Ensuring vegetables survive, stay fresh amid the freeze

With Shanghai in the grip of a cold spell as temperatures plummet to their lowest since winter began, vegetable planting bases in Songjiang are trying every means to prevent or reduce the cold wave’s impact on vegetables and ensure fresh vegetable supplies to citizens.

The Songfeng Vegetable and Fruit Cooperative in Yexie Town, 20 kilometers from downtown Songjiang, is one of the biggest vegetable planting bases in the suburban district. Its farmland covers 680 mu (45.3 hectares) and its all-year-round crops include Chinese cabbages, crown daisies and tomatoes.

“When the temperatures plummeted to minus degrees, our 20-mu newly-planted tomato seedlings were in a tender state. I was afraid of exposure to cold,” said Zhang Feng, chief of the cooperative.

Solutions provided by the district’s agricultural technology promotion center somehow relieved Zhang’s worries.

Suggested by a written notice, Zhang and his workers added another layer of plastic coat upon the original greenhouse. They controlled the amount of both fertilizers and water to guard against frost. Before the cold wave arrived, they increased the tomato greenhouse’s ventilation time to adapt the seedlings to a low temperature. In addition, farmers rush-harvested more than 100 mu of outdoor vegetables.

“Unlike Zhang, who had planted the tomato seedlings before the cold wave, half of the district’s 300-mu tomato farmland hadn’t started the seedling planting. So we decided to postpone the planting time to ensure the seedlings’ survival rate,” said Tang Jihua, an official with the Songjiang Agricultural Technology Promotion Center.

“Vegetables may grow slower and get weathered due to a sudden temperature drop, but for the majority of vegetables that are planted in a greenhouse, the effect is less severe,” Tang added.

An essential vegetable planting district in Shanghai, Songjiang has around 5,000 mu of vegetable farmland with proper equipment and its outdoor vegetable farmland in autumn and winter covers around 4,000 mu. Its daily vegetable supplies are maintained around 40 tons, according to official statistics.