There’s a number of greenhouses that have already been planted, with some getting close to picking the first tomatoes of the season. As Steve Bogash’s wife, Roberta says, there are only two seasons of the year… “tomato season, and waiting for tomato season.” With that in mind we are getting very close to TOMATO SEASON!
Despite the obvious fact that we’re beginning to prepare our taste buds for that first “fresh picked” tomato, we want to add a couple articles for row crops in this issue. We offer a very strong program for both produce and field crops, and we continually explore how to make them better. Obviously, income potential per acre is not nearly as great with row crops and grain compared to produce, so input costs must be watched fairly closely. Even so, ISP offers several products that have been proven to provide a significant positive impact upon several key components of field production.
As with all crops, yield potential is determined by soil composition and the interactions of a soil’s characteristics. Too often, growers tend to concentrate primarily upon the chemical component of the soil (fertilizer), paying insufficient attention the physical and biological properties. Yet it’s often these physical/biological issues that create yield robbing situations such as leaching of fertilizers, excessive disease or insect pressure, compaction, excessive erosion, and a wide range of environmental stress such as pooling of water or poor water retention.
At ISP we engage all aspects of soil fertility. We certainly look at current nutrient levels, with recommendations to ensure that there is adequate nutrient to support yield goals. Depending upon individual water quality, we may also make recommendations adjusting water chemistry. We also observe water drainage and/or “hot spots” in a field, and if necessary make recommendations for specific tillage operations such as deep-ripping of a field. At the same time we are actively working toward improving the soils biological makeup, using an array of biostimulants such as MetaboliK HV-1; humic acids such as PhytoGro Xtra, or combinations of humic/fulvic acids and bio brews, with several examples being Pow’r Pak, ReStore 3G and MetaboliK Seed Boost. (In the previous Winter Issue, we discussed the many benefits of an active and proper biological profile.)
It’s been regarding to observe high CEC soils in South Dakota and how they’ve changed in soil structure across several years of using these biological stimulants. In low CEC and OM soils it’s been equally rewarding to see OM increase, with a steady increase in productive potential. While none of these products are “magic bullets”, they do play an important role in soil management, and have provided solutions to a wide range of soil problems.
It’s also been interesting to observe the “marketplace” across the last four decades. When we began working with these materials in the late 1970’s, we were pretty much alone. Today, humic acids, bio-brews, and stimulants, they are almost as common as traditional fertilizers. Every company or fertilizer outlet offers at least several choices. In recent months there has been a number of articles in trade publications (Greenhouse Grower, Growing Produce News) discussing these types of products, and the benefits that they offer. While certainly beneficial for produce crops, keep in mind that most all plants grow in the soil. Improving a soil’s productive potential makes sense whether you grow corn, tomatoes, or any other crop.
Last year we completed our first season with the new silicon products, and have continued to discover additional information as well as other research into what probably advantages these materials bring to individual management programs. We hope to have several comparisons this season to add to what is already a very impressive list of benefits. (there is a new product sheet available on SiGuard and SiMag 58, if you wish to receive one, just let us know.
So … as we close out the winter and start getting ready for “tomato season”, we look forward to a profitable growing year. We are well aware that the ‘perfect year’ doesn’t exist, but we also know that there are many management options to improve the potential of having a great year. ISP offers a number of them.
Every winter we plan our research projects for the coming season, and this year was no different. In some respects this is one of the most enjoyable activities, as we’re enthusiastic about what we might be able to learn, and as Steve likes to say, “so far everything is perfect!” To date we have no weather events, diseases or insects to worry about. Well maybe one exception is the strawberries which are in their second and final season of research. For the most part it’s all good!
- Red determinate tomatoes, 24+ varieties: Studying growth characteristics and yield potential. Locations will be at the Penn State SE Extension Farm, Michigan, and South Dakota. This project will have both outside and greenhouse/tunnel production.
- Processing tomato variety and yield trials: PSU SE Farm. Last year we maximized the yield on Heinz 3406 at 63 ton/acre. This year we shoot for 75 tons or more under intensive management. A small duplication of this project will be established in Michigan.
- Bell Pepper variety showcase: We’ll be growing some of the latest bell peppers outside in Lancaster, PA, Michigan, and South Dakota. Checking for yield and other quality indicators. Greenhouse production of same varieties in Michigan.
- Russet potato variety and nutrient trial: Growing russet potatoes in the Mid-Atlantic is very challenging due to hollow heart. We will study three different levels of potash and six varieties of russets for yield and quality.
- High Tunnel Cucumber Variety trial: Parthenocarpic cucumbers continue to generate substantial buzz as an alternative high tunnel crop. This year we’ll be looking at several new varieties in the PSU SE farm high tunnel.
- ReStore 3G Field Corn Trial: We are able to have large plots (30’ x 200’) where we will be looking at yield advantages to using ReStore 3G both with and without MicroZorb applied at growth stage V5 in high density plantings. PSU SE Research Farm.
- Projects with Virginia Tech and University of Maryland on wine grape production and grape quality.
- Seedless watermelon: Will have 12 varieties, and will also study plant response, fruit counts and quality from Metabolic HV-1 and a foliar program. Project will be in southwest Michigan.
- Muskmelon variety and fertility project, also studying yield and fruit quality, with and without MetaboliK HV-1. In addition, there will be several specialty varieties grown that will not be part of the replicated research.
- Onion project to observe the effects of SiGuard on thrip pressure. Will also include a yield comparison of Candy to Delgado.
- We also want to have several comparison projects with SiGuard on pumpkins, biostimulants on yellow field corn, and blackberries.