VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY NEWS, July 1, 2002
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 or vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu
www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of June 25)

(Westminster West) Finally the fields are drying. Setting out pumpkin plants and onions on the solstice, the latest I've ever done that! Plant sales holding up, selling garlic scapes like crazy.

(Plainfield NH)  Opened PYO strawberries on June 20. Picking greens from the field and some tomatoes and cukes from the greenhouses. Striped cucumber beetles have made a comeback on the cucurbits. We are suffering tremendous bird pressure by large flocks of cedar waxwings. They have grown accustomed to projectile shell crackers, scare eyes, holographic tape as well as outright shooting at them. They are extremely persistent and very hard to drive off. They have been slashing up the fruit. Anybody have a surefire cure? Neighbors are complaining about noise.

(S. Royalton) Things are finally blasting off. Picking zukes, cukes, new potatoes, and carrots this week. Due to the stress that my plants went through in May, the tomatoes already have early blight. I have learned that as soon as my covers come off the copper goes on. Melons are growing well as are the spuds. Transplanted onions are small and way behind where they should be.

(Sheffield) Things are still pretty soggy in the fields, we are recovering from over 5 inches of rain, too much of a good thing. The warm weather at the end of last week is helping but we are about 2 weeks behind last year. Lots of developing fruit in the strawberries and very little TPB noted so far. First greenhouse tomato sales helped to bolster otherwise very slow farmers market. Thanks to those folks that helped us replace our frozen buffalo tomato plants this year! We're waiting for some more of those 60 plus degree nights to pump up the field veggies. The broccoli has recovered from the 24 degree night several weeks ago but we expect to see it button up early. Chard is finally putting on some weight after just huddling through the cool wet weather. We've had almost no cucumber beetle damage here which may be due to our elevation at 1600 feet and cool temperatures.

(Starksboro) I really can't complain. I know if I really put my mind to it I could find something, but it doesn't seem worth the effort. I've got enough help to keep up with things, and that sure helps my outlook. I just sprayed for CPB with Bt as the larvae are just starting to hatch. Still no sign of potato leaf hopper. Our strawberries are looking good we had our first picking June 21 which is exactly average. The sugar snap peas do look bit late, but it may be that I'm gauging by Sugar Ann which seems to have been eliminated- what in the world for?

(Grand Isle) It has been hard to get implements into the fields for weed control due to excess rain. We are late getting some of the transplants out. Some of the direct-sown small seed crops will need re-seeding because of standing water. Thank goodness for gently sloping side hills and recently installed drainage tile. Asparagus likes this weather so we extended picking a week or so longer than usual. The strawberry PYO was opened June 22 in the rows that had a row cover early in the season. Customers are out and eager to buy fresh spring crops. Deer have found the lettuce so it's time for the electric fence. Cedar wax wings are a big problem in the berries and we have invested in a lot of new scare devises with limited success.
 
(Putney) Critters got to the Iroquois white flour corn that we planted in our 3 sisters' field in early June. The stalk was discarded and the kernel was eaten in about 90% of the mounds. We set "Have-A- Heart" traps and started a raccoon relocation program. We're replanting and putting flags of surveyors tape on bamboo sticks to deter birds. The soggy conditions  have prevented us from building and planting as many mounds as we would have liked.

(Plainfield) I feel like my farm is a different farm this year compared to last. Having my sandy soils at full water saturation changes the whole feel of the place. It is wonderful not to have to worry about water. There are enough other things to worry about. Protecting the strawberry crop has been my focus. I have made repeated Naturalis L applications, and suppressed but not eliminated the TPB population. No ripe berries yet, but a heavy fruit set.  Winter squash looks OK but would like some heat to get it moving. Real nice stand of carrots thanks to timely flame weeding and a higher seeding rate. Crows are making it impossible to plant sweet corn without applying row covers. Any ideas for an organic seed treatment?

(Killington) Picking Asian Greens for three weeks now. Flea beetle is very active. One more week of spinach. Broccoli is just about ready  Row covers have been very helpful. Sugar snaps will be ready for the 4th of July. Hot house tomatoes are starting to ripen, picked a red one June 24. Replanting of all the Asian greens is under way. Beef, pork, and chickens are selling well

GROWING YOUR OWN (ORGANIC) STRAWBERRY PLUGS
from Ron Khosla, Huguenot St. Farm, New Paltz, NY
farm@flyingbeet.com   (845)256-0686

Last year, although we bought 2000 plugs in from Jersey Asparagus Farm, we made another 2500 of our own certified organic Chandler strawberry plugs from runners. The folks at Jersey Asparagus farm were incredibly helpful and generous with advice and warnings about fungal infection (damping off) since we were trying to do it organically, and I think their strict warnings are what saved us. We had a 100% success rate in growing the runners into plantable plugs.

We'll be growing a few thousand extra this year if anyone is interested in purchasing them, but we'd encourage anyone with a timer on their irrigation system to try it yourself! Organically grown transplants are required by the new National Organic Program rules and 'Certified Naturally Grown' rules (a program created as an alternative to the USDA's National Organic Program, intended primarily for small family farms that focus on local distribution systems, see: www.naturallygrown.org).

We started by clipping runners with shears and kept them in the cooler until we could plant them. We used trays with 50 square cells filled with our own sterile potting mix made of peat, vermiculite, lime, and rock phosphate. We added no other nutrients, and we lightly fertilized with organic N only after the plugs were well established. We only put in 25 runners per tray, so they had double the space and double the air flow.

We started out misting them every 15 minutes for 5 minutes at a time, but only until early afternoon, and we adjusted the schedule on cloudy days. You'll need to see how your misters work and adjust the schedule accordingly. Basically we just kept everything damp. We also drenched everything with Plant Shield (which contains the beneficial fungus Trichoderma) when we started, then twice more several days apart.

We left the greenhouse vent fan on all the time to keep air moving through the greenhouse, and we also set up household fans so they were blowing on the flats. The runners sent out roots surprisingly quickly, and the plugs grew fast. After establishment we adjusted the water back as quickly as we could to allow more "drying out" times on the surface of the soil.

We're starting the cuttings this year around July 21 to 25, to plant out on August 15 to 20 in the field. In our first year with this system we never had any signs of fungus developing so we haven't had to come up with a solution to save things if it had.

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ARMYWORM
(from Chuck Armstrong and UMass Extension)

Armyworm damage has ben reported in Vernon in a corner of a corn field with grassy weeds. Heavy numbers of armyworm larvae feeding in field corn have been reported in 2 MA locations in the Connecticut Valley. Armyworm attacks grass and hay crops, field corn and sweet corn. Moths are pale gray-brown with a white dot near the center of the wing, but are seldom seen since they fly at night. Eggs are laid in folded leaves or leaf sheaths. To Scout: check corn for damaged leaves appear to have been shredded, which is characteristic of both the common and fall armyworms. Typically, damage begins near the edge of a field as the caterpillars move in from neighboring fields. Be particularly watchful in fields that border hay. The young worms are pale green in color and have the looping habit of crawling until about half grown. The mature caterpillar is 1 to 2 inches long, dark green and hairless with five whitish stripes along the length of the body. The head is a pale green-brown with darker mottling. Typically they feed at night and hide in the soil during the day. The best time to scout is evening or early morning. Scouted fields separately because infestations can vary even between fields that are close to each other. Armyworms are heavy feeders on the leaves, in the whorl and in the ear. The threshold for these caterpillars in sweet corn is the same as for fall armyworm. Control when damage exceeds 15% in the whorl or pre-tassel stages. See the New England Vegetable Management Guide for information on recommended materials.

TOMATO SPOTTED WILT VIRUS IN THE FIELD
(From Univ. of Maryland)

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is showing up outdoors in Maryland and Virginia. It has been reported in tobacco, tomato, and potato. TSWV can also infect many ornamentals including snapdragon, chrysanthemum, impatiens, ferns, dahlia and more. It is highly unusual to find this virus in an outdoor crop this time of year. The virus is closely related (but not identical) to impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) a virus frequently seen in the greenhouse. TSWV is vectored by the western flower thrips, the onion thrips and the tobacco thrips. TSWV is not vectored by other thrips species or by any other insects or by sap transfer (mechanical transmission). Seed is not known to be infected by TSWV or INSV. In tomato symptoms include stunting, leaf spots, bronzing of the leaf, downward curling of leaflets, wilt, and death.

VV&BGA TWILIGHT MEETING REMINDER
Monday July 15, 5-7 pm - Paul Mazza's Fruits and Vegetables, Essex Center

Paul farms 150 acres at 3 locations, growing a wide variety of vegetable crops plus 10 acres of strawberries and 7 acres of blueberries. He markets about half his crops through his farm stand, and wholesales the rest. Paul has had success in managing strawberries for early yield, controlling birds in blueberries, and he does a beautiful job maintaining older farm tractors. Recently he has been working to manage a Phytophthora problem that affects peppers, tomatoes and cucurbits, something that is becoming more commonplace in the northeast. Directions: Take Exit 11 (Richmond) off I-89, go north on Route 117 about 6 miles. The farm is on the left.

MA, EASTERN NY AND NOFA-VT MEETINGS ON THE WEB

Check out http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/meetings/meetlist.html for listings of opportunities to visit some excellent Vermont farms, and farms in neighboring states, many within an hour of Vermont's borders. Coming up: July 7 at 9 am, Greenhouse tomato meeting at Camp Merrishko, East Brookfield VT; July 16 at 5 pm, UMass vegetable research field day, Deerfield MA; July 18 at 6 pm, Paul and Sandy Arnold's, Argyle NY.