In most years there are at least some periods of inadequate rainfall. Even a short dry spell can adversely affect crop yield and quality. Irrigation requirements differ somewhat among the various kinds of vegetable crops, but they all benefit from supplemental irrigation when needed. It is critical to manage soil moisture to provide an ample and steady supply of water to crops without overwatering. Table 13 lists periods of critical water need by vegetable crops. Special crop requirements will also be discussed under each commodity. General irrigation guidelines are presented here.

Contact your local Extension office to determine what information is available in your state. There are also several knowledgeable irrigation dealers who serve the New England area who can be very helpful. As you begin to plan your irrigation program, keep in mind that it is usually best to look first at the highest value crops you grow as well as the anticipated increases in yield and income with the use of irrigation. When buying equipment and developing water supplies, consider future needs.