REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of June 15)
(Grand Isle) This has been the best asparagus season! We had the right combination of rain and sun. The strawberries seem sweet this year. We expect to open for pick your own on Father's day. No flocks of cedar wax wings yet but we live in fear of their arrival. A "carpet" of weeds stands ready for cultivation action. There is a big push to get transplants out of the greenhouse.
(Norwich) Weíre in the middle of picking strawberries and the season has been good so far, although there are lots of TPB now in the late plantings and weíve had serious clipper damage this year. Prices have been good for organic berries, we started at $3.25 per pint and now at $4.95 per quart at the stand, with no complaints. Picking our first cucumbers from under row cover where we planted the parthenocarpic type that donít need pollination. Melons are finally starting to grow after delay by cool weather earlier. Sweet corn is beginning to tassel, transplanted corn had much better stand establishment as well as growth under the covers. The stale seed bed system is giving excellent weed control in lettuce, spinach, greens, etc. First I use the Lely tine weeder 2 or 3 times to kill early weeds and control purslane and crabgrass, then roll beds and flame them once, or twice for some crops like carrots.
(Starksboro) I tried a perimeter trap crop for striped cucumber beetles on my early squash planting. Regardless of whether it worked or not, I am now skeptical of the logistics and economics. It may work out better in a direct seeded situation, but with an early transplanted crop, the labor of seeding and transplanting the trap crop seemed prohibitive. I did like the method of using Surround heavily on the trays, just before transplanting. This latter seemed to provide a level of protection proportional to the additional labor involved.
(Randolph Center) On May 2nd we opened the farm stand on Route 12 south of Randolph offering starts, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other products. We sell locally grown products as much as possible. So stop by. On the farm we had strawberries flowering by May 15 and we have made it through all the frosts so far. Pick-your-own opened on June 12 in one field and we had a full contingent of pickers waiting. Pests are minimal so far. Pick your own berries are $3.00 per quart, and $5.50 pre-picked at the farm stand. We have sold out so farĖ the demand is there.
(Argyle NY) Finally has dried up, although we got less rain than most in our area, but no hail. We've been harvesting strawberries since May 26th, but yields are down quite a bit (40 to 50%) mostly due to the strawberry clipper, which we had never had before. We think they came in from the raspberries nearby. Learning something new! Pea crop looks great and harvesting just started June 7th. Great lettuce and spinach weather. Farmers' markets are picking up steadily each week. Good time to think about purchasing a greenhouse as steel prices are rising!
(Plainfield VT) An exciting season, to say the least. Five frosts at the end of May kept me sleepless but the strawberry crop looks great. TPB either just isn't here this year or the NaturalisL I have been spraying has been effective. I am busy making resolutions about how to do things differently next year. Cut worm collars seem to be a new necessity. I have never seen the likes of their numbers and devastation to pepper transplants. Flea beetles require the use of row cover, it is too expensive with organic sprays to try to suppress them. Winter squash transplants took a hit from a hail storm. Cuke beetles were numerous at first but repeated applications of Pyganic plus Surround has reduced them to the point that the squash is growing. Melons going out today. Also more corn transplants. Days are much too long.
(Plainfield NH) This has been a difficult spring. First we have a couple of intense heat days in April. Then excessive wind drying things out, and May gave us 10 inches of rain and lots of grey cool cloudy weather. That was followed by 2 days of 90 degree weather that gets blown out by a storm that deposits 1.5 inches of rain and some trees in about an hour. When thatís done we have frost warnings on June 10th and 11th. The strawberries have just plain freaked out. They are ripening the earliest in recent memory, yet we canít find a beet green or radish close to harvest. Despite my best efforts (and a second mortgage to pay for fungicides and stickers) 10 inches of rain has taken its toll. We have more leaf spot than we have ever had at this time of the season and are looking out for the Botrytis. The primary berries seem small, but despite lack of sun and heat flavor seems good. In the tomato greenhouses we have powdery mildew, another first. Sodium bicarbonate slows it down, but doesnít stop it. And yes Virginia, you can burn your tomatoes with sodium bicarbonate, so be careful. Did I mention tomato hornworms? I put on a Dipel spray on May 22, it works very well. Most everything is out in the field, stuff under hoops and row cover looks good, transplanted sweet corn does not. Last planting of corn is in and sprayed, fall cucurbits were transplanted last week. Will pick berries in earnest this week, and probably open u-pick this weekend. Greenhouse sales were strong, thank goodness....
(Stamford VT) Much drier now. Still transplanting, though mostly done. Seem to be running about a week behind this season. Early tomato transplants were set back by all the bad weather. Squashes all look good. Pepper plants are just beginning to flower. A few CPB seen on the Eggplants. Looking forward to a long productive 2004 season
(W. Rutland) First corn is a foot tall, pumpkins are going in this weekend, greenhouses going well, lots of deer tracks around, YIKES DEER!! I thought there were none left. Woodchuck pressure is low as are meadow voles at this time. Still monitoring for the first hatch of both. It is best to apply the proper dose of lead, or copper coated lead as soon as any damage occurs, either is OK, they are both organic, sorta maybe?. There is no threshold tolerance level that is acceptable, darn that came out good!
(Killington) Farm stand opened Memorial Day weekend and is open weekends,
for now. Mixed greens are plentiful and flea beetle is active but row covers
are very helpful. String beans planted May 21st washed out and had to replant.
Sugar snaps were started inside and transplanted, 4 inches high now. Broccoli
is budding and garlic and onions are doing well. Started transplanting
eggplant and peppers from greenhouse June 11 on black plastic. Meat sales
are steady but grain prices are up as well as processing prices, so my
meat prices have to go up. Nervous about
how much to charge for turkey, $2.60 per pound?
(Little Compton RI) This maybe the spring by which all others are measured. It seems every time we want some rain to tuck in a crop it appears half inch at a time. Things are cool, anything not under row cover is just sitting around waiting for some heat. Being right on the ocean, we have not broken the 82 degree mark yet. Bug pressure is low. Flea beetles just did minor damage to cole crops this year. We are trying an experiment of growing cherry tomatoes in greenhouses, but we are going them in 5 gallon buckets and then hanging them from the rafters of the greenhouse. We will let gravity do the rest and sucker them as they hang. We will keep you posted.
LOOK OUT FOR POTATO LEAF HOPPERS
(adapted from Brian Caldwell, NOFA-NY)
PLH have arrived in central and eastern NY. Donít let them get ahead of you! Catch them early by scouting. Walk out into you potatoes (and beans, alfalfa) and brush the leaves with your hand. If you see small white things darting around, you've got potato leaf hopper adults. Once you see them, look closely at several leaves. You may see small, elongated light green insects scurrying to hide from you-these are PLH nymphs. The IPM threshold for this pest is very low. Late maturing potato varieties including Katahdin, Elba, Green Mountain, Kennebec, and Blossom have some resistance, and likely will not need spraying. Yukon Gold, Red Norland, and most other varieties, are very susceptible. Beans can get severely injured, often appearing to have virus-like symptoms. A few years ago we had a serious infestations of PLH in Vermont and they caused damage on melons, strawberries and many other crops as well as their common hosts.
For controls, conventional growers can use Sevin on most crops, and several pyrethroids are also labeled. PLH controls are not often used on organic farms, perhaps because growers don't realize how much yield loss this pest can cause. Pyganic EC, an approved pyrethrum product, is reported to be effective against PLH. Two to three sprays, 7 to10 days apart, as soon as you find significant numbers of adults in your planting, should halt their damage and prevent a buildup of nymphs. Surround (kaolin clay) is labeled for this pest and has been tested, but unfortunately, does not appear to be very effect against PLH.
COLORADO POTATO BEETLES
(adapted from John Mishanec, Cornell Extension)
CPB adults are out and laying eggs or will be soon in your neighborhood. Bt can give good control, at low cost, and it conserves beneficials - but it must be applied in timely fashion. Scout your fields and flag 10 CPB egg masses that you find with bright colored tape or yarn. Watch these eggs for hatch over several days. If you are using Novodor or any of the other Bt products, you should apply once you see the first larvae hatch because these products only work well on the small larvae. Be aware that currently there are no Bt products approved for organic farms, so Entrust is probably your best option. If you are using a hard conventional product like Provado or Asana, than you can wait till those first larvae are about the size of the hard shell parents. The early adults are not heavy feeders. As the larvae hatch and get bigger, more damage will occur in the field. Because the ground is warming up slowly, adult CPB's are emerging from their over-winter slumber slowly. This will cause an overlap of generations in the field and can be difficult to control without multiple applications of insecticide. Be sure to rotate as best you can among different insecticides to avoid development of resistance.
TOMATOES AND PEPPER DISEASES
(from Cornell and UMass Extension)
Bacterial canker and speck can be problems on tomato foliage and fruit in wet seasons. Bacterial spot can affect both tomatoes and peppers. Canker is systemic in the plant causing curling and marginal leaf burn. Speck and spot cause small black, slightly raised lesions on foliage. If you have had a history of bacterial disease on your farm, it can make a difference to apply copper plus mancozeb (tomatoes) or copper plus maneb (peppers) or an approved organic copper product (liquid copper 5%, Champion WP, etc.) within a week or two after transplanting. If you observe the disease in your plantings, a weekly application is recommended. Are you not sure if what you see is a bacterial disease? Contact the Plant Diagnostic Lab, 802-656-0493. Cultural practices also make a difference: donít prune or handle the plants when theyíre wet to avoid spreading disease, it is know to spread down rows, presumably during pruning, tying, or by wind-blown rain, or airblast sprayers.
UPCOMING FARM TWILIGHT MEETINGS
Details, times and directions are posted on www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry click on meetings.
July 1 Vegetable
Growers Pinecroft Farm, Somers CT
July 14 Vegetable Growers Meeting, Czajkowski Farms, Hadley, MA
July 16-17 Cold Climate Viticulture Workshop. Plattsburgh NY and New Haven VT
July 20 Large Scale Gourmet Salad Mix Production. Millerton, NY
July 25 Growing Cut Flowers for a Retail Market. Malta, NY
July 27 Vegetable and Berry Meeting, Luna Bleu Farm, S. Royalton VT
Aug. 3 Cornell Organic Research Farm Twilight Meeting, Freeville NY
Aug. 5 Cover Crop Demonstration, and Youth Horticulture Project, Brattleboro VT
Mention of pesticides is for information purposes only, no endorsement is intended nor is discrimination against products not mentioned. Always read and follow the label.
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