By Clint Thompson
With hot temperatures expected to get hotter and dry conditions only expected to get drier, irrigation management is a top priority for Alabama vegetable and specialty crop producers.
“They need to make sure their irrigation system is working correctly, obviously,” said Joe Kemble, Alabama Extension vegetable specialist. “The nice thing about most vegetable growers is that they have some form of irrigation. Either they’re using overhead for their watermelons or they’re using drip irrigation.
“The important thing is, for any of the crops, getting on that irrigation scheduling, getting on your fertigation schedule, making sure you’ve got the nutrients and water out there for this crop so they can go through and not get stressed out and it won’t affect your yields adversely.”
If producers will consistently apply water and fertilizer, they can maintain their crops longer, which means increased yields.
“I think a lot of growers have a tendency, once they’re at harvest with whatever crop they’re dealing with, they tend to back off a little bit on nutrients and water; sometimes thinking, like in case of watermelons, they’re going to dilute the sugars too much. But there’s a balance there,” Kemble said. “The idea is you want to maintain the water and fertilizer levels so that you get every single fruit out that you could possibly get.”
According to weather.com rain chances are minimal for Auburn, Alabama for the rest of May with high temperatures expected to reach 95 degrees on Monday.
Kemble said the dry weather will help with some diseases which were bad on strawberries and some of the early crops, especially with anthracnose. This warmer, drier weather will be helpful on that side of the equation.