Start Farming Blog

Seedcorn maggot life cycle Photo: Art Cushman, USDA Systematics Entomology Laboratory,
April 28, 2016

We’re seeing root maggot problems this year, and some from infestations that probably started in when growing the transplants.

Exposed, chewed or missing seeds in greenhouse trays are signs of mouse activity. Snap traps are an effective control measure for mice and voles if populations aren't too large.
April 28, 2016

Insects, diseases and weeds aren't the only pests we encounter in greenhouses. Sometimes the damage we see to seeds, seedling and overwintering stock plants is caused by four-footed furry pests - rodents! This article discusses the two most common rodent pests of greenhouses, mice and voles, and how to control them.

April 28, 2016

This guide gives case studies of successful organic crop farmers in the Northeast, provides an introduction to the National Organic Program Standards, discusses maintaining organic integrity and how to budget for and market organic crops, and details organic farming practices.

April 27, 2016

Significant numbers of Black Cutworm moths have been trapped in some locations in PA. Alfalfa weevil and cereal leaf beetles populations need to be monitored in the upcoming weeks.

April 27, 2016

Spending some time going over your sprayer this spring can pay dividends. Worn or partially clogged nozzles will cause uneven spray distribution, which can lead to problems later this spring.

April 20, 2016

Any family interested in raising some of their own meat should consider pigs. They grow rapidly and require very little space or management.

Spotted wing drosophila male (upper right on berry) and female (lower left). Photo by Kathy Demchak
April 19, 2016

Spotted wing drosophila, or Drosophila suzukii, lays eggs in such valuable soft-skinned fruit as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries. The eggs develop into larvae, leaving the fruit unmarketable.

In spite of the cold injury evident on these spur leaves, the apple flowers are viable. Spur leaf health will be an important consideration later in the season when growers adjust crop load. Photo: E. Winzeler.
April 15, 2016

Following an unseasonably warm month of March, a pair of cold fronts brought cold temperatures across much of the eastern United States in early April 2016. The cold weather was stressful, both for the fruit grower and the flowers!

April 13, 2016

Cash flow statements are very useful – they may very well be the first place where a farmer will spot a trend in business performance that may benefit or harm the operation in the long run. Cash flow statements show the business’s liquidity, the ability to pay expenses as they come due.

April 13, 2016

Sorting through some of the differences between soil health tests can be challenging. Penn State offers a Soil Quality Assessment Worksheet that may be beneficial.

April 12, 2016

In a previous article, I had mentioned Closer (sulfoxaflor) insecticide as being registered for use on strawberries. It had been for a while, but last fall EPA issued a cancellation order for the product, after the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that EPA improperly approved the registration.

A tarnished plant bug on a strawberry flower. Photo: Kathleen Demchak
April 11, 2016

Last month, we discussed new herbicides that have become available for use on berry crops in the last few years. In this article, we’ll cover changes with insecticides and miticides.

April 11, 2016

The allium leafminer (also known as the onion leafminer) has recently been detected and confirmed from infested leeks and onions in Lancaster County. This is the first confirmed infestation in the Western Hemisphere. Your assistance is needed for monitoring and controlling this new invasive species.

April 7, 2016

Agriculture Handbook 66 (AH-66) represents a complete revision and major expansion of the 1986 edition. It has been reorganized and now includes 17 Chapters and 138 Commodity Summaries written by nearly a hundred experts in 792 pages.

April 6, 2016

Before you pull out the subsoiler, take a shovel and check soil aggregation and porosity.

Gala at tight cluster. Photo: K. Peter
April 5, 2016

The recent winter-like conditions do not kill scab spores and the spores continue to further mature and release. If the weather forecast comes to fruition, an apple scab infection event is predicted for April 7. If your trees have green tissue, recommendations for dealing with scab while managing cold injury are discussed.

Picture 1. Pheromone traps for Oriental fruit moth in peach orchard during the 2016 season. Photo: G. Krawczyk
April 1, 2016

The calendar still says March but it feels as though it is at least mid April. Be prepared to set out your sex pheromone traps earlier than normal, as they are the simplest tools to accurately establish biofix dates and to precisely monitor the trends in population development through the season. Warm temperatures resulted in increased activity of pear psylla adults, and pre-bloom application(s) of oil should slow down egg laying. San Jose scale nymphs become active when the sap begins to flow in the spring, and they should be controlled pre-bloom or during the first cover spray.

Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA)
April 1, 2016

All current conditions point to an early spring and tree fruit bloom. At Rock Springs we had first bloom on Methley plums and pink on peaches on Friday March 25th. Last year we observed the same growth stage on April 29th!

A thermometer that records the maximum and minimum temperature is extremely useful for determining degree hours.
April 1, 2016

This article will help you manually determine infection periods for certain diseases (scab, fire blight, cherry leaf spot). Also included is a table listing coppers available to manage bacterial spot during cover sprays.

Apple scab conidia Photo: Kari Peter
March 31, 2016

If the rain that is forecasted comes to fruition, we will experience a major scab infection period late March 31–April 1. With temperatures averaging around 60°F, only 6 hours leaf wetness is needed to cause an infection event. Protection is needed for vulnerable green tissue.