Vermont Vegetable and Berry News July 11, 2007
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13, vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu
www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry
 
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of July 10)
 
(Brandon) An excellent strawberry season just ended up after four great weeks of picking. Fruit was continually very sweet this year. The opposite weather pattern from last season helped push pick-your-own sales tremendously. First bushels of sweet corn picked yesterday. Ear size looks to be very nice from transplants set out May 1st. Greenhouse tomatoes suffering some foliage damage from an aggressive Botrytis (gray mold) infection, perhaps caused by many nights in the 40's and 50's. However, yields and fruit size have been high. We had been keeping the sides rolled down at night with very little heat. But now keeping temps up to 64 degrees, and controller power venting has been turned on throughout night hours to reduce humidity. Things are looking much better in there. Field crops in general look very nice, especially with all the weeds around as a backdrop. Always seems that the busier we are selling early summer crops, the weedier the fields get. I'll take a weedy year anytime.
 
(S. Royalton) Wow what a difference having grafted tomatoes makes, the growth is remarkable compared to our regular Buffalo tomatoes and the fruit set is a lot better also.  We got our potatoes in a bit late this year but it seems to be paying off in the lack of potato beetles so far. Harvesting summer squash and zucchini with cukes to start this week. Rainfall has been just barely enough along with irrigation but it also appears to have slowed weed germination. Cuke and squash beetles arrived early but we have been able to keep them under control, flea beetles have been pretty fierce so far. Lots of TPB in potatoes I was wondering if it was worth it to spray for them as this is a field well away from all the other veggies.
 
(Plainfield NH) Strawberries out-performed our expectations. Although we had extreme pressure from cedar waxwings early in the season, the fruit size held up well and the weather was picture perfect for the weather-fickle u-pickers. All this combined for our best season in 15 years. Hoppers have been after the beans, low counts of cucumber beetle, some cabbage loopers. Rose chafers and most recently Japanese beetles (very early for here, I think) have shown up. We will get the Heliothis and bucket traps out this week for the early corn and with the recent shower activity we will have our hands full trying to clean up weeds that lurked while we were harvesting berries. Picked first raspberries for retail on July 7, that crop looks pretty good as does the blueberries. Trying to get the netting up on the blues, the robins are in slashing away at the fruit as they are just coloring. Getting good number of cukes and squash from the field now and first tomato greenhouses are holding up pretty well, although there maybe the dreaded lapse between the first transplanting and the next house. No major diseases yet (maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.....)
 
(Killington) Flea beetles are alive and well but row covers work wonders at keeping them at bay. Row covers also helped keeping cucumber beetle off young plants, but obviously had to be removed for pollination. Mixed greens are doing great, good variety, always well received by the consumer. We're picking broccoli, snap peas and basil. I am disappointed that Beefsteaks and Jet Stars, transplanted into the hoop house on April 1st, are not red yet. Lots of green tomatoes and after 90 days in the ground I ask why?
 
(Argyle NY) Tarnished plant bugs and leafhopper are out in high numbers.  We'll try Pyganic for the first time to see if it helps on potatoes. Picking cucumbers and tomatoes out of the high tunnel. Some of the tunnel tomatoes got leaf mold, but only some varieties were affected, and extra venting has slowed its progress. Markets are real strong and new crops are ready each week...we've been harvesting beans and beets from the transplanted crops for 2 weeks, and we're anxious to try out our new potato digger this week. We're using the biodegradeable plastic for the first time (we don't usually use any plastic) and we like it so far on our trials, mostly since it is reducing our high expense of straw mulch (we still put the mulch down between the plastic rows). Recent 1/2" of rain was very welcome.  We are desperate for some more workers...interns or hourly; contact Sandy or Paul at (518) 638-6501 or sparnold@capital.net
 
(Durham CT) This has been a very positive year to date. Farm Markets are strong. As a specialty green grower, people arrive, curious about new and unusual looking and tasting greens and leave as new customers. Tomatoes are beginning to come in more strongly.  Best early tomato for us is the Prudence Purple and Moskovich.  Both of them are a good size and flavor. The Glacier is also good. Sungold remains the best cherry. Because we plant an area to greens several times a season (3 and sometimes 4 times), we are concerned about too much steel in the field. This year, we rotary harrowed once, then pulled the bed shaper over it to make raised beds for ease of cutting with the new harvest tool that Johnny's came out with. Compost, a bit of alfalfa meal and a small amount of organic fertilizer after that. We plant a dense area with the six point seeder and then wait to harvest. After a second (or maybe a third) cut, the area is mowed down close to the grown and covered with black plastic for 10 days. Then we remove the plastic, flame any residual weeds, add a bit more compost and alfalfa and plant again. It works real well for weed control and preserving soil tilth.
 
(Starksboro) We've had a good start to the season. The lettuce and greens came on early and the strawberry season was great. I've seen very little insect pressure, which strikes me as unusual because I usually associate dry weather with high insect pressure. We irrigated several times early in the season, and I was just getting ready to go at it again, but we got a good round of thunderstorms and that's all taken care of. The Burlington Farmers Market reconfigured itself this season, making more room for the customers. We have almost doubled our business.
 
(Springfield) Things are looking good here - a "string breaking" year as the raspberry canes are full and heavy. We're looking to open up for PYO on July 10.
 
(Shaftsbury) Finished up a stellar year for our half acre of strawberries. Sweet corn with Trichograma wasp released has higher borer counts than blocks without. Sprayed tomatoes with Companion. Melons look good. Fighting critters of all sizes more than usual this year. Generally crops look happy. Finally got enough rain. About to harvest our first crop of winter canola. Sunflowers for oil growing on transition land look OK, though appears they are being affected by previous farmer's herbicide application 2 years ago.
 
REPORT FROM THE UVM PLANT DIAGNOSTIC CLINIC
(Ann Hazelrigg, University of Vermont Extension)
 
There has not been much in the way of diseases in the field although I think this last week of on and off rains with lots of good infection periods will change that!

I have seen quite a few samples of bacterial canker in greenhouse tomato. This disease usually strikes when the first fruit are being produced. Symptoms include dieback of leaflets that extends into the stem. If you cut open the stem you will see browning in the vascular (water conducting tissue.)  Send a sample to the clinic for a rapid assay to see if the bacterial disease is involved. Remove infected plants ASAP.  Some growers are trying AgriPhage, a virus that attacks this specific bacterium. Studies are showing that growers are able to prolong the life of their crop when infected with canker.  Large growers out west use a specially formulated bacteriophage for their specific canker pathogen found in their greenhouse developed by the OmniLytics company.  Since our NE growers are much smaller, the company will send a "bacteriophage cocktail" formulated for NE conditions.  For more information on the bacteriophage go to www.phage.com/products/agriphage/agriphage_info/agriphage_overview.html

Remember, other fungi can cause cankers that can look like bacterial canker including Botrytis, which causes dieback of leaflets that are covered with fuzzy gray spores. The best control for this is to improve air circulation and reduce relative humidity. Please feel free to send in a sample if you are not sure. To access the Plant Diagnostic Clinic form to send with samples go to www.uvm.edu/pss/pd/pdc/pdf/pdcform.pdf. There is no charge for Vermont commercial growers.

I suspect with these intermittent rains we will be seeing a lot more early blight and other foliar diseases. Bacterial spot has been sporadic in pepper causing black spots and some defoliation.  If your fields have had any standing water for 24 hours in these latest rains, watch for Phytophthora problems in peppers and other crops. Asiatic garden beetles are out in force. These small copper brown beetles can be voracious night feeders, hanging out in the soil by day.  If you are seeing a lot of feeding damage in vegetables but no pest, go out with a flashlight at night to look for the pest.

HIGH MOWINGS SEEDS FIELD DAY July 11, 5:30 7:30 pm
 
This event in Wolcott, Vermont is free of charge, with a guided tour of over 1,000 vegetable, herb, and flower varieties that are being evaluated. See side-by-side comparisons of standard market leaders, commercially available organic varieties, and experimental and yet-to-be released open-pollinated and hybrid varieties. There will also be taste tests and a chance to meet other growers and share tips. For more info, visit www.highmowingseeds.com  or call 802-472-6174.

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