REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of Sept. 10)
(S. Royalton) Pumpkins and squash obviously didn't have a happy year as the harvest was down by about 25% from last year. Mesclun lettuce mix is having trouble germinating. At the same time I have never had so many red peppers; I couldn't sell them all. Sweet potatoes are outstanding. Melons are in their last week or so. Farmers market sells are going great and overall it's been an excellent year.
(W. Rutland) The deer are back and they are really ruining my pumpkins. This is what happens when I take the nice guy approach. Next year I'll go back to the 11 cent solution. That’s the price of a 30-30 reload. Corn was done this past Saturday. The pumpkins are all wholesaled and so I’m just waiting for rain so I can cover crop, it really is too dry.
(Wolcott) We have been without significant rain for about 6 weeks but the heat is helping to ripen our late season seed crops. Spinach and radishes are all threshed and clean. Beans are also ready to thresh which is earlier than usual by about two weeks. Because of the lack of rain we are also seeing a lack of disease on our dry seeded crops. We normally have to go to great lengths to ensure disease free seed but it should be easier this year. Corn, cucurbits, tomatoes and some flowers are all that remain in the field of our seed crops. The corn and cucurbits we won't harvest until after several frosts but the tomatoes and flowers are ongoing. Tomatoes for seed can be harvested from slightly under ripe to way over ripe. I generally do 2 to 3 harvests about 3 weeks apart. As long as a killing frost doesn't come before Sept. 20 everything should be okay.
(New Haven) This hot, dry weather which has been so hard on so many things seems to be good for my wine grapes. They are ripening early and to very high sugar levels. The earliest variety has reached 24 Brix. I'll be crushing and pressing them for wine this week. I planted this year's vines on black plastic with drip irrigation, and they've put on fantastic growth.
(Westminster) Yikes! Has anyone experienced striped cucumber beetles eating their sunflowers? I’ve lost several fine crops of sunflowers to this unexpected pest. I just dusted my last planting with rotenone to keep them saleable. Om a positive note, the pumpkin crop looks great, with many extra large ones all over the field.
(Shoreham) Digging potatoes, will start digging sweet potatoes soon. Melons are done except for a late planting. Quality is good. All my sweet corn seed rotted this year except for one variety that was treated seed. However, all 5 varieties of transplanted corn did well, especially Double Gem. Cucumber beetles are now in the spinach and corn as well as cucurbits. A July sowing of Japanese millet cover crop did well and is now knee high. I’m sick an tired of the heat and drought like everyone else.
(Amherst MA) We've moved into the fall season with celery, leeks, potatoes, and onions all on the stand. Still coming in heavy on tomatoes (the best year ever) and peppers, eggplants, and lettuce and greens. Lots of deer damage in places we've never seen before (late beans, broccoli, and butternut squash). After two weeks of no rain and forecasts in the 90s we will resume irrigating (after a 2 week break). Not as bad as August but still tiring. Corn has been a total frustration this year with poor germination, crows, weeds, drought, and now total devastation from corn earworm. We harrowed the last block in and called it all a failure - better luck next year. It's time to start pulling up plastic and cleaning up around the farm anyway.
(Little Compton RI) Last Friday, we got our first rain since June 10th, 2.5 glorious inches. We had just planted 2 acres of ‘Hail Mary’ broccoli and I just couldn't resist sitting in my car watching the rain soak into the parched dry soil. There is a saying around here “A dry year will scare you to death but a wet year will kill you." We are still alive and would be in the red if it weren't for our 140 member CSA. Money in the bank has kept us going. We have learn an awful lot about how to play a dry year and will plan accordingly in the future. Many old timers think we are three years into a 7 to 10 year pattern that will continue. Some years worse than others. With this in mind, we are planning to put drip tape on top of our Garlic this fall. Where we did this last year made a huge difference come harvest time.
(Argyle, NY) Still very, very dry, but irrigation has been keeping crops going. Cucumber beetles are still quite numerous out there and very little disease. Markets continue to be very strong with new fall crops coming in (storage onions, apples, leeks, and soon, the non-curing winter squash). We’ll be planting the annual bed strawberry plants this week and look forward to cooler weather.
GET A GRASS COVER CROP IN SOON!
You all know that a winter cover crop is good for your soil... the challenge is to find the time to plant it! But don’t delay - the next month is a great time to grow grasses that prevent erosion and enhance soil quality. Use higher seeding rates for later plantings and/or weedier fields. If time permits, and rains aren’t adequate, consider irrigation to get cover crops going. Some choices: Oats: broadcast 110 to 140 lb/acre, through September, winter kills reliably and provides dead mulch residue in spring to suppresses weeds. Rye: 90 to 160 lb/acre through mid-October, hardy, lots of spring growth but can be hard to incorporate if left too long, and may encourage seed maggots if vegetable crop is planted too soon following incorporation. Annual Ryegrass: 15 to 30 lb/acre through September, good for reducing compaction, may not winter kill in warmer areas. Winter wheat: 60-160 lb/acre, through September, spring growth adds organic matter and is easier to incorporate than winter rye. Contact me for a copy of ‘Managing Cover Crops Profitably’, 200 pages, $19 postpaid.
BACTERIAL CANKER OF TOMATO (adapted from NY, MA and IL Extension)
Bacterial canker is being reported at various locations in the northeast and mid-west. Growers should take a closer look to be sure it is not just early blight taking their tomato crop down. Bacterial canker causes plants to wilt, oldest leaves first. The leaf edges turn yellow and next to that is brown, dead tissue. Fruit may have small ‘birds eye’ spots that are white with a brown center, and these will be promoted by rain or overhead irrigation that wets fruit. If you cut open stems, there will be discoloration of the vascular tissue and there may be cankers will appear on the stems. Water will spread the disease so try to avoiding picking when the plants are moist or wet and turn down the pressure on your sprayer so you don't spread the disease down the row. Although canker usually gets started in a field through contaminated seed or transplants, the inoculum can live in soil for several years. To prevent canker problems in the future, plow down the crop residue as soon as possible after harvest to speed decomposition. Clean and disinfect any cages or stakes before re-using them next year. Plan to rotate out of tomatoes for 2 to 3 years. Next year be sure to buy seed that has been tested for the bacterial canker bacterium and/or hot-water treated to prevent it.
STRAWBERRY LEAF SPOTS - FALL MANAGEMENT
Managing for leaf spots now can help reduce the problem next year. Leaf spot appears as circular purple spots and as they enlarge the centers turn light brown on young leaves. According to the Cornell Fruit Pathology web site, research shows that most severe infection of young leaves by leaf spot occurs during periods of leaf wetness from 12 to 96 hours, when temperatures are 59 to 68 °?F. So, try to time your overhead irrigation to allow most rapid leaf drying. Avoid excess N fertilization that will promote excess foliage. Control weeds to enhance air movement. Apply fungicide to protect healthy tissue if necessary - see the New England Small Fruit Management Guide. Organic growers may use copper products.
NEW GUIDANCE FOR MAKING ORGANIC COMPOST
The USDA’s National Organic Program web site (www.ams.usda.gov/nop) has posted the recommendations of a Compost Task Force, which provide “guidance to producers and certifying agents” about the production of compost containing animal materials (i.e. manure). Apparently, compost will be acceptable for use on organic farms if: 1) it is made only from allowed feedstock materials (i.e. plant materials, animal manure), except for incidental residues that will not lead to contamination, 2) undergoes an increase in temperature to at least 131 degrees F and remains there for a minimum of 3 days, and 3) the compost pile is mixed or managed to ensure that all of the feedstock heats to the minimum temperature.
VINEYARD TOUR SEPTEMBER 17
This tour actually starts at a proposed wine grape trial site in Essex NY, then the NY folks will come to VT via the Essex Ferry to visit Shelburne Vineyard then Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero. Drs. Bruce Reisch and Bob Pool from Cornell will join the tour. Bruce is a grape breeder, and Bob does research and extension in grape production and viticulture. On the Vermont side, the tour starts at Ken Albert’s Shelburne Vineyard at 1:45, then onto Snow Farm Vineyard from 3:30 to 5:30. Directions: Take Route 7 into Shelburne, at the traffic light with a Mobil gas station on the corner turn west and continue to the Shelburne Farms visitor center where Ken will meet us in his red pickup truck at 1:45. Please confirm if you plan to attend by contacting Kevin Iungerman at Cornell Extension: 518-885-8995 or email@example.com
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