Vegetable Growers' Handbook Chapter IV: Cultural Practices

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Sustainable vegetable farming is a relatively high risk, high cost per acre business requiring intensive management. Successful vegetable growers manage capital, and marketing competently. Growers design and implement systems of culture which include crop and variety selection, crop rotation, soil fertilization, land selection, tillage, integrated pest management (insect, disease and weed control), transplant production and/or use, seedbed preparation, seeding, irrigation, windbreak management, pollination (bee management), harvesting, handling and packaging and sales. Vegetable production differs from other crop production enterprises. These crops are perishable in nature, must be free from blemishes, and, have narrow market windows. Consequently, cultural operations must be accomplished in a more precise and timely manner to deliver high quality products to markets on schedule.
Grower profit and loss are affected by uncontrollable factors including weather, market fluctuations, pest infestations, and legislation. Therefore, growers must pay close attention to variables which they can control. Timely implementation of effective cultural practices enables careful growers to minimize or totally avoid pitfalls. Wise selection of cultural practices improves production efficiency, lowers production cost and increases profitability. As with most successful businesses, careful planning greatly enhances the incidences of success.

Frank J. Dainello
Roland Roberts
Texas AgriLife Extension Service