Get out and scout your potato and tomato fields now if you haven't already been doing so! Late blight has been confirmed on potato in Cambria Co. and on both tomato and potato in adjacent fields in Lancaster Co. Samples have been submitted for genotyping.
Twin Springs Fruit Farm is a 75 acre farm in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania that was started in the 1970s. Tom Childs, who operates the greenhouses, gave us a tour on June 24th, 2014.
Basil downy mildew has now become an annual problem across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.
In Pennsylvania, the first reports of downy mildew on cucumber typically occur in late June into early July. Now is the time to be scouting. Downy mildew is most easily managed before symptoms are observed in the crop.
Sweet corn counts holding steady. Earworm concerns in Westmoreland and Clinton counties, ECB in Bradford, and some also in Bucks, Clinton, Lancaster, and Centre counties.
Due to the wide diversity of genus and species among cut flowers, managing weeds often requires different approaches depending on the specific weed, specific flower or woody stem, time of year and level of weed infestation.
During a recent conference call of Penn State Extension educators, specialists and faculty working with vegetable production, the topic of herbicide injury to crops was brought up repeatedly.
First confirmed reports of late blight this summer are on potato in New York and North Carolina.
Corn earworm is already present throughout the state. European corn borer flights are high in Bradford Co, and significant in Bucks, Clinton, and Lancaster Counties.
Botrytis or gray mold is a major disease for strawberry growers, and there is some new information on fungicide resistance that growers should have.
One of the greatest challenges in growing tomatoes in an intensive production system is keeping up with the plants high consumption of potassium during fruit production. Past recommendations have been based around beginning to increase potassium applications along with the first tissue test starting at the onset of flowering. This often results in our chasing potassium levels over 2-4 weeks in order to get them above 3% by dry matter. Very often some of the first fruit are yellow shouldered. The heavy consumption of potassium actually starts about 2 weeks before the first flowers are visible. The concept of ‘banking’ potassium or applying extra a bit earlier seems indicated in order to reduce packing house losses.
I have received calls recently from growers seeing timber rot in their high tunnel tomatoes. This spring often had ideal weather for the occurrence of this disease in a tunnel but the shift to warmer and drier weather has removed the chances for further infections of the disease. While the risk of infection is gone, now is the time to start your prevention program for next season.
Can we eliminate spring tillage, capture nutrients and prevent erosion with cover crops without compromising early spring vegetable yields? Maryland and Pennsylvania researchers and farmers recently trialed no-till planted spinach and other vegetables into winter killed radish and oat cover crops.
It seems that black cutworm moths just keep coming. This season has been a big year for flights of black cutworm moths in Pennsylvania and other northern states; thus, it seems wise to recommend that corn growers should scout their fields for cutting damage in the coming weeks.
Watercress has always been considered a niche crop, but recent studies have elevated it to a “Super-food” status by many nutrition researchers. Research findings suggest that short-term and long-term watercress ingestion has potential antioxidant effects against exercise-induced DNA damage and lipid peroxidation (Fogarty MC, Hughes CM, Burke G, Brown JC, Davison GW. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jan 28; 109(2):293-301. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512000992. Epub 2012 Apr 5). Additional research documents the presence of anti-cancer fighting compounds in watercress which may target colon, breast, and certain oral cancers. The elevation of watercress to “Super-food” status has spurred an increase in the demand for this cruciferous herb in the marketplace.
Do you have this pesky type of stink bug on your farm? Here are some notes about this pest and an update on some new research on its biology and control.
Every fall I receive a few calls regarding scurf on sweet potatoes. While this is a relatively minor vegetable crop in the state, I hear about more people planting this crop each season. Scurf is only a superficial discoloration of the roots and it does not affect eating quality. However, sweet potatoes with scurf are more difficult to market and also loose quality faster in storage. If you plan to grow sweet potatoes this year know that it is easier to try to prevent scurf rather than trying to eradicate it when it infects your crop and fields.
Cool, wet, slow-growing spring weather is great for maggot pest problems. Plants are less able to outgrow the maggot feeding. Planting in warm soils is the best management option, but that may prove difficult this year. If you have to plant in cool soils, avoid planting into an abundance of decaying organic matter. Incorporate organic matter well, several weeks prior to planting. Be prepared to replant if you have significant stand loss. Check if the maggots are young (less than 3/8 inch), and if they are, wait another week or two for them to pupate before replanting.
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.