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Growing Crops In Northern And Southern Utah


  *This Segment aired back in August*

Shalayne Smith Needham: Utah offers farmers different kinds of weather conditions and growing seasons, depending on where you are in the state. While some farmers can get multiple harvests out of one crop, others are getting just one. Rick Heffelbower, a USU extension horticulture agent in Washington County explains how northern and southern Utah crop harvests could differ from each other. 

What are some differences people may see when harvesting crops in northern Utah versus Southern?

Rick Heffelbower: Well, I think the main difference that people will notice is, our season starts earlier, down in the southwest part of the state, our last frost date, for example, is usually the first week of April. And so that's kind of the beginning of when people plant a lot of their tender vegetables. And then, as a result of that, the same things are harvested a couple months later, which generally puts us ahead of the rest of the state.

SSN: Is there a difference in what can be grown throughout the state?

RH: Well, there certainly is in some things I mean, I would say, probably the biggest difference people will see is you could grow them earlier. And then if you wanted to you could multi-crop, which simply means that we can grow the same vegetable more than once. So some of the things that we can do this with would be certainly the early things like peas and spinach, beets, carrots, turnips. And then rather than planting them over immediately, I would say probably wait until it's a little bit cooler. So, we just have a long enough growing season that you could do that you could multi crop some of these things.

SSN: You mentioned the heat, there have been several heat advisories recently. What challenges do farmers and gardeners face with extreme heat?

RH: Probably the biggest thing is that we can the plants when it's this hot, it's hard to keep up with watering. And so if the plant gets stressed, usually the yield is modest, and sometimes the quality will not be as good either.

The other thing that happens is a lot of the vegetables that depend on being pollinated, that that just doesn't happen. It's because it's so hot that the flowers don't last very long. And so they'll drop off. So basically, the midsummer heat will actually affect the yields quite a bit. If things can hang on until it cools off, then yields will pick back up.

SSN: Finally, what are some good resources for Utahn’s on the harvest?

RH: Well, let's see. I would say certainly, the guides that we've put together, Utah State University, there are really good bulletins on almost every vegetable and herb that a person would want to grow. There are also very good resources on all the fruit.

Also, many of the local nurseries in Utah are very good about being aware of what are the good planting dates? And also what are the good varieties that grow in a particular location.