- Vegetables: greens (leafy)
- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Soil Management: composting, soil quality/health
Organic spinach is among the top organic vegetables sold in the United States, and growth of spinach production tops the list. Climatic conditions have limited spinach production in the southeastern U.S., where high humidity and warm temperatures negatively affect spinach growth and quality. Florida’s climate also includes drastic variations in temperatures during the spinach growing season. High tunnel system has the potential to mitigate many of these environmental extremes, yet there is a lack of research-based information on organic spinach production under Florida conditions. Additionally, compost application may help overcome spinach germination difficulties, which is a challenge to growers particularly in warm climates. Given the growing interest in spinach production in Florida, the main objective of this project was to assess the effects of compost and high tunnel system on organic spinach production to develop techniques for improving crop establishment and yield performance in sandy soils.
Results from on-station and on-farm trials demonstrated that compost additions affected soil physical, chemical, and biological properties, and compost application method may be important for realizing these benefits and enhancing crop performance. The pilot study on anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) method also showed promise for managing weeds in high tunnel systems prior to direct-seeded spinach. Irrigation, fertilization, and other management practices may be impacted by compost application method and future research is warranted to optimize the outcome and consider the cost-benefit analysis based on production scales.
The goal of this project was to identify production techniques that promote sustainable spinach production in Florida. The specific objective was to assess the effects of compost and high tunnel system on organic spinach production for improving crop establishment and yield performance in sandy soils. By visiting different growers, the project was also aimed to identify the current spinach production practices of organic farmers and challenges of organic spinach production in Florida to understand the range of issues and most common difficulties faced.