Organic Artichoke Production in North Florida

Project Overview

FS24-367
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $18,250.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Dragonfly Trace Farms
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Connie Maxwell
Dragonfly Trace Farms

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:

The purpose of the project is to investigate three key issues in
organic Florida's artichoke production, the insufficient chilling
degree hours required for bud development, the presence of plant
parasitic nematode pests, and the effectiveness of fertilizing
using organic soil amendments. To address these challenges, we
will assess the use of gibberellic acid to stimulate bud
emergence, and the use of organic nematode control methods, such
as cover crops and crab meal. Additionally, we will monitor crop
nutrient levels to assess the effectiveness of organic amendments
in fertilizing the crop. This assessment will involve conducting
a field trial at Dragonfly Trace Farm in North Florida, utilizing
organic production practices. The field trial will consist of two
main treatments: one involving the cultivation of artichokes with
the application of gibberellic acid application and another
without the application of gibberellic acid. Additionally, an
organic nematode control treatment will be implemented for
treatments, which involves planting and terminating cover crops
before transplanting and applying crab meal with the chicken
litter. Our objective is to explore the potential of cover crops
as an organic method to reduce or control nematode populations.
Crab meal, composed of chitin from crab and shrimp shells, can
promote the growth of chitin-consuming fungi in the soil, which
can help reduce or control nematode populations. The artichokes
will be fertilized with organic soil amendments and plant tissue
content will be assessed to determine nutrient content. The
trial's design will be a randomized split block arrangement. Our
goal in addressing these organic artichoke production challenges
in Florida is to enhance the supply of high-quality, organic
artichoke to local markets. We aim to generate valuable insights
and data that can be shared with the local agricultural
community.  

We will reach the local agricultural community through hosting a
field day at Dragonfly Trace Farms’ location to share trial
results. These results will include information on artichoke
yield, marketing, the use of gibberellic acid, nematode control
methods, and organic nutrient management practices. Dragonfly
Trace Farms will collaborate with UF/IFAS Extension partners,
including Jay Capasso, the Columbia County row crop extension
agent, Dr. Zane Grabau, a professor of nematology and entomology,
and Dr. Shinsuke Agehara, a professor of Horticultural Sciences.
These collaborators will inform us about artichoke production,
support the research trial, and help disseminate project
results. 

The project's success will be measured by the lessons learned
about artichoke production and our capacity to share this
knowledge with local members of the agricultural community. 

Through our efforts at Dragonfly Trace Farms, we anticipate not
only increasing the supply of high-quality organic artichoke in
local markets but also equipping farmers with the knowledge and
skills needed for successful artichoke production. The benefits
will extend to consumers seeking healthy, locally sourced produce
at the Alachua County Farmers

Project objectives from proposal:

To investigate artichoke production challenges, we will grow
artichokes on native ground with organic amendments added after
tilling in a cover crop at Dragonfly Trace Farms. Four, 100-foot
beds will be laid with plastic mulch over drip irrigation and
subsequently planted. Two out of four beds will receive
gibberellic acid treatment through fertigation, while the
remaining two beds will not. Nematode treatments consisting of
crab meal will be applied in all treatments through pre plant
fertilizing with chicken litter. In the beds treated with
gibberellic acid two applications of gibberellic acid will occur.
The first application will occur about 6 to 7 weeks after
transplanting or after 7-8 leaves have emerged if direct seeded.
We will consult with collaborator Dr. Shinsuke Agehara of the
University of Florida Horticultural Sciences department to
determine the precise timing and amount to be used. The second
application of gibberellic acid will occur two weeks after the
initial application.  We will also investigate nematode
control practices by planting and terminating the cover crop in
all beds prior to planting and using preplant chicken littler
application with crab meal.  

Prior to conducting the trial soil samples will be collected and
sent to both the Soil Extension Lab and the Nematode Assay labs
located at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Tissue
samples will also be collected once throughout the season. The
first tissue sampling will occur prior to reproductive growth.
These tissue samples will be collected and sent to Water’s
Agricultural Laboratory in Camilla, Georgia for basic tissue
analysis. Artichoke plant roots and soils will also be sampled
end of season to observe percent root damage from root knot
nematodes and nematode soil counts. We will weigh and report the
total artichoke harvest yield at the end of the season by summing
the weights of the harvested buds. Notes will also be kept on any
quality issues related to harvested artichoke buds. Dragonfly
Trace Farms will also report on the profitability of artichokes
at the local farmer's market either as a vegetable or as a
flower.      

Throughout the season the plants will be observed for plant
disease and insect pests. Any observed insect pests will be
recorded. If any plant disease symptoms are observed a sample
will be collected and sent to the University of Florida Plant
Diagnostic lab in Gainesville for identification. Only
agricultural inputs approved for organic production will be
utilized for nutrients, plant pests, and plant disease
management. Organic amendment products will include a mix of
chicken litter, compost, and fish
emulsion.    

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.