REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of June 23)
(Grand Isle) We are starting to picking lettuce and spinach. The asparagus bed is being "put to bed". The season was good for asparagus because the weather stayed relatively cool which asparagus likes. We wish the same could be said for other crops. A high population of spider mites in the tomato greenhouse is causing problems. The strawberries that were under remay this spring matured and have good size and we opened for PYO on Fathers Day. Word of the opening day also got out to a large flock of cedar waxwing birds. They swooped in to the field and preceded to feast in a most bold manner. We parked a loud running lawnmower and got teenagers to run up and down the rows. Customer's kids joined the "fun". What a zoo. Mid afternoon we got fed up with the whole scene, put remay over the field, and tried to smile and politely apologize to sad customers. Tonight we are pulling out catalogues and considering purchasing netting.
(Starksboro) For all he compaining I've heard, our strawberries look OK. Not early, but plentiful, disease and insect-free. Potatoes, on the other hand, while they look OK superficially upon close inspection are showing early signs of late blight, have adult potato leaf hoppers and first hatch of Colorado Potato Beetles. I have started spraying for late blight, and anticipate that by time this is published in the Agriview that I will have sprayed for both CPB and leafhoppers. TomCast numbers which predict early blight in tomatoes are still not adding up very fast. As of 6/22 I only have 18 DSV and normally I'm looking for 35 DSV for my first fungicide application. However, with the late blight showing in the potatoes I will be making earlier fungicide applications.
(Charlotte) Cucumber beetles are finally here. Saw first CPB also. Some things in the field are just poking along, others doing quite well. Soil condition still a problem. First too much water, then not enough. Hard to get the right mix this year. Sales slow as usual for June. The CSA is into its second week of pick-ups and people are still signing up. Finished harvesting beets and turnips in the greenhouse. Zucchini going strong as well, been selling it for over a month now. Some rye in the field is well over six feet tall, makes a nice wind break.
(Dummerston) Finally, the sun is shining and the cotton is high. Initial cucumber beetle attack on winter squash and pumpkins repelled in a timely fashion thanks to alert scouting of field workers. Flea beetles still active despite their obviously false reputation for liking hot and dry. Corn borer moths setting up camp. Picking of strawberries and peas in full swing, cutting into cultivation time. All leafy crops looking lush, beans in blossom. Greenhouse tomatoes ripening with sun and heat. Flowers and vegetable plants still selling strong as consumers are flush and into sprucing up the home. Good time to pot up annuals into larger containers or baskets for summer sales. Almost had two sunny days in a row this week.....almost.
(Pittsford) Strawberries are late, will start within days. Have now started replanting pumpkins many fields lost to water and cool temps. First time in ten years on this farm where we have had to replant crops.
(New Haven) The strawberry harvest is off to a strong start. We bumped the pre-pick price from $2.95 to $3.50, and the demand has jumped. Good move, I guess. The cool, wet spring seems to have done more good that harm. The berries are bigger than ever -- makes me realize that I need to irrigate more in a normal year. We've had very little insect pressure, and a couple of sprays seems to have kept the Botrytis at bay. The cedar waxwings, on the other hand, are out in force. It's so nice to escape the extreme heat, so far, that has plagued so many strawberry seasons. I noticed that Northeaster is far more susceptible to winter injury than any of my other varieties. That, plus its weird flavor, is enough to take it off my list.
(Jericho) Finally some warm temps and extended periods of sun, warm-weather crops doing much better and cool crops are enjoying the sun. Began harvesting plasticulture strawberries ten days ago. Very few TPB. Early season flea beetle pests have given way to an outbreak of striped cucumber beetles that arrived when the weather warmed up. Not many CPB. Potatoes starting to bud and looking good.
(Norwich) This is the year for plastics! Corn planted into plastic is way ahead of bare ground and does not show N leaching from all the water. Cucurbits on clear mulch under clear punched row covers doing very well. Picking cukes zukes and s.squash for several days. Nice set of Jazzer cukes even under covers; doesn't need polination. Great year for spinach, lettuce and other greens. Spuds doing very well and seem to love cool wet weather. Starting to dig spuds which were greensprouted and under wide row covers. Berries weak and don't taste very good. Bad weather for cultivating, but with the flame weeder, it doesn't matter; the force is with me!
(Amherst MA) The rain has subsided for the time being which is a relief. Everything is pretty much planted in time, but the hot crops look very small. Lots of flea beetles on eggplants and greens, cuke beetles on winter & summer squash, crows eating sweet corn seeds, and CPB on potatoes. The weeds are under control, probable because there hasn't been much growth of anything and we've been able to stay on top of them. Harvest of spring lettuce & greens very strong, strawberries are watery but plentiful, early summer crops are behind, by at least 6 - 7 days. No irrigating this year, but still too many extremes for a really fun year so far!
LATE BLIGHT ALERT! (adapted from Cornell Extension)
Late blight has been found in Albany County, NY on tomatoes (and on potatoes in Starksboro VT, see above). It is highly recommended for growers to have protective fungicides on their potatoes and tomatoes. Long periods of high relative humidity and leaf wetness (from rainfall, dew, fog, or irrigation) are very favorable for late blight. The favorable temperature range is very wide, but the disease proceeds most quickly when average day and night temperatures are 59-80 degrees F. The higher the temperature, the more quickly disease progresses. The disease can knock down a field in 5 days if left alone. It is very important to scout your fields regularly, especially if the weather continues to be wet and particularly in poorly drained areas where high humidity hangs on. Late blight lesions are large, about the size of a half-dollar. In the morning, before the humidity drops, you will see a ring of white spores around the lesion which is dark gray to black. Sometimes, if protective fungicide sprays have been applied previously, you will not see the lesions on the leaf but late blight spores can germinate at the axle of the leaf to the stem, turning the stem black for an inch above and below the axle. If you see something that you think could be late blight, promptly send a sample to the Plant Diagnostic Lab, Hills Building, Burlington VT 05405-0082.
The key for late blight control is to use appropriate fungicides in a PREVENTATIVE manner. Some materials are better than others. Due to the potential for resistance, growers should not depend on Ridomil for late blight control. Bravo Weatherstik has long been an industry standard, and if used at the very early stage of disease development can be quite effective. Newer formulations of Dithane DF Rainshield and Manzate 75DF will provide good control under less intense disease pressure. Metiram (Polyram) plus triphenyltin hydroxide (Super Tin) have a place in mid-season sprays when disease pressure from late blight and early blight are less intense, and this combination can be alternated with other fungicides. When conditions are most favorable for late blight, or if Phytophthora has been reported in the area, both Quadris and Curzate should be considered. They have preventative, curative and locally systemic activity. The key is that they are most effective if used preventatively. In both cases, it is important to follow label directions to prevent fungicide resistance from developing. Quadris (azoxystrobin) is registered for use on both potato and tomato. It will provide excellent control of early blight. For potatoes, Quadris is normally used at the rate of 6.2 fl oz/A, but should be increased to 12.4-15.4 fl oz/A if late blight symptoms develop or if conditions favor disease development, and used at 5 to 7 day intervals. For tomato the top rate is 6.2 fl oz/A. Quadris should be used in strict alternation with a fungicide with a different mode of action such as Bravo. Curzate 60DF is registered for use only on potato at the rate of 3.3 oz/A and must be tank mixed with a protectant fungicide such as Bravo or Manzate. It should be used on a 5 to 7 day schedule. Even when tank mixed with a protectant fungicide, it is recommended that the spray schedule using Curzate be switched to a different fungicide program with another mode of action after several applications. Curzate should never be used alone. It does not control early blight.
For organic growers, several fixed copper fungicides are available (Basicop, Champ, Kocide, etc.) and provide fair control of late blight and early blight, IF used preventatively. These and other copper products are registered for use on both potato and tomato.
BLUEBERRY CANE DIEBACK (adapted from Rutgers Extension)
Wilting and death of individual canes during the summer can be due to winter injury and/or Phomopsis, which may affect several canes on a single bush. This fungus overwinters in infected twigs and canes, and produces infective spores. The greatest number of spores are released during bloom and petal fall and enter twigs or canes through injury sites, particularly those caused by winter damage, mechanical harvesters or early spring frosts. Stem blight, Botryosphaeria, has also been confirmed in New Jersey. Like Phomopsis, this fungus enters the plant through wounds and causes rapid death of individual canes and entire bushes. This disease is especially severe on 1 and 2 year old plants of susceptible cultivars. In the field, the most obvious symptom is called 'flagging', stems recently killed by the fungus do not drop their leaves. It should be noted that stem blight has recently been found most often in the 'Duke' variety. Control of these diseases depends largely on cultural methods. It is important to discourage late-season growth and promote early hardening off thus late-season fertilization, late-season weed cleanup and late-season irrigation should be avoided. Pruning to remove infected stems is the best method of reducing disease in established fields. Pruning removes infections from bushes, preventing eventual death of the plant, and it reduces the number of spores released in the field by removing dead, spore bearing stems. Pruning can be done at any time infected stems are observed, but care should be taken to cut well below the infected area. After a stem is removed, examine the cut end of the remaining stem. If any brown areas are visible in this cross-section, a cut must be made further down the stem until all infected tissue is removed.
CABBAGE ‘WORM' BIO-CONTROL UPDATE (adapted from Ohio State Extension)
When scouting cabbage fields and closely examining leaves (including undersides) be on the lookout for larvae of cabbage ‘worms'. Diamondback moth larvae when fully grown are about 1/3 inch long, gray-green, relatively hairless, and wiggle when disturbed. Imported cabbageworm larvae grow up to one inch long, and have a faint yellow strip on their backside. Cabbage looper larvae grow up to an inch and a half long. They raise their body in a ‘loop'. In the field, there can be extensive parasitism of these larvae and their cocoon-like pupae. Species of a tiny wasp called Cotesia can lay their eggs in these caterpillars, as well as in tomato hornworm. You may have seen the many small white silken cocoons of these wasps as they develop attached to a host caterpillar. If parasitized by the tiny wasp called Diadegma, the normally green diamondback moth larvae or their brown pupae are turned into a grayish white cocoon, sometimes with a distinctive white band. Several other species of parasitoid wasps attack caterpillar cabbage pests. Use of B.t. products (DiPel, Javelin, MVP, etc.) to keep pest populations in check is an excellent strategy for control at this time of year because it controls the caterpillars but does not harm the beneficial wasps that parasitize the caterpillars. To be most effective, B.t. should be applied when larvae are still small, with good coverage of all leaf surfaces (upper and lower). Use of a spreader-sticker is recommended with B.t. on crucifers.
‘TWILIGHT' MEETING REMINDER: Tuesday July 11, 4-6 pm
Small Fruit Production at Harlow's Sugar House, Putney
Don Harlow has been growing small fruit crops for 50 years. Along with the sugaring operation and 12 acres of apples, he grows 5 acres of strawberries, 5 acres of raspberries and 15 acres of blueberries. Much of the crop is sold pick-your-own, some is turned into value-added jams, and the rest is wholesaled. Join Don as he shares some of the knowledge (and stories) he has accumulated over the decades. Bill Lord, Fruit Specialist from UNH Extension will be on hand to dispense additional wisdom. Directions: Take Exit 4 off I-91, go north on Route 5 into Putney village. Stay on Route 5 north for 2 and a half miles, the fields are on the right.