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Gardens In Late, But Shouldn't Hurt Harvest
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring temperature have been great for planting gardens, but rains have kept gardeners out of their plots until recently.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said favorable weather in the growing season should allow the gardens to recover from lost time and still yield good harvests.
"Most gardens that have been put in were planted in the last two weeks," Nagel said. "That's a little late for cool season crops like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, and it's a little early for warm season crops like peppers, tomatoes and corn."
Although these types of crops have different ideal conditions, they will now face the same weather at the same time in their growing season.
"If we have a typical, hot June, we won't have as good yields from the cool crops," Nagel said. "The warm crops will be OK as long as night temperatures stay above 45 degrees."
A cool June would benefit the cool crops, but slow maturity for the warm crops.
"If the sun shines and the temperatures are above 75 degrees in the daytime, you can expect a pretty good garden," Nagel said. "It's better to have cool weather for warm crops than warm weather for cool crops."
Dr. Charles Wax, professor of geosciences at MSU, said no weather forecasts can reliably predict what the summer will hold for gardens.
"When you're looking that far ahead, you have to consider climatology, not weather forecasts," Wax said. "Past experiences, weather patterns and other data cannot predict weather that far in advance."
Wax said La Nina -- cooler, dryer weather caused by a cooling of Pacific Ocean waters -- does not necessarily follow on the heels of its counterpart, El Nino. The effects of El Nino appear to be about finished, and Mississippians can expect the weather to return to normal.
"But unfortunately in Mississippi, normal can be bizarre," Wax said.
Because of the weather, Jefferson Davis County home gardeners are two to three weeks behind schedule, said James Richmond, Extension agent for that county.
"The commercial gardeners were probably not hurt as bad by the weather because our market window is July 1 to frost for most crops," Richmond said. "Most should catch up when the weather warms up more, and the crops that are sitting in wet soil now should have a chance to dry out and mature on schedule."
Ada Mason works with the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce at the Dixie Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association in Bassfield. Gardeners from a six-county area sell their produce at this market.
"Right now, everything is on line that has been planted here," Mason said. "On average, crops were three to three weeks late getting in the ground because it rained so much and the ground was too saturated."
This will likely push harvest back two to three weeks for many of the crops, but shouldn't affect yield, she said.
"A slow start shouldn't hurt anything, and if the weather cooperates, it should be a really good year," Mason said.
Contact: Dr. David Nagel, (601) 325-2311