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Final weekly vegetable update of 2021 9/15

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops   This will be the final weekly vegetable update of 2021. Thank you all for following along and sharing photos and updates! While every season has its challenges, this year felt particularly difficult. For most farmers, it was a long, hot summer with extra work and stress related to keeping crops alive through the heat. These last couple of weeks have felt like a breath of fresh air, with breezy fall temperatures and finally a more "normal" amount of rain. We're now in the home stretch - seeding is pretty much finished, and now farmers are just focusing on maintaining the crops already in the field, and storing crops for winter. Crop updates   Cucurbits: It seems like all of the winter squash is ready all at once this week. Every year I get a few photos of squash with sunscald. Symptoms can range from round spots to general discoloration on the upright surface, especially in lighter skinned sq
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Final Weekly Fruit Update of 2021

  Customers walk through rows of U-pick SweeTango apples at Pleasant Valley Orchard in Shafer last weekend. Photo: Annie Klodd. Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production  In this week's update: Grapes, apples, fall raspberries, and day neutral strawberries (Webinar alert!) While apple, grape, and fall raspberry growers are busy harvesting, the amount of relevant weekly alerts slows down at this point as fruit comes off of the trees and vines.  Therefore, this will be my last weekly fruit update of the season, but I will continue to provide recommendations on post-harvest tasks through stand-alone articles this fall. I will also continue to field questions that come in via email (kloddann@umn.edu), phone, and text message.   Grapes We just released a set of grape growing recommendation sheets for each of the UMN varieties and Edelweiss. Please click here to access these fact sheets , which include canopy management, pruning, harvest parameters, and mor

Integrating livestock and produce: food safety considerations to do it safely

 Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Many produce farms raise livestock such as chickens, goats, sheep and cattle alongside their fruit and vegetable crops. Some graze the livestock in the fields or in high tunnels during the winter or in the spring before planting the vegetables. While animal-based soil amendments such as manure and poultry litter can build the health, tilth, fertility and water holding capacity of your soil, they also can pose microbial risks and should be used safely to reduce the potential for causing illness. Here are some guidelines to help you minimize any potential risk of contamination and foodborne illness as you use these soil amendments this fall and into next spring. My animals aren't sick, how dangerous can their man ure be? The answer is that all manure can carry a risk of microbial contamination and can contain pathogens that can make people sick. While many of these pathogens are normal residents in the animals’ digestive system and

Spots, specks, and scabs: Squash and Pumpkin Fruit Damage

  By Marissa Schuh, Integrated Pest Management Extension Educator Many winter squash and pumpkins are ready for harvest already.  The dry season has meant that fruit that did get enough water generally look good, though there are still spots where cosmetic issues exist on the fruit. It's hard out here for a plant. Gif: Marissa Schuh, University of Minnesota Extension. Depending on the variety, the spiny stems and leaves of cucurbits means some scabbiness is a fact of life.  But when is that spot, scab, or speck something to make note of when selecting sites and varieties for next year? Read on for some common issues and things to think about. Peanut-like scabs? Think Oedema If you are in a part of the state that got a large amount of rain at the end of August, you may have noticed some pumpkins and squash with scabby growths.  I have noticed it in some heirloom, Hubbard type squash especially. Oedema on acorn squash. Photo: Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obisp

Weekly vegetable update 9/8/2021

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops   It's really starting to feel like fall. Many farmers are harvesting a flush of carrots and beets, and cool season crops like lettuce, chard, and Brassicas are coming along nicely. The drought is still persistent, but a few weeks of steadier rainfall has made it a bit more manageable.  I looked at the vegetable update I wrote this week last year, and I was wearing a heavy fall jacket, noting that tomatoes and peppers had slowed down substantially due to the cold. What a different set of conditions than we're experiencing right now! Crop updates   Cucurbits: Melon harvest is still strong, but many farmers are reaching the end of the melon season and transitioning focus to winter squash and pumpkins. I've noticed that stores around the state have embraced fall decor early this year, and people seem to be buying pumpkins a bit ahead of schedule. The most ideal scenario from a pumpkin storage

Weekly vegetable update 9/1/2021

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops   September is here and the end of the growing season is in sight. We’re seeing a bit more disease pressure with the rain, but for the most part the recent rainfall has been a welcome respite. Farmers are transitioning into fall mode, seeding final successions of fall crops, and getting tunnels ready for winter production.  Crop updates   Cole crops: Disease pressure in our research plots is really starting to pick up this week. I'm getting photos of Alternaria head rot from around the state, and we're starting to see more black rot too. Review this article from last year if you're seeing increased disease pressure in your fields ; it presents an overview of fall Brassica disease management strategies. Additionally, I continue to see heads of broccoli totally decimated by flea beetles. Here's a quick recap of flea beetle management strategies. At this point in the season most of these

A quick guide to harvesting and storing melons, squash, and pumpkins

Author: Natalie Hoidal, Reviewed by: Cindy Tong & Charlie Rohwer Melons are one of the trickiest plants to grow, because the guidelines around harvest are confusing and often contradictory. I often hear growers express frustration because their melons seem ripe but don’t have much flavor, or because they spoil faster than they should. This article presents an overview of ripening, as well as harvest and storage tips for melons, watermelons, squash, and pumpkins. Some ripening basics Fruit and vegetables are typically assigned to two categories that define their ripening behaviors: Climacteric: Climacteric fruits and vegetables continue to ripen off the vine. They experience a rapid increase in respiration during ripening. They also often produce a hormone called ethylene after harvest, which can speed up ripening and senescence. If eaten at an immature stage, these fruits and vegetables taste bland, and the texture is often not as soft as it is meant to be. If left at room tempera