REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of July 13)
(South Royalton) First field tomatoes are ripening this week and melons are on track for the end of the month. Everything is growing great with little disease pressure. Ninety percent of my weeds are crabgrass and it is a pain to deal with. Just put in my fall carrots and beets and planted my last trays of Brassicas. With little hot weather it doesn't seem right that I'm on my last planting of anything.
(Starksboro) We had just given in and started irrigating, when that night we got 2 ½ inches of rain. We had a great strawberry season, and the cool nights have been great for spinach and lettuce. I'm happy so far. I seem to have the CPB under control, and I should have made my first copper spray on tomatoes for early blight about July 4. I'll get to it this week. I keep telling myself that it hasn't been serious blight weather, but I may be in denial.
(Killington) Row cover is doing a good job of keeping flea beetle under control. Cucumber, zucchini, and squash plants look healthy with no pressure from any beetles. Lots of 6-inch zucchini and summer squash. Picking sugar snaps, mixed greens, broccoli. Greenhouse tomatoes provide a steady supply of Jet Stars. My first planting of string beans always seems to have poor germination, direct sown on May 21. Perhaps this is too early. Have great success with all the later direct sown bean plantings. Experimenting with starting string beans inside to transplant this week. Wondering if this method will prove better. Beef and pork sales are strong, need more product. Turkeys coming this week.
(Stamford VT) First harvests on both yellow and green summer squash this week. Pole beans are beginning to climb. Pumpkin vines are starting to run too. Plenty of heat and rain showers lately. Tomato plants are really looking good now. Deer got in the winter squash and to some of the cucumbers, chomped off most all of the Delicata. One of my favorites too! Lots of Japanese beetles on the sunflowers this year. Very few last season. Cucumber and flea beetles have been other major pests. Farmer's Market opens on July 17th.
(West Rutland) Cucumber beetles on the pumpkins were bad, sprayed ‘em, no more beetles. Corn slow but coming. Garlic could be the best crop yet, really liked last few rains. Damage from woodchucks non-existent due to heavy applications of copper coated lead.
(Wolcott) Our seed crops are all doing well. Chive seed is being harvested and Brassicas are in full bloom. We had a great workshop here on July 8 on seed production, variety trialing, plant breeding for organics and plant diseases. One concern is high amount of TPB on our Brassica seed crops. In seed producing regions out west, they are known to suck out the endosperm of the seed crops in the milk stage and lower yields and germination rates. Does anyone know any more about this?
(Plainfield) An excellent strawberry year. We are all finished except for a few last quarts the PYO crowd is taking from the field. It is amazing how word gets around when the picking is good, and when the peak is done people know that as well without a word from me. Weed and insect control is now the focus. I am doing better with the weeds than the bugs. Ongoing problems with flea beetles and cutworms in Brassicas, cuke beetle in winter squash, and TPB in chard. Organic sprays just do not work very well, require repeated application, and cost a lot. Very frustrating. Cultivating is much more satisfying. I like the Einboch tine weeder on potatoes, corn, beans and new strawberries, with minimum spring tension and depth. Lillistons work great for when the crops are higher. Still running Buddingh baskets in the carrots. Not a lot to sell, lots to do. Cherry tomatoes are trained but require a lot of attention.
(Argyle, NY) Had almost 3 inches of rain last week, but it was needed (but maybe not at the rate it came down). All crops are doing quite well, especially the greens due to the relatively cool nights. This was our first year growing trellised sugar snap peas and the yields are much higher and the plants are still producing nicely. Started digging new potatoes last week and started carrots the last week of June due to the early seeding on March 29. Tarnished plant bugs are out by the thousands, as well as striped cucumber beetles and cabbage looper. Cultivation working well with basket weeders, tine-weeder, shovel cultivators, push hoes, etc. New method for us is flaming the carrots which we tried last week. So far so good as the seeds mostly germinated the next day or two after flaming.
VEGETABLE PEST UPDATE
(summarized from Cornell and MA Extension and MOFGA)
For pesticide options consult the New England Vegetable Management Guide, a on-line at: www.umassvegetable.org/grower_services/NEV_mgt_guide.html
Late blight has been found in NY and PA. It is a much more serious threat to potatoes and tomatoes than early blight. Early blight can be expected to occur every year on tomato, and occasionally on potato in Vermont. It starts on older leaves and is easily identified by characteristic ‘rings' inside the areas of dead tissue. Most conventional fungicide programs do a good job managing early blight, as can the use of resistant varieties and cultural practices that avoid soil splashing and leaf wetness. On the other hand, late blight occurs only occasionally in Vermont and control requires careful selection of fungicides and timely scouting to catch it early. Late blight moves in very quickly and can be very destructive. Rainy weather and temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees are ideal for late blight. Protective fungicide sprays are needed to prevent late blight from spreading once it arrives. Scout your fields frequently, looking especially in low areas where water has collected or humidity is high, like wheel tracks and along the tree line. Look for large black spots on leaves the size of a silver dollar. Young lesions appear as small dead spots that are collapsed and surrounded by light green tissue. These lesions are difficult to find if they are buried in the canopy. Under moist conditions a ring of white mildew appears at the margins of dead tissue, usually on the undersides of the leaf lesions. Lesions are also common on stems and leaf petioles where they girdle and blacken succulent tissues.
Plectosporium blight is a new disease in New England of pumpkins, summer squash and zucchini. It is favored by cool, humid or rainy weather. No pumpkin or summer squash varieties are known to be resistant to the disease. Tiny spores are formed in lesions on vines, stems, fruit, leaf veins and petioles. Spores are spread by rain-splash and wind. Initial lesions are white and smaller than 1/4 inch. On vines, the lesions tend to be diamond shaped; they increase in number and coalesce until most of the vines and leaf petioles turn white and the foliage dies. On fruit lesions are round to irregular and produce a white russeting on the surface and on stems that render fruit unmarketable. Severely infected pumpkin vines become brittle and will shatter if stepped on. Early in the infection cycle, foliage tends to collapse in a circular pattern in the field before spreading. For images and detailed info on this disease see: www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/veg/htms/plectosp.htm
Phytophthora blight can cause serious losses of cucurbits, peppers, eggplant and beans. It is possible to prevent this disease by assuring that there is never standing water in a field for more than 24 hours. Last week's twilight meeting in Connecticut gave an excellent example practices that effectively prevent Phytophthora: 1. Breaks in raised beds—where beds run across the slope, cut breaks to allow water to drain. Don't allow raised beds to become dams that hold water. 2. Clear away soil at the ends of rows – where raised beds reach the field edge, open up the end of the row to create drainage ditches. 3. Make sure the flow of water from within the field leaves the field – dig ditches if necessary. 4. Don't plant low areas – where there is a low section that puddles, don't plant a crop – plant a cover crop or leave it bare. 5. Use a V-ripper or other sub-soiling tool between rows to break up hardpan and encourage drainage. Use this as needed, especially after a hard rain to speed drainage of water out of the field. 6. Check your irrigation system for leaks and fix them – don't allow puddles to sit near your irrigation pumps or lines.
Tarnished Plant Bug is abundant on many farms. It feeds on succulent, nutritious tissues such as leaf buds or fruits just forming after blossoming. As the tissue grows, healthy tissue expands while dead tissue does not, which results in holes and distorted, malformed leaves, buds or fruit. This results in ‘cat-faced' strawberry fruit, brown cavities on lettuce midribs, and pitting of young bean pods. Flowers may also drop off beans, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.. In pepper and basil emerging leaves may be distorted and brown. Weed control in fields and borders is important for TPB management since they also feed on many common weeds Alfalfa and other legume forages are also hosts; be aware that harvesting these can cause TPB migration into nearby fruit, vegetable and flower crops.
STRAWBERRY PEST UPDATE
(adapted from UMaine Extension)
Foliar diseases should be monitored in your fields by regularly examining leaves. The most common summer diseases are powdery mildew, leaf spot and leaf scorch. See the New England Small Fruit Pest Management Guide for detailed descriptions of these diseases and control options, www.umass.edu/fruitadvisor/nesfpmg/index.htm
If black vine weevils or strawberry root weevils are a problem in a strawberry field that you would like to carry over, bifenthrin (Brigade) can be applied when adult feeding is noticed (usually until mid-late July). Look for notching along the leaf edges and the presence of the black or brown snout beetles. Applications should be made at night when these insects are active, and the highest rate of the insecticide should be used. Parasitic nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophora or Steinernema feltiae should be applied to provide control of root weevil grubs in late August. The latter species is more tolerant of cool soil temperatures. Nematodes require specialized handling and application. Consult your suppliers or for more info see: www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/blackvineweevil.html
Strawberry rootworm (not root weevil) is a 1/8 inch long dark brown to black beetle, which feeds on strawberry foliage, causing it to look skeletonized. The small larvae feed on strawberry roots, further weakening the plant. Adult feeding damage on the leaves usually occurs in late July through August. Heavy rootworm feeding can weaken strawberry plants.
Potato leafhoppers, which fly in from southern states, can weaken strawberry plants and spread disease. These small, bullet-shaped insects feed on plant sap from the undersides of leaves, causing leaves to become curled, stunted and yellow-streaked. Symptoms are often noticed in new strawberry plantings, but leafhoppers also infest older plantings and a variety of vegetables, flowers and fruits. To scout, brush the leaves of the plants with your hand. The small, whitish adults can be seen flying off the plant. Examine the underside of some injured leaves. Look for small, light green leafhopper nymphs. When touched, they crawl sideways like a crab.
Two-spotted spider mites can become problems during the summer. Continue
to take leaf samples for spider mites after renovation. If more than 25%
of a 60 leaf sample has mites, controls should be applied. Summer is an
ideal time to use predatory mites to control pest mites, because they prefer
warmer temperatures, and there is less likelihood of an insecticide
spray application that would kill them. Amblyseius fallacis, can provide good control of two spotted spider mites when they are released at a rate of about 10,000 mites per acre. Predator mite releases should only be made after a spider mite infestation has been found in the field. Predators released into a clean field will often die due to a lack of food.
Cyclamen mites can be the cause of plants showing weak growth and yellow, crinkled leaves. These mites are very small and reside down in the crown of the strawberry plant feeding on the developing leaves. They are very hard to see, even with magnification.
NEW AND ASPIRING FARMER WORKSHOPS
These Saturday workshops are free and take place at Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford. For more information call (802) 785-4706 or Email email@example.com
* August 7, 1-4:30pm. Basic Small Tractor Mechanics.
This workshop is for farmers and large scale gardeners looking to do more of their own mechanical work. Topics covered: basic tractor and engine systems, basic maintenance procedures, troubleshooting, as well as shop set-up and safety. Bring your questions.
* August 21, 8am-2pm. Using Auctions to Buy Farm Machinery.
Farm machinery is expensive. One economical alternative is to buy from local auctions. This workshop will cover: deciding what your machinery needs are, deciding the value and worth of auctioned items, and how to get the best deals. We will also take a trip to Gray's Auction Field in Fairlee to attend their monthly auction.
* September 25,1-4:30pm. Selecting and Buying your First Farm.
This workshop covers how to go about finding, selecting, and buying a farm. Topics include market research, soil testing, matching farms to your goals, and alternatives to purchasing. Presenters will be Paul Sachs of North Country Organics.
HIGHMOOR RESEARCH FARM FIELD DAY
Wednesday, July 28, 2004, Highmoor Farm, Route 202, Monmouth, Maine
Registration starts at 8:30am with coffee and donuts, tours start at 9am, either tree fruit research or vegetable and berry research. The latter includes trials of tomato, pepper, pumpkin, onion and strawberry varieties, experiments with reflective and biodegradable mulches, demonstration of pre-sidedress nitrogen testing for sweet corn, and corn pest monitoring techniques. Barbeque lunch includes pork, chicken or beef, with salad, beans and dessert. Afternoon presentations address the Dirigo Health Plan for small businesses and farms, and direct marketing and promotion of fruit and vegetables.. Registration of $15.00 includes lunch. Send check to UMaine Extension, P.O. Box 179, Monmouth, ME 04259 or call (207) 933-2100.
NORTHERN GRAPE GROWING WORKSHOP
A workshop on commercial grape growing in northern climates will be held on July 16, 2004, at Clinton Community College, Plattsburgh, NY and July 17, 2004 at Lincoln Peak Vineyard in New Haven, VT. There is a surge of interest in planting vineyards in northern regions, such as Vermont, New York, and Quebec, due to the development of new grape varieties by breeders in Minnesota and Wisconsin that can produce high quality wine and table grapes and survive the northern winter. To help new growers gather information to get started in this endeavor, July 16 will feature Peter Hemstad, grape breeder from the University of Minnesota, as well as an interactive seminar with established growers. On July 17 a field day at a vineyard will feature practical information presented by Mr. Hemstad and experts on trellis construction, irrigation, and vineyard machinery. Registration is $50, which includes lunch both days, wine tasting on day one, and printed material. Single day registration is $40. For more info or to register, contact Cornell Extension, 50 West High St, Ballston Spa, NY 12020 or call (518) 885-8995.
Mention of pesticides is for information purposes only, no endorsement is intended nor is discrimination implied against products not mentioned. Always read and follow the label.
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