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Muskmelons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, watermelons and okra are vegetable crops that have shown significant increases in earliness, yield, and fruit quality when grown on plastic mulch. Some less valuable crops such as sweet corn, snap beans, southern peas and pumpkins have shown similar responses. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic mulches are outlined in this publication.
This publication discusses growing and harvesting head lettuce, the most important salad vegetable grown in the United States. Per-capita consumption exceeds 25 pounds annually. In North Carolina, the crop can be grown as both a spring and fall crop in eastern North Carolina and even during midsummer in western North Carolina at elevations higher than 3,000 feet.
Much success in growing tomatoes can be attributed to use of a few proven techniques. Choosing a variety that has proven to be a true performer should be at the top of every gardener's list. Better Boy, Whopper, Celebrity, and Mountain Pride are among some of the best selections. Better Boy, Celebrity, and Whopper are VFN, which means they carry resistance to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and root-knot nematodes. It is best to experiment with several varieties in order to find the ideal tomato for your taste buds.
Fresh market (slicer) cucumbers have been produced commercially in North Carolina for many years. The average yield from commercial fields has been 850 to 950 bushels per acre or 2 to 3 times the average yield from non-trellised fields. This publication covers growing and harvesting fresh market cucumbers.
Muskmelons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, watermelons, and okra are vegetable crops that have shown significant increases in earliness, yield, and fruit quality when grown on plastic mulch. Some less-valuable crops such as sweet corn, snap beans, southern peas, and pumpkins have shown similar responses. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of using plastic mulches are outlined below.
Cabbage is grown commercially in eastern North Carolina as both a spring and fall crop, and in the mountains as an early summer and fall crop. Cabbage acreage in North Carolina averages 10,000 to 12,000 acres. The biggest problem in growing this crop is insect control.
Southern peas originated in India in prehistoric times and moved to Africa, then to America. In India Southern peas are known by 50 common names and in the United States are called "Field peas," "Crowder peas," "Cowpeas" and "blackeyes," but Southern peas is the preferred name. This publication covers growing and harvesting Southern peas in North Carolina.
Asparagus has been grown for many years. The Ancient Greeks and Romans relished this crop. It originated in Asia Minor and is a member of the lily family. California, Michigan, and Washington are the major producing states, but there is some commercial production in many of the northern and western states. Warm regions such as Northern Mexico and Southern California also grow it. This publication covers recent research that has shown that asparagus can be grown at a profit in North Carolina.
Okra is grown throughout North Carolina in home gardens and for commercial markets. It is a warm season crop that belongs to the cotton (Mallow) family and should not be planted until the soil has thoroughly warmed in the spring. Okra is referred to as 'Gumbo' in some areas.
Beets have been cultivated for centuries. Though grown mostly for the roots, beet greens are also popular in many areas. Beets are a common item in vegetable gardens, but few are produced in North Carolina. This publication covers how to grow and harvest beets.
Spinach is a cool-season crop and belongs to the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae) as do beets and Swiss chard. This crop is becoming more popular as evidenced by increases in consumption of both fresh (salads) and processed spinach. Spinach reaches edible maturity quickly (37 to 45 days) and thrives best during the cool, moist seasons of the year.
Carrots can be produced almost year-round in parts of North Carolina. Both fresh market and processing types hold potential. This publication will assist commercial farmers with growing and harvesting carrots.
Broccoli is a cool-season crop, closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and mustard. It can be grown as either a spring or a fall crop. Broccoli is a high-quality vegetable for fresh use and is one of the more popular frozen vegetables. This publication covers growing and harvesting this highly nutritious vegetable.
The collard is a cool season crop that should be grown during early spring or fall. The mature plant will withstand frosts and light to medium freezes. It is one of the most popular garden vegetables in the south and is rapidly becoming a delicacy in northern states as well.
Turnips and rutabagas are among the most commonly grown and widely adapted root crops. They are members of the Cruciferae or mustard family and belong to the genus Brassica. The two are similar in plant size and general characteristics. Turnip leaves are usually light green, thin and hairy, while the rutabagas are bluish-green, thick and smooth. The roots of turnips generally have little or no neck and a distinct taproot, while rutabaga roots are often more elongated and have a thick, leafy neck and roots originating from the underside of the edible root as well as from the taproot.
This publication covers growing and harvesting eggplant in North Carolina. Eggplant is a warm season plant that is very susceptible to frost. It requires a relatively long growing season to produce profitable yields. Growth is checked by cool weather. Proper cultural practices can yield 500 bushels per acre.
The onion is a cool season crop that will withstand moderate freezes. It may be grown either by seeding directly in the field, or by setting transplants. North Carolina growers have an excellent market opportunity in June and July when very few onions are available. Yield will range from 400 to 800 (50-pound) sacks per acre depending on the year and cultural practices. A premium is paid for large onions during our harvest season.
This publication discusses the Brussels sprout, a cool season crop, belonging to the cabbage family, and closely related to cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards, etc. Like cauliflower, it thrives best in a cool humid climate, thus commercial production of this crop is concentrated in the "fog-belt" of California with limited production in the Long Island, New York area. The edible portion of this crop is the "bud" or small cabbage-like head which grows in the axils of each leaf. Occasionally the tops are used as greens.
This factsheet covers celery, which could be a very profitable crop in North Carolina. A harvest period in late June or early July, and one in October, would fill market voids when other major celery producing areas are not harvesting. Celery, however, is not an easy crop to grow. Although it is a cool season crop, exposure of juvenile plants to temperatures below 40 to 50ºF for more than 5 to 10 days can cause premature bolting, making the crop unsalable. Special attention must be given to maintaining a steady water supply and providing the proper amount of nutrients to allow for constant growth.
Cauliflower is a cool season crop, closely related to broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, and mustard. It is more exacting in its climatic requirements than most other crops in this family. It grows best in a comparatively cool temperature with a moist atmosphere. With proper management cauliflower can be grown in North Carolina as either a spring or fall crop, although the fall crop will generally produce better quality.
Producing asparagus crowns for sale or use is simple and profitable. Careful attention to details described here is important so that all requirements for certified plant production can be met. Certified plants are most saleable and bring a premium price. One-year-old crowns will produce a healthy asparagus planting.
When onions are harvested in the green or immature stage they are called "green bunch onions." These onions are sold in bunches tied with a rubber band. This is a popular crop for home and market gardeners in the fall, winter and early spring. Acreages are usually small because of the amount of hand labor required for planting and preparation for market.
Precision seeding is defined as the placing of desired numbers of seeds at a precise depth and spacing. Precision seeding has many advantages for the vegetable grower over conventional dribble (Planet Jr.) or multiseed drop-plate seeding systems (most corn planters). However, the seeding accuracy is not a substitute for proper land preparation, irrigation, and other crop management practices necessary to obtain a good stand of a vegetable crop. Precision seeding simply allows the vegetable grower to reduce cost and increase reliability of his crop production.
Radish is a cool-season crop which grows best in spring and fall. It requires 3 to 6 weeks from seeding to harvest. This factsheet covers growing and harvesting radishes in North Carolina.
Broccoli-raab (also known as rapa, rapine, rappone, fall and spring raab or turnip broccoli) is a rapidly growing annual when grown in spring, but a biennial in fall plantings. The leaves with the seed-stalks, before blooming, are cut for greens and are sold to ethnic markets (primarily Italian).
This factsheet offers information on growing and harvesting upland cress, a green often eaten like spinach or kale; however, in some areas, it is frequently eaten raw as a salad or garnish.
Leafy greens, such as turnips, mustard, collards, kale, and spinach are cool season crops. They should be grown during early spring or fall for maximum yields and quality, but this season can be extended if markets warrant. Kale and spinach can withstand temperature into the upper teens and are often harvested through winter in the east. The other greens may withstand medium frosts.
Sprouts from mung bean (Phaseolus aureus) have been used for food since ancient times. These sprouts have a nutrient value similar to asparagus and mushrooms, which contain high quantities of Vitamin A. Sprouts can be canned or frozen in addition to eating them fresh. Mung bean seeds can be purchased from mail-order commercial seed companies and health food chain stores. (Caution: Regardless of the source, do not use seeds that have been treated with a fungicide. Treated seeds are not edible and can be recognized by the coating of pink or green dust on the seed coat.)
This checklist is provided to help growers recognize components of a drip or trickle irrigation system and to assist in planning and installing such a system. A grower should always consult an irrigation specialist or irrigation company that designs and installs drip or trickle systems to ensure the system is properly engineered and designed for his water source and field topography.
Vegetables are 80 to 95 percent water. Because they contain so much water, their yield and quality suffer very quickly from drought. When vegetables are sold, a "sack of water" with a small amount of flavoring and some vitamins is being sold. Thus, for good yields and high quality, irrigation is essential to the production of most vegetables. If water shortages occur early in the crop's development, maturity may be delayed and yields are often reduced. If a moisture shortage occurs later in the growing season, quality is often reduced even though total yields are not affected.
Asparagus has been considered a garden delicacy since Roman times. Any home gardener can grow and enjoy this spring vegetable. Asparagus is a perennial. If you plant and manage properly it will produce for 15 years or more. Since this crop will occupy the land for many years you should start the asparagus bed properly -- location, soil type, soil fertility, size and age of crowns and correct planting are important.
The tomato is a warm season crop. With special production practices you can produce your first tomatoes in 60 days. This crop can be grown for production from June through November by choosing the right varieties and production practices. Generally, tomatoes require a large investment in time and labor, but increase in intensity of management is repaid by increased yields and profits.
This leaflet is intended to assist growers in troubleshooting drip or trickle irrigation systems. For major problems consult an irrigation specialist or irrigation company that designs and installs drip or trickle irrigation systems.
This factsheet covers growing and harvesting potatoes for commercial sale in North Carolina.
The per-capita consumption of processed tomatoes has increased steadily in recent years. This has been due to changes in eating habits and development of new and better products. Over 8 million tons of processed tomatoes are produced in the United States annually. Average yields for the United States are 25 tons per acre while the range is 9 to 40 tons per acre. North Carolina growers can produce high yields of processing tomatoes. Satisfactory color, pH, sugar and acid content needed to produce a fine quality canned product can be attained if tomatoes are grown according to recommended practices.
Maintaining good sanitation throughout production and handling of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries is important. It is vital that growers and, in turn, their employees understand just how critical any food poisoning outbreak could be to their livelihoods. Pathogens harmful to humans can be transmitted by direct contact (infected employees or animals) or through contaminated water or soil. Once a fruit is infected, pathogens are difficult or impossible to remove. Only thorough cooking (or other similar treatment, such as pasteurization) will reliably neutralize pathogens. Fruits that are field-packed without washing have a higher likelihood of reaching consumers with field contamination. This document focuses on how to best reduce contamination.
Increasingly, fresh produce growers, packers and sellers are being asked to prepare and maintain written Recall Programs. Elements for FDA "Product Recalls" are in 21CFR7.40, et. seq. Adopting that statutory approach to create Fresh Produce Recall Programs may help the Fresh Produce Industry convert public concern into strategic aid.