Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 or

MARKETING 101 (adapted from Univ. of Wisconsin)

Marketing is an attitude and orientation towards your customers that puts the customer first. By ensuring you are doing what the customer wants, needs, and expects; you will have repeat business. In order to market any product successfully, you must have a product desired by the public; you must develop an effective marketing plan; and you must make good use of promotion.

There are six common marketing mistakes that business entrepreneurs often make. The first is the failure to develop a suitable competitive advantage. The second is to focus on the product or service instead of the benefit of the product. The third mistake is a failure to define the target market. Mistake number four is underestimating the competition. The fifth marketing mistake is having an excessive optimism about the idea, product, or service so that short comings or pitfalls are not recognized. The last mistake is the establishment of prices without knowing the effect on the demand.

An understanding of why customers buy as they do is important in the establishment of a marketing plan. The reasons people shop at a particular store are: (1) convenience, (2) variety of selection, (3) quality of goods, (4) courtesy of sales people, (5) integrity and reputation for fairness in dealings, (6) services offered such as credit or return of goods, and (7) prices.

(Adapted from an article by Rod Hawkes, Cornell University, via UMass Extension)

Loyal customers can be more profitable, especially over their lifetime, than customers who switch stores on a regular basis.  Therefore, it makes sense to identify and nurture a store’s best customers, while trying to increase the loyalty of the rest of the store’s customer base.

Modern food retailers usually treat all customers as if they were equally important (i.e. profitable) to the company. Customers who only purchase a few items are treated the same as customers who purchase the majority of their food in one store. But some retailers understand that as little as 30 percent of their customers may account for as much as 80 percent of their sales. Obviously, all customers are not created equal! Food retailers need to think about how to manage their biggest asset, customers, by rewarding the best customers for their loyalty.

This may be an area where small stores, farm stands, and farmer’s markets have a distinct advantage over their giant competitors. Smaller operations often already enjoy a more intimate relationship with their customers that can be enhanced and solidified through attention to customer needs and service.

Small size and local ownership are attractive for a growing segment of shoppers across most demographic groups.  Evidence of this trend is found in the parallel movement of major retail chains to build smaller stores, incorporate local and regional products, and to become more involved in supporting activities in each store’s local community, among many other things. On the consumer side, recent events have caused more concern about the origin, handling, and safety of the foods they buy.  Locally owned and operated food stores can alleviate some of these concerns with their familiar faces, product knowledge, local sourcing, and customer service.  Small store operators may also be able to respond quicker to changes in consumer tastes and demand.  All of these facts should encourage small operators to pay attention not just to product quality but also to customer service and customer recognition in order to achieve the ultimate marketing goal: customer loyalty.


Blueberries, and many other crops, have been added to the Serenade WP label. This product, manufactured by AgriQuest, is OMRI approved for organic production and the active ingredient is the bacterium called Bacillus subtilis. Dr. Annemiek Schilder, a plant pathologist at Michigan State Univ. has conducted field trials comparing a variety of materials for control of mummy berry disease in blueberry. The data suggest that Serenade can provide moderate control of mummy berry although not as good as Indar, a conventional, ‘low-risk’ material that has a special use permit in Vermont. Efficacy of Serenade may be improved by spraying frequently (e.g. every 7 days during high-risk periods) and perhaps by spraying right after a frost event, which may predispose the shoots to infection (in lowbush blueberries at least). Conventional growers may also alternate with other fungicides (e.g. Indar or Bravo) to increase efficacy of the fungicide program.

(Mike Ellis, Ohio State Extension Plant Pathologist)

Cabrio 20 EG fungicide (pyraclostrobin) was recently registered for use on blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry.  It is registered for control of Alternaria leaf spot and fruit rot, powdery mildew, anthracnose fruit rot, Phomopsis leaf blight and twig blight, and for suppression of mummy berry and Botrytis gray mold on blueberry. On brambles, it is registered for control of anthranose, Septoria leaf spot, raspberry leaf spot, powdery mildew, rust diseases and spur blight, and suppression of Botrytis gray mold. On strawberry, it is registered for control of anthracnose fruit rot, powdery mildew and leaf spot, and suppression of Botrytis gray mold. Cabrio is an excellent material and provides good to excellent control of all these diseases. This is a very important product on brambles, largely due to the current lack of registered fungicides on brambles.

Cabrio is a strobilurin fungicide.  This is the same class of chemistry as Quadris and Abound. Quadris is currently registered for us on strawberry, and Abound is currently registered for use on blueberry and grape.  For purposes of fungicide resistance management, only four applications of Cabrio can be applied per crop per season on blueberry and brambles and no more than five applications can be made per season on strawberry. In addition, no more than two sequential applications can be made before switching to a fungicide with another type of chemistry. Cabrio cannot be alternated with Quadris or Abound as a fungicide resistance management strategy. Cabrio has a 0-day preharvest interval on all registered berry crops; however, the re-entry interval is 24 hours. Remember: Always read the label.

(adapted from Jude Boucher, University of Connecticut Extension)

Trap crops are used to protect a main cash crop pests. A trap crop can be a different plant species, variety or just a different growth stage of the same species as the cash crop, as long as it is more attractive to the pests. Trap cropping works best for insects of intermediate mobility rather than those, like aphids, passively dispersed by air currents or those strong fliers that descend on a crop from high elevations.

Perimeter trap cropping involves planting the attractive plant species so it completely encircles the main crop like fortress walls. Perimeter trap cropping is useful to protect the crop from an attack that may come from several or unknown directions. Perimeter trap cropping can be used to help protect cole crops from damage by the diamondback moth (DBM) and/or flea beetles; it may not eliminate these insects completely, but it can substantially reduce their populations on the main crop.

Adult DBM and flea beetles may survive the winter under residue of previous cole crops or cruciferous weeds like wild mustard or radish. Therefore, it is important to rotate your crops and eliminate weeds in the cabbage family from your fields, to prevent these pests from invading the next years planting from within the protective perimeter trap planting. Both pests are mobile insects, but not strong fliers.
Diamondback moth larvae may also arrive on infested southern-grown transplants or may arrive as adult moths on storm fronts later in the season. This pest has three to five generations per season. The DBM is treated as part of a cole crop caterpillar complex, which includes the imported cabbageworm, cabbage looper and sometimes the cross-stripped cabbageworm.

Flea beetles primarily damage seedlings during establishment or prior to the five-leaf stage. In addition to surviving the winter under cruciferous weed and crop residue, they hide under leaf litter in tree lines and hedgerows. They move into the field from shelter sites daily, especially on sunny days. Leaf feeding is often concentrated on crop rows near the field margins. Several different species make up the flea beetle complex that may damage cole crops. Individual species have one or two generations per season, and the population peak of one species may be closely followed by that of another.

Perimeter trap cropping for DBM: For early spring plantings, transplant two rows of collards on all sides of the main cole crop planting. The collard seedlings can be transplanted by machine on two sides of the field, while seven to nine collard transplants should be set by hand at the end of each row to provide a barrier on the third and fourth sides. Transplant the collards at the same time as the main crop and provide both with similar fertilizer, irrigation and cultivation programs. For late spring or summer plantings, direct seed or transplant the collard barrier 1 to 2 weeks before establishing the main crop, to assure a trap crop of adequate size and attractiveness. Remember that collard seedlings develop a little slower than traditional cole crops. One possible spacing would be 40 inches between rows and 10 to 12 inches between plants within rows (or the same as your main crop spacing). 'Vates', 'Georgia' or 'Champion' collard varieties make good trap crops. Make sure the trap crop barrier remains lush all through the season to attract the pest and the barrier extends all the way around the crop you wish to protect. Unless you plan to market the collards, researchers in Florida recommend not spraying the trap crop to allow it to serve as a refuge for insecticide-susceptible DBM individuals (for resistance management); and to build up high populations of DBM parasites.

Perimeter trap cropping for flea beetles: simply replace the collard barrier described above with Chinese 'Southern Giant' mustard. Alternatively, you can plant several rows of mustard on the outside of the collards to trap out both pests. It is best to make multiple sowings, several days apart, to provide an ample and continuous supply of attractive, young mustard plants that protect the main crop adequately. Do not let the mustard go to seed, or it will become a weed in future plantings.


Mark your calendars for Wednesday afternoon, January 29 at the Vermont Farm Show in Barre, and Tuesday February 11 in Rutland for the Annual Meeting.  Details forthcoming in this newsletter and on the web at: