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Harvesting and using fallen apples and other produce - can it be done safely?

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Can you safely use apples and other crops that might fall to the ground before or during harvest? Is it safe to just wash off and then sell these crops? While it might be tempting to want to use the products so that they do not go to waste, produce that is dropped prior to or during harvest should not be distributed to the public for fresh eating, baking or in juice cider production due to the potential for the presence of patulin (in apples), and the risk of damage and internalized contamination in other produce. What happens when produce is dropped? When produce falls to the ground, damage such as cracks, bruises and other sometimes undetectable breaks in the surface of the produce skin or rind can occur. These cracks can cause the produce to be much more susceptible to infiltration during the washing step, such as with this cantaloupe pictured below. Dye was put into the water that the melon was submerged into.  You can see where th
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Free soilborne disease sampling for high tunnels

Have you struggled with soilborne diseases in your high tunnel? Our colleagues in Ohio are offering free soilborne disease testing to high tunnel vegetable growers in the Midwest. This is a collaborative project between USDA-ARS, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech funded by a grant from NIFA-CPPM. Some examples of common soilborne pathogens in tunnels in MN include: white mold (can affect lettuce, tomatoes, and a wide range of other vegetables), Pythium and Rhizoctonia root rot of various vegetables, and Fusarium and Verticillium wilt in tomatoes. Sometimes these diseases are hard to distinguish from one another, so if you've never tested diseased plants in your soil, assessing which pathogens are in your soil can help you make decisions about resistant varieties and preventative management. Verticillium wilt in tomato. Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org If you would like to submit a sample for analysis, reach out to Natalie Hoidal at hoi

Grape harvest decisions ahead of frost or freeze

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production. kloddann@umn.edu Some areas of Minnesota are forecast to experience a frost or freeze tonight. This leaves grape growers debating whether to harvest today or leave the fruit on the vines. The goal of this article is to provide growers with information that they may use to help make their decision. University of Minnesota Extension is not responsible for an individual farm's decision - this information is for educational purposes only. A conservative estimate from Jorgensen et al. (1996) suggests that frost damage can be expected when temperatures dip below 31 degrees F.We do not have definitive data showing whether the berries of MN-bred grape varieties can withstand lower temperatures than other varieties. Therefore I am using this general, conservative threshold. There are two different types of frosts, advection and radiation. Just because a frost is predicted for a certain region of the state, that does n

Final weekly vegetable update of 2022: 9/15

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops  This is the final vegetable update of the season! Thanks to all of you who followed along and shared questions and photos along the way. There is still no sign of a hard frost in the forecast for any part of the state, but many field crops are reaching their final days, and summer high tunnel crops are slowing down from diseases, insects, and other issues. This article includes updates about a couple of important diseases, curing tips, and reminders about soil testing + nitrogen credits.  Crop updates   Tomatoes and potatoes: Late blight was officially identified in Itasca County this week in a potato field. We've also been hearing reports of it from farms in and around St. Louis County. The bad news: late blight spreads very quickly under cool, wet conditions. Fall weather is great for late blight spread in Minnesota. It's also a water mold and not a true fungus, meaning many fungicides do not

Top 10 tips to reduce liability and food safety risks for U-picks and orchards this fall

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Orchards and U-picks are starting to move into the busy season and are welcoming large number of visitors to the farm. When you invite the public to your farm there are additional food safety and liability concerns to consider to keep your customers safe and your risk as low as possible to avoid a foodborne illness outbreak.  Here are some key recommendations to keep your customers safe and healthy this fall.  Photo: Annie Klodd What are the risks? Many bacteria like Salmonella , Campylobacter and E. coli can be spread to fresh produce from animals and sick humans. Viruses like Norovirus and Hepatitis   can easily transmitted between humans via fresh produce and other food, surfaces and the air.  These bacteria and viruses can seriously sicken people, especially the young, old, and immunocompromised.  There have been outbreaks at agritourism farms, especially those that have animals. Take some basic precautions to reduce the potential

Manage next year's strawberry weeds this fall

Photo: A few sporadic weeds in a fall strawberry patch are normal, even with excellent weed control. Photo: Annie Klodd Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit Production. Reviewed by Emily Hoover and Jim Luby Four useful tactics to reduce next year's weed management demand include: ●      Removing weeds before they shed seeds ●      Cultivating between rows ●      Carefully applying certain pre-emergent herbicides ●      Mulching in the late fall, for winter protection, also provides significant weed suppression the following season Remove weeds before they shed seeds Invest time this fall to remove large weeds before they drop their seeds. This is a worthy use of time in the busy fall season. Here’s why: One Palmer amaranth plant can produce between 100,000 to 1,000,000 seeds ( source ). One lambsquarter plant produces 72,500 seeds on average ( source ), and one Eastern black nightshade plant produces up to 825,000 seeds ( source ). Removing even a porti