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Old May 10, 2018   #1
PureHarvest
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Default PH's 2018 Cutflower Trial

So I wanted to document my hand at cutflowers this year.
I am doing Sunflowers, Karma Dahlias, and 4 types of coneflowers.
Not putting pressure on myself to market these like it's my job, cause it's not.
I just want to see if I can get the production side down and take it from there.
I hope to sell enough to cover costs (which are minimal) and establish relationships with buyers and see what is possible for 2019.

Got my Karma Dahlia plugs yesterday from Gloekner's. Nicest plugs I've ever seen. Very pleased. Hope to plant them today when I get home from work. I have 576 to do, but the spot is prepped and the root plug is only about the size of an adult male's thumb. I hope to just push them into the soil through the holes in my fabric (no trowel or auger with the drill which takes more time). Well' see.

Here are some pics:

Dahlia Bed ready to plant. The bed on the left has since had the holes burned in for the middle row. All the way to the left outside the tunnel, you can see the ends of the two beds that have 2 types of coneflowers:

5-5-18 dahlias.JPG

Sunflower beds. 1st 100' row was planted 2 saturdays ago, Up in 7 days. Can't see them though in this pic. Left bed is still in last year's strawberries, but I am doing sowings every 2 weeks, so I have a month to get it turned over. I still have two rows to plant in the bed on the right.
To the left, you can see the ends of two beds with wood chips that have the other 2 types of coneflowers I planted:

5-5-18 sunflowers.JPG

Dahlia packaging:

5-9-18 dahlia pkg2.JPG

Karma Dahlia Flat:

5-9-18 dahlia flat.JPG

All 8 flats of karmas:

5-9-18 dahlia flats.JPG

Close up of one plug:

5-9-18 plug.JPG

Both the Dahlia and Sunflower areas will get a single layer of plastic over the beds on the caterpillar tunnel frame to keep rain etc from beating up the plants and spreading disease. Drip tape on each row in the beds. Beds 3' wide with 3 rows in each bed 1' apart. Sunflowers every 6", Dahlias every foot.
Both crops got 20lbs of actual nitrogen applied via 4-1-8 chicken manure based fert before planting. Will drip feed the Dahlias with calcium nitrate but not the Sunflowers.

Last edited by PureHarvest; May 10, 2018 at 12:10 PM.
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Old May 10, 2018   #2
Cole_Robbie
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Wow, those plugs really are nice. I am jealous. I wish I could order dahlia plugs, but I had no idea that it was something one has to do months in advance. I have dinner plate dahlia tubers sprouting in my high tunnel right now.

We're on the same journey. It's my first year trying cut flowers. My seeds are just now coming up. I will be sure to share my successes and numerous failures.
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Old May 10, 2018   #3
PureHarvest
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Cole, sounds good.
If slugs, bugs, and disease don't take my plants out, I'm gonna have a lot of stems to cut.
Lots of marketing decisions to make. CSA, wholesale to distributor or florists or produce stands. Make arrangements and sell through friends, family, co-workers, grocery stores.
Having a background in ornamental horticulture, I want so badly to grow a mess of stuff and make arrangements. But, it's not realistic for the time I have available, plus the distribution.
So I am just sticking with the 3 crops above. Most likely will do most to florists at wholesale in bunches of 10.

Last edited by PureHarvest; May 10, 2018 at 01:02 PM.
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Old May 10, 2018   #4
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Not directly related, just curious. Your Tunnel, are the hoops metal or pvc? Im considering building a dedicated shade house. Might just do Electrical Conduit with something like 8 foot spacing.
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Old May 10, 2018   #5
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Those plugs are beautiful. They should mature quickly and be producing blossoms in a very short time.

Cole those dinner plate dahlia's are going to need some sturdy staking, so be prepared.
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Old May 10, 2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FourOaks View Post
Not directly related, just curious. Your Tunnel, are the hoops metal or pvc? Im considering building a dedicated shade house. Might just do Electrical Conduit with something like 8 foot spacing.
They are metal. 5’ apart.
Got it from farmer’s friend llc
I added the center purlin, windbrace, and wiggle wire channels upgrade kit.
The ropes did not keep the plastic from sliding down over to one side when wind came perpendicular to the length of the tunnel.
I am gonna use wiggle wire on the ends and on top of the bows about 1/3 of the way in from each end. I expect this to keep the cover from moving down to the side.
I most likely will take the plastic down the the ground and attach a baseboard from side to side and have some 2x4 studs too to attach the plastic to. Maybe do a door. Don’t really need one, Because you can just enter from anywhere along the sides.
Their tunnel kits are a great value and easy and quick to build. They say two hrs, which might really mean how long it takes to put the hoops and plastic/ropes on the rebar stakes once you’ve driven them in and assuming you’ve already built the hoops which are 3 pieces.
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Old May 11, 2018   #7
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Got all the plugs in last night.
Took me 3 hrs to plant 8 trays. 72 per tray, so 576 plants.
Just wanted to mention this in case people want to know the labor requirements for one person. beds were already prepped and covered with fabric.
No drilling or trowel. Just pulled a slot open with my finger and pushed them in.
Then watered them in with a wand on the end of a hose.
I will install drip tape today after work.

5-10-18 Dahlia Install 1.jpg

5-10-18 Dahlia Install 2.jpg

5-10-18 Dahlia Install 3.jpg
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Old May 11, 2018   #8
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nice. that is a lot of work. the plugs look fantastic, too. I have never even thought of ordering dahlia plugs. never crossed my mind. now I have taken cuttings of them to make my own plugs... unfortunately none of my dahlia tubers survived the storage this Winter. maybe too cold maybe not humid enough? no idea. all shriveled up but the gladiola corms I dug last year some were the size of my palm.... already rooting and sprouting. oops. got those in last night though. but the dahlias? sigh.
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Old June 7, 2018   #9
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Some updated pics:

Here are the Karma Dahlias. Planted plugs on 5/10, so not quite 1 month in the ground. Pinched the tops out about 2 weeks ago when they had 3-4 sets of leaves. Lateral branches are all pushing out fast now. Gonna get the plastic on this tunnel hopefully tomorrow. Gonna leave work at noon and hope it is not too windy...

6-7-18 karmas1.jpg

6-7-18 karmas2.JPG

6-7-18 karmas3.jpg


Here are the sunflowers. Tallest row was planted 6 weeks ago this Saturday, next row 4 weeks ago, and third row 2 weeks ago (hard to see, they are only 2" tall). 4th row needs to go in this Saturday for me to stay on my every 2 weeks sowing schedule. I still need to pull out last years strawberries in the bed to the left.

6-7-18 sunflower1.jpg

6-7-18 sunflower2.JPG

Last edited by PureHarvest; June 7, 2018 at 08:00 AM.
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Old June 13, 2018   #10
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Sunflowers and Dahlias are finally showing some growth spurts.
We've had record cool temps and rain this May/June. Many cloudy days. This whole week is supposed to be sunny and 80's finally.
I think I will see some color on my first sunflower sowing in the next week. They will be 49 days from seed on Saturday. The earliest DTM of the 3 varieties is 50-55 days (Procut Orange Excel).
Dahlias have been in the ground just shy of 5 weeks. Lateral stems are really growing and are thick and strong. Thinking another month on those at least.

6-13-18 sunfla.JPG

6-13-18 sunflb.jpg

6-13-18 sunflc.JPG

6-13-18 dahliaA.JPG

6-13-18 dahliaB.JPG
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Old June 13, 2018   #11
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Really looking good.
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Old June 13, 2018   #12
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Wow, things are growing like crazy. Everything looks marvelous. I can't wait to see it all full of blooms.
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Old June 13, 2018   #13
PureHarvest
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Thanks guys.
I'm calling a florist today that has 4 locations.
Hoping they will be interested in some dahlias, as I hope to have hundreds of marketable stems.
Sunflowers aren't that big of a deal, as I don't have that many and the seeds are dirt cheap and were my only purchased input.
My goal has been to see if I could turn a marketable crop. I would be happy just sharing the sunflowers with folks to put a smile on their face and have color in my office and at home.
Now, the Dahlias I have a around $800 bucks in, so I need to sell a bunch of them to at least break even.
I may just have to make the 2 hour drive to south Jersey to the floral distributor (if they will buy my dahlias) to move the quantity I will have.
If that works out, I may plant two tunnel's worth next year to make the trip worth it and pay a driver to make the trip. We'll see what the season brings with bugs, disease, quality and labor...
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Old June 13, 2018   #14
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I was afraid you were ignoring the "labor" factor in your calculations until you finally mentioned it. From what I see in your operation you have enormous personal labor invested in this. Its a good thing you love it! Whatever it may be, you look to be doing an excellent job.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
Thanks guys.
I'm calling a florist today that has 4 locations.
Hoping they will be interested in some dahlias, as I hope to have hundreds of marketable stems.
Sunflowers aren't that big of a deal, as I don't have that many and the seeds are dirt cheap and were my only purchased input.
My goal has been to see if I could turn a marketable crop. I would be happy just sharing the sunflowers with folks to put a smile on their face and have color in my office and at home.
Now, the Dahlias I have a around $800 bucks in, so I need to sell a bunch of them to at least break even.
I may just have to make the 2 hour drive to south Jersey to the floral distributor (if they will buy my dahlias) to move the quantity I will have.
If that works out, I may plant two tunnel's worth next year to make the trip worth it and pay a driver to make the trip. We'll see what the season brings with bugs, disease, quality and labor...
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Old June 13, 2018   #15
Gerardo
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Outstanding
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