REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of August 6)
(Montpelier) August and September are going to make or break me. Cold nights have put me behind about 2 to 3 weeks. Woodchuck population is ridiculously high this year. Seeing tarnished plant bug but not sure how much damage they are doing. Winter squash and summer squash are finally coming on. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are doing well. Fighting fungus and mold out in the field. Just ordered another greenhouse. Demand for product keeps going up. My learning curve still has a long way to go.
(Westminster West). Crops moving along well. Garlic is all in the barn drying, best crop in 10 years. Never hurts having timely rains! Pumpkins and winter squash benefited from row covers, no cuke beetles and the crops look wonderful. Onions also did well grown on black plastic, leek crop is ready and selling well. Tomato hornworm spotted on field tomatoes, many infected with parasitic wasps! Way to go parasites! Finished construction in 3 days of new Harnois 30 by 95 greenhouse over a field of fall bearing raspberries - kudos to Bob and Kim Gray for the inspiration! Two more tunnels waiting to go up this fall. Success in agriculture is all about investing in things that will bring profits, if all goes well!
(Cambridge) Everything is busting out - including the weeds. This is the time of summer when areas that didn't get weeded well earlier will show it. Nevertheless, tomatoes, blueberries, eggplant and the last sowing of snap peas are doing great at market. I downsized in the past few years but I think I'm going to have to ramp up again if the markets continue to do this well. Could use some rain but itís better to have too much sun. We're pulling garlic this week and it is looking great.
(Tunbridge) Things have been great this year. Same amount of work planting everything, but the weather cooperated and everything so far has been growing well. My onions are huge but some seem split at the root. I am wondering if this is the same thing as what happens to potatoes after a big rain. Melons and corn are on the verge of being ready. Deer are hitting us hard on the lettuce.
(Londonderry) We are in full swing now with the raspberries and blueberries still producing while annuals come in. The Haricot Vert beans are awesome as are 14 varieties of cherry tomatoes. Melons are sizing up early and looking good. Can't keep up with trellising cukes in hoophouse and they started to get some powdery mildew, not enough air flow. We cut all leaves off the plants up to the height of the hip boards and thinned the companion planting of basil outside of the beds. Iím leaving the sides down and the exhaust fan running for 30 to 60 min in a.m. to get good air flow/drying out. Leaf hopper is causing hopperburn. Found only 6 CPBs on 250 lbs late planted potatoes! I planted May 1st for years now I am planting June 1st. Itís hard not to have early baby potatoes, but the hoophouse production is picking up slack. Lost lots of greens in one field to crabgrass. Iím going to disc and cover crop for the rest of the season and all next season. Thought I had it beat last year but no. Some mid-season burn out with the crew nothing a good pot luck and trip to the swimming hole can't fix. We are having more meetings and attempting to speak openly with each other; managing people is the hardest part of this job. It is tough to ask folks to work hard for little $ and smile, not to mention get to work on time. Maybe I need to step back and accept what everyone does instead of always having big expectations. For me it is: "done, good. Next." They will understand with time if they choose to do this on their own one day! Chefs are hungrier than ever for organic and local: it is our time, look out California.
(Plainfield NH) Picking the first of the direct-sown sweet corn. Finishing up with summer raspberries, although it doesnít look as though it will be too long before we can pick the first of the Autumn Brittens and Jaclyns. Melons are coming in pretty well and the heat has really flavored them up. We are extremely dry and in dire need of rain. There seems to be no time to irrigate and every spare minute not harvesting or selling is absorbed by trying to catch up on weeding and renovating the strawberry beds. No major surprises in the Heliothis traps. Leaf hoppers are still somewhat with us and all of a sudden we have flea beetles. But the major pest problems for this year remain wildlife- deer, raccoons, and various birds- their damage eclipses anything the insect world has brought to us.....
(Grand Isle) Is it really August already? It's hard to believe the days are getting shorter and we will soon lose our fabulous hardworking summer employees to soccer practice and school. We plan to bridge the labor transition with the two Jamaican H2A employees who visit us each fall to help with the autumn harvest. We look forward to their arrival. We found a way to see our farm without any weeds! Our neighbor is a sea plane instructor and we had the opportunity to go on a plane ride over our farm. The colors of red and green lettuce and blue green broccoli were brilliant. The rows were straight, the equipment was neatly parked, and the weeds had disappeared. It was excellent therapy for tired farmers. Then the ride was over, we landed, and again faced the reality of the next job to be tackled on the farm. Happy August!
(Argyle NY) Farmers' Markets are responding to the local theme, as shown by a consistent increase in customers each week. Our farm's ability to respond and bring in more produce has been good, and an increase in other local farmers has helped also. Most crops are doing well due to constant irrigation, as we've had very little rain. Leaf hopper has been our worse pest with Pyganic holding off some of them; it's interesting to see the difference in resistance from some potato varieties, which I'll map out for future reference. The new Checchi Magli potato digger works super as long as it's not too wet. All fall brassicas were transplanted out last week into straw on one of the 90 degree days with the overhead irrigation going most of the time! It not only was great for the work crew, but also gave the transplants a good start. All greens (even spinach) continue to do well, and the first apples will be ready this week. Shortage of skilled labor continues to be our biggest challenge.
TOMATO FOLIAGE DISEASES
(adapted from John Mishanec, Cornell Extension)
On tomatoes where the fruit is maturing and sizing up, it is possible to find lots of early blight (EB). Look on the lower leaves for bronze colored spots. The spots are made up of concentric rings. Generally, as the number of spots increases, the infected leaves turn yellow and drop off, defoliating the plant. Another fungal spot disease we are finding is septoria leaf spot, which is often mistaken for bacterial spot. Both produce many small, black 1/8 inch spots on lower leaves, but Septoria does not damage the fruit like bacterial spot. If you see lots of small spots on the lower leaves, look at the fruit. If no spots on the fruit, it's Septoria, if spots on the fruit, it's bacterial. For both EB and septoria, there are a number of fungicides that will keep the disease under control, check your copy of the New England Vegetable Guide, also on-line at http://www.nevegetable.org/ . For bacterial problems, fixed copper mixed with Mancozeb is recommended. Organic growers have the option of copper alone. It is best to scout in order to find the problem early and start the protective sprays before the problem gets really serious.
BE READY FOR CORN EARWORM
(adapted from UMass Vegetable News, Aug 2)
Corn earworm captures are increasing slowly but surely. Silking corn needs to be treated to avoid these caterpillars from eating the corn ears. Some growers have shortened their spray schedules to every 4-5 days in areas where trap captures are over 7 moths per week, especially in central and northeast MA. In various locations in the Connecticut valley, we found numbers in the 0.6 to 1 per night range, calling for a 5-day spray schedule. Shorter spray schedules would be recommended where captures are between 1.1 and 13 moths per night. Variations in trap captures may reflect what date the trap was checked as well as variations from farm to farm. People checking these traps are careful to keep their traps in fresh silk. It is best to check traps at least twice weekly to know if new flights arrive. If you are not spraying, but applying vegetable oil directly to the silk, remember that only one treatment is necessary per ear of corn.
NEED CROP STORAGE INFORMATION?
USDA Agriculture Handbook #66, ďThe Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery StocksĒ is on-line at: http://usna.usda.gov/hb66/contents.html
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