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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Penn State Extension Horticulture, Start Farming, and Pesticide Education Teams have produced two new videos on integrated pest management practices and soil health.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not only insecticides but also some fungicides and herbicides are harmful to bees. The following are some general guidelines to protect bees from pesticides.