Vermont Vegetable and Berry News – September 12, 2007
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13,


(Fairfax) Good weather upon good weather! Summer crops just keep coming on. Late July transplanting of zucchini, summer squash and cukes are prolific producers. Even winter squash transplants set out around July 4th are maturing a decent crop. Fall raspberries are finally coming on, two to three weeks later than last year. Autumn Britten is a good two weeks ahead of Caroline. A recreational trip to the Botanical Garden in Montreal in August resulted in seeing the fall variety Pathfinder in full fruit. A full 2 to three weeks ahead of their Autumn Britten planting. The berries had very good flavor and size, but the canes were quite short. I'm hoping to give the variety a try next year.  The fall root crops look good, and we just keep planting spinach and hope the weather is good enough in December to still be picking.

(S. Royalton) Cantaloupe giving out, battered by cold nights, but still picking through them; they have yielded smaller fruit but plenty of them. Tomatoes still looking great. Regular spraying of copper and Serenade definitely works better then copper alone. Customers love the taste of the sweet corn and melons. Business is booming, sales are way up.

(Shaftsbury) Finally Vern asked for field reports, and we have a rainy day to sit in front of the computer. It’ been really dry and hot until now! Lots of corn earworm moths captured, but a five day Entrust spray schedule seems to have kept them at bay. Weird, uneven corn ripening most of the year. Hard time getting spinach to germinate for fall crops even with new seed. Nice broccoli, orange and purple cauliflower being harvested now. Getting cover crops in. Thinking winter squash harvest and garlic planting.

(Killington) What a great growing season. I always want my tomatoes earlier, but I'm not willing to spend the money on propane. I have a new idea; the grower who starts my tomatoes thinks she should transplant the plants into larger containers and see what happens. I’ll give her the money to try that, rather than buying more propane. I will surely stick with the same varieties, beefsteak and jet star have great flavor. Salad greens, French filet green beans, broccoli and squash sales have been great. Disease has not been a problem. Winter squash are coming in beautifully! Beef, pork and egg sales have been terrific and I'm getting ready for turkey sales.

(Starksboro) It's been very dry and we were loosing the battle keeping up with both harvesting and irrigating. So, we really lucked out when we got 1.5 inches from a thunderstorm on August 30 (followed by the more recent rain).

(W. Rutland) Had an awesome crop of garlic this year. Probably 90 percent seed grade which is perfect, seeing as I sold it all to one guy. Winter rye is not germinating due to dry soil. Very few critter problems this year, which is too bad seeing it puts me out of practice. Guess I have to wait for the regular seasons.

(Plainfield NH) We’re witnessing the largest influx of corn earworm moths I’ve ever seen in the 10 years I’ve been trapping. Caught 35 moths the week of Aug. 27, and 31 moths the week of Sept. 4. I’ve been applying Larvin and Spintor by the book but those green-eyed monsters give me the willeys, they’ve managed to nuke the corn pretty well in the past even at dramatically lower numbers. Otherwise pest pressure is minimal. Very dry here and the tomatoes look very clean for this time of year. We are getting that leaf browning fungus on some of the vines that seems to take out late cukes. Raspberries are ripening but need irrigation that they haven’t gotten because we are so busy with other harvesting. Consequently, they are ripening slowly and unevenly....kind of like the corn, where later blocks are ripening very unevenly; each block seems to run the gamut of a few ripe ears to fresh silk. Pumpkins, squash, and gourds are ready for harvest and hopefully get to that next week, after we get all the Quebec strawberry plug plants plugged in that showed up tonight.

(Grand Isle) We finally received what everyone dreads, a devastating hail storm. That was 3 weeks ago, and surprisingly some crops have come back. Also, all our greenhouses are OK and after having an epidemic of bacterial canker on the greenhouse tomatoes last year we have none this year. We removed 6 inches of compost from the beds, added new compost, and sterilized the greenhouses. So far, so good!

(Craftsbury) Everybody has been complaining about lack of water but here in Craftsbury it doesn't need to rain again this season. We've had some pounding (even damaging) rainstorms every week or two until recently. It’s been a great growing season, though lacking in heat. Hoping for a warm September to finish off the winter squash and sweet potatoes. Digging potatoes daily, onions and shallots cover the barn floor making the building fairly useless, and we'll jump into digging storage beets next week. Our H2A amigos are absolutely phenomenal. A blow to my pride the other day when I struggled to keep up with a 20 year old woman harvesting onions. It is such a pleasure to work with people who share your work ethic and who make the farm a priority in their lives.


The Natural Resources Conservation Service of Vermont has set aside a pool of money for 2008 specifically to address resource concerns for farms that raise vegetables, fruit, nursery stock and other non-livestock products. This money will be used for to help cover the cost of installing conservation practices such as improved irrigation systems, compost facilities, erosion control measures, and cover cropping, to name a few. Last year Bob Pomykala explained at our annual Vegetable and Berry Growers meeting how NRCS funds help cover the cost of nutrient management and pesticide recordkeeping on his farm. You must sign up with NRCS by October 1 2007 to be eligible to apply for 2008 funds. Signing simply registers your farm for possible participation, it does not obligate you to apply or to implement any practices. Call your nearest NRCS office for details, or contact the state office at 802-951-6795.

(Ann Hazelrigg, UVM Plant Diagnostic Clinic)

If you notice plants that are still wilted after recent rains they may be infected with Verticillium wilt disease. This soil-borne fungus is present in most Vermont soils and can infect several crops (and many weeds) including watermelon, eggplant, tomato, potato, peppers, strawberries and cucumbers. Corn and other cereal grains are resistant. This cool season disease has optimum growing temperatures between 70-85 degrees F. The fungus grows into the root hairs and progresses rapidly up the water conducting tissue, clogging the vessels so the main symptoms we see are like those of drought; wilting, leaf drop, and yellow shoulders on fruit. An advancing toxin of the fungus can also contribute to wilting and spotting of the leaves. If you suspect this disease, cut a vertical slice of the main stem just above the soil line and look for a brown color in the water-conducting tissues. This discoloration can be traced upwards as well as downwards into the roots. The fungus can live in the soil for many years. Management is mainly through crop rotation with non- susceptible crops and use of resistant varieties.

This disease blows in on storm fronts, affecting leaves of cucurbits causing spots that are angular, delineated by leaf veins. Often several spots occur together in a coalesced group. Initially spots are pale green, then yellow before the tissue dies. Affected tissue in pumpkin can be more orange than yellow. On the leaf underside spots typically appear water-soaked at first. Extensive defoliation can occur when conditions are favorable. Leaf petioles often remain green and upright after the leaf blade has died and drooped. In contrast with powdery mildew, spores of the downy mildew fungus are darker (purplish gray) and develop only on the underside of leaves. Spores are not always present and symptoms can vary greatly, thus diagnosis can be challenging. For control measures see the New England Vegetable Management Guide, also on-line at
Let me know if you need a hard copy of the Guide and I will mail you one.

(adapted from Sonia Schloemann, UMass Extension)

Encourage hardening off of canes in summer bearing varieties by avoiding N fertilizers and supplemental watering at this time. Do not remove spent floricanes until later in the winter unless they are significantly infected with disease. Fall bearing raspberries can still benefit from irrigation in dry weather to help maintain fruit size. Based on soil and tissue test results, apply non-nitrogen containing fertilizers and lime as needed. For example, sul-po-mag or epsom salts can be applied now so that fall rains can help wash it into the root zone for the plants. Fall bearing raspberries can suffer fruit rot problems due to increased moisture from more frequent precipitation, longer dew retention, and longer nights late in the growing season. The majority of this fruit-rot is Botrytis cinerea, gray mold. Frequent harvesting and cull-harvesting are the best practices. Thinning canes in dense plantings can also help. Check plantings for crown borers; the adult looks like a very large yellowjacket but is actually a moth. They are active in the field in August and September laying eggs. Scout the fields for crown borer larvae damage by looking for wilting canes. This symptom can also indicate Phytophthora root rot, so when you find a plant with a wilting cane (or two), dig up the plant and check the roots for brick red discoloration in the core of the roots, or the presence of a crown borer larvae in the crown. Rogue out infested crowns; eliminate wild bramble near the planting, since they can harbor more of this pest (as well as viruses).

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