Flower Farmer's Dahlia Production

all_bout_flowersFebruary 9, 2009

Flower Farmer I saw the pictures in the ranunculus post of your dahlia production and WOW. It makes me think I'm wasting a lot of space with the planting of my dahlias. I have them spaced about 2 feet apart your look like 8" or so. I'd love to put them closer if that works. Please advise.

Thank you

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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Trish - your pictures are always a source of inspiration, but this weekend it appears more of us were looking at them!

I was discussing with my DH how to plant this year...and we want to try furrows like yours. Can you post a close-up picture of the attachment on your tractor? How deep and wide is your furrow? How far apart are they? Have you ever planted two rows within the furrow? If not, why not?

We have a disc plow that we want to try, and may have access to another plow that might work as well. I just have limited space and want to maximize the output, but the way I've been doing it consumes far to much manual planting and then fall digging, and it doesn't work for weeding either. So, changes are needed!

Thanks!!
Wendy where it snowed again last night and is supposed to stay around 27-35 all week and snow off and on!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 1:35PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

The attachment we use on our tractor is called a V-Plow. We have problems with both of our tractors. One is a Ford 8N and the other is a Ford 9N. What one tractor doesn't do, the other one might -- depending on how soon we need it done -- then neither one will. I could go on and on about those tractors. Oh, and, please don't mention the paint color on the tractor. We know it is reversed. Long story. Nobody wants to hear about it.

Here's a better view of the attachment:

The trenches are about 12" deep which is technically deeper than necessary; however, we plant two to three weeks earlier than our last frost date. This depth also helps support the plant when it grows.

The trenches are also 12" wide. They may look wider, however, what you are seeing is the soil pushed to both sides of the furrow. The tubers are planted 8" apart with the eyes all facing the same way. This ensures that the plants don't shoot out into the aisle way, and they are always equal distance apart. We have only one row per trench for cultivating purposes. We also run our drip irrigation down each row.

When digging the trenches, you can see from this photo the back tires on the tractor are right on the edge of the pile of soil from the previous furrow. This is as close as we can get them.

From Michigan where it is supposed to be 61 degrees tomorrow!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 6:34PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Trish - THANKS for the quick reply! I am envious of your flat ground! Farming a hillside has its own set of challenges and also being in an area of large orchards, there isn't much "row crop" farming or tools or expertise.

When is your last frost date? I have planted my dahlias mid-May and that is around our last frost date. They definitely are 6" deep though. Do you cover the trenches by hand after you've planted the dahlias? Or once again with the tractor and a blade?

How do you cultivate once the dahlias are planted? Mechanically or by hand?

Thanks again,
Wendy

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 12:53AM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Wendy, if you go shopping for a V-plow like Trish's, it might help to know that they are also known as middle busters. Sometimes they can also have a second blade that lets them break up hard sub soil, so you also might look for sub soilers. King Kutter is a common brand (and Trish's) and there's a link below, if you want to see one.

ThinMan

Here is a link that might be useful: King Kutter Middle Buster

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 8:04AM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Thinman - thanks for the extra tip!! We even get Northern tool, but I never look in that section of the catalog!

I'm more familiar w/orchard equipment around here, not all the "rowcrop" tools/implements.
Thanks again!
Wendy

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 4:28PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Trish - another question - do you use the middlebuster to dig up the dahlias too?

All --- does anyone else use anything different mechanically to plant dahlias? If so, can you explain, show pictures too?

Thanks!!
Wendy -- where now we have 6" of snow!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:36PM
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busylizzy(z5 PA)

I was thinking about a potato picker for tuber digging up.
Anyone ever try those?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 1:01PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Did you mean potato digger?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 5:13PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Hello. Tap, tap, tap. This thing on? Where is everyone? Don't tell me you are too busy because you know that excuse is just not going to fly with me.

Oops. I had to check to make sure I was on topic. And, since the topic is about flower farmer's dahlia production, I am truly on topic. My hips and back are way too sore. We have been planting dahlias. Yes. I know it is only March. Yes. I realize we live in Michigan.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 10:39AM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Hi Trish! Hey - you must be planting in your hoophouse! I'm jealous!

Anyway...do you use your middlebuster plow to dig up the dahlias too?

I wont be planting for awhile and haven't ordered mine yet...but am going to give it a try...

Thanks,
Wendy

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 3:29PM
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flower_farmer(5/6 MI)

Hello Wendy,

We don't use the middlebuster plow to dig up the dahlia tubers. It would be too rough on the tubers. We have a digger which is actually manufactured for digging potatoes. The digger has to be modified so the tubers don't fall to the ground risking broken necks. Sounds dreadful doesn't it. Well, actually it is. Clumps of tubers with broken necks are rendered useless.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 4:12PM
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