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Weekly Vegetable Update - June 5, 2024

Authors: Marissa Schuh and Natalie Hoidal

Hopefully last night’s storms are the closing of the tap after another wet week. NOAA is calling for cooler than normal temperatures and less rain in the next week.

Tips for dealing with flooded fields
It has been wet, with more torrential rain hitting parts of that state last night. Here are some general tips for dealing with flooded fields:
  • Don't do what I'm doing in the photo below. It's tempting to go out and inspect the damage, but it's better to wait it out until the field has drained a bit. Moving through wet fields and inspecting plants can lead to soil compaction, and you can spread disease in the process.
  • After a heavy rain fall, wait until your crops have dried to fix any trellising or to prune out damaged plant parts.
  • Scout your crops frequently following extreme weather events and consider spraying if you see any signs of disease to ensure that it does not spread further via wounds (e.g. wounds from hail damage, stems snapping off in heavy winds, etc.) 
  • Any edible portions of produce were touched by floodwater may be contaminated and should not be considered safe to eat.
Sweet corn in a flooded field. Photo: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension.

Acclimating new hires to summer weather
Many farms have new employees starting around this time, right as temperatures are really warming up. Keep in mind that while you might be acclimated to warm weather, employees who are just starting may not yet be acclimated. Make sure to balance the workload of new employees and volunteers in their first week or two on the job and give them extra breaks and opportunities to work out of the sun. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2018) provides the following recommendations:
  • For new workers, the schedule should be no more than a 20% exposure on day 1 and an increase of no more than 20% on each additional day.
  • For workers who have had previous experience with the job, the acclimatization regimen should be no more than 50% exposure on day 1, 60% on day 2, 80% on day 3, and 100% on day 4.
Read more about heat safety here:

Crop updates
Asparagus harvest is winding down in some spots. When you start seeing spears that are pencil size or smaller, your plants are telling you they are ready to be done for the year.

Final harvest is a key time for weed control in asparagus. For conventional growers, the final pick is a key time to use herbicides. Synthetic auxin herbicides can be applied in the day-of or day-after final harvest (this helps limit damage to spears or fern). Another option for emerged weeds is glyphosate — to use this, remove all spears so that the patch is totally picked. You can mix glyphosate and a synthetic auxin. This is a helpful combo if you have tricky perennial weeds in your space. For more information on herbicides, see the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide.

For organic growers, after a final, clean pick is a good time for shallow cultivation between rows. This will work best on small, recently emerged annual weeds and won’t do much to control perennials like Canada thistle. Other organic options include flaming and, of course, hand weeding.

Cole crops continue to be planted and grow. Insects are making themselves known this time of year. If you’re running into flea beetles, review management options here. If you’re seeing caterpillars, review ID and management here.

Cucumbers are growing in many high tunnels, while other cucurbits are being transplanted into the field. Keep in mind that cucurbits are extremely sensitive to root disturbance, so handle your transplants carefully. If you have two seedlings in a cell, it is usually not worth trying to break them up. Instead, plant both or cut one near the soil surface. Roots can also be damaged during weed control, so hoe and cultivate carefully.

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