As we look around at ways to improve produce production, one area that offers the greatest return in both fruit quality and decreased fertilizer inputs is in getting the pH of your irrigation solution correct. Every crop has an ideal pH range where it removes nutrients from the soil solution optimally. Getting your soil and water pH right can be the difference between a profitable crop and high field / packing house losses.
Q. Can we expect reduced SWD pressure this season due to our extremely cold weather? A. We didn’t have an answer to this one; and we weren’t alone on that. Dr. Greg Loeb, grape and small fruit entomologist at Cornell spearheading work on SWD in NY and the NE region, didn’t either, but provided the following thoughts on the topic:
At the mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention this year, SHAP asked researchers to display posters so everyone can see the results of grower-funded research. I have spent my professional career in the mid-Atlantic region, but only the last 9 years in Pennsylvania. As a Pomologist at two other universities, I was envious of the political and finical support that Penn State faculty and county educators received from SHAP. Over the past couple of decades the finical support did not keep up with inflation, so SHAP recently made a commitment to raise $250,000 per year for research and extension. The PVGA, Potato Growers, and Christmas Tree Growers also provide funding for research and extension. I would like to explain why this support is so important and what will happen without it.
Frequent visits from the polar vortex this winter have caused many fruit growers to be concerned about this year’s crop potential. Front page headlines suggest that grape growers are already seeking government funds to help with the loss. Peach growers are also anticipating a limited crop. But what should berry growers anticipate?
The production of early potatoes for direct marketing or sale to consumers can be a very lucrative enterprise for many growers who only grow 3-5 acres of potatoes in Pennsylvania. There are many excellent farm markets located throughout the Commonwealth that sell a wide variety of produce to consumers throughout the growing season. It is traditional here in Pennsylvania that in the late spring/early summer consumers are indeed anticipating the arrival of “new potatoes” or “B” size red potatoes at the local retail stands. These early potatoes command a high price and with the increasing popularity of specialty potatoes (different colored skins and flesh), growers are able to offer an increasing colorful display of potatoes to the consuming public. In order to provide high quality, early potatoes for their markets, an increasing number of growers in Pennsylvania are using intensive production technology or plasticulture (plastic mulches, drip irrigation, fertigation, high tunnels, and row covers). They have used this technology extensively for other selected vegetable crops on their farms. The use of plasticulture technology can provide for earlier production, increase marketable yields and improved quality of the product. In Pennsylvania we can have not only unpredictable growing conditions in the spring both in terms of temperatures and amount of precipitation, but during the growing season, which can cause a delay in the maturity of the potato crop. The quality of the potatoes can be affected by too much or too little water during the growing season. The use of plasticulture helps ensure that a grower can have potatoes for the early market.
Soil-borne diseases can be devastating to vegetable crops. In the Northeast alone 1,687,080 tons of fresh market and processing vegetables on 264,490 acres, worth $701,377,000 suffer 10-15% losses from soil borne diseases (NASS Crop Profiles, 2007). Disease suppressive cover crop rotations may provide an additional tool for managing soil borne disease. Researchers have documented significant increases in yield after sudangrass, brassica, millet and other cover crops. Here we describe recent results of a two season on-farm case study using cover crops to suppress Verticillium wilt in tomato.
Are you planning on making the leap from vegetable gardening to production for profit? Are you a new vegetable producer who is ready to refine your farm to optimize production? Are you apprenticing on a farm? Join Penn State Extension for Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production. Registration is now open.
Our Shiitake Mushroom School will be offered in Reading, PA on Saturday, March 22. This intensive program will focus on the process for cultivating shiitake mushrooms on natural logs. Program topics will include tree selection, log inoculation, stacking, fruiting, harvesting, material cost, and marketing.
New program offering: 2014 Bio-Intensive High Tunnel Growers School is now open for registration. This program will be held on March 31 and April 1, 2014 at the Bucks County Extension Office in Doylestown, PA.
One option for avoiding injury from spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is to plant earlier-maturing varieties. This article discusses some cultivars that might fit the bill.
Every good reason to grow tomatoes and other high return vegetables and small fruits in high tunnels has a compelling argument to counter it. These potential pitfalls of tunnel culture are seldom mentioned in the rush to put a high tunnel on every farm.
The 2014 edition of the Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations guide is now available on-line.
In 2012-13 we evaluated 24 cultivars of bicolor and white synergistic cultivars of sweet corn in 3 locations across Pennsylvania. This article presents our methods and results.
At Penn State Extension’s recent “Farm Success” worskshop Mike and Terra Brownback from Spiral Path Farm discussed their systems and styles for working with employees to improve their farms’ profitability.
U.S. consumers have benefited from an increasing volume and variety of fresh produce at both retail and food service outlets. There has been a significant accompanying growth in imports, particularly since the 1990s. The produce section in today’s grocery store often has dozens, if not hundreds, of different fresh fruits and vegetables on display all year around. These products typically come from all corners of the globe as additions to our domestic fresh fruit and vegetables. Improved logistics, technology, and transportation have allowed this increase in availability.
MILLHEIM, PA January 13, 2014 – Farmers, doctors and other members of the sustainable agriculture community are set to explore the relationship between healthy people and healthy farms at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) 23rd Annual Farming for the Future Conference, Feb. 5-8 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College, PA. The main conference opening session, scheduled for 10:15 a.m. on Feb. 7 and sponsored by Lady Moon Farms, features a keynote address from Dr. Daphne Miller, family physician, Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, and author of Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing.
Pest management for vegetable transplant production is an integrated process and includes sanitation, sound cultural practices, the use of resistant cultivars (where possible) and finally, proper use of the correct pesticide. Your pest management program should be starting now in the greenhouse.
Customers are demanding local food, and they want it all winter long. Some growers are finding effective ways to meet this demand. Jeff Frank from Liberty Gardens, Coopersburg PA explained his winter production system to a group of eighty growers at Penn State Extension’s Organic Vegetable Intensive.
Interested in learning more about ethnic greens and herbs to meet increasing market demand? Then consider attending this day-long workshop on March 3, 2014 in Valley Forge, PA. Registration opens in early January!
Q: Each year I question whether I'm putting straw mulch on my strawberries too early. Some years, I've waited too long (usually due to hunting season) - then we get snow and I can't get it on at all, so I'd like to mulch as early as I can. I've seen an assortment of recommendations – what should I go by? Thanks.