- Vegetables: leeks
- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
- Production Systems: Year-Round Production
Organic Leeks are not a common choice for a crop in Ozark County, but they have proven to be very profitable, and a great option for early spring markets and health food stores. The crops being ready for delivery in March or April provide farm income when spring crops are not yet ready for harvest. The only problem is that the leeks grow at an extremely slow rate, especially through the winter, and especially when dealing with the seedlings as they first emerge from seed.
The development of the seedling from seed can take up to 2 months before they are sizeable enough for effective transplant. This length of time is required mostly because earlier transplanting would allow too much time for competing weeds to outgrow and hide or suppress the desired leeks from their full development.
The variety Giant Musselburgh has provided some great benefits for reducing the length of time and amount of energy involved with the seedling stage of leek production. Musselburgh leeks naturally reproduce by producing small bulbs, or plant clones surrounding the stalk of the mature leek, around the same time as the leek produces seeds on its flower stalk.
This research will involve planting seeds and transplanting the “clones” and comparing their development, including days to maturity and tendency to bolt. Especially in early spring when sunny days arrive, the overwintered leeks sometimes have a tendency to put up a flower stalk, which ruins the crop for commercial sale. In addition to comparing the seed and transplanted roots, Coppicing will be considered as an option for speeding the production of leek transplants. In this case, mature leeks will be cut near ground level, and transplants will appear, similar to the “clones” that grow around plants that have gone to seed. The time involved in this method and the quality of the leek transplants resulting will also be evaluated.
Project objectives from proposal:
The outcomes will be considered to be of benefit to other farmers if I am able to provide enough data to allow a sure conclusion about the cost effectiveness and time saving that a farmer could expect by switching to root transplants or coppicing as a technique for leek seedling production.
Because we are selling leeks commercially throughout the year, it will be possible to assess the amount of extra income provided by these practices, as well as the avoided extra labor cost.