Start Farming Blog

January 7, 2016

Are you a lifetime farmer, just getting started, or looking to take the leap? Well, this podcast is for you! Whether his guests are discussing employment philosophy or the best techniques for cultivating carrots, his down-to-earth conversations with experienced farmers - and the occasional non-farmer - will be time well spent. The Farmer to Farmer Podcast provides a fresh and honest look at everything from soil fertility and record-keeping to getting your crops to market without making yourself crazy. Check out the Farmer to Farmer Podcast and other fantastic resources for farmers at

January 7, 2016

“Tracking the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug” shows growers and others how to identify BMSB, why this pest is important in agriculture, and what’s at stake if we don’t stop it. Four new installments bring important new information about integrated pest management or IPM in terms of biological control, monitoring and trapping, and the iconic pyramid traps. These new videos show just how far our team has come in understanding this peculiar and pernicious creature, and why the newly hatching Trissolcus insect, now in the wild, could change the game.

January 4, 2016

One of the biggest questions a new grower faces is where and how to obtain loans for business start up. Even after the start-up phase, loans often continue to be an essential aspect of business establishment and expansion. No matter who you plan to take your loan from, a review of "The C's of Credit" can help you get organized for approaching your lender.

December 28, 2015

Evaluating the Body Condition Score (BCS) of individual females in your cowherd will go a long way in determining how you feed your herd during the winter months.

December 18, 2015

In this article, author Kevin Martin explores the challenges of running a profitable Vineyard, and the key factors to consider when examining where your business stands and where it's headed - Important lessons for agricultural operations of all kinds.

Oats as a cover crop have a high C:N ratio. Photo: Emelie Swackhamer
December 10, 2015

Nitrogen provided by legume cover crops is an important source of fertility for many vegetable growers, but cover crops are also important for recycling nitrogen and building long-term soil nitrogen reserves in soil organic matter (SOM).

Ewe lambs that lamb at one year of age have increased nutritional requirements to account for the growth of lambs in the uterus as well as the continued growth of the ewe.
December 10, 2015

Lifetime performance is an often overlooked measurement in sheep operations. Ewes that produce a lamb at a year of age should have a higher lifetime production than a ewe that lambs for the first time at two years of age. However, these young ewes are not only producing a lamb, they are also still growing. So, producers should manage these ewe lambs differently than mature ewes.

‘Malwina’ strawberry plant - bred in Germany. Photo: Kathleen Demchak
December 3, 2015

It’s the time of year when many growers are figuring out what varieties to include in their strawberry orders. For an impartial view of the performance of some of the newer cultivars, here are the first harvest year results from a matted-row trial at the Penn State Horticulture Research Farm at Rock Springs.

Compared to leaf or mesclun-types of lettuce, head lettuce takes less labor to grow, has a longer shelf life, and lower food safety risk.
December 1, 2015

Dr. Lewis Jett, West Virginia University, recently gave a talk at the Western Pennsylvania Vegetable and Small Fruit Seminar on the topic of four-season head lettuce production. Dr. Jett has been researching how growers in West Virginia can produce top-quality bibb- and romaine-type head lettuces during spring, summer, fall and winter using high tunnels and other protected growing practices. Dr. Jett's findings and recommendations, summarized in this article, should be applicable for many growers in Pennsylvania.

November 19, 2015

Many of the most successful farmers I know are experts at finding and keeping great employees. As a new farmer, managing employees can be a huge challenge. For the first employee you hire it may seem like more time than it’s worth to figure out how to file all the right paperwork, let alone how to delegate effectively.

November 16, 2015

Healthy soil should be the objective of every farmer. But what is soil health and how can it be improved? In these workshops you will get an overview of the basics of soil health and how to evaluate it, and learn about 14 principles and practices that help to improve soil health. You will receive a copy of the new publication ‘Soil Health in Field and Forage Crop Production’, and be able to observe a live demonstration of the effects of poor and good management on soil health. Soil health specialists from Penn State and USDA-NRCS will be presenting and farmers from your area will explain how they have improved soil health on their farm. Come join us for an exciting exchange of ideas!

November 16, 2015

Join PA-WAgN for our annual One-Day Networking Symposium as we share through a full day of workshops, panel discussions, networking opportunities, and peer-to-peer information sharing.

November 6, 2015

The spotted lanternfly has now been found in one additional municipality in Berks County; an additional township in Montgomery County and has appeared in parts of Bucks and Chester Counties. The additional quarantined municipalities include Boyertown Borough, Berks County; Douglass Township, Montgomery County; Milford Township including Trumbauersville Borough, Bucks County; and South Coventry Township, Chester County.

Photo: Shawn Harquail, CC License
November 6, 2015

Firewood is an important source of heat for many Pennsylvania residents. As the weather turns colder, a lot of folks are gathering firewood for the winter. Unfortunately, firewood is also an important source of invasive problems, and moving it around can spread damaging insects and diseases. You should use local firewood as much as possible.

November 5, 2015

Think of your pasture like your lawn. As we get into November and the temperatures cool off, you will likely mow your lawn a couple times and then you are done for the year. Your pasture grasses are similar; they are a cool season grass whose growth slows and becomes dormant during winter. Manage your grazing like you do your lawn, when you stop mowing your lawn for the year you should also likely stop grazing your pasture.

Different stages of infection of bitter rot on Honey Crisp.
October 30, 2015

Growers can get a jump on fungal and bacterial disease management for the 2016 season this fall. A review of tips to manage apple scab, fire blight, peach leaf curl, cherry leaf spot, bacterial canker, and fungal fruit rots are discussed.

October 29, 2015

Broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) has been a pest of tropical, subtropical and greenhouse crops for over a century, and has been problematic for pepper growers in PA for the last couple of years. Now we can add blackberries to the list of crops that they frequent.

October 29, 2015

The Penn State Extension Horticulture, Start Farming, and Pesticide Education Teams have produced two new videos on integrated pest management practices and soil health.

Jenny Carleo (r), RCE agricultural agent of Cape May County, discusses tomato crop management with farmer Jen Gleason of Hand’s Stand Market in Rio Grande, NJ.
October 29, 2015

Rutgers University will be offering programs on “ultra-niche” production, which is growing exceptionally high-value crops that can provide a significant source of income to the farmer while using minimal land area. The goal of the project is to teach new and beginning farmers nationwide–virtually and in-person–about the cultivation, marketing and business management of farming 18 “ultra-niche crops, including strawberries, basil, roselle, sweet potato vine, hot peppers and mushrooms.

October 29, 2015

The Penn State Extension Horticulture, Start Farming, and Pesticide Education Teams have produced three new videos on integrated pest management practices for sustainable establishment and management of apple orchards.