Later is Better
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Crops planted at later dates took less production time. Although weeks to finish varied somewhat with the three different species, the trend was similar for all species. Every time we delayed planting by three weeks, we shortened crop time by one to two weeks. Crops started in mid-January took ten to twelve weeks to finish in contrast to crops started in mid-April that took six to seven. Plants started in January did not get optimal light and temperature for growth and flowering at the beginning of crop time. They grew slowly and became spindly and flowering was delayed. As Mother’s Day approached, light levels become more optimal and temperatures warmer. At this time, plants began to bloom down low on long stems giving the appearance of being bald on top.
Waiting later to start your hanging basket crop for the Mother’s Day market will give you a smaller product but a higher quality product. Large hanging baskets that are started in January are hard to sleeve and a reduction in plant quality is inevitable during shipping. Starting your crop around Week 9 to 12 would allow you to grow more baskets for Mother’s Day than you could with a Week 3 planting date because individual baskets would not take as much space. Selling a smaller product has many advantages for the grower and the consumer, they are easier to ship, quality is not reduced as much during shipping, and the customer gets a hanging basket that is full of potential for growth and flowering. These vigorous vegetative annuals are great for inspiring consumers to “grow their own” flowering, hanging baskets.
Next Page: Continual Cropping is a Win-win Situation