Extension colleagues and I have recently visited a number of heated high tunnels and greenhouses where air pollution from the heating system was damaging the crop. Tomatoes are very sensitive to ethylene, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. All of these chemicals are part of the brew that is generated in the combustion chamber of our heating systems through burning coal, heating oil, propane, natural gas, or wood. Our prolonged cold period this spring is starting to wear crops down in situations where either the heating system is poorly vented, not vented at all or poorly engineered. This is especially so in high tunnels where heaters are often a second thought and only used to prevent temperatures from dropping below 45F at night. Diagnosing plant injury based on heater-generated pollutants can be confusing as the damage can mimic other symptoms and the pollutants are gases that can pool in areas of reduced air circulation.
Recently, there has been a lot of press related to pollinator health, and some troubling information indicates that certain fungicides, when used during bloom, can negatively affect the health of honey bees. This is a complicated problem with the solutions relying on understanding the detailed relationships among chemicals, pollinators and pest management needs. It is not prudent to treat this topic with a broad brush with statements such as "All neonicotinoid insecticides are bad for all pollinator species," or "No fungicides should be sprayed during bloom." Research is on-going, and we do not know all of the details yet. However, there are a number of facts we do know.
While pumpkins and ornamental gourds require many of the same inputs throughout the growing season, some gourds require a nighttime visitor to produce.
Our berry good question this month brought to mind a number of other questions about fertilization that we are frequently asked. So more questions and answers follow this first question from Sarah Blevins, S.J. Blevins Berries, etc. Thanks for asking, Sarah!
It’s easy for weeds to surprise you with the amount of competition they can provide in the springtime, especially when they've been protected under snow or plastic and row covers. Here we'll discuss control of some of our common winter annual weed problems, and also two perennials.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the expansion of the Farm Storage and Facility Loan program, which provides low-interest financing to producers. The enhanced program includes 22 new categories of eligible equipment for fruit and vegetable producers, and makes it easier for farmers and ranchers around the country to finance the equipment they need to grow and expand.
Sweet onion production has soared in Pennsylvania in recent years and bacterial disease challenges have grown right along with production. Steve Bogash provided interview-type questions to Emily Pfeufer, Ph.D. candidate working with Beth Gugino, Vegetable Pathologist due to her four years of research into sweet onion bacterial diseases.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Strawberry is an herbaceous perennial plant and it is fairly susceptible to low winter temperatures. An understanding of the cold acclimation process is important to delay mulch application until the plants have acclimated but before plants are exposed to injurious temperatures.
The "Berry Good Question" column is being re-launched as a joint Cornell/Penn State effort.
Many vegetables grown in Pennsylvania tolerate frost and light freezes quite well, allowing us to enjoy fresh, locally grown vegetables long into the fall and early winter. However, the very low temperatures that blanketed the state for several days just before the Thanksgiving holiday may have caused more damage than growers were expecting, even in crops under row cover.
Agricultural businesses and pesticide applicators in 20 counties can dispose of unwanted pesticides safely and easily in 2014 through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s CHEMSWEEP program.
To stay on top of the growing season, the Penn State Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Team conducted bi-weekly conference calls. Both educators and specialists update each other about the insect, disease and other production problems that growers were facing. The primary goal was to collectively help effectively manage these different pest problems as they appear. It was during these meetings that concerns about potential disease problems resulting from the frequent and heavy rains affecting western PA in late June and early July were raised. Sure enough not long after the rain, Septoria leaf spot (Septoria lycopersici) and early blight (Alternaria solani) which both develop under warm temperatures(75 to 85°F) and high relative humidity, heavy dews or significant rainfall started showing up in commercial tomato fields in western PA.
There are many types of tree nuts that grow in Pennsylvania, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the state. If you’d like to grow nuts to add to your product selection, you are more likely to be successful with a little planning and careful selection of the types of nuts you plant.