Yesterday evening it hailed (at my house various sizes up to golf ball size) and this morning we found a great deal of damage to the plastic of the high tunnel (many holes and totally deflated) as well as some damage to the greenhouses.
We noticed that the Magnolia stellata was blooming last week! It is usually in full bloom around April 1, so it looks like things are developing early at this point. That brings bad memories of the Easter Freeze of 2007 when March was warmer than April and things started to grow ahead of schedule. Early April 2007 saw record cold temps and all fruit crops were lost. This scenario, where March is warmer than April, occurred about 4 times in the early 1900s. We hope the early 2000s are not following suit!
We set up our College of Agriculture booth at the Farm Bureau thank a Farmer today with recruitment materials, a display of wines, jams and honey, and out fruit production information. The brunch was followed by an auction to benefit a farm family who lost a loved one.
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The field crew began pruning peach trees yesterday. The crew will work on this over the next couple of weeks. We prune the peaches after most of the other fruit crops at the station since peaches can be injured if pruned too early.
The plastic was replaced today on the high tunnel. The entire crew took advantage of the nice warm day with calm winds to replace the plastic on the high tunnel. It takes teamwork, patience and some muscle to pull the cover over. The cover is Dura-Film Super 4, 6-mil polyethylene greenhouse film. Let the planting begin. Thanks to all our crew for working together to get this done.
Plastic is unrolled
Plastic is unfolded
Ropes were thrown over the tunnel at both ends and in the middle. Jeremy and Jameson then tied the rope to the plastic.
Stephen and Randy tying the corner
Sheila tying knots
Starting to pull the cover over
Sheila assisting with the middle
It is off and running
Manny, Avery, and Jameson pull over the plastic and get a workout
Stephen and Jeremy attach the corner with wiggle wire
Stephen and Jeremy working down the side of the tunnel with the wiggle wire
Jeremy still going
Randy’s turn with the wiggle wire
Jeremy finishing attaching the plastic to the end wall with wiggle wire
All hands on board
Jeremy and Avery finishing the other end wall
Jeremy and Randy clean up the excess plastic
Randy, Avery and Jeremy insert the fan to inflate the double layer
Randy inserting the fan into the bottom layer of plastic
Jeremy places the cap for the fan
Let the planting begin
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We managed to take the plastic off of the high tunnel in time for holiday break. The tunnel has been covered since 2010, so it is definitely time for new plastic. We took a soil sample today in order to compare it to the soil sample taken in 2010 in order to see if there has been a buildup of salts. Soluble salts may build up in a high tunnel since it is covered and rain does not wash salts out. By taking the plastic off and waiting a while before we replace it, we hope that rain will allow any salt buildup to wash away.
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The raspberries in grow bags were moved out of the high tunnel today and mulched with straw. The leaves did not fall before the bags were moved, but low temperatures predicted this weekend led us to decide to move the bags and mulch them for protection.
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