REPORTS FROM THE FIELD
(Tunbridge) Tomatoes are coming in, though we lost a lot to slugs. I pulled all my onions even though some of the tops weren't over because I was worried that we would get more rain and I might lose some to rot. Biggest onions ever. The only ones that had a problem were the Walla Walla and they never quite sized up properly, and then when they did there was a lot with thick necks. Fall greens all looking good, main problem is DEER. They are digging up the whole carrot. We put chicken wire over the bed, but they paw right under it. They also eat the lettuce. We were trying to decide which we would rather have, rain or frost. We will probably get both, first it will rain a lot then when it finally clears away the temperature will drop. Can't beat a nice day in September though.
(Plainfield NH) Plasticulture strawberries are in and seem to be off to a good start. Pruning out raspberries. Other than that, the regular seasonal harvest continues with the influx of fall foliar diseases on cucurbits and influx of Lepidopeterous insects that want to gnaw on your fall corn. Lots of cover crops down and off to a good start: oats/peas and vetch/rye combinations. Starting to pick fall raspberries and that always helps flagging stand sales.
(Westminster) Greenhouse tomatoes are doing well. My enthusiasm for the variety Geronimo has waned as the taste is not as good as last year, although they are very vigorous. I think I'm still happier with the Buffalo. Starting fall greenhouse cukes now. I think I've given half my fields outside to the Connecticut river.
(Wolcott) Our Brassica seed crops are mostly all harvested and thankfully our only week with no rain was timed perfectly for them to dry down for combining. We just processed about 1,000 lbs. of our new Delicious 51 Powdery Mildew Resistant cantaloupe. Instead of putting it through our machine (which destroys the edible portion) we went up to Sterling College on their first week of classes, parked the truck at the dinning hall, cut, scooped and served yummy melon to everyone. We couldn't stand to let them all go to waste. We did it last year at Sterling too and now everyone is waiting for Melon Feed '05. On a harder note, with the continual rain we are seeing more diseases than in past years and are really seeing the need for breeding for disease resistance. A very long range project.
(Alburg) At this time last year we had picked almost 1100 pints of raspberries, so far this season we've picked less than 450 pints. The late berries are coming on strong, Polana is loaded but there is a lot of rot on the tips of the berries. If we don't get some good weather soon we won't get much harvest off Heritage. Because of the berry rot we have to inspect every fruit and we throw a lot away. We've increased pick-your-own hours since the quality is not there for pre-picked. We got no squash this year and hardly any pumpkins. It's hard to keep my spirits up.
(Brandon) We have beautiful late corn, should come in late this month, except the Lancelot is all lying on the ground. Otherwise the storms haven't hurt us much. Corn earworm pressure has been variable, just a few, then catching a lot of moths when storms go through. Just up the road a grower hasn't caught any moths. I guess they come here first and stay to eat. Spintor has been keeping the corn clean. Pumpkins are not numerous but huge, just sprained my back lifting one. We gave them a lot more room this year, the fruit are nicer. Winter squash didn't germinate well so I don't have any - tilled the field in. Late plantings of cucumbers and summer squash look nice but sizing up slow with short days and cool nights. Not much cucumber beetle anymore. I found a lot less scab and rhizoc on potatoes where I used bagged chicken manure fertilizer in spring compared to past years when I applied aged cow manure the fall before. Onion yields have been excellent. Crops on well-drained land have yielded well, on my heavy land crops have suffered. Business is little off since Labor Day but that's par for the course.
(Argyle NY) Most crops have been doing good despite several wet periods. The onion crop went down early with some downy mildew, but leeks, carrots, and spinach doing great. The celery loved all the rain and now we're working at getting cover crops planted between the raindrops, and catching up on cultivation. The farmers' markets continue to stay very strong and we are glad for our high diversity of crops for stability. The season is zooming by and we look forward to November with fewer markets and more rest!
NEW AND IMPROVED UVM SOIL TESTS
(Don Ross, UVM Ag Testing Lab)
Effective September 1, 2004 the UVM soil test lab has expanded the types of soil tests provided in the routine analysis - at no extra charge! Organic matter will now be reported on all samples. Micronutrients will be reported on all samples including iron (Fe), boron (B), manganese (Mn), and copper (Cu). We do not have optimum levels for these nutrients but we do provide average values for Vermont soils. Sulfur (S) will now be reported for all soils. We do not yet have recommendations or an optimum level for S. We will now be reporting base saturation, similar to the estimates provided by other soil testing labs. This will be the percent saturation of calcium, magnesium and potassium that we estimate would occur at pH 6.8. In summary, results will include pH, lime requirement, organic matter, available phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, boron, manganese, copper, zinc, % base saturation and fertility recommendations. Soil tests for horticultural crops still cost only $10 per sample. If you have questions call the lab, 802-656-3030 or 800-244-6402, or visit http://pss.uvm.edu/ag_testing/
LOCAL GROWERS OFFER BULK SEED BUYING SERVICE
(Mike Collins and Pete Johnson)
We are two organic Vermont vegetable farmers frustrated with the high cost of seed. We understand that seed companies have overheads and need to charge substantial markups in order to make a profit, but we feel there is a better way for experienced growers to get the seed they need at affordable prices. We've decided to start a seed bulk-buying service, called Organic Seed Services of Vermont. We will save you money by limiting our overhead. We will not carry an inventory of seed. We will not hire someone to answer the phone. We will not be opened year round. We estimate this will save 30 to 40% on your seed cost.
Both of us are small growers, producing greenhouse tomatoes, mixed vegetables and salad greens. Growers of our size are caught in the middle when it comes to buying seed. Too small to negotiate reasonable prices through seed brokers, we often pay the same price as the home gardener. Organic Seed Services of Vermont will offer organic and conventional seeds in quantities appropriate for growers of our size at prices seen only by large farms. We are not serving home-gardeners. We offer more organic varieties than you'll see in most seed catalogues.
To guarantee the availability of the most popular varieties you need to reserve your seed as soon as possible. Seed companies are buying their seed for the 2005 growing season now. You can order through us anytime this Fall. The final order deadline is in early January, but availability may be questionable at later dates. Our price list and order form are at www.organicseeds.cjb.net If you have questions, e-mail email@example.com. If you need to talk, send an email with your phone number and good time to call, we will get back to you. If you don't have e-mail, write to: Michael Collins, 463 Daigel Rd., Putney Vermont 05346.
RASPBERRY FALL CHECKLIST
(Adapted from Sonia Schloemann, UMass Extension)
Encourage hardening off of canes in summer bearing varieties by avoiding nitrogen fertilizers. Do not remove spent floricanes until later in the winter unless they are significantly infected with disease. 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. Do a weed survey and map of problem areas, so that you can use this information do develop an effective management strategy. Fall bearing raspberries can suffer fruit rot problems due to increased moisture present in the planting. Frequent harvesting and cull harvesting are the best practices. Thinning canes in dense plantings can also help.Now is the time to check plantings for crown borers. Adults of this pest look like very large yellow jacket, but is actually a moth. They are active in the field in August and September laying eggs. Scout the fields for crown borer 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 (phytophthora) or the presence of a crown borer larvae in the crown. Rogue out infested crowns and eliminate wild bramble near the planting, since they will harbor more of this pest.
GET YOUR SWEET CORN FIELDS READY FOR NEXT YEAR
(David Handley, UMaine Extension)
1. Plow down corn stalks and stubble to destroy overwintering larvae
of European corn borer.
2. Plant a cover crop, such as winter rye, to prevent soil erosion and add organic matter to soil.
3. Take a soil test to determine if lime or other nutrients should be applied.
4. Plan to rotate your crops to prevent pests from building up in any one location.
5. Evaluate your weed management results. What worked well and what didn't? Which weed species were the biggest problems? How can you improve control next year?
CAMBODIA GROUP SEEKS ORGANIC VEGETABLE ADVISOR
A short-term technical advisor is needed to work with a small non-governmental organization (NGO) based just outside of the town of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The NGO's goal is to promote organic crop production to reduce poverty in Cambodia. They provide training and technical assistance to Cambodian farmers through a rural community network. An agricultural center has been established to research new crop technology and serve as a demonstration farm. It is equipped with modern technologies for crop cultivation - tractor, sprinkler and drip irrigation, steel-framed greenhouses, sun screens. Over 100 families are involved in the project, which helps farmers with the production, certification and marketing strategies of organic vegetables. Markets include local 4 and 5 star hotels. Activities of the demonstration farm include new crop research, development of a seed bank, a biogas demonstration project and bee keeping. Funding of the project comes through international grants, individual donors, and the sale of specialty products. The concept of organic farming is radically new to Cambodia. For years during and after the Pol Pot Regime and the Vietnamese occupation, growing food any way possible was the prime focus for a starving population. Pesticides were used liberally and many old ways of farming were forgotten.
We are seeking a person with agriculture knowledge and experience and good communication skills that is interested in new and challenging work. While Siem Reap has become a tourist town (Angkor Wat temple ruins are just 4 miles to the north) with many convenient tourist services, most of Cambodia remains poverty stricken and desperately in need. Basic English is spoken. Length of stay 2 to 4 weeks or longer, best time to go is Nov-Jan. Expenses paid, housing and meals provided. Stipend commensurate with skills and funding. Please contact Dr. Robert Nassau or Nancy Storrow at: 802-387-5740 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME UPCOMING MEETINGS (for full list: www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry, click on meetings)
Farmer to Farmer Conference. Nov. 5 - 7. Bar Harbor, ME.
See www.mofga.org or phone 207-568-4142
Soul of Agriculture Conference: Linking Agriculture and Nutrition.
Nov. 7 - 9, UNH campus, Durham NH. See www.sustainableunh.unh.edu
or phone 603-862-5040.
Restoring Our Seeds Conference, Dec. 4 - 5, Brattleboro, Vermont. See: www.growseed.org or phone: 207 872 9092
VT Vegetable and Berry Grower Assn. Farm show meeting: Jan. 26, 2005. Barre.
VT Vegetable and Berry Grower Assn Annual Meeting. Feb 15, 2005. Rutland. Stayed tuned.
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