Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 yield results

The following chart compares the annual yields from Ginkgo Organic Gardens for the past four years. Each year's performance is represented with two graphs:
  • Each bar represents the yield for a week. The weeks cover the harvesting portion of each season, from the first weekend of June (week 23) to the weekend before Thanksgiving (week 47). 
  • Each line represents the cumulative yield.
  • Yields are in pounds.
2008-2011 yield comparisons

The bad news

The yield for Ginkgo Organic Gardens for the 2011 season was 934 pounds. It's the first time in four years that the harvest has fallen below a half ton; in fact, the yield for 2011 was the lowest that it's been since we started collecting data in our current format.

We suspected midway during the season that the harvest would be lighter than that of 2010—just not by this much. The yield data support some of the reasons that we speculated might be behind this season's poor performance.

Foremost of these reasons was the season's slow start, as evidenced by the yield comparisons for our tomato crop. Our tomato vines in 2011 started producing 3-4 weeks later (weeks 33 and 34, in mid-August) than they did in the prior year. It is likely that temperatures were not sufficiently high during a critical phase of tomato plant development in May and June. Without an unusual late rally in mid-October (39 pounds), in fact, the 2011 tomato harvest would have been the same as that of 2009.

I focus on tomatoes because that crop usually composes the bulk of the garden's yield. In 2011, our yield of 322 pounds was 36% of the total.

Another reason for the low yield is that a number of our crops failed to produce. Our harvest of summer squash, for example, was a third of the 2010 yield (23 lb, compared to 69 lb); and most of our pears rotted or were squirrel-bitten before we could get them to the pantry (13 lb in 2011; 45 lb in 2010).

The good news

2011 was a good year for beets, winter squash, and green beans, and a banner year for peppers. Our tomato harvest, though lower than last that of 2010, was still significant. It was also the first year that we could bring figs to the pantry.

Selected Crop Yields, 2011

Crop Yield (lb)
Green beans 42
Beets 44
Collards 19
Cucumbers 18
Eggplants 17
Kale 49
Hot Peppers 39
Sweet Peppers 98
Potatoes 26
Radishes 10
Butternut Squash 72
Turnips (with greens) 37
Tomatoes 326
Pears 13
Raspberries 10
Basil 19