Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for February 26, 2018
A string of days with temperatures in the eighties has changed the color of the landscape. It makes you want to get outside and start planting, but it has been too wet to plow.
Farmers are inherently risk takers. They know that the early bird gets the worm so they are ready to start planting as soon as they can get in the field. They also say that thunder in February means frost in April. These old sayings have merit and they remind us that our weather is hard to predict. On average we have only a 10% chance of having a frost after March 18th, but on March 2nd we have a 40% chance of having another frost.
One of the earliest spring crops you can successfully plant is snap beans. The older farmers still try to plant their early crop of snap beans on or near George Washington’s birthday, which is February 22nd. Snap beans grow well in the cooler temperatures and then melt away as the heat of summer approaches. We recommend planting in the spring from the last frost until mid-May. Your best bet is to spread out your risk and plant every 2 weeks initially, just in case you guess wrong and get a frost later than you expect.
Make up good high rows to avoid excess rainfall. Fertilize prior to planting according to soil sample results. If you did not take a soil sample, a general recommendation would be to use 3-4 pounds of 8-8-8 per 100 feet of row.
Plant bush snap beans at a depth of ½ inch and spread them out every 2-3 inches within the row. At this spacing you will need one half of a pound of seed to plant a 100 foot row.
If you want to plant pole snap beans, you will need to plant seeds 6-12 inches apart and provide poles for plants to climb. You usually are rewarded with a longer growing season and higher yield. At this seeding rate it will require about 2 ounces of seed per 100 feet of row.
Recommended bush snap bean varieties would include Contender, Bush Blue Lake 274, Valentino, Ambra, Bronco, Dusky, Festina, Hialeah, Magnum, Storm, Strike, Provider and Derby. Roma II is a recommended Italian flat pod variety. Royal Burgundy is a purple pod option and Golden Rod Wax and Goldmine are yellow wax varieties.
Pole snap beans recommended varieties would include Kentucky Blue, Rattle Snake, and McCaslan. Yardlong Asparagus Bean is a vigorous growing bean that is more heat tolerant and is harvested at an impressive 12-18 inches long.
Bush snap beans can be ready to harvest in 40 to 55 days after planting and poles can be ready in 60 to 65 days.
You might have noticed that carpenter bees are active already. Some people call them “boring bumblebees” as they drill holes into wooden structures. I noticed a lot of them buzzing around in the strawberry packing sheds this past week and boring holes into rafters.
While carpenter bees seem to be very aggressive when you enter their space, they are mostly trying to intimidate you to leave. They do not readily sting like a wasp, but they do have a stinger and you could hit their stinger while slapping them, so resist the temptation.
Control is limited to treating the wood structure that is being damaged by boring. You can treat wood with insecticides that contain the active ingredient cypermethrin such as Demon, bifenthrin such as Ortho Bug-B-Gon, permetherin such as Spectracide, cyfluthrin such as Bayer Advanced or Sevin.
Where practical, a fresh coat of paint is a deterrent to carpenter bees drilling.