2013 Crop Report: Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Chard

And the crop report continues for 2013, a few veggies at a time:

Bull's Blood Beet Greens

Bull’s Blood Beet Greens

Beets

  • Varieties:  Early Wonder (Fedco), Chiogga Guardsmark (Pelleted, Johnny’s), Bull’s Blood (High Mowing)
  • Amount grown:  Spring succession:  50 ft Early Wonder, 50 ft Chiogga, 70 ft Bull’s Blood.  Fall succession:  35 ft Early Wonder, 35 ft Chiogga.  All direct seeded.
  • Sales:  $198 (Early Wonder and Chiogga), $179 Bull’s Blood, $377 total beet sales.  Projected:  $392.
  • Where sold:  Farmer’s market and our mini-CSA.
  • Amount sold:  61 bunches Chiogga and Early Wonder, 64 bunches Bull’s Blood
  • What was good about it?  Field conditions were very bad for our early beets, but the Bull’s Blood managed to get through it (the others didn’t).  I sold the Bull’s Blood primarily for their greens for most of the season, and they were a steady and popular seller. The fall crop of beets did much better, especially the Chiogga beets, which had good size and quality and beautiful greens.  When I had beets at the market, they usually sold pretty well.  I was able to harvest multiple cuttings of Bull’s Blood Beet greens, a lot like chard.  Bull’s Blood beet greens enabled us to come in close to our projected sales.  Plus our we got a better price for the greens ($3 versus $2) than expected.   I did apply some Boron to try to perk up the first planting, which helped a little (but not enough).
  • What could have been better?   Field conditions were very, very bad for our early beets.  They had almost no size.  Plus we had bad weed pressure (due to early wet conditions).  I should have given up earlier on the first planting of beets–if they don’t get off to a good start, it seems like it’s very hard for them to reach a marketable size.  They really need well-drained soil and can’t be super wet.  Our second planting was in a raised bed and that helped a LOT (as did better weather).  The Bull’s Blood were very strong and lasted through most of the season, but their quality declined in the fall.  I would have been better off planting a second succession of them in late summer.
  • Would I grow it again?  Yes, because customers like them and we got a decent price for them.  This is a crop that I want to learn to grow better.  I love growing Bull’s Blood–their greens are so beautiful and they’re something most customers have never tried before (and enjoy).  Next time, I would grow only Early Wonder in the spring, and grow Red Ace and Chiogga in the fall.  And Bull’s Blood all season.  I find that I have to sow the seed pretty heavily to get good germination (and then thin), so I’ll make sure to order more seeds next time.

Broccoli

  • Varieties:  De Cicco (Johnny’s)
  • Amount grown:  Spring succession: 50 ft, fall succession: 100 ft
  • Sales:  $29.  Projected:  $180
  • Where sold:  Farmer’s Market
  • Amount sold:  10 bags
  • What was good about it?  Not much.  Well, I guess it sprouted pretty well in our transplant trays and we had very strong seedlings.  And the flavor for what we harvested was very good.
  • What could have been better?  This was a terrible crop for us this year.  The spring crop suffered from very bad field conditions and bad weather.  Too much water, standing water, weed pressure, then a severe heat wave in early July hurt yield a lot.  This is a crop that I should have given up on sooner.  Our fall crop was planted in mid-August and grew to be huge plants, but gave NO harvestable heads.  Huge disappointment.  I guess next time, I’ll have to get it started a couple weeks earlier.
  • Would I grow it again?  Maybe as a learning exercise, but I still am a long way from mastering it for production.  I would definitely NOT grow De Cicco again–the heads are too small.  Broccoli seems like a lot of work and field space for a crop with a fairly limited yield.  I also had a very hard time finding organic seeds in the varieties that I want.  However, my family loves to eat broccoli (as do our customers), so I’d like to figure this one out someday.
Carrots in the field

Carrots in the field

Carrots

  • Varieties:  Ya Ya, pelleted (Johnny’s)
  • Amount grown:  100 ft
  • Sales:  $108.  Projected:  $240.
  • Where sold:  Farmer’s Market and our mini-CSA
  • Amount sold:  36 bunches
  • What was good about it?  The carrots were pretty tasty and of a decent size.  Customers liked them and we almost always sold out.
  • What could have been better?  Poor field conditions and bad weather led to a very late harvest.  I’d planned on a late spring/early summer crop, but instead was harvesting in September.  I should have ordered a lot more seeds–they need to be seeded pretty heavily.  The timing for weeding carrots is a bit of an art, and I felt like a real duffer.  We suffered from heavy weed pressure, due to our super rainy June and July.
  • Would I grow it again?  I’d try.  I like eating carrots and apparently so do my customers.  And they provide nice variety on the farm stand.  However, it’s critical to make sure that you have the right soil if you’re going to grow carrots–we suffered from compaction about 8 inches down, which was not good for our carrots.  A raised bed would have helped somewhat.  I like Ya Ya–they’re pretty sturdy, and I like a beefy carrot.

 

chard at the market

Chard at the market

Chard

  • Varieties:  Improved Rainbow Mix (High Mowing)
  • Amount grown:  340 feet (2 separate beds, each with a double row).  Some were transplants and some was direct seeded.  I even purchased some seedlings.  Generally, I think direct seeding of chard and work out pretty well, especially if they’re under cover.
  • Sales:  $1,252.  Projected:  $1,545
  • Where sold:  World Peas Cooperative CSA, Farmer’s Market, our Mini-CSA
  • Amount sold:  542 bunches.  Projected:  744
  • What was good about it?  Later in the season we had good size on the leaves.  The bunches we were able to harvest looked good.  I’m a fan of the rainbow mix.
  • What could have been better?  We came in below projections for both sales and quantity, and sales were actually boosted by us getting more than our expected price at the farmer’s market ($3/bunch vs. $2/bunch).  Usually, I find chard super easy to grow, but we struggled a lot with it this season.  Again, weather and water were the big problems.  Those problems led to some fungal disease that great reduced our yields.  The two beds I planted should have been more than enough to meet all our World Peas orders, but I came up short many times, because I had to cull so many diseased leaves.
  • Would I grow it again?  Yes.  I like growing it, and it’s a steady seller.  When we have better weather and soil conditions, it’s pretty easy to grow.  Plus, I’m able to harvest the plants all season long, which is a big help. Clearly crop rotation is important to help avoid disease, and I’d be more careful next time.

That’s it for today.  Next time I’ll have results for  Cilantro, Collards, Cucumbers, and flowers.

Chard in the field

Chard in the field

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