Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for July 2, 2018
July 4th is more than just a celebration of our Independence, from an agricultural perceptive. It is the last day that I would recommend fertilization of woody plants and trees. Fertilizers will stimulate growth and make plants grow, but you have to control growth so that all the juvenile growth will harden off and become woody before winter. Stimulating growth either by pruning late or fertilizing late in the year will make plants more susceptible to cold damage.
Another July 4th reminder is to remove the bulls from the cow herd.It is so hot that bulls usually will have very low fertility this time of year anyway, but you want to be sure to control when calves are born. With an average gestation of approximately 283 days, cows bred in July would have calves in April and May. This would be just about the time ryegrass was playing out and before summer pastures are ready for cows to graze. Your best approach is to keep bulls out of the cow pasture from July 4th until about New Year’s Day. Cows bred between January 1 and July 4th would give you calves born from mid-October until the first part of April, which are within the right 6 months for calves to grow in south Louisiana.
I personally like to narrow the calving season down by using a 90 day breeding season. Focus on when you will have good grass and the least amount of hay and feed supplements would be needed for cows to give milk for calf growth. This will keep your costs down and improve your bottom line.
Many people will start curtailing their vegetable gardening when the heat of July begins. At the very least, vegetable gardening chores are performed very early and very late in the day to avoid the heat. There are vegetables that thrive in the summer heat and can be grown successfully now.
The main crop of tomatoes is usually grown in the spring. The reason is that many of the traditional tomato varieties will not set fruit once temperatures get into the 90’s. There are varieties that have been selected for their ability to produce in the summer heat and we usually refer to these as heat tolerant varieties. Recommended heat tolerant tomato varieties that can be planted now would include Heat Wave II, Florida 91, Bella Rosa, Sun Leaper, Sun Master, Solar Set and Phoenix.
No one wants to have to hoe weeds in this heat so think about weed control and moisture conservation when planting. I would use either white plastic mulch or an organic mulch to help with both issues. Also, spread your plants out to a spacing of 24-30 inches to allow for more air flow that could help reduce disease pressure.
Southern peas make a great summer crop. It will take 4-6 ounces of seed to plant a 100 foot of row with 4 to 6 inches between plants. You might find it easier to pick varieties that were developed for mechanical harvest and produce peas at the top of the plants. Those top pick recommended varieties would be: Purple Hull Peas- Quickpick, Texas Pinkeye and Top Pick Pinkeye; Crowder Peas- Top Pick Crowder; Black-eyed Peas- Aube, Queen Anne; Cream Peas- Elite and Top Pick Cream.
Okra thrives in the heat and can produce all the way to frost. Varieties to plant would include Annie Oakley, Burgundy, Cajun Delight, Clemson Spineless, Emerald Lee, North and South. Space okra plants out 12 inches within the row.
Summer squash and cucumbers can also provide a quick summer crop.