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Outdoor Harvesting Happens Now So Get Ready

Outdoor farmers are harvesting big plants now. Outdoor farmers are harvesting big plants now.

The nights are getting longer and the temperatures are getting colder. That’s why we’re taking a brief interlude away from my series on hydroponics gardening systems to help our brothers and sisters who are gardening in the great outdoors.

In legendary Emerald Triangle where Humboldt County growers see massive trees in their outdoor gardens, and in many other outdoor-growing regions, harvesting has been going on since mid-September. Every year, growers get smarter about choosing strains that naturally go into flowering and are ready for harvest earlier. This has several benefits.

If you’re growing outdoors in most areas of continental North America, your crops will be ready for harvest beginning in late September and continuing through October and November.

In general, your outdoor crops will give you a clear heads up that they’re ready to harvest. Look for some or all of these signals as autumn unfolds:

  • Most of your large and medium-sized leaves are yellow, very light green, and/or falling off your plant.
  • Your plants have stopped adding floral size and girth.
  • Glandular floral structures are showing signs of significant deterioration commonly seen in late-season cropping.

In ideal conditions, leave your crops in the ground until they are fully sized, ripe and ready to be cut. However, sometimes conditions force you to harvest earlier than you would like. If you don’t harvest early, you risk losing your entire outdoor crop. Here are some examples of such conditions:

  • Your plants need two more weeks before they’re optimally harvest-ready, but weather forecasts predict several days of steady, heavy rain, and a drop in temperature, followed by cooler than usual conditions and lots of cloud cover. What should you do?

    A: Steady, heavy rain physically degrades your crops due to the constant washing effects of the rain and the lack of sun. It creates ideal conditions for molds and other pathogens. Harvest before the rain comes.
  • Your plants are doing well, and weather conditions are predicted to stay warm and dry for the three weeks you need before optimal harvest timing. But the only on-site water supply for your crops is a seasonal stream that’s drying up more rapidly than usual. You have no easy way of getting non-stream water to your crops. You also just found out that hunting regulations have changed, so hunters and dogs will be all over the woods a lot earlier than you expected.

    A: Late-season water problems are common. You could bite the bullet and hand-carry water to your crops. Generally speaking, late-season drought is better than late-season rain. You might choose to leave your crops in the ground until they begin wilting. When floral structures are beginning to show signs of wilting and deterioration, you harvest. As regards the possible loss of garden security due to hunters, hikers, mountain bikers and others, you always want to keep track of outdoor recreational activity patterns in your area and plan your garden visits and harvest timing accordingly.
  • Your crops are healthy and the weather is dry and warm, but you’ve noticed caterpillars eating some of your flowers, and you’ve seen gray mold attacking about 5% of your flowers. Ideally, your plants need at least 2-3 more weeks in the ground.

    A: In cases where early harvesting would result in substantial losses in size and potency, do everything possible to avoid early harvesting. One important strategy in any situation in which you see mold, mildews, fungi or other pathogens is to immediately cut out any affected plant parts and remove them from your garden area. Be careful to cut and remove in a way that doesn’t spread pathogen spores to other plants, or to gardening materials. For caterpillars, grasshoppers or similar insects, intensify your crop monitoring frequency and hand-remove such insects. However, if your plants have spider mites, thrips or similar small insects, these creatures cannot be easily removed, and there are no sprays or other interdictions you can use late season without affecting the quality and safety of your crop endproducts. Harvest or remove individual affected branches or plants on an emergency basis while leaving unaffected plants and plant parts to grow for as long as possible towards ideal harvest time.
  • You’re sick and tired of hiring people to trim your crops.

    A: Get the Samurai professional bud trimmer. It does the work of several people, and doesn’t tell anybody, or ask for extra pay.

Here’s wishing you a safe and productive outdoor harvest season.

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Humboldt is home to gargantuan outdoor harvests.
Last modified on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 17:32

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