Crop Talk: Fall Crops
Though it hardly seems fair with spring having just begun, May and June are the time to be thinking about what, if anything, you’ll be harvesting when the fall arrives. Here are a few crucial fall crops to plan for, and some resources to help you have success with your fall harvests:
Fall Root Crops
Lauded for their impressive storability, root crops like carrots, beets and parsnips are a staple of fall harvests. In the case of carrots and parsnips, cool weather and mild frosts even trigger some additional sugars in the roots, making their flavor sweeter. High Mowing has some exceptional storage varieties, including the very special biodynamically-bred Dolciva and the market standard Naval F1, only recently made available as organic seed. For more variety selection advice and growing tips, check out our blog posts about growing better beets and success with fall storage carrots. Another excellent resource for storage crops is this article by University of Vermont extension agent Chris Callahan about the ideal temperature and humidity conditions for storage crops. At right, an October carrot harvest at the High Mowing trials fields.
In anticipation of the cooler days and nights that fall brings, growers planning a good amount of brassica crops will be well rewarded. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts love the mild temperatures, and there are plenty of types to choose from. Our newest kales, Darkibor F1 and Redbor F1 are excellent fall performers and can help bring organic kale production to the next level. High Mowing’s own Sara Schlosser of Sandiwood Farm also has great insights regarding brassica successions throughout the season, including letting her De Cicco broccoli go to flower and harvesting the tender shoots as a gourmet delicacy crop. At right, a fall harvest of Mardi F1 cauliflower.
Fall is a perfect time to rejoice in the return of greens like lettuces and mustards. We’re getting reports from growers who are having great success with the Eazyleaf one-cut type lettuces both in the heat of late summer and throughout the fall into early winter in protected culture. We’ve got a new variety this season, Stanford, which will make romaine baby leaf lovers happy. And don’t forget the colors that return with certain leaf types due to cooler temperatures – Purple Mizuna and Vivid Choi Pac Choy make greens mixes pop as nighttime temperature dips reveal their purple veining. At right, a fall crop of Esmee arugula.
Fall Cover Crops
One of our favorite fall crops at High Mowing is not a cash crop at all, but what we consider an investment in future years’ veggies: cover crops. Cover crops are most commonly seeded in the fall to keep soils covered and structured throughout the colder winter months. We’ve got an excellent series on our blog that guides growers through summer-sown and fall-sown cover crops. The charts in these articles will help you determine the cover crop that is right for you based on your sowing dates and the desired outcome for building the health of your soils. At right, a fall-sown cover crop of winter rye gets established at the High Mowing farm.