REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of June 11)
(S. Royalton) Except for poor early-season germination of beets and carrots things are looking great. We are just getting enough rain and the weed pressure has been very light. Maybe the past 10 years of being over-the-top on weeding is paying off. All transplants are looking good, except for the onions that I put in to face a 30 mph wind. I won't do that again.
(Berlin) Things are growing well: lots of berries little to no bug damage, beautiful lettuce, squash in plastic taking off; the best growing season to date...then hail came the size of quarters. Leaf lettuce shredded and corn pelted so hard it is broken off at the ground. Crop insurance did not qualify due to too many successive plantings during the planting period so I missed the threshold. Put down some ProGro and cultivated it in. The Chilean in it seems to have been enough to get the leaf lettuce to grow out. So we are cutting them high and shipping. Romaine is another story. Totally ruined. Pulled all the chard leaves off too and they are growing well after some care. Hail made holes in the 1.1 mil plastic but not the zuke, summer squash leaves? Interesting to say the least. We will recover. It looks like a heck of a strawberrry year.
(Burlington) Everyone is really enjoying our electric
conversion Allis G tractor. The electric motor is a major upgrade over
the gas engine with more power, no noise,
and infinitely variable speed control. Seems like the perimeter trap cropping using a Cucurbita maxima border plus Surround on the transplants is keeping cuke beetles to reasonable levels in squash, but CPB adults seem early and hungry. I've found several adult-skeletonized tomato plants already, which I've not seen before, let alone this early.
(Starksboro) I haven't used plastic mulch for 20 years because I feel the whole "garbage when it's done" aspect is such a travesty. This year I'm trying corn starch bio-degradable plastic. The last plastic I used was photo-degradable and I'm still pulling up pieces with the cultivators. The word is that this really works. We'll see.
(East Montpelier) CSA is going well after its 3rd week. A lot of slugs in the greenhouse. Green lacewing larvae are working well for the aphids. Flea beetles have been a real problem again. Starting to see asaparagus beetles for the first time. Pyganic seems to be working fine as a control. Leafrollers in my strawberries and one or two TPB. I’ve dispatched 4 woodchucks. Very few cucumber beetles so far, which is interesting after the heavy pressure from them last year. The temperature extremes are causing bolting in a lot of my greenhouse lettuces. Deer are staying outside the fence so far. Irrigation is all set out but have not really needed it. All in all things are going well just need some heat.
(Londonderry) We had an aphids last month that spread through 40% of the greenhouse bedding plants, starting on flowers and then into vegetables. After plant removal and isolation failed I used Mpede and then AzaDirect and some Pyganic. There was some phyto-toxicity on peppers, eggplants, celosia, etc. but it knocked out most of the pests. For the few that did come back I got several types of beneficial insects. In the field 3 plus acres are worked and nearly planted. Fingerlings are in and emerging. Our 12 varieties of tomatoes survived the FROST on June 7th from 4am to 7am. It always gets us in this cold hollow the first week of June. It only got down to 31 but we were out covering like it was September. Beans and greens are on their second or third planting. Cucurbits went in over the weekend, flowers and herbs for this week. Last year was so wet I was planting in July, what a difference a dry May makes! It is going very well at the farmstand with many return customers. It has taken 5 years to build up the cash flow. I look forward to a balanced summer with good weather for production!
(Plainfield NH) Just started picking a few berries on plastic June 8th. I am betting fruit size will be smaller this year, I think in part because of the late winter and cold spring they weren’t able to get any photosynthate into the crowns before flowering. Also with the funky late fall-like conditions into February, the plants may have never really settled into full dormancy? Anyway, plants are vigorous with lots of blossom and fruit set, but I got a feeling berries will be small. Elsewhere on the farm we’ve been excited with Jake Guest’s system of using clear plastic mulch and clear plastic row covers on vine crops. Melons and squash have never bloomed this early for us. Corn and tomatoes are lagging behind, victims of a colder than normal spring and benign neglect due to the distractions of a strong bedding plant season. Sales in the greenhouse are still holding up well. We will open the farmstand next week with lettuce, spinach, beet greens, scallions, micro-mix and radishes and of course strawberries. Pumpkin and winter squash plants have been out on black plastic (biodegradeable) for over a week. What’s up with no striped cucumber beetles? Usually vines are covered with them this time of year.
(Westfield) Strawberries started to bloom on the May 28, very few clippers, last count of TPB was 0.4 per plant. I sprayed Naturalis and I will check in 4 days. Bedding plant sales were very good and still going well as of this weekend. Crops looks good, so far not too many cucumber beetles.
(Plainfield VT) We need to do two weeks worth of work next week. Lots of cultivating to do before weeds get a toe-hold. Lots of plantings coming up, and we’re still seeding fall crops in the greenhouse. Fields are more than half planted now. Greenhouse plant sales have been good, and our local farmers market has been OK. The opening of the new community market in Barre highlights the whole local demand thing, which is headed through the roof. Strawberry crops looks heavy, low TPB due to an organic spray program that features Naturalis, Pyganic, Mpede, and Dramm Fish and Seaweed. Some leaf disease just appearing. High hopes.
(Shaftsbury) Crops generally look good this far. We started picking berries 8 days earlier than last year, though we uncovered them a week later. Untreated pea seed... might as well plant dimes. One of our worst years for pea germination even though weather seemed OK. Perhaps seed corn maggots, but could not find any. Any tricks out there? Transplanted sweet corn looks great. Bought a water wheel with another farm and just used it for the first time, and I just found my religion. No real bug problems in the field yet...uh-oh.
ADVICE ON NUTSEDGE CONTROL
(Brian Caldwell, Cornell Univ.)
Tillage and cultivation are keys to controlling nutsedge. Note that even herbicides will suppress it but not eradicate it. That's why it is often bad in fields new to organic methods. The critical time to mechanically disturb nutsedge plants is between when they emerge and when they set tubers. They usually emerge around early June and set tubers starting in early July--so till and cultivate them intensively during this time. That depletes their energy reserves and they will weaken and die out over a few years. In corn, be sure to hill the plants when they are big enough, to bury nutsedge in the row. Tillage after their tubers are set doesn't do much to hurt them, and in fact be careful to clean equipment if going into a clean field so you won't bring them in.
REPORT FROM THE UVM PLANT DIAGNOSTIC CLINIC
(Ann Hazelrigg, University of Vermont Extension)
In the clinic, I have had several tomato samples come in where people suspected bacterial canker. All were negative and likely related to air pollution injury in greenhouses. We had an earlier cold spell when nightime temps got down to 39 degrees so I imagine a lot of heaters were turned on resulting in some of the damage. I do have rapid assay test kits for bacterial canker in the Clinic so if growers suspect this disease I can test quickly to confirm the diagnosis. Usually, the first we see of the bacterial disease is when the first cluster is being produced.
I have seen a lot of edema on tomatoes. This abiotic problem from water buildup in cells can be common if conditions are right for it. The corky spots usually follow the veins. I imagine this was a result of watering practices when the temps were cool and weather was cloudy. New growth should grow out fine.
I have seen 3 cases of INSV (impatiens necrotic spot virus) in lobelia bedding plants. This virus disease causes weird spots and streaks on plants and can be very destructive on vegetable plants so if you suspect this disease, have it tested in the lab and isolate your bedding plants from veggies that will be going out in the field. The disease is spread by thrips so monitor consistently. Also, I’ve seen an interesting zipper-like whitening damage on some leaves of green zebra tomatoes from 3 different growers. It almost looks like thrips injury but I think it must be a physiological issue with this variety.
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