February 1, 2000
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 or

Tuesday, February 15, 2000
Holiday Inn, Rutland, at the intersection of Routes 7 and 4

8:00 Registration, Trade Show, Coffee

9:00 President's Remarks
 Hank Bissell, Lewis Creek Farm, Starksboro

9:15 The Honeymoon's Over: Worker Protection Standards Update
 Doug Johnstone, Vermont Department of Agriculture

9:45 Niche Marketing Displays at Walker Farm
 Jack Manix, Walker Farm, Dummerston

10:15 Break

10:45  Managing Soil Biology to Minimize Pest Problems
 Paul Sachs, North Country Organics, Bradford

11:15 How I Grow Strawberries at Peak View Berry Farm
 Marcel Bonin, Brownington

11:45 Business Meeting and Announcements

12:00 Trade Show and Luncheon

1:30 Vegetable Production and Pest Management in Cuba
 Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm, Norwich

2:00 Comparing Row Covers for Melon Production
 Ted Blomgren, Cornell Cooperative Extension

2:30 'AGR'-A New Crop Insurance Program from USDA, Aimed at You!
 Collen Kisselburgh, Arthur Caroll Insurance Agency

3:00 Adjourn

$20 Members, $30 Non-Members, including lunch
$10 Members, $20 Non-Members, without lunch
Add $5 for at-the-door registrations.

Membership dues for calendar year 2000 are $32. Benefits include: A 2000-2001 Extension Vegetable or Small Fruit Management Guide, a subscription to the Agriview newsletter (with the VT Vegetable and Berry page), a subscription to American Vegetable or American Fruit Grower magazine, and grower meeting discounts. Mail check to: VV&BGA, c/o Jon Turmel, 116 State Street, Drawer 20, Montpelier VT 05620.

For additional information or to request special accommodations contact Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension,
(802) 257-7967 (ext. 13) or E-mail:

A grower asks: "Are there some general rules of thumb for converting cow manure/compost yards to tons; I have a rough idea about how many yards I spread, but most people discuss tons, and I was wondering how that compares?" ANSWER: The weight per yard is determined by moisture content and density of ingredients; to determine the bulk density (lb/cu yard) do the following: 1) weigh an empty 5-gal bucket. 2) fill bucket with compost and weigh again. 3) multiply the weight of the compost (minus the weight of the bucket) by 40.5. 4) the result is pounds per cubic yard. If you are not sure how many yards you are applying, depth of application may help. A one-inch layer of compost uniformly and completely applied to an acre equals 135 cubic yards. If the compost has a bulk density of 2,000 lb/cu yard, that one inch layer also equals 135 tons/acre. HELPFUL HINT: if making compost, the initial density of the mixed materials should not exceed 1,000 lb/cu yard if the piles are to have the proper aeration. (Information from: Field Guide to On-Farm Composting, Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service, Ithaca NY)

March 1-2, 2000, Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center, Mt. Bethel, PA. The purpose of this conference is to strengthen existing cooperatives, foster new co-op development, and promote networking and organizing. Registration: $60 for the 2-day conference events, 4 meals, 2 breaks, reception, and materials. Lodging:  Rooms at the Tuscarora Inn, double occupancy are $70/person/night. Contact Julie Meyer at (413) 665-7725 between 8am- 6pm or Deadline for registration is February 11, 2000

( notes from a presentation by Graeme Murphy, Ministry of Agriculture, Ontario Canada, at the  Tri-State Greenhouse IPM program organized by Dr. Margaret Skinner and company which was offered in NH, ME and VT this past January - don't miss it next year!)

There are 4 major biocontrol agents for thrips. Amblyseius degenerans is a predatory mite that works well only in some greenhouse vegetable crops where there is appropriate pollen for it to feed on (such as peppers). It is not useful in most crops without pollen. Orius insidiosus, the minute pirate bug, needs thrips to feed on in order to get established, so it cannot be used preventatively. It goes into diapause over the winter, so it should not be used until mid-March when day length is long enough. Orius is fairly expensive, and it takes about a month to get effective control. The cornerstone of thrips biocontrol are 2 predatory mites. Hypoaspis miles is a soil-dwelling mite and a generalist predator that feeds on fungus gnats and springtails, and also on thrips pupae - it may eat 20-30% of these, and it's the only way to target thrips pupae with a biocontrol. The more components in the biological control system, the more stable it will be. Hypoaspis can be introduced prior to seeing any thrips and it they are well-protected from pesticides because they are in the soil. They should survive from year to year after a single application. Amblyseius cucumeris  is a predatory mite that is produced on bran with bran mites for it to feed on. It comes in 2 forms, a bottle or foil packet. In the bottle (bulk form), predator mites have built up and food source mites are depleted. The bottles are good for protecting against overhead watering, and for a thrips problem that is already ongoing. In the packet, predator mites have not built up as much and can live there for 6 to 8 weeks while mites trickle out of punched holes as ‘slow release' system - use the packets before you see thrips, opening a new set of packets every 6 weeks or so. Be careful if using overhead watering so packets don't get wet and moldy. Some growers put one packet in every hanging basket, with drip irrigation so they don't get wet. In between production seasons cleaning up the greenhouse and starving the thrips is critical: heat up the greenhouse, remove all weeds, apply no water: make it a ‘desert' as much as you can. Give me a call if you need info on sources of these biocontrol agents.

from Ruth Hazzard, UMass Vegetable IPM program, as she ponders putting together research on this problem. Please respond to Vern, or to Ruth directly by phone: 413-545-3696, FAX: 413-545-5858 or Email:

What practices are you currently using, if any, to deter or control flea beetles? How well do they work?

If you use floating row cover, how do you deal with: sealing the edges, cultivation, labor for covering and uncovering, best time to remove the cover, harvest of covered crops

What varieties have you observed to be most resistant or most attractive/susceptible to flea beetle? Which ones can grow out of the damage and which ones can't (this would differ depending on what stage you are harvesting: baby greens, bunched greens, or mature heads of cabbage, broccoli, etc.)?

What time of the season do you observe the most flea beetle activity?Do there seem to be discrete generations? If so, when are the peaks?

Have you altered your planting dates to avoid flea beetle? If so, what dates are best for least damage?

Based on your observations, have you formed any theories on flea beetle response to weather conditions: wet/dry, sunny/cloudy, warm/cold that affect either beetle activity on a daily basis or population numbers on a seasonal basis?