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What Fruit and Vegetable Research is Happening at UMN in 2019?

Between professors, graduate students, staff, and Extension educators, numerous people at UMN work hard every day to conduct research that helps make growing fruits and vegetables in Minnesota more sustainable and successful for farmers. We want to make sure that you know about this research and can apply what we learn to your farm.

Below are just some of the research projects going on in 2019. Many of these projects are done to address needs raised by growers, and funded in large part because of input by growers on research needs and priorities. We also benefited from letters of support from several growers - Thank you!

Please keep an eye out for the results of this work in future editions of the Fruit and Vegetable News, at workshops hosted by our partner organizations, and at winter conferences such as the annual Sustainable Farming Association, MN Organic, MN Fruit and Vegetable Association, and MOSES.
Dr. Vince Fritz and Charlie Rohwer have a number of interesting projects in the …
Recent posts

Using High Tunnels to Protect Raspberries from Spotted Wing Drosophila

Author: Matthew Gullickson. In late summer, just as fall-bearing raspberries are starting to ripen, researchers from the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) are attempting to protect the berry crop from destruction. Their main concern is to protect the fruit from a recently established invasive insect pest, spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), which feeds on many kinds of soft fruit including raspberries. 

SWD began appearing in Minnesota in 2012. Since its arrival, this pest has been responsible for significant damage to berries with major economic losses in Minnesota and nationwide. Adult SWD lay eggs in ripening fruit, which later hatch and feed on the flesh of the fruit, which results in unmarketable, mushy fruit with unwanted maggots inside at the time of harvest. SWD populations grow quickly; it takes just over a week to develop from egg to adult, and there can be more than 10 generations in a single growing season. In response to this threat, so…

What is the Future of Table Grapes in Minnesota?

Author: Laise Sousa Moreira. If you are like many Americans, you love grapes. Table grapes are the third most consumed fruit in the U.S., but growing this delicious fruit is a real challenge in regions with extremely low temperatures.

Minnesota has a harsh winter and short growing season which creates obstacles for growers to produce grapes year after year or if any at all. Currently, most of the seedless cultivars available in the market were developed for warm climates, dry conditions, or mild winters, which is not the case for the climate here in Minnesota.

There are a few cultivars that are being tested here in Minnesota at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center. Many of these come with restrictions such as burying vines in the ground every year before the winter because these cultivars are not hardy enough to survive the extremely low temperatures during dormancy (time while the plant is not growing). Thus, selecting the appropriate grape cultivar is a key comp…

Spring is a great time for soil testing

Author: Anne Sawyer

Believe it or not, spring will come. In spite of the snow that's recently swamped much of the state, the soil will soon be warming and it'll be time to plant before we know it.

Before you put anything in the ground, however, you should consider doing a soil fertility test to provide optimum nutrition for your plants and avoid unnecessary fertilizer applications. The most reliable way to determine how best to fertilize is to do a soil test.

Using Vegetable Variety Trials to Make Better Seed Decisions

Author: Cindy Tong. Have you ordered all the seed or cuttings for the upcoming season yet? Are you inundated with seed and plant catalogs, and can’t decide what you want to plant this year? How does one decide what to buy? You could talk to other growers, seed company representatives, or look for variety trial information.
Midwest Vegetable Variety Trial Purdue University compiles vegetable variety trial information from many states, including Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ontario (yep – the Canadian province), and Wisconsin. You can find the information online here.

These include trials for heritage beans, pickling cucumbers, eggplant grown in high tunnels, melons, bell and mole peppers, pumpkins, summer squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon, and more.

Sometimes a variety trial is interwoven into an experiment testing some other practice, like transplant date or spacing. 

For example, among the 2018 studies in the Purdue University compilation is a 2018 t…

Help Improve the Extension Website and Enter to Win $50

University of Minnesota Extension has recently re-vamped our website, including the part of the website that contains resources for fruit and vegetable farmers. Participate in an activity to provide feedback and help us improve our website, and you will be entered to win a $50 VISA gift card.

During the activity, we will ask you to try completing different tasks on our website. We only need 10 participants per test, so act fast to be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card. Be sure to enter your email address at the end to be entered to win. It will take no more than 10 minutes of your time.

To do the activity, click here: https://z.umn.edu/sm-usability

New paraquat educational requirements

The EPA has established new requirements and a required training module for paraquat, a commonly used herbicide on Minnesota fruit and vegetable farms.  Minnesota growers may know paraquat by the brand names Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, and Parazone.

From the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs:

Since 2000, 17 deaths have been caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat. Many of these deaths resulted from people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers and the victim later mistaking it for a drink. A single sip can be fatal. In addition to the deaths by accidental ingestion, since 2000, three more deaths and many severe injuries have been caused by the pesticide getting onto the skin or into the eyes of those working with it.

To help prevent these tragedies, certified applicators must now take paraquat-specific training before use, to emphasize that the chemical must not be transferred to or stored in improper containers. The training also covers paraquat toxicity, ne…