Latest News

Penn State Extension news for vegetable and small fruit producers.
March 31, 2016

The updated vegetable recommendations are now available as a hardcopy for purchase or as a pdf download!

Yellow woodsorrel
February 26, 2016

Some new herbicides, or in some cases, new formulations, have become available for use in berry crops in the last few years. Here is a summary of these additions.

February 26, 2016

Today’s consumers expect to purchase high quality, flavorful, locally grown produce. One of the staples of summer produce markets are watermelons. In current American culture, seedless watermelons are preferred.

February 24, 2016

Between presenting and working at the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference (MAFVC), I did have a chance to catch a few presentations (out of 200 plus) that were very interesting. Below are a few comments on some of the talks I attended.

February 22, 2016

In a recent article I described some important aspects of designing field experiments to avoid biasing the data. The take home lesson was that treatments should be replicated and randomized. In this article I will describe methods to summarize and interpret the data resulting from field experiments with a single qualitative treatment variable.

Companies, such as Pennsylvania’s Adams County Nursery, had their booths set up at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference to service not only the demand for eating apples but needs for the growing hard cider industry.
February 22, 2016

February 1 - 4, 2016 was the annual gathering of growers, from across the region for the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference. This educational event allowed growers to obtain the latest information on issues surrounding crop production, marketing, food safety, and farm labor. In addition, participants got to see new products and innovations in the trade show with over 160 exhibitors.

Spanish session participants practice identifying weeds with a hands-on activity. Photo credit: H. Nunez Contreras.
February 18, 2016

Since 2009, Penn State Extension has hosted a full-day session at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention (MAFVC), taught completely in Spanish. These sessions have targeted Hispanic and Latino farmers, farm managers and farm workers, working in horticultural crop production. Bilingual educators from surrounding states have collaborated in the project, and helped to create a learning environment that is friendly, engaging, inclusive, and highly relevant.

Chives ready to flower in early spring
February 17, 2016

Growing culinary herbs can be a profitable niche market, but not much research has focused on growing culinary herbs on a commercial-scale in our area. Most of the information in this article is from available research, as well as from Tony Ricci of Green Heron Farm in Three Springs, PA and Deb Brubaker, Jackie Swihart and Allison Glick of Village Acres Farm and Foodshed in Mifflintown, PA.

 Leaf Mold on determinate, high tunnel tomato plants.
January 28, 2016

High Tunnel acreage in PA and the Mid-Atlantic continues to grow due to improvements in tomato quality, the NRCS cost-sharing program, and substantially earlier harvests.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announces a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property.
January 28, 2016

On January 19, 2016 Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin offering farm ownership microloans, creating a new financing avenue for farmers to buy and improve property. These microloans will be especially helpful to beginning or underserved farmers, U.S. veterans looking for a career in farming, and those who have small and mid-sized farming operations.

Riesling vines that show severe dieback due to winter kill. Photo: Bryan Hed
January 21, 2016

The past two winters have ramped up concerns about crown gall in Pennsylvania and other parts of the Northeast. Wine grape growers are discovering, many for the first time, the horrors of this disease and the extent of the damage it can cause in their vineyards. While there is reason for great concern, I would like to start out by saying that research efforts are generating extensive information on management of this disease, and there are new solutions from research in the pipeline.

Example of a randomized complete block design layout for comparing treatments in a peach block. Treatments were applied to multiple-tree units in each of 4 rows in the block.
January 14, 2016

Research performed by universities is relatively expensive because we have to pay for the considerable infrastructure associated with research, including the salaries of trained researchers and technicians. Recently some growers have expressed a desire to perform their own research to save money.

Cold-injured primary blackberry bud (left) and uninjured secondary bud (right).  Photo credit: Fumi Takeda, USDA-ARS-AFRS
January 13, 2016

Although the earth is warming as a whole as a result of climate change, the weather is also becoming more variable resulting in early-winter cold snaps, winter thaws followed by extreme cold events, and early spring bloom followed by frosts.

January 1, 2016

Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. One main reason is a threat that has been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite. But one beekeeper in PA might have a solution: raising bees that demonstrated a unique, mite-fighting grooming behavior.

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.