REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of Sept. 25)
(Plainfield) Harvest madness. Late lettuce has been strong, lots of oriental greens and daikon . Tomatoes finally kicking in, both outdoors and in the greenhouse. Downy mildew on the Chinese cabbage, hope to sell it all before it gets bad. Last sting bean planting did not make it, late corn struggling to fill out ears. Good pie pumpkin and acorn squash yields, jack o'lantern and all other squashes down quite a bit. Just starting to dig carrots. Frost any minute.
(Starksboro) We have a lot of cole crops at this time of year, and keeping up sprays is important to a good crop. However, since the weather is fairly cool the cabbage worms are not hatching or maturing very rapidly. Keeping a watchful eye now is more important than in August or early September. At those times I know I'll have to spray regularly, but now with fluctuating warm and cool weather it's hard to know when they'll make a break for it and turn into an expensive problem with worms up under the broccoli heads.
(Wilmington) Blueberry picking finally ended on Sept. 6 for us. Mums, ornamental kale and cabbage moving well. Trying to get the fields cleaned up and flower beds weeded for the last time, and starting to think about wreaths! Looking for hand made wreaths wholesale if you have some available contact me at 802-464-5618 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Shelburne) I'm still picking ever-bearing strawberries here. No frost as yet. Berries are bigger and sweeter than ever but demand attention every day to counter our near-daily rains.
(Charlotte) All things going well for this time of year. Could use a little more rain to size up the last of the lettuce. Greenhouse peppers going strong and most colored. Tomatoes slowing down a bit. Never seen such large potatoes for our clay soil. Did a dig sample of about 40 feet in four different varieties. Chieftan out classed all the others 2 to 1 by weight.
(W. Rutland) All done with harvest. Pumpkins mostly gone, winter squash slow mover. Rye coming up nicely; two fields left to plant.
(W. Arlington) I have avoided our pumpkin patch all fall, but with the threat of a killing frost we finally went in. We had set out 600 plants, and cultivated until they started to vine. At that point we left them alone. They had many blossoms all summer. This evening we picked up 40 pumpkins. Winter squash in the same field did well. The only difference was that the squash was on black plastic. My thought was lack of nitrogen from leaching with all the rain affected the pumpkins, but the plastic prevented the same thing with the squash. Our corn was late and full of ear worms. What a dismal summer.
BEET ROT PROBLEM (from Washington County, NY, Extension)
One farm appears to have had a high amount of pocket rot on their beets. Pocket rot is a Rhizoctonia rot that is usually found in the crown and fleshy root of the beet. The rot is characteristic because it is a dry dark brown to black rot. Heavy, poorly drained soils, or wet areas where water collects favor the disease. In warm moist weather the disease will spread from plant to plant causing large areas (pockets) of dead, diseased plants. Planting beets following legumes in a rotation can increase severity. Rotation with non-host crops such as grains (corn) is best. Treated seed, minimizing soil on the crowns during cultivation and good crop debris sanitation help control pocket rot.
MANAGING SOIL COMPACTION (adapted from Nebraska Extension)
It's been a wet year in Vermont and soils have often had to be worked when wet, promoting compaction, which can reduce future crop growth. Nature has some built-in processes that reduce soil compaction. They include cycles of wetting and drying, and freezing and thawing. Performing field operations on wet soils, growing the same crop continuously, and eliminating sod crops from rotations make it more difficult for nature to rejuvenate the soil and over time can lead to extensive and deep compaction. Here are some strategies that help minimize soil compaction, though they require a bit of planning to implement.
1) Add organic matter to the soil in the form of crop residues, animal manure or green manure crops. Organic matter promotes the development of good soil structure and decreases soil bulk density. It helps bind soil particles together as aggregates that are not as easily compressed by tillage or wheel traffic. 2) Rotate row crops with alfalfa, clover or grasses which reduce compaction because there generally is no tillage after seeding, trips across the field tend to be associated with hay harvesting when the soil is dry, and extensive root systems help keeps the soil more porous. Annual cover crops such as sorghum-Sudangrass also help alleviate compaction. 3) Perform field operations in your driest fields first. In years when field operations have to be conducted when the soil is still wet, minimize axle load and/or increase tire size to reduce the depth to which compactive forces penetrate. 4) Control wheel traffic by keeping all equipment tires restricted to particular roadways or row middles in the field. 5) Leave a greater amount of residues on the soil surface in order to intercept raindrops and thus prevent surface sealing, a form of compaction. 6) Alter tillage depth in different years to minimize the development of a ‘tillage pan' or compacted zone. 7) Deep tillage may be warranted if soil compaction is limiting yield. Subsoiling or other tillage to alleviate compaction should be needed only when crop roots have been inspected visually and shown to be restricted by a compacted zone. If compaction occurs in the top six to eight inches of the soil, a chisel plow or moldboard plow can be used to shatter the compacted layer. However, if compaction is below about eight to ten inches, tillage tools such as a subsoiler, ripper or paraplow may be needed. Many types of subsoilers are available. Most are chisel-like tools having curved or straight shanks. Each shank will require at least 20 to 30 PTO horsepower for deep tillage. The subsoiling depth should be about 50 percent deeper than the compacted layer, and that the shank spacing be equal to the tillage depth for greatest shattering. This tillage should be performed in the late summer or fall when the entire soil profile is fairly dry and can be shattered easily.
GARLIC PLANTING AND STORAGE (adapted from Ontario Ministry of Ag.)
Prior to planting garlic, adjust soil pH to 6.0 - 7.5. Levels below 6.0 have resulted in winter injury, poor plant vigor, reduced plant stands and yield reduction. The organic matter content of the soil should be built up before planting by applying well-rotted manure or by plowing down a green manure crop. Then the soil should be worked deep enough to present a consistent planting medium that allows easy insertion of cloves into the soil.
Garlic seed stock should be stored as whole bulbs until shortly before planting, since cloves separated from the parent bulb deteriorate more rapidly than whole bulbs. Break apart or ‘crack' the bulbs just prior to planting. Dry bulbs are more easily broken apart into cloves than damp bulbs. Either hand or mechanical equipment is commonly used to break the bulbs apart. However, there is greater potential for physical damage to cloves when using mechanical cracking devices. Any damaged or diseased cloves should not be planted. Many garlic seed treatments intended for crop protection and disease reduction have been tested. To date, no registered seed treatments have proven to give consistent beneficial results. The most consistent success has been achieved by planting healthy, damage- and disease-free planting stock.
The optimum planting date is between September and November (Oct is
good in Vermont).
The amount of planting material required will vary from 700 - 1000 lb/acre, depending upon the weight of individual cloves planted and the spacing used. The average number of cloves within each bulb varies from less than 8 to greater than 15 depending upon the strain of garlic. Space cloves of small-bulbed strains as close as 3 inches apart, while large-bulbed strains will require as much as 5 inches between plants. Spacing between rows will depend on the method of planting and cultivation. Single or multiple rows of plants are commonly used, with spacing between rows generally not less than 8 inches. Plant cloves so that the top of the clove is about 2 inches deep. Cloves planted too shallow are prone to injury during the winter and early spring. Hand planting is the traditional method of planting garlic, however, several imported mechanical planters are now in use. Various home-built or modified mechanical planters have been tried with only moderate success.
Garlic grows well on fertile soils. The soil P and K levels should be determined by a soil test, and if needed, P and K should be broadcast followed by shallow incorporation into the soil before fall planting. The total amount of N required will vary by field and management history, but garlic will generally require 70 - 125 lb/acre. A small amount of N can be applied in the fall, half of the fertilizer N should be applied as soon as the garlic begins to grow in early spring; the remainder should be split into 2 to 3 applications at 3-week intervals, no later than 4 to 6 weeks before harvest. The preferred sources of nitrogen are calcium or ammonium nitrate. Applications of urea should be avoided due to potential plant injury. Organic growers can use blood meal.
For maximum storage life, garlic should be properly cured and stored at 32 degrees F and 60 to 70% relative humidity. Higher humidity promotes development of Penicillin mold and root growth, which is undesirable. Adequate air circulation and breathable storage containers are important to remove transpired heat and moisture. As storage temperatures are increased above 32 degrees, the rate of bulb weight loss also increases. Storage life under appropriate conditions is 5 to 8 months depending upon the strain of garlic.
VT-NH SMALL FRUIT SCHOOL PLANNED
Mark your calendars with the date: March 6, 2001. Featuring Drs. Marvin Pritts of Cornell and Bill Lord of UNH. Location to be determined, probably the WRJ/W. Lebanon area.