Desert Crops Take Center Stage During Winter Months
While farmland across much of the country is blanketed in snow, production is in full swing out west. It’s winter vegetable season in the desert, and Jose Cabrera, Helena Product Manager based in Arizona, says farmers are taking full advantage of the weather.
“We’re getting close to mid-season for desert brassicas and leafy greens, among other crops,” says Cabrera. “If you took a drive from Yuma, Arizona, throughout the desert region of California’s Imperial and Coachella valleys right now, you’d see everything from broccoli and brussels sprouts to romaine lettuce, peppers and, of course, the famous date palms.”
The cycle for some of these crops begins in the fall in the greenhouse, moves to the field in the winter, and wraps up with harvest in the spring. Even though there’s no snow on the ground, frost is still an issue as temperatures drop at night and into the early morning hours.
“At this stage, we’re monitoring crops closely for any signs of extreme cold weather stress and making applications to mitigate pressure from weeds, diseases and insects,” says Cabrera. “We’re also trying to develop adequate root mass and strengthen crops as they come out of the ground with the right pop-up/starter fertilizer blends.”
As the seasons change, winter vegetable production will transition from the desert back to the California coastal areas. Focus will turn from winter vegetables to crops that thrive in the heat of the summer months like melons, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets and other field crops.
While agriculture looks different in this part of the country, farmers face the same challenges as those in different regions. This year, that means adapting to changes and doing more with less. It all comes down to efficiency for Cabrera.
“Our goal is to support farmers in a tough market by finding ways to extend the life of their valuable inputs,” says Cabrera.