'numeric analysis' of garden yields, e.g., tomatoes?

Is anybody on this newsgroup doing numeric analysis of fruit or vegetable yields based on factors like temperature, rainfall, humidity, and the like?
I'm into my second year of gardening and, being a numbers person, I am weighing and tracking all of the "bounties" of my garden. I can see how it would be interesting to do a simple longitudinal study (i.e., multiple seasons) to try to correlate environmental (and other?) factors to fruit and vegetable yields. Has anybody tried this?
I'm up to 39 lbs of tomatoes out of four plants in 21" containers and we're still going strong with this wonderful fall weather!
Cheers, Stephen Boulder, CO
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Stephen Younge wrote:

I would imagine your state ag extension office has some data on this. Give em a call.
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Numbers EH? How about 320--lbs of tomatoes from one plant--a world record of course and in ground--var Better Boy==I have grown Better Boy--a big, bright red, tasty tomato and it does yield a big bunch but nowhere near the record--wonder what the rcord would be for a container plant
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On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 03:45:23 GMT, "Stephen Younge"

I certainly haven't, and I've never seen this in print (doesn't mean it hasn't happened - but it does mean that someone who has avidly read everything she can find about gardening for about the last 30 years has never seen it).
But, oh man: there are *so many variables*. It just boggles my mind to think of someone trying this.
OK, you've got weather: wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, amount of sunshine. How do you measure this on a day that's sometimes cloudy, sometimes not?
So right away you're in trouble: there's a variable that is difficult if not impossible to measure - the amount of sunshine. Right now it's cloudy outside our windows: five minutes ago it was sunny.
You'd also need to measure the amount of sunshine that *penetrates* cloud cover, to be really accurate. Some days have heavy cloud cover, others have light cloud cover.
You'd need to continually monitor the other components of the weather too, and (I suppose) use a daily average. If you measure the wind speed always at one particular time of day, it's going to be quite meaningless, for instance.
I suppose you should toss in the phases of the moon, just in case those who swear by them are correct.
Then, you have an awful lot of other variables that are probably totally unknown to you: viruses, fungi, plant diseases. I'd hate to think of trying to account for all of these. I'm a fairly enthusiastic gardener, and read everything I can get my hands on, but I don't even know what most plant diseases are.
Then there's insect damage...another can of worms (I know, I know: worms aren't insects). And identifying *which* insects cause *what* particular damage isn't always easy.
Then there's the possible synergistic effect of one variable upon the effects of another: i.e., an increase or decrease in a given variable might increase or decrease the *effect* of a different variable. A plant stressed by lack of sun, for instance, might become more susceptible to insect attack.
You'd be talking some serious measuring equipment and some serious computing power, I think.
You could have instruments that continually monitor the weather at least, and feed the data directly to a PC... but we're talking *hugely* expensive by now. And that wouldn't help with the insect damage or virus factor, etc.
Really, you'd need to have laboratory conditions, and keep all variables constant except ONE, to figure out the effects of that one variable, no?
I suppose the Agriculture departments of various universities have done laboratory work along these lines. (I don't actually *know* that they have, but knowing just a bit about how university research works, I'd be willing to wager a small sum that they have.)
You might want to start by investigating the websites of some University ag schools/departments.

I've never measured yields, but I'm sorry I haven't this year. I would like to have the figures to add to an article I plan to write.
And just because it's fun to put numbers to things! Anyway, I think it is. :) A feeling you evidently share...
Next year, I am definitely measuring yields.
I will also run a very few, very simple experiments: I'm going to be trying out a particular method of fertilization (Mittleider Method) against more conventional fertilization. I'll keep other factors constant (by use of adjoining planters) and see what happens.
Pat
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On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 08:50:59 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@meadows.pair.com wrote:

<snip>
<snip>
This is the first thing that occurred to me, too. Too many variables to nail down any reliable stats. The only way to even marginally categorize things over one season would be to try and limit variables to 1 -- same location, same weather, 2 different varieties of plant. Or same variety -- one plant staked, the other caged. Or one weeded and the other not. Over more than one season, almost impossible to tell. Last year here was severe drought; this year, abundant (sometimes over-abundant) rain. Rain, sun, temperature, soil, fertilizer, cultivation, bugs, diseases -- you'd go nuts trying to keep track. In my early computer days, I used run a scientific prediction program for researchers. When I was handed specs for 20 different variable inputs, I'd say "are you sure you need all this?" and they'd always say "yes." When I wheeled cartons of printout into their offices, they were always surprised. So much for the teaching of simple multiplication in our public schools. :-)
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Stephen Younge wrote:

I keep track of how many minutes I spend in the garden, doing what kind of work. The goal of this is to measure how "valuable" my work is on each crop, based on shop price, yield weight, and time working on that crop.
I have had a similar idea to yours, to use a neural net to help govern an enclosed set of vegetables (watering, airing, etc), but haven't built the equipment yet. As mentioned by Pat Meadows, this is potentially expensive, but I don't think it's /amazingly/ expensive, especially if you're handy with electronics and willing to study a bit of programming.
Kae
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I'm the same way and tracking my results. I record when I seed, when I transplant and where. I recorded how many seeds I used and germination rates. I recorded my harvest as well, but this is only my first year. I think it is hard to do anything but general (over-generalized) conditions. Unless I setup a system of weather tracking in my back yard I've got to use the nearest airport for stats. And that can be very off--especially in rain. Our airport reported .25" one weekend, and I know we got over two inches because I had a bucket outside that weekend that was empty. Other than the generalization of a cld wet May/June, weeklong heatwave, and drier August I don't expect much to be recorded about the weather conditions. I'm more concerned with the differing things I do/control. Container vs ground yields, ground preparation, fertilizer mix, different varieties, etc.
For instance, my 4th of july grew like crazy and produced 90 fruits. However, my slightly unhealthy "Healthy Kick" tomatoes produced more pounds. My pepper plants grew well in containers (2ft tall in 8" windowbox), but yields were smaller and earlier than the big ground ones.
My three tomatoes were as such, I've got a consideredable amount of green fruit which I don't expect to ripen.
29 lbs on three plants.
Burpee Burger, 12" container, hit by vermicillium wilt-nearly leafless, fruits 1/5 lb size (stunted). Harvested 5 pounds; one green tomato at end of season
Healthy Kick Roma, ground, leaves covered by black intervenal spots-unknown problem, fruits 1/4 lb size. Harvested 13+ lbs; about 12-24 green tomatoes on vine at end of season
4th of July, ground, very healthy indeterminate, fruits 1/8 lb size. Harvested 11 lbs; 50-60 green tomatoes on vine at end of season.
I've harvested 27 bell peppers from 4 plants.
- 8" flower box; harvested 4 peppers - 12" container; harvested 10 peppers(small fruit); mold problem early in season in container - ground(unprepared bed); harvested 5 peppers; 8 on plant now - ground, prepared bed; harvested 10 peppers; 12 on plant now
My hot peppers were disappointments. They were sunburned when I was hardening them. Each was one plant. 32 Cayenne, 13 Jalapeno, 5 Anaheim. The Anaheim was expected I threw the *seeds* in the ground late May, no transplants. I mostly wanted to sample the fruits.
I got *two* potatoes from one seed potato. It did suffer from vermicillium wilt late in season. 3 Baby Bear pumpkins, about 6 carrots from 20 plantings. The fingerlings all failed. Radishes, lettuces and herbs weren't tracked in any meaningful way beyond when I started harvesting and how many I planted.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, 1 mile off L.I.Sound 1st Year Gardener
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On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 17:15:16 GMT, DigitalVinyl

I usually keep fairly good records too, but got discouraged this year when I was laid up and unable to garden for six weeks - right after the spring monsoons. :(
I did keep germination records, and records of when the seedlings were transplanted, etc. But that's about it for this year. NEXT YEAR, I'm going to do better (the eternal cry of the ever hopeful gardener!)
Last year, I bought a min-max thermometer and a rain gauge for the back yard. These are fun to have, I think, and were reasonable in cost.
A record will be useful for me. Our nearest airport (with a weather reporting station) is about 55 miles away, and about 1000 feet lower in altitude than we are - our weather differs, often sharply, from the weather station. Usually we're cooler and sometimes considerably cooler. Pat
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snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com writes:

That won't even be reliable. Last year, my two basil plants in the main garden were side by side, same everything (variety, starting size when transplanted, light, water, soil, etc.). One was prolific and the other was average or well below average. There was no identifiable difference in the two plants. There are similar experiences to relate with tomato and pepper plants though not as drastic as the basil.
The best one could do is conclude with an educated guess. Generalities are probably just as accurate for the home gardener, meaning keeping track of the overall situation as best as can be done and hope weather cooperates to produce the best results with us doing what we can to do the same.
Glenna
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On Mon, 29 Sep 2003 08:30:03 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

I agree completely. Note that I did say "marginally categorize." There are just too many *known* variables, and many more we can't know about. One plant's roots have to go around a rock; another's doesn't. One gets a nugget of useful nutrient in the soil; another doesn't. Maybe they have personalities and adjust differently to domestication. I rarely have any useful advice about plant diseases because (knock wood) I haven't experienced ones that those growing the same things in (roughly) the same conditions suffer from. I can't exactly recommend benign neglect as a solution. :-) In my experience, gardeners who expend a *lot* of effort weeding, watering, and generally paying attention have the best results, no matter what they're growing. A community garden plot is a real education. Nearly everyone has some success, but the plot where someone is working every other day for an hour or 2 yields vast quantities of produce (and a very pretty site), while the plant-and-abandon plots produce briefly and then straggle toward extinction. Maybe hours of effort vs yield would be as good a measure as any.
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