Latest News

Penn State Extension news for vegetable and small fruit producers.
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).

‘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.

December 1, 2015

The article on growing chickpeas in the November newsletter mistakenly indicated that the herbicide Extreme had been used for weed control. Extreme can only be used on Round-up ready crops. Pursuit was used and is labeled for chickpeas.

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 20, 2015

A team of Penn State Extension Educators and Specialists recently received funding from the US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block program to study hops. Our goal is to establish recommendations cultivar selection and integrated pest management strategies.

November 18, 2015

USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program just released a new publication entitled Organic Transition - A Business Planner for Farmers, Ranchers and Food Entrepreneurs. It is available as a free pdf or as a book for $16.

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.

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.

October 29, 2015

The National Center for Farmworker Health has created a guide for agricultural workers that describes benefits under the Affordable Care Act. The guide is in English and is available for sharing.

Chickpea field on May 18, 2015
October 27, 2015

Have you considered growing chickpeas? Chickpea consumption has increased dramatically in recent years. Hummus consumption alone has increased about 5% annually over the past ten years. This trend is expected to continue.

A healthy broccoli leaf (on the left) next to one with alternaria leafspot (on the right).
October 19, 2015

In an experiment at the Russel E. Larson Agricultural Research Farm we have alternaria leafspot and head rot on the leaves and heads of fall broccoli planted. It’s a common late-season disease.

Common hop (Humulus lupulus) Photo: Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,
October 13, 2015

The demand for local hops is creating a renewed interest in growing hops. A team of Penn State Extension Educators and Specialists recently received funding from the US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block program to study hops.

October 13, 2015

Not only insecticides but also some fungicides and herbicides are harmful to bees. The following are some general guidelines to protect bees from pesticides.

October 9, 2015

In our continuing series on scouting and identifying insects in high tunnels we’ve been scouting for insect pests. We also scout the high tunnels to see what natural enemies of these insect pests are present.

September 28, 2015

On another bright and beautiful day on the road we headed up to Susquehanna county in northern Pennsylvania to link up with Tom Maloney to visit 4 Seasons Farm Market. 4 Seasons Farm Market is a 143 acre farm owned and operated by Tina and Gerald Carlin.

September 28, 2015

On an overcast day we headed to Millerstown in Perry County to meet up with Darryl Dressler and visit Raccoon Valley Farm. Farmer Lester Brubaker and his family moved here from Lancaster after purchasing the 150 acre farm. Most of the farm is planted to field corn and soybeans. Nine acres are devoted to vegetables, strawberries and mums. This is the Brubaker’s first year growing vegetables.

'Prime-Jan' blackberry Photo: Kathleen Demchak
September 24, 2015

Spotted wing drosophila is present just about anywhere we look these days—even in berry fields where fruit is no longer present.

September 10, 2015

We recently spent an afternoon with Larry King of Harvest Valley Farms in Valencia, Pennsylvania. Larry grows vegetables on 160 acres with his brother Art and nephew Dave.