VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY NEWS, October 15, 2002
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 or vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu
www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD (as of October 15)
This is the final set of reports for this season - thanks to all contributors!

(Burlington) I feel very lucky to have had a very good year in general. After starting slow the crops really took off in the summer heat. Besides a low yield in the winter squash (too little irrigation in the dry of August maybe?), many other crops were bountiful, and sold well. We have had a beautiful extended  fall with pleasant warm weather. In many ways I am ready for that strong killing frost...let's put the season to bed...I am tired.

(Starksboro) Though our season is far from over, the growing is done, and it's been a good year. We did remarkably little spraying this year for both insects and diseases. I have to credit our IPM efforts for this. Our scouting to see if and when spraying was needed at all that had the greatest effect. It's also possible that efforts to find alternatives to spraying are paying off. We gave particular attention to nitrogen sidedressing in the tomatoes and I think the healthier foliage resisted leaf diseases. It may also be that after 22 years of B.t. use on cole crops we've developed a strong native population of beneficials. I guess the good year's due to a little experience plus a lot of luck.

(Plainfield NH) The season goes whizzing by and pretty soon we are back in long underwear. Sales in 2002 were strong both in bedding plants and small fruit and vegetables. Because it was so challenging (prolonged early cold followed by intense mid summer heat and dryness) the season was hard on home gardeners as well and I think that translated into sales for us- they have no extra beans and zucchini to give away. We ventured into the H2A program and got two great individuals whom we will try to get again next year. We invested in a single row Reigi weeder that  works very well and reduces hand hoeing of single row crops. We are finally conceding to global warming and putting out 75 peach trees. If they make it and fruit 2 out of 4 years they will be worth the investment. If the winter is so cold it whacks them then maybe it will be cold enough to reduce some of the overwintering insect pests we have been seeing in large numbers the last couple of years: squash bugs, striped cucumber beetles, Colorado potato beetles, and first generation corn borer.

(Fairfax) Not a year to remember. But the nice thing about diversity is that some things did well and some didn't. It took a long time for crops to get going and then if I wasn't on top of irrigating they didn't produce. It was a mediocre strawberry year as a result of the heat and rain during harvest. It was a bad squash year with poor fruit set, some bacterial wilt and small size. The pumpkin crop was only about 15% of what I expect, winter squash about 40%. Those things you ignore come back to haunt you. It was an excellent bedding plant year, sales keep going up every year. I had a great pepper crop and the carrot crop looks good, too.

(Westminster) Final harvest of the corn, beans and squash in our 3 Sisters' planting (funded by a SARE farmer-grower grant) has begun this week. The corn and beans are in various stages of drying. After the corn is dry, it will be ground into corn meal. We plan to package arrangements of the Three Sisters around Thanksgiving.

(Argyle, NY) Our 2002 season will continue with farmers markets until November 23rd. Overall is has been a great season. Sales at local farmers' markets continue to increase every year. Our new system of harvesting leaves of spinach instead of the entire plant was a huge success, selling it in about 1/3 pound bags for $2. We learned not to plant in a field that doesn't have irrigation set up (especially with onions)!  It the worse year we've ever seen for cucumber beetles and squash bugs, possibly due to the warm winter.  Flea beetles were also having a party out there!  Succession planting helped somewhat. Wonderful workers made for a  good season, but the fall harvest of new crops (kale, rutabagas, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, turnips, etc.) has just begun, so we have 6 weeks of intense markets and work before we get that very needed winter rest!

DON'T PRUNE BLUEBERRIES TOO EARLY (Dave Handley, UMaine Extension)

Studies by Robert Gough in Rhode Island showed that pruning too early in the fall appears to short circuit plant dormancy in some varieties and can lead to increased risk of winter injury.  Fall pruning also caused plants to flower significantly earlier the following spring, increasing the risk of frost damage. Here in the north, I recommend that growers wait until the plants are fully dormant, i.e. late December, before starting to prune. Most wait until March, when the snow cover is out of the way.  If a labor schedule won't allow for late winter/early spring pruning, then growers should wait as late into the fall as they possibly can.

UNEXPECTED RASPBERRY FLOWERING IN FALL (from Bill Lord, UNH Extension)

Often dry, hot summers mimic the winter chill requirement plants have, allowing buds to force if temperatures in autumn are warm enough.  I have seen numerous fall blooming oddities over the years. This fall we have seen blooming lilacs as well as apples. Raspberry is especially likely to respond. If some primocanes on summer-fruiting varieties have flowered, tip them back to remove spent blossoms.

MAINE REPORTS MIXED ZEA-LATER RESULTS (Dave Handley UMaine Extension)

A note of caution regarding the report of good results with the Zealator: In our research plots and at a grower site this year it clearly wasn't adequate when earworm and armyworm pressure was high over an extended period.  It seemed especially poor at handling late infestations of fall armyworm which entered the ears right through the treated silk channels.

WHY FARMERS SUCCEED

It's worth re-visiting an article written several years ago by Susan Butler in the North American Strawberry Growers Assn. newsletter that summarized important characteristics of successful farmers. Here are a few. They know their actual costs. They know how to control their costs. They keep accurate financial and production records. They approach their enterprises as profit managers not asset accumulators. They recognize their weakness as financial experts and get reliable support in this area. They don't tolerate assets that don't produce. They keep their level of risk under control. They plan ahead. In short, the most consistently successful ag operators are executives - they spend time learning, thinking, analyzing and planning. They're information seekers always looking for reliable advice and guidance.

FARMER TO FARMER CONFERENCE

November 1 -3, Atlantic Oakes-By-the-Sea, Bar Harbor ME
Food Quality, Seedling Production, Onions, Poultry, Flowers, Cover Crops, Farm Labor, Mechanical Weed Control, Grazing and more. Contact Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners. (207) 568-4142 or mofga@mofga.org

NORTH COUNTRY VEGETABLE, FLOWER AND FRUIT SEMINAR

November 6, Cabot Motor Inn, Route 2 East, Lancaster NH. 2 pesticide credits. Program: New Approaches to Old Pest Problems; Weed Control in Small Fruits, Cover Crops for IPM; Direct Farm Marketing and Merchandising; Weed Control Machines; How Compost Fits Into Fertilization. Registration $9 by Nov.1 or $15 at door. Contact: Steve Tuarj, Coos County Extension, 629A Main St., Lancaster NH 03584. (603) 788-4961

NEW ENGLAND VEGETABLE AND BERRY GROWERS MEETING
November 9, Portsmouth NH, Comfort Inn. Contact: Dom Marini (508) 378-2546

TRI-STATE GREENHOUSE IPM WORKSHOP

January15, 2003. UVM Entomology Research Laboratory, Spear St., Burlington, VT.
"On-Site Testing for Diseases and pH, and IPM for Herbs." 6 pesticide credits. Call Margaret Skinner at 802-656-5440 for more information. The program: On-site Disease Testing: Focus on Tospovirus and Western Flower Thrips; pH Management for New Vegetative Material Using the Pour-thru Method; IPM for Herbs - Mites and Aphids: Recognition, Prevention & Remedies; IPM for Herbs -  Powdery Mildew, Botrytis and Fusarium: Recognition, Prevention & Remedies; What Does a Professional Scout Do?; Do Western Flower Thrips Survive Northern Winters?

ECOLOGICAL CUT FLOWER GROWING WORKSHOP
January 10 to12, 2003, and

ORGANIC VEGETABLE FARMING SYSTEMS FROM SEED TO MARKET
January 31 to February 2, 2003. Both at Ballston Spa, near Saratoga Springs, NY. Contact the Regional Farm & Food Project, (518) 427-6537 or farmfood@capital.net

VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY GROWERS ASSN. ANNUAL MEETING
February 11, Holiday Inn, Rutland VT. Stay Turned.

NEW ENGLAND DIRECT MARKETING CONFERENCE & TRADE SHOW
March 12-13, 2003. Holiday Inn Boxborough Woods, Boxborough, Mass
Contact: Charlie Touchette, (413) 529-9100 or info@massfarmstands.com

RETURN TO VERMONT VEGETABLE AND BERRY PAGE