Spring Season Extension Efficiency in Cool, Short Season Climates

Project Overview

RGR20-011
Project Type: Research to Grass Roots
Funds awarded in 2020: $68,486.00
Projected End Date: 12/15/2023
Grant Recipients: Oregon State University; High Desert Food and Farm Alliance; Modoc Harvest ; USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service- Alturas Office
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Nicole Sanchez
Oregon State University

Commodities

  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)

Practices

  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, high tunnels or hoop houses, row covers (for season extension), season extension types and construction, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    In cool, short-season growing climates, Season Extension (SE) is a necessity for produce growers supplying local foods. In Klamath Falls, a generation of newer produce growers seek to meet increasing demand using SE. While the growers possess a general understanding of SE and its functions, lack of growing experience in the harsh and unique climate and lack of actionable, region specific best practices make SE production “trial and error”.

    Meanwhile, demand for local produce in the area is increasing: numerous local food development projects are in progress in the community, including multiple participants and approaches that greatly increase opportunities and potential for these producers. These include grant funded Farm to School projects, development of a food hub (KFOM), local food policy councils and collaborative teams under the umbrella of the Blue Zones Project, and South Central Oregon Economic Development District. Food access and food hub feasibility studies have been done within the community in the last two years. Unusually, a significant number of stars are aligned to provide markets to small scale produce growers in addition to the thriving, but seasonal, Farmers’ Market.

    Our project builds on SE research in similar climates, focusing on collection of environmental data to inform decision making re planting dates, choice of SE treatment, predicting maturity, and increasing yield. Participating growers see increased efficiency in their use of SE as key to meeting developing demand in our community. Through coordinated tracking of key temperature and weather points, collaborating on three key crops, networking with growers in similar environments, and visiting their operations, we will enable these producers to better meet the demand we are simultaneously building. Abundant relevant SARE- funded previous research, momentum of growth in both supply and demand, and demonstrated cross-profession and cross-organization teamwork in the community position us uniquely for success.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. A). Track key environmental data in different SE applications (high tunnel, low tunnel, multiple) on three farms – one out of town in plains, two in suburbs of Klamath Falls, for three spring seasons. B). Compile data for better understanding of how SE is functioning on farms.
    2. A). Track harvest dates, number of harvest, yield, and DTM for three specific crops, one three farms, for three spring seasons. Compare direct seed to transplant, SE vs. not using SE. One crop will be leafy greens: the others to be determined by farmer consensus in planning meeting. B). Compile this data to inform best practices for these crops using SE in our region.
    3. A) Refresh the opportunity for grower networking established in project FW 15-029 by hosting bi-annual, web- based grower networking meetings including grower communities in the Bend, OR, Modoc County, CA, and Klamath Falls areas.
    4. Produce a day-long educational event for produce growers, sharing information and lessons learned from this project and other research relevant to interior PNW growers. An on-site farm visit experience will be provided for Klamath growers in the Bend, OR area.
    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.