Counties.