REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of Aug. 13)
(W. Rutland) It is dry, corn sales going well, pumpkins growing well but need water a lot.
(Wolcott) We finished harvesting and threshing the mizuna seed crop. We got about 1 ounce of seed per plant which is a yield I am very happy with. It was easy to thresh without any special equipment because the pods shatter so easily when dry. We just harvested the pea seed crops. We began by pulling them out of the ground but leaving them on the trellis. This way they dry down nicely in the field before coming into the greenhouse for final drying and threshing. The spinach seed is just starting to mature and we will begin harvesting this week. When the seed is dry on the stalk it can get damaged by the rain and all kinds of diseases can take over. It is tricky to get the timing right so that you don't lose too much seed from either rain damage or by harvesting it prematurely. Lets hope the weather continues to cooperate with nice stretches of 3 to 4 days of sun. We are almost ready to begin tomato seed processing which will be a constant activity from mid-August on. The nice weather in July has finally made things seem caught up.
(Starksboro) There’s an eerie lack of imported cabbage worms. They should
be a major problem by now, but despite extensive scouting, I can’t find
any reason to spray. I have had very little early blight in the tomatoes,
despite 7 inches of rain in June. I usually associate a wet
June with heavy blight pressure. It may be that I sidedressed with N to compensate for leaching
(Plainfield VT) Greenhouse cherry tomatoes are a big hit, especially Sunsugar yellows. Greenhouse peppers are loaded with fruit, which I hope will ripen to a lovely and valuable yellow color. Lettuce sales have been good, though I see a gap in the supply ahead. Lots of cabbage moths in the kale, so it’s time to scout for caterpillars and spray Bt. I am watering whenever I can get the irrigation system working. Winter squash is setting fruit like mad. Carrots are filling out nicely. Good swimming weather. I need more time off.
(Plainfield NH) Harvesting a full line of summer vegetables, just starting with wholesaling of melons, cherry and field tomatoes. Picking blueberries for wholesale is a huge time commitment. The only other activity other than harvesting seems to be irrigating as we have really only had half an inch of rain since July 10. It would be nice to have the luxury of weeding time but everyone here in the field is already putting in 12 hour days at least 6 days a week. Having a very positive experience withe the H2A employees. Our scout hasn’t seen high enough numbers of corn borer or fall armyworm to be spraying corn and that's good, but the Japanese beetles are getting on the small fruit and cut flowers at thresholds I am afraid I can no longer ignore. Sales have been very strong and I am not sure why.
(Saunderstown RI) Dang it's dry. Here in coastal RI we are well below normal, and the pond is looking mighty small. Melons are just coming in for real, and they are pretty sweet, but we have a warmer week coming so I expect improvements. Peppers and eggplants love the heat, and the CPB is not too bad this year. We are getting ready to plant our strawberries next week - bought in some plugs and made some of our own from end-of-season bargain plants potted up at the end of June. I missed Earliglow, dag nab it.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SPIDER MITES
Keep an eye out for spider mites in the field and greenhouse on especially on nightshade and cucurbit crops. Mites are favored by hot and dry weather. They are small, so a hand-lens really helps a lot when scouting for them. Look on the underside of leaves that appear bleached out or stippled. High infestations can create a silk- like webbing. Treatment is warranted if mites are on new growth or throughout the planting, especially in later plantings that need to stay healthy for several weeks. To prevent further spread, consider ending harvest early and removing or tilling under residues as soon as harvest is completed..
FLEA BEETLE UPDATE
While flea beetle pressure is variable around the state at this time, UMass researchers are finding plenty of female beetles in their plots that are full of eggs. It looks like we may be in for another generation of flea beetles. The UMass trials have shown good control of flea beetles with Sevin and organic growers can take encouragement from the fact that they have had promising results with hot pepper wax. Growers interested in testing hot pepper wax in their fall Brassica greens please call Matt Verson at (413) 545-3696.
SWEET CORN PESTS (adapted from John Mishanec, NY IPM)
Corn ear worm (CEW) trap catches have increased in most locations. What this means is you need to protect your corn with fresh silks since that’s where CEW adult moths lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, the CEW larvae move right into the top of the ear. There is a small window to control the larvae before they get into the protected area of the ear. Small acreage growers can protect the ears by using the Zea-Later hand applicator within 6 days of ears first silking to apply corn or soybean oil plus B.t. For foliar sprays, check the New England Vegetable Management Guide for materials. When more than 70 to 80% of the silks are brown and dry, you can stop spraying that field. Dry silks are not attractive to the adult CEW moths. In most locations, European corn borer (ECB) trap numbers are remaining high as well. Corn aphids are building slowly in some fields. Scout your fields and if you find over 50% of your plants have corn aphids than a control may be call for. Warrior is pretty good at controlling corn aphid. When spraying Warrior for corn ‘worms’ an additional spray for aphids is usually not needed. If using a soft product like Spintor, aphid predators will usually do a good job keeping down aphid populations. Also be on the lookout for corn sap beetles. These are small black beetles, pointy at both ends about a quarter inch long. They sometimes can get into silks and the top of the ear when they are around in high numbers. Bird damage is increasing in corn fields. A combination of rotated tactics works best to repel birds.
OTHER PESTS TO SCOUT FOR
In crucifers, keep looking for cabbage ‘worms’, the larvae of diamondback moth, cabbage looper, and imported cabbageworm. Check underneath the leaves. On many crops, tarnished plant bug is causing damage. The nymphs are small and green and look a little like aphids. I am still finding leafhoppers on potato and beans, some spuds are showing significant ‘hopper burn’. While no late blight has been reported in the northeast, there is significant early blight on tomato and other crops. White mold (Sclerotinia) has appeared in several greenhouses. Careful removal and destruction of infected plants is important after harvest to minimize spread of the hard black sclerotia. found inside infected stems.
TRACK THOSE BUGS ON THE WEB
If you're interested in the pest situation in other parts of the northeast, check out the Northeast Pest Watch Monitoring Network. This web site tracks the major insect pests such as corn earworm in the cooperating states. It is updated weekly. http://pestwatch.cas.psu.edu/
SMALL FRUIT GROWERS - IRRIGATE
A reminder that it's critical to keep perennial fruits well-irrigated. After renovation, strawberries need plenty of water to put on good growth of the foliage. Those leaves will be capturing sunlight and storing it as energy this fall - energy that's needed for profitable fruit production next summer! The same hold true for raspberries and blueberries - this year's photosynthesis affects next year's fruit.
INTERSEEDED CORN FIELD WALK, Barnet, August 22
Caledonia County Conservation District is hosting an Field Walk at 10:00 am on August 22 that features a demonstration exploring the pros and cons of interseeding. The host farmers are Peter and Elizabeth Everts, of Too Little Farm in Barnet, VT. They seeded white Dutch clover into their organic Kandy Kwik Sweet Corn, with the objective being to reduce weed competition. This plot is part of a research project funded by the Non-Traditional Agriculture grants program of EPA in an effort to encourage farmers to explore the option of interseeding as a way to reduce pesticide usage. Directions: Take exit 18 off I-91, which will take you to West Barnet Road. Go about 6 miles to Farrow Farm Rd., turn left, follow to Cloudy Pasture Lane. The farm is at the end of the Lane. From Danville, take the Peacham Road; south of Peacham pick up West Barnet Road on your left. Follow for about ½ mile. Farrow Farm Road will be on your right, two houses past a log cabin. Follow Farrow Farm Road until you come to Cloudy Pasture Lane on the right. For more information contact Juanita Lerch at (802) 626-5347 or email@example.com.
NEON FIELD DAY, Brattleboro & Westminster, VT, September 9
The Northeast Organic Network (NEON) is hosting a tour of an organic produce distributor and 3 organic farm businesses owned and operated by the Harlow brothers, in Westminster, VT. The first part of the tour will meet at 10:00 am sharp for a tour of Northeast Cooperatives, a wholesale organic produce distribution center in Brattleboro. Space is limited so reservations are required! Take Exit 3 off I-91 then take the first right off the rotary onto Route 5 south. About a half mile on the right is Technology Drive (look for the Holiday Inn sign). The warehouse is on the left. The farm tours start at noon with lunch at Harlow Farm stand, run by Dan Harlow. Food may be purchased at the farm stand café or bring your own. Directions: Take Exit 5 off I-91. Turn east off the ramp towards Bellows Falls. Go down the hill to pick up Route 5 and turn left (north). The farm stand is half a mile up on the left. At 1:00 we will go next door to Paul Harlow’s 80-acre wholesale organic vegetable farm, packinghouse and storage. Then, down the road to Tom Harlow’s 50-acre Kestrel Farm where NEON is sponsoring vegetable crops research. Sweet corn pest control techniques will be demonstrated, and there will be discussion of production and marketing issues. For more information or to sign up for the NE Coops tour call Chris Cousins at the New England Small Farm Institute (413) 323-4531.
ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), the national
sustainable agriculture information service operated by the National Center
for Appropriate Technology has some new publications including ‘Organic
Alternatives to Treated Lumber’ and ‘Creating an Organic Production and
Handling System Plan: A Guide to Organic Plan Templates’, which should
be useful as growers deal with the new Federal Rule. Some updated publications
include: ‘Constructed Wetlands’, ‘Echinacea as an Alternative Crop’ and
‘Ginseng, Goldenseal, and Other Native Roots’. These and nearly 200
other publications are available free to farmers and other agriculture
professionals by calling 1-800-346-9140. They are also available from the
ATTRA web site, http://www.attra.ncat.org/