How to Select Vegetable Crops for Small-Scale Production in Hot Climates
May 23rd 2023
Living in a warm climate can be a bit challenging. If you love farming, one setback you will face is planting veggies this season. Ask anyone, and they will tell you you must first choose the right plants. Pretty simple, right?
It is! You will easily find a list of certain vegetables that are heat tolerant. Even these have sub-categories of veggies that can withstand more aggressive heat. So, when selecting vegetable crops for hot climates, you only need to focus on what the seedling package says.
With that being said, let’s begin planning. Heat-loving crops are field-tested to ensure they can survive intense sunlight. However, one thing you need to remember is that even these crops need water. Their thirst is simply higher than the crops that grow in cold weather. Since moisture is an issue, you must invest in quality watering systems, such as Valley center pivots, for precision irrigation.
Now that you know what helps crops bloom in hot climates, let’s talk about them a little more in detail:
Heat-loving plants include Solanaceae or nightshade (eggplant, pepper, tomatoes) and Cucurbitaceae or squash (winter and summer squash, melons, cucumbers). Beans and corns also perform quite well in hot weather. The best way to select vegetables that survive under intense heat is to pick ones that develop produce quickly. They perform better than crops that take time to mature.
Moreover, select varieties that thrive in different temperatures. This will allow you to take care of them easily, and you will see growth year-round.
Choose Heat-Resistant Plants
As said earlier, selecting drought- and heat-tolerant varieties is key to ensuring your small-scale farm produces colorful vegetables in hot climates. If you are starting from scratch, as in planting seeds, ask your local seed supplier or nursery about which ones offer the best results.
Here's a list of the top vegetable crops that are heat-tolerant:
Tips to Ensure Your Vegetable Crops Survive in Hot Weather
Watering is essential To maintain a healthy crop field. In hot climates, water right before sunrise, when the sun and heat are less intense. This will minimize evaporation during the day. The crops must be watered deeply, which is only possible with a Valley center pivot system. This way, the roots, too, will replenish.
Make sure you have set a time for watering the crops. The frequency depends on a few factors, including the soil type and rainfall amount. Generally, a garden needs around 1 ½ inches of water weekly. For a small-scale crop field, the requirement is much more. The following chart will assist you with this:
|Soil Texture||Water Required Per Inch of Soil|
|Fine Sand||0.04 to 0.09|
|Coarse Sand||0.02 to 0.06|
|Loamy Sand||0.06 to 0.12|
|Fine Sand Loam||0.14 to 0.18|
|Sandy Loam||0.11 to 0.15|
|Silty Clay Loam and Clay Loam||0.14 to 0.21|
|Slit Loam and Loam||0.17 to 0.23|
|Clay and Silty Clay||0.13 to 0|
Additionally, you should also check the soil using the Index Finger method. Insert your finger into the soil and check how deep the moisture is. If it's two inches, wait to water.
Pro Tip: In excessive heat, sandy soil will need more watering than clay soil.
Layer with Mulch
Add a layer of mulch to the soil to ensure your crops don't wilt in hot climates. This will help retain moisture and cool down the roots. Use organic materials like compost, leaves, and straw.
Protect from Heat
Yes, even crops that can tolerate hot water need a little shade in intense heat. That sharp ray of sunlight can burn the leaves and zap your crops' energy. A great solution is setting up row covers or shade cloths that protect your plants from direct heat.
It's important to offer them shade, especially when growing because they need air to pass through the mulch to prevent wilting.
Set Up a Fertilizing Schedule
Pest infestations and drought stress are common in farming. You can avoid them by choosing the soil that holds moisture for longer, reducing runoff with Valley center pivots, and improving soil health using packed manure. Monitor the pH levels of the soil to ensure your crops are receiving the right nutrients to thrive in a hot environment.
No Stress – Prune Carefully
The best time to prune your summer plants is in June. Remember that when it's too hot outside, don't stress your plants. Pruning is a stressor that causes the wounds to stay open. As a result, the plants take time to heal, which slows down growth.
Only prune when the sun has gone down and the weather has cooled. Avoid pruning in low humidity levels and when there's an indication of rain, as such climate can cause infections. Once you have pruned your plants, give them plenty of water and pour a good amount directly over the roots.
Get Your Compost Cooking
Hot temperatures in summer speed up decomposition. One minute you are looking at a plant with green leaves and bright-colored produce, and the next, the plant is wilted, and the crop looks half dead. Hence, you need to ensure the compost pile stays moist. You must turn it often to let air into the mix. Also, consider getting out a finished compost batch before the autumn leaves appear.
In conclusion, selecting vegetable crops for hot climates depends on how high of a temperature they can withstand. You will get great insight from your current garden. Take a look at the green plants and how they are doing. You can plant them on your small farm if they have been thriving in sunlight.
A pro tip to ensure your crops stay standing is to pay attention to the heavy hitters. They will need support as the temperature gets hotter. Crops like cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes often bend the vine when the produce becomes ripe. You will also see the leaves getting a little sun-scorched. So, tie them to trellises and distribute the weight. For pepper plants, place them in a cage to help the fruit stay upright.
Flatwater Sale Inc. offers discount irrigation supplies for small and large-scale farming projects. Apart from helping farmers manage their crops, the company also offers high-quality Valley center pivots for sale and equipment parts. You can even sell them your used machinery and save on new supplies. For any queries regarding their products and services, call 402-300-3113. For more information, fill out this online form, and they will get back to you as soon as possible.