REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of Sept. 7)
We got a good thunderstorm late in August and I thought maybe we were free and clear, because we've never had to irrigate in September. But here we are irrigating again. We really need a good 1 inch per week for full grown plants. It seems that the flea beetles hung around longer than they normally do, but they're finally gone. They like hot dry weather, and we certainly had it this year. At this point my worry is caterpillars in the cabbage family. They haven't been too bad this year, but I usually have to keep an eye on them through most of September. (Starksboro)
Almost out of water. Flea beetles rearing their heads again. Even seem some cabbage moths. Very little tpb damage around. Deer fence working great, two strands at about 7000 or 8000 volts. Beans coming in like crazy. Fall lettuce looks OK but gets a little stressed by the heat and of course dryness. Leaf hopper killed most of the early potato foliage, but yield not bad considering the weather and our heavy soil type. Cracks in the field about two inches wide and now almost two feet deep. Rye cover crop has been in for three weeks and still no sign of it. I hope rain expected will get started. Wish the frost would get here soon. (Charlotte)
Great Labor Day sales over, now time to start the second season. Still lots of sweet corn in the field, oil and Bt applications keeping the worm count low. Powdery mildew on all vine crops, time to get pumpkins in and stored before disease gets in the stems. Fall peas, cole crops, lettuce, spinach appreciating the rain. Fall flowers flying out the door due to early die-out of home flower gardens from excessive heat. Beans, cukes and greens going into cleaned out tomato houses for fall sales. Still time to plant radishes, arugula, cilantro in the field. Got to squeeze out that last crop if the weather plays along. It's a long winter....(Dummerston)
It is getting dry again, with no rain for 10 days. Only greens really need irrigation, but we need more water. Fall harvest season has fully begun. The onions are very small due to drought. Cauliflower quite nice. Fall Brassicas loaded with cabbage moths and worms. Cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts all look very good. Corn loaded with ear worms, but thanks to the oil treatment (from Ruth Hazzard at UMASS) we've got a great crop. Tomatoes with the biggest fruits we've ever seen, the trellises are falling over, most fruit over 1 lb! They are pretty blighted by now, but we're still harvesting loads and loads. Peppers and eggplants coming on strong. Greens look great. Lettuce timing has been hurt by extreme weather. Lots of gaps and bunching of maturity. Pumpkins all ripe now, we've started the pick your own. Maybe they'll last until October. Raspberries are quite good, thanks to drip system. Nothing but harvesting and cleaning up left! (Amherst, MA)
Kodiak, a product of Gustafson LLC, is a seed-applied biological product whose active ingredient is the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. It is registered for large-seeded vegetables such as green, snap, lima, kidney, navy, pinto, wax, and pole beans, garden peas, peas and field beans and sweet corn. On beans, it suppresses root diseases (rots) caused by Rhizoctonia and Fusarium. On sweet corn, it suppresses seed rots caused by Pythium and Fusarium. Kodiak can be used alone or in combination with chemical seed treatments. Read and follow all label directions for use, application rates and timings and restrictions. Gustafson is also developing a new line of biological control products for small seeded vegetables. Serenande Biofungicide is another Bacillus subtilis strain that was discovered and commercially introduced by AgraQuest. The strain has demonstrated laboratory or plant activity against 44 plant diseases including, powdery mildew, damping-off, anthracnose, early blight, alternaria blight, gummy stem blight and phytophthora leaf spot. Registration by the US EPA is pending. (From Illinois extension)
Growers with small plots are complaining of chipmunk damage to crops. Here's what Wisconsin Extension has to say: Although chipmunks feed on nuts, seeds, berries and sometimes flower buds, they (usually!) do little direct damage to garden and landscape plants. They may disturb small seedlings and transplants while foraging for food, and occasionally make a burrow right beneath a plant causing the soil to dry out faster in the plant's root zone. Active during the day, chipmunks are quite visible so people blame them for many plant problems they do not cause. Instead, rabbits, groundhogs, ground squirrels or meadow mice are usually the culprits when you see extensive animal damage to plants. Chipmunks can cause significant problems in rock gardens and walls and they frequently invade garages and storage buildings in search of food and shelter. Building problems can usually be solved by closing doors, sealing access points, and removing or securing stored bird seed or pet food. However, if you wish to eliminate chipmunks, live trapping is your best option. Live-trap them with a small box trap and release them in a wooded area with permission of the land owner. If you are not inclined toward relocation, a rat-sized snap trap is also very effective. Be careful that snap trap placement does not jeopardize pets, children or birds. Good baits for trapping chipmunks include sunflower seeds, nut meats and peanut butter. If you have a high chipmunk population, you may have to trap many individuals before you solve the problem. Chipmunks hibernate and are not to blame for rodent problems experienced during the winter.
BLUEBERRY PRUNING (adapted from N. Carolina Extension)
Blueberries should be pruned during the winter while the bushes are dormant. In winter, flower buds are easily visible on one-year-old wood and their numbers can be adjusted by pruning to regulate the crop load for the coming year. By reducing the number of fruit buds (and hence clusters) on the bush, pruning results in an increase in the size of the individual berries. Up to a point, the more severe the pruning, the larger the remaining berries are. Pruning for increased size is a compromise between desired size and number of fruit. Moderate to heavy pruning tends to shift the ripening period forward so that most of the remaining fruit ripens together and early. Light pruning results in a longer season of ripening. Pruning results in longer and more vigorous (thicker) shoot growth in the next season. Heavy pruning causes thicker and more leafy shoots than light pruning. The thicker and later-developing shoots tend to produce fewer fruit buds than those which stop growing earlier in the season. Fruit of the blueberry is borne on wood produced in the previous season (one-year-old wood). By pruning, you are regulating the fruiting potential of next season's crop. Pruning should be severe enough to invigorate the plant so that sufficient new wood is produced during the following season. You are actually determining the fruiting potential of the crop of two seasons hence by the number and type of cuts you make this winter. Well-distributed fruit clusters should have enough leaves around them to provide adequate foodstuffs, but not enough to overshade the fruit, or to reduce spray or dust coverage, or to make the clusters hard to reach during harvest. Blueberry bushes tend to overbear, which shortens their lives. By pruning to regulate crop load, the grower can lengthen the life of the bushes. Remove all low-spreading branches and the oldest canes if they are weak. Head back the upright most vigorous shoots to the desired height to keep the bush from growing too tall. Essentially, you have then automatically selected the remaining, more upright canes to bear your crop next season and the following season. On the remaining canes, systematically thin out the shorter, thinner shoots, leaving enough of the thick shoots to bear the crop and make new growth. Only experience can tell you how many shoots a particular variety of a particular age can carry and still perform well.
NEW PUMPKIN PUBLICATION
'Identification and Management of Pumpkin Diseases', bulletin BP-17, is a 15-page publication from Purdue University. It covers the characteristics and management strategies for the major diseases affecting pumpkins. There are 20 full color photos. To order, contact: Media Distribution Center, 301 South Second Street, Lafayette, IN 47901-1232; E-mail: Media. Order@ces.purdue, Phone: 765-494-6794. The price is $5.00 and includes postage.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
The biennial New England Vegetable and Berry Conference and Trade Show will be held this December 14,15 and 16 in Sturbridge, Mass. Program brochures will be mailed at the end of September. Meanwhile. the list of educational presentations is on the web at: www.umass.edu/umext/programs/agro/vegsmfr/nev-bga.html