December 1, 1999
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967

A Reminder: pre-registrations for the New England Vegetable and Berry Conference and Trade Show (Dec. 14-16) must be received by Dec. 6. You can also register at the door, but that increases the fee by $10 per person.

Reducing Microbial Risks in Fruits and Vegetables Grown in the Northeast.
December 13, 1999; 12 pm-5 pm at the Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge, MA
A Northeast team of extension and research specialists has developed this program to address food safety concerns. Registration is $10, payable at the door. Please pre-register via email ( or phone (607-255-1780) by December 9 to assure you will receive a copy of the supplementary educational materials. This interactive workshop will provide growers with information about contamination of raw produce with harmful micro-organisms during growing, harvesting, and processing, and the principles of safe food handling and processing.

3-Day Advanced Organic Workshop.
January 14-16, Saratoga 4-H Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Featuring 3 of the mid-west's premier organic growers, Richard DeWilde, David Washburn and Steve Pincus, this workshop will offer insights into successful production, marketing and management systems. The fee includes 5 meals and is a on sliding scale of $90-$200. Low cost accommodations are available. Farmers interested in transition to organic are encouraged to attend. Sponsored by the Regional Farm and Food Project, 148 Central Ave, Albany NY 12206. Phone (518) 427-6537.

Garlic Grower's Round Table
January 28, 10-3, South Royalton House, S. Royalton VT.
Featuring David Stern of the Garlic Seed Foundation. Stay tuned for the stink on this one.

(Adapted from T.E Bates, University of Guelph)

The effect of pH on plant growth can be very large but is usually indirect through biological and chemical factors. Acid sandy soils are low in magnesium and frequently in calcium. Calcium is the most important neutralizing element. As calcium and magnesium are depleted by leaching and plant uptake, hydrogen and aluminum ions become more prevalent, and the soil becomes acid. Phosphorus in soils is commonly considered to be most available at pH values near 6.5, with the availability decreasing at both lower and higher pH values. However, soil test fertilizer and crop response studies indicate that even many of the high pH soils (up to pH 7.9) contain adequate amounts of plant available phosphorus.

Aluminum, iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc are more available to plants in acid than in neutral or slightly alkaline soils. When a soil is made less acid (more alkaline) by liming, the availability of manganese in particular can decrease substantially. It is therefore important not to apply more lime than necessary. Iron, manganese, zinc, copper and boron are essential to plant growth, but are required in very small amounts. If deficient, they reduce yield. In acid soils, manganese may be toxic and result in reduced crop yields. Aluminum is not needed for plant growth and in acid soils it can be quite toxic to plants. Molybdenum is one element essential for plants which is more available in alkaline (high pH) soils.

Soils are alkaline when they are high in basic ions, mainly calcium and magnesium and to a lesser extent potassium and sodium. As leaching removes calcium, magnesium and potassium from soils over hundreds or thousands of years the natural trend is for soils to become more acid. The addition of acid forming fertilizers, chiefly nitrogen, greatly increases the rate at which soils become acid.

There have been frequent occurrences of low pH spots in farm fields in where the average pH of the field indicates no lime required. These areas usually occur where there are course?textured (sandy) spots in fields that are predominantly fine textured (clay or clay loam). Soil tests should be made every 2 to 3 years to check pH, as well as fertility levels. Where the soil texture is not uniform in a field, the coarser?textured areas (or any problem areas) should be sampled separately.

To correct soil acidity ground limestone should be broadcast and worked into the soil at rates determined by soil test. The lime is expected to last for at least 5 and commonly 10 years. Lime is not effective unless it is mixed with the soil. It should be applied evenly and worked in 15 cm (6 inches) deep. If the soil is tilled to a greater depth than 15 cm proportionately more lime is required to reach the same target soil pH. Where tillage depths are reduced, rates of lime application should be reduced proportionately, and more frequent liming will be needed.

SHALLOT PRODUCTION (adapted from Oregon State Extension)

Shallots are normally propagated from bulb divisions. In addition, true seed of shallots is now available in both red and yellow types. French Red Shallot - red type is the most common dry shallot grown. Other yellow or white varieties include Griselle, Chicken Leg Shallot, and Dutch Yellow, but only the red shallot is important in the market. In 1992, a seed company in the Netherlands specializing in onions and shallots released the first "true shallot seed". These are grown similarly to onions but at closer spacings of about 30-35 plants per foot of row, with rows 10-15 inches apart. True-seed varieties for trial: Red: Atlas, Ambition, Matador, Prizma. Yellow: Bonilla, Creation

Spring plantings may be made anytime the soil can be made ready for planting. Plant 3-4 bulbs per foot and space rows 18-24 inches apart. Plant the sets 1 inch deep and root plate down if possible. However, adequate yields can be obtained from randomly dropping the planting stock. Use 200-300 lb of planting stock per acre. Choose only clean, disease-free bulbs for planting stock. Plant the smaller bulbs to obtain larger bulbs for market. When large bulbs are used for planting stock, they divide more and produce more small bulbs. Adjust planting sizes to meet your marketing requirements.

Sandy loam or loam soils are preferred, but shallots have been successfully produced on a wide range of soils. The following are general fertilizer recommendations. It is advisable to use a soil test for each field to be planted. Nitrogen: Apply 60-90 lb N/acre in spring. Phosphorus: 75-100 (P2O5) lb/acre. All P should be banded and applied at planting. Potassium: 50-100 (K2O) lb/acre.

Shallots are shallow rooted and benefit from frequent irrigation. Reduce irrigation as bulbs reach marketable size to reduce disease problems and facilitate curing. Soil type does not affect the amount of total water needed, but does dictate frequency of water application. Lighter soils need more frequent water applications, but less water applied per application.

Shallots may yield approximately 9-12 tons per acre. Harvest shallots when bulbs are fully mature, well colored, and 1-2 inches in diameter. Allow to cure in sacks, or bins, or under cover. Bulbs may be lifted by machine. Shallots are usually hand cleaned, topped and put into bags or bins for storage after the necks and bulbs are well cured. Shallots store well at temperatures of 32-35 F and 60-70% relative humidity. Because of their small size, shallots tend to pack closely; so they should not be place into deep piles. Store shallots on slatted crates or trays that allow good air movement in and around the bulbs. This is important to remove excessive moisture and to minimize storage diseases. Low relative humidity and low temperature are important to keep shallots sound and dormant and free from sprouting and root growth. At humidities above 70% and warmer temperatures (40 to 50 F) shallots will sprout, develop roots, and decay more rapidly. With good air flow and humidity control, shallots should store for 8 to 10 months.

A GROWER'S LAMENT: "of course we are all done growing here but I am putting up a new greenhouse. This one is bigger than the last. It seems there is more money to be made in the flower business than food. A customer once told me $1.25 was too much for a head of lettuce. He then proceeded to buy 2 hanging baskets for $16 each. The only crops I can grow with good profit are corn, beets, squash and tomatoes. It seems, sometimes, that the rest of the stuff I grow is for the convenience of the customer. I would be interested if other growers, that count their time, have similar thoughts." (Replies to the are editor invited)