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Effective Crop Schedules with Climate Change

Climate change is impacting agriculture on every level. One impact for farmers is the decision to shift crop schedules forward or maintain historic schedules. Another impact is pest management and invasive species that would normally die off in harsh freezes. New England in particular had a record warmest January and is getting warmer quicker than other regions in America. Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment projects that summer will feel like North Carolina by 2070. Michelle and Peter's The Grower and The Economist Episode 80 certainly agrees with Thomas Friedman's term, "global weirding".

On one hand, fuel prices are the still high

and on the other, greenhouse growers are using less fuel to maintain optimal temperature. Peter notes,

"We are closer to that ventilation set point of 75 degrees."

The argument for maintaining the historic crop schedule is that it allows farmers to drop nighttime heat temperature, extend respiration and effectively increase product quality. The argument for shifting the schedule forward is to allow plants to get to market quicker and take advantage of early price points, such as Mothers Day. Smaller growers have an opportunity because they have direct touch points with their buyers' needs. It also entails a balancing act between selling and educating customers on plant care earlier in the season.

It is recommended to keep track of fuel costs and savings, fill rates, and price premiums in comparison to your crop schedule and review every shoulder season. For example, you may have harvested prior to ripening to get to market first and ended up with a lower quality product. Did this impact your fill rate?

This week, we came to the conclusion that shifting your crop schedule for 25% of your plants can diversify and de-risk your portfolio. It is not a huge investment with low cost seeds and low labor and you will have plants in different stages. Discipline is key. It helps to have more than one person involved in decision making, such as a head grower and a business owner, to be less emotionally invested.

It was also decided that we need a southern grower on the podcast to get their perspective on crop scheduling. Listen to the full podcast and catch weekly episodes on all farming topics here.

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