Windbreak Advantage Very Evident this Year

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist;

Fresh market vegetable growers have seen a large advantage to windbreaks this year, especially when used between every row. Plantings with extensive windbreaks are earlier (less heat loss with cool evening winds) and have much less direct wind damage to plants than field with windbreaks only in drive rows or without windbreaks. Planning for effective windbreaks starts in summer with identifying fields for next year’s crops and planting small grains early enough in the fall to get a good stand and put on growth earlier in the spring. Rye is still the preferred windbreak because it is taller and comes to full height earlier in the spring. Barley and winter oats make much less effective windbreaks due to their shorter stature (they have been bred for shorter height to reduce lodging). Wheat and triticale are intermediate in height but reach full height later than rye. Spring oats could be used to protect later plantings but will be ineffective for early crops because full height is not reached until late May.

While earliness is not a concern for summer plantings, wind protection still may be. Crops for summer windbreaks include sudangrass, forage sorghums, sorghum/sudangrass crosses, pearl millet, foxtail millet, teff, Japanese millet, and sunhemp.