RAINFALL VARIABLE ACROSS STATE
According to New England Agricultural Statistics Service, the past week brought 3.66 inches of rain to Pownal but only 0.3 inches to Burlington. That brings Pownal to near normal rainfall for the past month, while Burlington is 3.19 inches below normal. For rainfall and degree day totals at locations around New England, click on ‘crop weather’ at http://www.nass.usda.gov/nh/
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of Aug. 13)
(Starksboro) We've been closely monitoring imported cabbage worm infestations. For the most part total damage is not bad but feeding injury is present. We are currently between generations but the next generation is usually the worst, and should appear any day now. Dry and hot are taking their toll on crops and human energy. We got a good head start on irrigating well before it got desperate, so by and large crops are doing well. Disease levels have been relatively low throughout the whole season so far. Early blight on tomatoes and potatoes is low. Tomatoes are exhibiting cracking from fluctuating water levels this summer.
(S. Royalton) I can't get a new seeding of anything started in the field, but the stuff that is already going looks great. Lots of peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins look great. Just a half inch of rain in the past four weeks is stressing out the stuff that I don't have irrigation on (mostly corn). Potatoes plants were huge and healthy, I had to bush hog them down but they still refuse to die.
(Brandon) When Paul McCartney wrote 'Blackbird', did he have any idea?
(E. Hartland) A sudden resurgence in the woodchuck population has us scampering around with bombs and guns, the raccoons work the corn over at night, redwing blackbirds work the corn over by day and the deer walk through acres of tender timothy, clover and alfalfa to chew on my greens, melons and pumpkins. In the great scheme of things I wonder what God had his little creatures eating before I started growing vegetables for them to destroy. The drought hasn’t abated and we continue to water with drip and overhead irrigation. We pulled our onions last week and will dig our potatoes in a week or so. Picking melons since 8/1 and by 8/10 we started picking field tomatoes. Activities are weeding, watering, harvesting and we are trying to get through some of the summer projects before students head back to college. Very few insect pests except for caterpillars in the cabbage and flowers. My scout hasn’t made me spray for anything in corn; a small benefit of the lack of a moist southernly airflow.
(W. Rutland) Dry, been irrigating for a few days now and hoping for rain. Corn sales quite good, still few bugs and the large animal vegetable predation has finally stopped. Pumpkins are starting to color up.
(Nantucket MA) Things are growing very well here. Hot weather has pushed
corn plantings together. No worms in the corn and trap counts are staying
low. A slight jump with the last thunderstorms this weekend. Rain was welcome,
we have had about 1.5 inch total in 3 separate storms. Everything is in
now have been picking watermelons and cantaloupe for a week and field tomatoes
are abundant with excellent size and quality. Potatoes are starting to
fade hoping to get a couple more weeks out of them. Hot, humid and foggy
weather not helping.
SMALL FRUIT TISSUE TESTING REMINDER
Foliar analysis is THE best way to assess nutrient needs of perennial fruit crops. Summer is the time to take samples as follows. Strawberries: 50+ fully expanded new leaves after renovation. Blueberries: 50+ healthy leaves during July or August. Raspberries: 50+ healthy leaves on non-fruiting canes in early to mid-August. Grapes: 80+ petioles from most recently matured leaves on shoots in mid-August. Keep samples from ‘problem’ plants and healthy plants separate. If spray residues are present, wash samples thoroughly and allow to dry.. Send clearly labeled samples in a paper or cardboard mailer to: UVM Testing Lab, Hills Building, Burlington VT 05405-0082. Cost is $20 per sample.
PESTS TO LOOK FOR NOW IN VEGETABLES
(adapted from UMass and Cornell Extension, and farm visits)
Beans: spider mites may be building due to hot dry weather; look for bronzing of older leaves. Check leaf undersides for leafhopper, too. Yields may be reduced if flowers aborted in high heat.
Crucifers: third generation of cabbage maggot fly can attack fall crops of turnip, cabbages, etc. Use row covers to protect transplants if possible. Small plants are most vulnerable, look for small white eggs laid by stems. Continue to scout leaves, especially undersides, for cabbage ‘worms’. As heads begin to form, the thresholds drop i.e. fewer larvae can be tolerated.
Peppers: Second generation of European corn borer may attack fruit. Scout plants for aphid infestations but avoid pyrethroid sprays as they kill natural controls, too. Look for mites, too. Be alert if plants go down from Phytophthora blight in low spots or near irrigation leaks, especially on farms with a history of the disease, which also affects tomato and cucurbits.
Potato: early blight, hopper burn, ozone injury and senescence can cause a collection of symptoms on leaves as the plants mature. If foliage is healthy and harvest is closing in mow tops off 2 weeks before harvest to allow tuber skins to cure. Keep an eye out for late blight: dollar size, greasy-looking lesions on foliage and stems.
Pumpkins: powdery mildew is showing up, scout your fields for first signs of disease and apply sprays to both top and bottom of leaves to protect healthy tissue. Conventional growers should rotate among available fungicides, contact me for details. Organic growers can use potassium bicarbonate materials.
Squashes and pumpkins: virus symptoms may show up as distorted leaves and mottled fruit but there is nothing to be done about it. Bacterial wilts may cause some plants to show brown leaves and possibly die; again, nothing can be done but control cucumber beetle better next year. Look closely for build up of secretive squash bugs.
Sweet Corn: scout plants for arrival of second generation of European corn borer, and get ready to protect blocks that are in silk from corn ear worm if it arrives with storm fronts. Aphids may build up, but controls are recommended only if the majority of plants are infested; use of pyrethroids will make the problem worse by killing natural predators. Common rust warrants a fungicidal control at this time only in late season corn if 80% or more plants infected.
Tomato: sidedress with nitrogen fertilizer (avoiding ammonium sources of N) and irrigate as necessary to help plants resist early blight and blossom end rot. Keep new growth protected on a weekly basis at least through August if you are spraying fungicides or copper. After that it may be best to let them go since frost will get them shortly thereafter anyway in man locations. Avoid working in the crop when foliage is wet as this may spread bacterial disease.
Weeds: they are sneaking up on you in fields that have been harvested, alleyways, etc. Do your best to cultivate, mow or till them in before they can set (even more) seed. Where possible, sow winter cover crops to compete with weeds and protect soil from erosion.
WORKSHOP: BEYOND BUCKWHEAT AND WINTER RYE
Dr. Stephan Seiter, an agro-ecologist from University of New Hampshire,
will lead an on-farm workshop at Pooh and Ann Sprague’s diversified Edgewater
Farm in Plainfield NH on August 30th from 4 pm to 7 pm. He will give an
overview of different cover crops and then we will walk the fields
and have a round table discussion of other cover crop strategies for organic
matter improvement, nitrogen management, etc. From VT, take exit 20 off
I-89 just across the river in NH, go south 4 miles on Route 12A. Turn right
on River Rd. at the River Bend veterinary clinic; the farm is 1/8 mile