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


May 22, 2-5 pm, Norris Berry Farm, Monkton. Norma and Rick Norris grow 40 acres of vegetables, 8 acres of fruit and they have several greenhouses. The 4 acres of strawberries are among their most profitable enterprises. Integrated pest management is one of their keys to success. Sonia Schloemann, UMass small fruit specialist will join us for a discussion of strawberry pest scouting, identification and management. Take exit 12 off I-89 onto route 2A south, to route 116 south into Hinesburg. At the very sharp corner just past the IGA stay to the right and get on Silver St., go 5 miles to the first right, Davis Rd., the farm is one mile on the left.


We have had excellent growth in our greenhouse, using compost based potting soil and taking advantage of all the sunshine. Retail bedding plant sales just starting. We are starting all our winter squash from plugs this season. The dryness caused us to delay transplanting kale and lettuce, and we have had to irrigate. The first shipment of Anaphes Iola, the wasp that parasitizes TPB, arrives Monday. We will transplant a new planting of strawberries this week. Planting greenhouse tomatoes into an unheated  house this week. (Plainfield)

What a great spring! We've got peas, spinach germinating. Brassicas, lettuce and onions in the ground, life is grand.  Haven't seen anything of the flea beetles yet either. We got our second greenhouse up this spring and its overflowing already. (Arlington)

Plant sales are simply magnificent, so good that field work is suffering due to lack of time. Just as well, it is as dry as a popcorn fart, not to mention  I blew up the tractor so I might as well wait in the greenhouse, but the first plantings of corn and beans are up. It’s Sunday morning and raining, might get some transplants in today. (W. Rutland)

We got a very late start in the fields, due to the  excessive snow cover. We had no precipitation here since a glob of cement-like snow descended upon us in early April. Our silt loams are now  parched. We have been irrigating and  planting in between the demands of the greenhouses, which are off to a good start business-wise. Strawberries were held back until we finally were able to get  water on them earlier this week, very few buds yet emerging from the crowns. Seems like another  summer of fascinating yo-yo like weather patterns. (E. Hartland)

We finally received a little (.75") rain yesterday. Our well-drained sandy soil has needed constant irrigation. The only pest problem so far has been flea beetles on our first seeding of radishes. We forgot to put a row cover on them and the flea beetles were on them as soon as they germinated. Everything else they like we put row covers on and they have been thwarted thus far. Hopefully we will get more rain in a few days, and the dry weather doesn't give us a late frost. (Jericho)

My farm has joined forces with another farm and together we produce now 300 CSA baskets plus some specialty vegetables for restaurants in the Montreal area. After a long lingering winter, with frequent substantial snowfalls in March and even mid April, spring came bursting upon us. We seeded and installed irrigation at the same time. Our sugar snap peas are up and growing fast, as are radishes. A new Laanan transplanter has greatly improved our efficiency of transplanting and quality of transplants. What a time saver. We also planted half an acre of fingerling potatoes last week and the rest will go in on Tuesday. The hot weather has prompted many of the big growers to plant their tomatoes early. Pretty scary given that a ground frost warning has been issued for this evening.(Montreal)

I saw an odd thing for this time of year, what looked like imported cabbageworm moths hovering in significant quantity over the stubble of brussels sprouts from last fall. I've never seen them this early before but it implies to me that we could have some earlier problems with them than we are used to. I wonder what else might have made it through the heavy snow cover virtually unscathed? (Starksboro)

The snow left here about April 9th and by the 21st we hooked up irrigation. Rhubarb and our temporary field hoop-houses were up late due to snow, and seeds went in 2 weeks late. The warm weather has pushed many things along and we just finished our first tractor cultivation. The farmers' markets that started May 2nd  are going well. We are selling lettuce and spinach from the field hoop-houses, asparagus, and carrots and potatoes from the root cellar. Perennial plant sales are slow for whatever reason but we are hopeful. Got .4" of rain Saturday. Strawberries are going into full bloom and I just sprayed the apple trees with Surround (kaolin clay) to combat the plum curculio. (Argyle NY)

Sunny days mean good flower sales, but dry weather really delayed spring planting. Just not enough water to keep all the greenhouses and the fields wet so choices have to be made. If we were just in the vegetable business, I'd be thinking about saving some untreated seeds for emergency meals this winter. It's so dry some of our customers are starting to arrive by camel. Early corn and peas were planted about 3 inches deep so germination has been good. Smaller crops of lettuce and greens seem to need the drip every other day. Four frosts in the last week haven't helped much either. Still we plow ahead with that farming optimism that everything will work out in the fields. Just in case, we're seeding extra plantings of bedding plants to extend the flower selling season. Flower prices are up, yet sales are increasing dramatically. Try that with the price of sweet corn. (Dummerston)

Available from now until September, this excellent newsletter provides updates on crops, crop conditions, insects, weeds, diseases, soils, nutrients, new products, and new ideas for management. This is IPM information in capsule form. To avoid redundancy it will not be repeated in the VT veg and berry news. To subscribe to the UMass newsletter via mail, call Marilyn Kuzmeskus at 413-577- 0712. To join the E-mail distribution list, send your request to The newsletter will also be posted on the UMass Vegetable Program website. The current address is

CABBAGE ‘WORM’ SCOUTING (adapted from Univ of Connecticut Extension)
Under favorable growing conditions, cole crops can withstand substantial defoliation from cabbage ‘worms’ as long as the harvestable portion of the plant is not damaged. To maintain quality for most markets, however, high caterpillar populations must be controlled once the harvestable portion of the plant is present. To assess populations, examine 25 plants per field in groups of three to four, being sure to check both the bottom and top of leaves for larvae. If a caterpillar is found, immediately move on to another plant. It is not necessary to find all the larvae on the plant, just determine whether the plant is infested. After scouting 25 plants, multiply the number of infested plants by four to determine the percent infested plants in the field. Choose plants at random; do not look for plants with feeding injury to scout. Also, do not count eggs, pupae or adults. Those insect stages suffer high mortality, do not feed on the crop, may not be killed by insecticides and will not accurately reflect future crop damage. A common mistake is to base spray decisions on the number of Imported Cabbage Worm (ICW) butterflies flying about. The relative abundance of butterflies does not take into account the number of eggs actually laid, egg predation, or the presence of cabbage looper and diamondback caterpillars, so it does not accurately reflect future ICW larval infestations, crop damage, or help time insecticide sprays.

Suggested thresholds: Treat cabbage and broccoli with insecticides after heading only if 20% or more of the scouted plants are infested with caterpillars of any species. Treat cauliflower after heading and before tying if 10% or more of the scouted plants are infested. Treat collards, mustards and kale any time during plant development if 10% or more of the scouted plants are infested. These thresholds do not imply that insects will damage 10% or 20% of your crop. Research conducted at the Univ. of Connecticut over a three year period resulted in 98 % to 100% undamaged cabbage heads at harvest when using the 20% threshold on spring and fall crops. Use of this 20% threshold provided the same quality as cabbage sprayed weekly whether or not insects were present. Cauliflower and non-heading cole crops require a slightly lower (10%) threshold to maintain quality at harvest. These thresholds have been used successfully for nine years on Connecticut farms.

David Handley of UMaine Extension surveyed growers and found that the most popular strawberry cultivars, from early to late, were: Annapolis, Honeoye, Cavendish, Allstar and Jewel. The next most popular, from early to late, were: Earliglow, Northeaster, Kent, Mira and Sparkle. Bill Lord, UNH Extension, recommends a mix of strawberry varieties that includes Earliglow and Annapolis, (early), Cavendish and Allstar (mid-season), and Jewell. He suggests growers try the newer Sable, Mira and Cabot varieties since all are productive and resistant to red stele. For the Annual Hill system using plugs planted into black plastic in late summer followed by row cover, Chandler is the best option. For blueberries, Bill suggests Patriot and the half-high variety Northland in colder areas of New England; St. Cloud and Chippewa are promising new half-highs. Bluecrop, Blueray, Nelson and Jersey are popular in warmer areas (-25 F minimum temperature). Boyne and Killarney are among the hardiest summer-bearing red raspberries, and Bill suggests trying Nova which is a hardy and productive mid-season berry. Heritage is the standard fall-fruiting raspberry but in many years much of the crop is lost to early frost. Polana ripens about 2 weeks ahead of Heritage, fruits are only medium size but they are firm and flavor is good. Autumn Britten is 7 to 10 days earlier than Heritage with larger fruit of high quality. Caroline is a new cultivar that is supposed to be a week ahead of Heritage, also with large fruit of good quality. Illini is the hardiest blackberry, to -25 F or so. It is extremely thorny and not early so it will likely not ripen the entire crop in short season valleys in the north.