`Sugar Snap' snap peas (Pisum sativum L.) were interseeded into a stand of `Española Improved' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in July or Aug. in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Peas were interseeded as one or two rows per bed, giving planting rates of about 92 or 184 kg·ha-1, respectively. Our objectives were to determine: 1) if intercropped pea would reduce chile yield and vice versa; 2) the effects of pea planting rates and dates on pea yield. Intercropped peas reduced chile yield by about 22% in 1995, but had no significant effects in other years. Pea plants from the August intercrops reached the flowering stage but did not produce pods in 1995 or 1996; some small pods were produced from August intercrops in 1997. Final plant densities were lower and less uniform in 1996 than in 1995 or 1997. Intercropped peas yielded less than monocropped peas in all years. Pea yields ranged from 1370 to 3960 kg·ha-1 when monocropped, 31 kg·ha-1 (1996 single-row) to 646 kg·ha-1 (1995 double-row) when intercropped. In 1995 only, the double-row intercrop yielded more peas than the single-row intercrop. Pod yield/plant was reduced 80%, 98%, and 96% in 1995, 1996, and 1997, respectively, by intercropping. Estimated gross revenues for the treatments indicate that, under the price assumptions used in the study, interseeding snap peas into stands of chile in north-central New Mexico is not economically advantageous compared with monocropped chile.
We examined the effect of harvest schedule on the yield of ‘Red Russian’ kale (Brassica napus ssp. napus var. pabularia) grown during the winter in 16 × 32-ft high tunnels in northern New Mexico. We conducted the study for two growing seasons: 2013–14 and 2014–15. All plots were sown on 16 Oct. and harvested four times according to four harvest schedules: A) 8, 16, 20, and 24 weeks after sowing; B) 10, 17, 21, and 25 weeks after sowing; C) 12, 18, 22, and 26 weeks after sowing; and D) 14, 19, 23, and 27 weeks after sowing. The first harvest of each treatment was the greatest, averaging 216 g/ft2, compared with 88, 109, and 104 g/ft2 for harvests 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Season total yield of treatments B, C, and D (harvests beginning at 10, 12, and 14 weeks after sowing) yielded significantly more than treatment A, but only in year 2, when delayed growth resulted in very low yields for treatment A at harvest 1. Considering the entire 240-ft2 cropped area of the high tunnel, staggered harvests of 60 ft2 at a time can yield 2.6 to 17.5 kg per harvest or up to 124 kg over an entire season. Although we examined the yield of mature leaves, harvests could possibly begin earlier than in this study for “baby” kale or salad mixes, and the area harvested could be tailored to plant growth stage and market demand.
In a two-part study, we examined the effect of sowing date and harvest schedule on the yield of spinach (Spinacia oleracea) grown during the winter in 16 × 32-ft-high tunnels in northern New Mexico. Each part of the study was conducted for two growing seasons and took place between 2012 and 2015. In Study A (2012–13 and 2013–14), spinach was sown four times at roughly 2-week intervals (mid-October, early November, mid-November, and early December) and plant density (plants per square foot), plant height (centimeters), and yield (grams per square foot) were measured for three harvests in mid-January, mid-February, and mid-March. The earliest sowing date had the least-dense stands, and plant density increased with each subsequent sowing. The two earliest sowing dates had significantly higher season-long yield than the later two sowings. In Study B (2013–14 and 2014–15), all plots were sown in mid-October, but harvest schedule treatments were staggered such that harvests began at 9, 11, 13, or 15 weeks after sowing and continued at irregular intervals. Treatment 2, with harvests beginning after 11 weeks, had the greatest season-long yield, slightly greater than when harvests began at 9 weeks, and significantly more than when harvest began 13 weeks or later. More importantly, a staggered harvest schedule can provide spinach weekly for direct marketing opportunities.
Five legumes [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.), and red clover (Trifolium pratense L.)] were interseeded into sweet corn (Zea mays L.) at last cultivation when sweet corn was at about the V9 (early) or blister (late) stage. The effect of legume interseeding on sweet corn yield, and late-season dry-matter and N yields of aboveground portions of the legumes was determined. Sweet corn yield was not affected by legume interseeding. In 1993, legume dry-matter yields were 1420 kg·ha–1 interseeded early and 852 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. Nitrogen yields were 49 kg·ha–1 interseeded early and 33 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. In 1994, dry-matter yields were 2760 kg·ha–1 interseeded early and 1600 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. Nitrogen yields were 83 kg·ha–1 interseeded early and 50 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. In 1993, barrel medic was the highest-yielding legume with dry matter at 2420 kg·ha–1 and N at 72 kg·ha–1 interseeded early, while red clover yielded the lowest with dry matter at 340 kg·ha–1 and N at 12 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. In 1994, dry-matter and N yields ranged from 4500 and 131 kg·ha–1, respectively, for early interseeded barrel medic to 594 kg·ha–1 and 16 kg·ha–1, respectively, for late interseeded red clover.
Three legumes [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), and black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.)] were interseeded into `New Mexico 6-4' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) when plants were 20–30 cm tall (3 Aug., “early” interseeding) or when plants were 30–40 cm tall (16–17 Aug., “late” interseeding) in 1993 and 1994. Our objectives were to determine the effect of legume interseeding on cumulative chile yield, and late-season dry-matter and nitrogen yields of aboveground portions of the legumes. Legumes were harvested on 8 Nov. 1993 and 15 Nov. 1994. Chile yield was not significantly affected by legume interseeding. In 1993, legumes accumulated 57% more dry matter and 55% more N when interseeded 3 Aug. vs. 16 Aug. In 1994, legumes accumulated 91% more dry matter and 86% more N when interseeded 3 Aug. vs. 17 Aug. Aboveground dry-matter yields in 1993 ranged from 1350 kg·ha–1 for black lentil interseeded late to 3370 kg·ha–1 for hairy vetch interseeded early. Nitrogen yields ranged from 52 kg·ha–1 for black lentil interseeded late to 136 kg·ha–1 for hairy vetch interseeded early. In 1994, hairy vetch was the highest yielding legume with dry matter at 1810 kg·ha–1 and N at 56 kg·ha–1 interseeded early, while black lentil yielded the lowest with dry matter at 504 kg·ha–1 and N at 17 kg·ha–1 interseeded late. In the spring following each interseeding year, we observed that hairy vetch had overwintered well, whereas barrel medic and black lentil had not, except when a few plants of barrel medic survived the winter of 1994–95. Results from this study indicate that legumes can be successfully interseeded into chile in the high-desert region of the southwestern United States without a significant decrease in chile yield.
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaerth.), and black lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) were interseeded into `New Mexico 6-4' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) when plants were 8 to 12 inches tall or 12 to 16 inches tall in 1993 and 1994. Hairy vetch overwintered well both years, whereas barrel medic and black lentil did not. Spring aboveground dry mass yields of hairy vetch averaged 2.11 and 2.57 tons per acre in 1994 and 1995, respectively, while N accumulation averaged 138 and 145 pounds per acre in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Forage sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] dry mass yield and N accumulation were significantly higher following hairy vetch than following the other legumes or no-legume control. There was no significant difference between forage sorghum yields following barrel medic, black lentil, or the no-legume control. Fertilizer replacement values (FRV) for the legumes were calculated from regression equations for forage sorghum dry mass yield as a function of N fertilizer rate. FRV for hairy vetch were at least 7-times higher than for either barrel medic or black lentil. Hairy vetch interseeded into chile pepper and managed as a winter annual can significantly increase the yield of a following crop compared to a nonfertilized control.
Field studies were conducted in 1995 and 1996 at Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Alcalde, New Mexico, to compare direct seeding to transplanting for stand establishment and yield estimates of calendula (Calendula officinalis), catnip (Nepeta cataria), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), and globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.). Calendula established well from seed or transplants at both sites. Transplanting increased establishment of lemon balm, catnip, stinging nettle, and globemallow. Lemon balm establishment was increased by 230% to 400% at Las Cruces, and catnip establishment was increased by 84% to 100% at Alcalde by transplanting. Direct seeding resulted in little or no stand establishment for stinging nettle and globemallow at Alcalde. In 1996, transplants increased lemon balm and stinging nettle dry weight yields by a factor of three or more at both sites. Dry weight yields of transplanted catnip were 4.86 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 7.90 t·ha−1 in 1996 in Las Cruces. Alcalde yields for transplanted dried catnip were 2.43 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 5.12 t·ha−1 in 1996. Transplanted globemallow dry weight yields were 6.04 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 9.17 t·ha−1 in 1996 for Las Cruces. Transplanted stinging nettle yield in Alcalde was 5.91 t·ha−1 for plants that overwintered and were harvested in the second season. Transplanting versus direct seeding medicinal herbs has the potential to substantially increase stand establishment and yield in New Mexico, particularly in the more northern and cooler part of the state.
Replicated temperature data from passively heated high tunnels are lacking, especially in the southwestern United States. Field studies were conducted over three seasons in two locations in New Mexico—a southern site in Las Cruces and a northern site in Alcalde—to characterize the crop environment in three high-tunnel designs during the winter growing season (October–March). High tunnels were 16 × 32 ft and oriented with the long edge running east to west. Heavyweight woven plastic covered the single-layer (SL) high-tunnel design. Double-layer designs (DL) were covered with a lightweight woven plastic on the bottom, followed by a second layer of the heavyweight plastic inflated with a fan. A heat sink was created using 16 55-gal barrels painted black, filled with water, and aligned along the north side of the double layer for the DL+B design. Soil temperature (3 inches deep) and air temperature (1 ft above the soil surface) were recorded inside the high tunnel, inside the high tunnel under a floating rowcover, and outside the high tunnel. In addition, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was recorded inside and outside the high tunnels during or near the winter solstice each year of the study. Daily air and soil temperature minimums were highest in the DL+B design and lowest in the SL design. Maximum air and soil temperatures did not significantly differ between high-tunnel designs, although the DL+B design measurements were consistently lower. During season 1, the SL design had significantly higher PAR transmission than the other two designs. In the northern location, the difference became insignificant during seasons 2 and 3, likely due to dust accumulation and plastic aging. In the southern location, the SL design maintained higher PAR transmission throughout the study, possibly due to plastic cleaning. Data collected in this study can help inform the decisions of high-tunnel growers and researchers in the region.
Relatively little season extension research has been conducted in the southwestern United States, particularly with low-cost high tunnels or hoop houses for small-scale farmers. In this study, the economics of winter production of two leafy crops [lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and spinach (Spinacia oleracea)] in high tunnels in two locations in New Mexico were investigated, first using a simulation analysis in which yields were stochastic variables followed by a sensitivity analysis to examine returns from the high tunnel designs more closely. The returns examined in the sensitivity analysis were net of high tunnel materials, crop seed cost, and electricity. Two planting dates were tested and three high tunnel designs were examined: a single layer covering the house (SL), a double layer inflated with air (DL), and a double layer inflated with air and containing black water barrels to store heat (DL+B). The SL and DL designs appear to be the more appropriate technology for both locations for spinach, whereas for lettuce the DL+B model might be a reasonable option in Alcalde, a more-northern location. Overall, the SL and DL models provided adequate protection for growing crops, were less expensive to build, provided more interior growing space, and resulted in higher probabilities of producing positive returns, compared with the DL+B design. The DL design performed similarly to the SL design, but required running electricity to the structure to power the inflation fan, adding to the cost. As a result, expected returns in all cases were higher using the SL design based on the results of the sensitivity analyses. Combining the risk and the sensitivity analyses provides growers with a unique evaluation process to make high tunnel design, planting date, and crop choices.
Field studies were conducted to determine the production potential of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) medicinal herbs at two sites in New Mexico. Las Cruces, N.M., is at an elevation of 3,891 ft (1,186 m) and has an average of 220 frost free days per year, whereas Alcalde, N.M., is at an elevation of 5,719 ft (1,743 m) and averages 152 frost-free days per year. In-row plant spacings of 12, 18 and 24 inches (30.5, 45.7, and 61.0 cm) were compared at both locations. The corresponding plant densities for the 12, 18 and 24 inch spacings were 14,520 plants/acre (35,878 plants/ha), 9,680 plants/acre (23,919 plants/ha), and 7,260 plants/acre (17,939 plants/ha), respectively. Data were collected on growth rates, fresh yield, and dry yield for the herbs grown at each site. All crops at both sites had highest plot yields at the 12-inch spacing, suggesting that optimum in-row plant spacings are at or below the 12-inch spacing. Yields of 1.94 ton/acre (4.349 t·ha-1) of dried yerba mansa root, 0.99 ton/acre (2.219 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 2.30 ton/acre (5.156 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were realized at the 12-inch spacing at Las Cruces in southern New Mexico. Yields of 1.16 ton/acre (2.600 t·ha-1) of dried valerian root, 0.93 ton/acre (2.085 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 0.51 ton/acre (1.143 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were harvested at the 12-inch spacing at Alcalde in northern New Mexico. Yields of fresh echinacea flowers were 1.56 ton/acre (3.497 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces. Yields of dried mullein flowers were 0.68 ton/acre (1.524 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces and 0.66 ton/acre (1.479 t·ha-1) in Alcalde.