High salt levels in soils can affect plant yield and cause salt injury including burnt leaf margins and stunted plants. In the field, saline soils are not common in Pennsylvania. But plastic high tunnels keep the rain from flushing nutrients and salts out of the root zone. Extension Educators tested soils in six high tunnels across the state this summer and found three with soil salinity high enough to affect crops.
We aim to use resources wisely, including soil nutrients. Soil testing is as an important tool for determining the amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium in the soil. Using these levels, informed decisions can be made on adding additional amounts of these nutrients to the soil to reach production goals.
Spring will arrive in a few short months and thoughts of transplanting will be on everyone's mind and priority list. Assuming the seed and transplant order was made several months ago for both local and Southern tray plants, there are several important plant characteristics that will help you determine if the transplants you intend to plant will establish quickly and grow rapidly or fail in the field.
Since both my grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side came from Ireland in the early 1900’s, the potato has always been a staple at every meal. Today the potato is sometimes looked on with distain in our health conscious society and also as we strive to fight obesity in both adults and children. This is misguided since we know that the potato is a nutritionally rich tuberous vegetable that is a good source of starch and fiber.
Soil-borne diseases can be devastating to crops. Unseen they may persist in the soil for years. Harold Weaver, from Meadow Gate Vista Farm in Bowers, Pennsylvania, tried a new strategy for combating soil-borne disease this year: cover crops.
Recently at a Penn State Extension Potato Field Day I was lucky enough to sit next to Mark Lichtenwalner from Donald E. Lichtenwalner Farms in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Mark and his family have been growing potatoes for many years for wholesale and increasingly for retail markets. As the Penn State potato breeder shared the preliminary results of this year’s potato variety trial, we thought about which types
of new potatoes might fit a changing market and regional climate.
A new report from the USDA Economic Research Service concludes that the marketing of local foods in the U.S, via both direct-to-consumer and intermediated channels, grossed $4.8 billion in 2008, about four times higher than estimates based solely on direct-to-consumer sales.
Members of the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group have just released a video on how to identify and enhance natural enemies in vegetable crops. This video provides balanced coverage of insect natural enemies and includes fascinating footage of beneficial insects at work.
Pumpkin variety trials are held at several locations throughout Pennsylvania every year by Penn State Cooperative Extension educators. Although the data is still being analyzed, several observations and initial results have been compiled at the central Pa site.
There are many factors that must be considered when making a pest control plan. Some of those factors are the biology of the pest, how pest damage impacts the value of the crop, the time it takes to apply controls, the cost of the control, how marketing impacts the use of pest control measures, and probably most important, is the control effective.
Garlic growers in Canada and several northeastern states have seen crop losses of 80-90% in sections of fields infested with the stem/bloat nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci). Pennsylvania growers obtaining garlic seed/bulbs from Canadian and other northeastern sources may unknowingly introduce this serious pest into their fields.
On Tuesday morning, June 28, 2011 at 5:00 am, Sandea (halosulfuron-methyl) herbicide was applied postemergence on fields of pepper and cantaloupe growing in research plots at the Horticulture Research Farm, Rock Springs, PA. Sandea is labeled for application on both peppers and cantaloupes for weed control.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health agencies to investigate a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis.
At least 15 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
State and local public health officials have interviewed most of the patients and discovered that the majority of them consumed whole cantaloupes, most likely marketed from the Rocky Ford growing region of Colorado.
Seven farms laid biodegradable mulch this year as part of a demonstration project with Penn State Extension. The following are the initial experiences of two cooperating farms. For more information join us this week for biodegradable mulch walks in Schuylkill, Northampton and Montgomery Counties.
eOrganic is a website dedicated to providing relevant information for the organic community based on science, regulations and experience. The web address is http://eorganic.info. Funding for the site was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Integrated Organic Program.
Given that spotted wing drosophila (SWD) has been found in PA, many growers are scrutinizing their berries a little more closely. The main concern is that there could be SWD larvae in the fruit. Blackberries and raspberries are two favorite foods of SWD, and fall-harvested cultivars are the most at risk since SWD populations increase throughout the growing season. However, there are other types of larvae that could be in fruit, including those of fruit fly species that lay eggs in overripe fruit.
I want to write about some present day activities in the City of Philadelphia and some good “old style” extension and applied research that we have been undertaking in the heart of the city under the gaze of William Penn, perched high atop City Hall. As you may or may not know, myself and other colleagues in the department have been working with high tunnels since 1998 when we started the High Tunnel Research and Education Facility located on the Horticulture Farm at Rock Springs, PA.
Farmers know how important it is to be careful when using pesticides. We all strive to use the least toxic, effective option, read the label and follow the directions, calibrate, measure carefully and wear the required personal protective equipment.
Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) was confirmed last month in Adams County by researchers from Penn State and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. SWD is a small vinegar fly with the potential to damage many fruit crops, reports Dr. David Biddinger, entomologist at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center. “The greatest potential for damage is probably to the many types of berry crops. ”
I hope that you and your crops successfully made it through the last heat wave. We managed to keep the crops in our research plots well watered. As it turned out, this wasn't easy because a gasket blew in our sand filter at the beginning of the heat wave. Fortunately, we have colleagues, who are also good friends that allow us to use their sand filters until we got a replacement gasket. This article is about how high temperatures, like those of the heat wave, can affect crop yield and quality.
I don't know what location you're thinking, but I was thinking Florida or Arkansas, or some other point South (maybe). It sure doesn't feel like Pennsylvania. The growing season started out with us having our last frost in central Pennsylvania in March (really!!). That was followed by cool temperatures and constant rain which gave diseases a leg up, and then scorching temperatures and a rain-free month to make sure the insects could multiply at breakneck speed, all while the plants just sat there and accumulated symptoms. Here are a few of the newer problems we're seeing this month:
It is important to pay attention to the weather for a variety of reasons. Most growers pay attention to rain events to better time pesticide sprays. Some herbicides need a rain event to activate the product in the soil. At other times, an upcoming rain event may delay a spray as fungicides or insecticides can wash off. An equally important factor to take into consideration is temperature.
Now that spotted wing drosophila has been found in Pennsylvania (see news release at http://extension.psu.edu/ipm) at low populations, the question becomes what, if anything, should growers do about it? Spotted wing drosophila (SWD), a species of fruit fly, is problematic because tiny larvae or pupae of this pest can be present in the fruit when harvested, unlike immatures of other fruit flies. We really don’t know how high populations will become in Pennsylvania, but the risk to fruit crops will likely become greater as the season goes on. In other areas of the country where this pest is already well-established, fall raspberries and blackberries have probably suffered the most damage. Blueberries and summer raspberries have also had issues though to a lesser extent, and strawberries have probably been the least affected. An additional note of caution: So far in PA, most SWD were found in small fruit plantings near cherries, the crop in which SWD was first found, so growers with cherries nearby may want to be keep an eye out for SWD. Whether this is likely to be the situation in future years or not is not known. Management options will vary by crop, and are outlined below.
Even though the trials and tribulations of this year’s wet cool spring seem like ancient history, NOW is the time to start thinking about early fall cover crops that just might be able to help you get your early spring vegetables started earlier next year.
This has been one wet and cool spring. For many, planting has been delayed because fields are too wet. This article describes how transplant age affects yield of bell peppers, tomatoes and summer squash.
Angular leaf spot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas fragariae, seems to be a problematic in numerous strawberry plantings this spring. This disease is favored by cold, wet conditions, so given the weather conditions we’ve had across the state this spring, it’s no surprise that we are seeing problems. The bacteria get spread within a planting by splashing of water droplets. Needing to use overhead irrigation for frost protection can make the problem worse.
Penn State Extension Educators across the state are collaborating with local growers to look at biodegradable mulch. We all know the benefits of plastic mulch. Not only does it keep the weeds down, it warms up the soil giving us earlier (and more) tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other heat loving veggies. But it costs us. Farmers estimate it costs $25-100 an acre for labor and disposal of plastic mulch. A possible alternative to black plastic mulch is biodegradable film mulches that look and act much like black plastic, but instead of ripping them up in the fall, you till them into the soil and the microbes degrade the material, leaving you a clean field (hopefully) in the spring.
Are you a new grower? Do you know what temperature is best for seed germination and maintaining healthy seedlings? I find that these and other tidbits about seed and seedling biology are extremely helpful for growing healthy seedlings in the greenhouse. By now, many of your seedlings are out in the field, but it's a good time to look back over what went right, and what went less than perfect in the greenhouse and make some notes for next year. Take a look at the following information and new factsheets for new organic vegetable growers.
Vegetable growers now have another tool in their toolbox. Kanemite, a miticide from Arysta LifeScience is now labeled for fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.) and edible podded beans.
Through the support of PVGA, the 2011 sweet corn trapping network has distributed 2,150 pheromone lures and 100 Vaportapes among 20 Extension Educators, to create weekly dataflow from ~49 farms, using a biweekly pheromone replacement rate over a 14-15 week season. It’s truly a cooperative effort that provides a first cut of the pest pressure from corn earworm, fall armyworm, and both the E- and Z- pheromone race of European corn borer.
Cool, wet spring weather has given us few good days to do field work, increasing temptation to work soils when they are still too wet. Resist that temptation if at all possible. Our soils are more susceptible to compaction than most. Working when soils are too wet can cause surface compaction in the topsoil layer that lasts throughout the current growing season, and deeper subsurface compaction that lasts for many years.
Here is some interesting information on cyclamen mites; perhaps PA growers should keep an eye out for this pest as well. Additional PA-specific notes and management measures follow the article by Molly.
Dave Scott, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
For the first time since 2001, the Pennsylvania regulations governing pesticide registration, distribution and use are changing. Many changes are designed to increase the security surrounding Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP), standardize the regulations with existing state and federal laws and regulations and clarify the meaning of previous regulations. However, the majority of changes will not affect currently certified private applicators.
Since Cucurbits in general and melons specifically love warm temperatures, production of melons (cantaloupe and watermelons) in much of Pennsylvania is a challenge both from the standpoint of temperature and moisture. Melon plants stop growing below 45°F and will have a difficult time maturing fruit when average night temperature drops below 50°F. Optimum growth of melon plants is between 75° and 85°F daytime temperature.
Edible ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a tropical crop that optimally requires a 10 month growing season in Hawaii to produce mature ginger rhizomes. A shorter growing season results in reduced yields and size of rhizomes.
As part of a large nationwide project, berry crop researchers are working to identify grower research and Extension needs in the area of high tunnel berry production. Paper surveys are being conducted at many meetings across the country; however, we’d like to gather input from all growers with an interest in high tunnel berry production. So, for those growers who may not have the opportunity to fill out a paper survey, we’re asking you to participate in an online version whether you are a current high tunnel berry grower, used to grow berries in high tunnels, or are just thinking about it. If you fill out this online survey, and are asked to fill out an identical paper survey at a meeting sometime later this winter or spring, please let personnel at the meeting know you’ve already filled out the online survey. Please read on… and thank you!
I’ve been working with tomatoes for many years. Like everyone that works with tomatoes and many other plants, after we’re done, there is goo of various kinds all over our skin and clothes. With tomatoes, that goo starts off green and if not removed relatively quickly, will turn black. In an article in the monthly newsletter “Growing for Market” Lynn Bycznyski, responded to this very issue by asking: What is the greenish-yellow powder you get all over your hands and arms when you pick tomatoes? She asked Dr Chris Wien, Cornell Horticulture Professor, for more information. I found his responses and related information very interesting.
Changes noted below are ones that have occurred since late fall 2009, when the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide went to print. Note that not all formulations of each active ingredient are listed. If anyone knows of any changes involving other active ingredients that I've missed (that don't already appear in the Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide), let me know.