Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hail NO!! - But for some unfortunately YES

June is always an unsettled weather month in between cool May and hot July. Hail has already been a worry for growers and some have already taken their licks. A June 8 storm nailed Ft. Collins and a short pelting got a vegetable project I'm working on in Denver on June 13.

Vegetables with broad leaves take it hard as evidenced by the broccoli photo right. Soil may also crust afterwards as seen in this photo from a clay soil northeast of Ft. Collins. With the heavy rains that frequently accompany hail, it is often best to stay off the soil until it dries out to avoid further compaction. There is little you can do at that point anyway. Once soil dries, cultivation to break up crusts may be helpful.

Hoops for low tunnels with floating row cover fabric at the ready may offer some protection if you're on the spot to pull up covers when hail threatens. If hail stones are large, fabric may be shredded and protection value likely decreases.

Patience is a virtue after a hail storm. Once it is time to water again, consider weak fertilizer in the water to add to the stimulus for new growth delivered by the hail pruning. If plants aren't responding after a few weeks, remember the possibility of early July seeding of the 50 to 60 day vegetables for fall harvest.

Vegetable plants are resilient following hail and growers can only imitate that quality.

Photo credit: Hail damage on broccoli, Soil crusting following hail, Low tunnels and row cover fabric - All Carl Wilson

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