The days of planting a melon or chile crop and figuring on harvesting a certain number of days later is rather passé, thanks to efforts by University of Arizona (UA) researchers. Now, growers can utilize a more precise model based on tracking heat accumulation after planting (HUAP). That’s a better indicator than simply calculating how many days have elapsed since the crop first went into the ground, according to Jeff Silvertooth, UA professor of soil, water and environmental science.

“The purpose of this phenological baseline or model is to provide a crop management tool for growers for predicting and identifying critical stages of growth,” he says. “At present, there is very limited information available concerning basic crop growth and development patterns for irrigated chiles in the desert southwest.

The possibilities are intriguing to say the least. Instead of guessing at irrigation, fertilizer applications, and harvest — now growers can use the model to better predict every aspect of growth and better time management inputs to obtain the desired results.