October 15, 1998
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 verng@sover.net

I haven't heard from anyone who doesn't want to receive the American Vegetable Grower or American Fruit Grower. So, I am going to send the publishers of these two magazines the membership list of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association and request subscriptions for all the members. We can add or subtract peoples names at any time. We will consider the next few months a trial period, and when memberships come up for renewal in January we'll have a check off for which magazines you'd like to continue receiving.

The first serious frosts coincided with our stand closing early in October. It's been an extremely mild fall thus far. First time in 13 years that we have fully cropped Heritage fall raspberries and field tomatoes. Sales of cole crops and potatoes in cello bags brisk along with the usual pumpkins, squash etc. made for a stronger than normal finish. Very dry soil here. Last cultivation for weeds and removal of solid set irrigation from strawberries taking place. Soil tests done and all the cover crops are on. Hoping that all the juicy plastic and tomato stakes will go away without my help, but I don't think so. (W. Lebanon)

I like to have all my rye seeded by October 15th and thank goodness we had some cool weather in early October to slow down the broccoli and cauliflower so we've had a chance to get this job done. Now it's a race with the first snow fall to get all the late crops in. I usually figure I have until about November 10th. I'm still keeping one nervous eye out for caterpillars in the late broccoli should we turn up a long stretch of warm weather. (Starksboro)

Late blight came in on potatoes in mid-July and eventually wiped out most of the foliage this year. I kept spraying copper every 5 to 7 days so it lasted to early September but harvest is severely reduced, to about 25% of normal. Staked tomatoes were nearby but frequent applications of copper and prompt removal of the few plants that looked infected stopped the disease from getting going so we got a good harvest - they were early and kept coming although it was a race against Septoria leaf spot on the older tissue and keeping the new tissue protected with copper and sidedressing with nitrogen to keep them growing despite all the rain. Having them staked and tied up really helps because it promotes air movement and makes them easier to spray and harvest since we could drive right down the rows. Eggplant next to the potatoes was also kept protected with copper and yields were great - it looked like beans so many fruit were hanging down. (Castleton)

I'm farming in the frost-free twilight zone of Long Island bay. Still picking zukes and cukes with floating row covers at the ready on the sides of the fields. Best fall tomato crop we have ever had with Sunpride (beautiful looking large fruit but no taste) also a hell of a crop of Sungold planted

July21st! I am seriously thinking of planting three distinct plantings of cherry tomatoes for organic wholesale next year. Broccoli succumbed to a bad bout of brown head rot even after repeated applications of Kocide. Does anyone know if boron deficiency plays any part in this disease? (See below.) Fall root crops doing well. Last fall crops of lettuce etc. going into walk-in tunnels tomorrow. We are trying to grow sunbright sunflowers in our shut-down greenhouse tomato houses for the Thanksgiving holiday. Seed started in 72 plug trays on Sept 1st.- A shot in the dark-stay tuned. (Little Compton, RI)

The ice storm and wet weather caused loss of 75% of my newly planted raspberries this year (2,000 plants). About 60% of the 6-year old plants, which had a bumper crop last year, were lost (about 1,000 plants). They started out great in the spring and then they started dying back probably due to severe winter injury after an open winter without snow cover. I did not have many pests, and no sprays at all were needed this year. The crop I did get was excellent. Fall varieties really did well. There's always next year. (Waltham)

It was an enormous blueberry crop this year, but it was hard to get pickers because the weather was so wet. Harvest started early and ended normally. It's been mild for the last three winters so the crops have been good. Price has been the same for the last 10 years. Even though nobody complains we don't go up since none of the other growers do and there's too much competition. (Richmond)

The marketability of broccoli heads can be reduced by several factors which cause similar looking problems and are sometime hard to distinguish. Boron (B) deficiency in broccoli first appears as a browning of individual florets in the head, then water-soaked areas appear on the stem which later discolor and move upward into the head. Brown bead or brown bud is another physiological disorder. It is associated with rapid growth during high temperatures after periods of abundant rainfall. Floral buds turn black or brown and easily detach. Hollow stem is yet another disorder, which can also result during very rapid growth. It is promoted by wide plant spacing, excessive nitrogen and high temperatures. The hollow portion of the interior of the stem or head may eventually collapse or crack. Plants deficient in B may show similar symptoms, but the interior tissues will also be darkened.

Unlike the problems described so far, head rot is caused by a pathogen, in this case a bacterium (Erwinia or Pseudomonas) that infect broccoli florets, usually after periods of rain or other conditions that keep the heads wet for several days. Insects such as tarnished plant bug or flea beetle may cause wounds on the florets that allow the bacteria to enter more easily. Initially the symptoms appear as water-soaked areas that may also have small black lesions, then the decay spreads into larger sunken areas and finally the heads may turn to mush.

Recommendations: if you think you have low soil B, test soil for micronutrients before growing broccoli. If B level is below .35 ppm, apply 3 lb/acre actual B (15 lb Solubor, or 27 lb Borax). If level is between .35 and .70 ppm, apply 1.5 ppm B. In general, if you do not think you have B deficiency problems or you don't do micronutrient testing, apply 1 lb/ acre actual B prior to growing crucifers. Avoid excessive N levels by estimating the contribution from cover crops and manures before applying fertilizers to meet the needs of broccoli (about 160 lb/acre of N). Use production practices that promote rapid drying of the heads such as orienting rows in the direction of the prevailing wind and selection of cultivars with domed heads that grow up above the above the foliage. Scout for insect pests once heads start to form, and if necessary apply controls before extensive feeding occurs.

As the growing season winds down, it will soon be time to gear up for spring planting. Growers should be aware of up?coming educational opportunities to help tackle their pest problems. The Tri?state Greenhouse Integrated Pest Management Program, an initiative between Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, was started in 1995 to encourage growers to use IPM for production of greenhouse ornamentals and bedding plants. Education is a major focus of this program. An all?day workshop will be held on January 7, 1999 in Burlington. Similar workshops will also be held in Durham, New Hampshire on January 6 and in Maine on January 5. These workshops are ideal for greenhouse growers of bedding plants, ornamental potted plants and vegetables, as well as extension specialists and professional pest managers. For more information call Margaret Skinner, Univ. of VT Entomology Research Lab, 802?656?5440, or e-mail: mskinner@zoo.uvm.edu.