Season extension is an important practice on vegetable farms in Minnesota. By lengthening the growing season, farmers can extend their sales into winter when cash flow would otherwise cease. High tunnels and root crops are the preferred method, but these options have limitations. Leafy greens from unheated hoop houses are in high demand, but they do not regrow during the dead of winter, thereby limiting harvests. Conversely, root crops are relatively easy to grow and store but are low margin crops necessitating high volume customers. For smaller farms selling through lower volume outlets like CSAs, restaurants, and farmers markets, this poses a problem.
Forced radicchio and endive could solve this problem. Radicchio and endive are high-value specialty crops that require being dug from the field and forced indoors, without sunlight. They are harvested at the end of the growing season and forced in the winter months. They could offer a high-value, high-margin crop to make lower volume winter sales more lucrative.
This project will evaluate the feasibility of radicchio and endive as season extension crops in Minnesota. Results will be shared through our farm’s social media outlets, our local Sustainable Farming Association chapter’s annual meeting, and written publications.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate the feasibility of growing both Treviso radicchio and Belgian endive in Minnesota.
- Compare different forcing techniques for both crops.
- Determine profitability of growing Belgian endive and radicchio.
- Share results with other MN vegetable farmers through social media, local Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) annual meeting, and University of Minnesota extension newsletter.