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Fruit and Vegetable Pesticide Safety Workshop – Includes Recertification Credit for Private Pesticide Applicators

Author: Tana Haugen-Brown, Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Extension, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education Program, email:

Back again this year – the University of Minnesota Extension Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education Program will offer a Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification workshop focused for fruit and vegetable growers. Growers who are not certified but wish to learn more information on pesticide safety are also welcome to attend. This recertification workshop will take place on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 from 1:00 – 4:30 pm at the St Cloud Regional Extension Office, 3601 18th St S, Suite 113, Saint Cloud, MN. 
This workshop will include topics related to pesticide application and safety; pesticide laws and regulations; laundering pesticide contaminated clothing; endangered species protection; IPM and related hot topics; invasive species; calibration; pesticide residuals; label comprehension; and more.

This workshop is inten…
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Do you want to sell your produce to a Farm to School program? Here are five things to think about…

Author: Kate Seybold,Farm to School Coordinator, Minneapolis Public Schools

 Farm to School programs are growing in popularity across Minnesota and the nation as more schools seek to purchase food from local farms and provide education related to food, nutrition, and farming. For many farmers, working with a Farm to School program can be an entry point into other wholesale markets, an opportunity to specialize in crops, and a way to strategically grow sales. So what should you consider if you are interested in selling produce to a Farm to School program?

1. Invest in relationships. Farm to School Programs are all about building partnerships. If you are interested in selling to school, reach out with a phone call or an email. Take the time to tell them about you and your farm, learn about their food service program, and ask about ways that you can work together. Even after you have started selling product to a school, continue to invest in your relationships.

2. Consider what products …

E. coli and romaine in the news... again

Update 11/26/19:Almost exactly 1 one year ago to this date, just days before Thanksgiving, the nation was reeling from a large, multi-state outbreak of E.coli associated linked to romaine lettuce grown in central and northern CA. 

Sound familiar? Once again there is another outbreak of E. coli and romaine lettuce, this time traced back to the Salinas, CA  area. At least 40 people have reported illnesses after eating romaine from this area, including 1 in Minnesota. It is too early to determine the source of the contamination, but genetic analysis indicates that the strains are similar to previous outbreaks.

The FDA has issued the following warning on Nov 22, 2019:

Consumers should not eat romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, California. Additionally, consumers should not eat products identified in the recall announced by the USDA on November 21, 2019.Consumers are urged to review their packaging to determine if the product was grown in Salinas. If it came from Salinas, or if the area …

Register now for upcoming FSMA Produce Safety Rule grower training courses

Do you grow fruits and vegetables? Do you want to improve the shelf life, safety and quality of your produce? Registration is open for the winter FSMA Produce Safety Rule grower trainings. Take a look at the upcoming schedule and register soon,  as many of these trainings may fill to capacity. 

If your farm is not excluded or exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, at least one supervisor or responsible party from your farm must complete a training that uses FDA-recognized curriculum or equivalent. (Read more here to learn whether or not your farm is covered by the Produce Safety Rule.) The courses offered here will satisfy this requirement. Course topics include produce safety regulatory requirements and best practices related to worker health and hygiene, crop inputs (soil amendments), domestic and wild animals, water use and testing for pre- and post-harvest operations, such as irrigation and washing.
These dynamic courses will be co-led by experien…

New video helps produce farmers understand the FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Do you have questions about the the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and how the new regulations might affect you and your produce farm? The UMN Extension On-Farm Food Safety Program has created a new video FSMA Produce Safety Rule: How does it apply to my farm? to help guide you through this new regulation that applies to some produce farmers in the state.

This topic can be complex, and there are few other national resources that provide a succinct yet accurate overview of the rule and who and what it covers. So we made one!

In 7 minutes this video will walk you through the basics of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and provide an overview of the regulations. You’ll be guided through the process of determining if your farm is not covered, qualified exempt, or fully covered by the rule; and you’ll find out what those categories mean. Finally, you’ll learn about the next steps to take depending on which category your farm falls under. You’ll find links to valuable re…

New Videos: Taking Soil and Foliar Samples in Orchards and Vineyards

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Production
We just released two new videos for fruit growers, on soil and foliar sampling. Check them out, either by clicking these links or watching below: Taking a Soil Sample: Vineyards and OrchardsTaking a Foliar Sample: Vineyards and Orchards Submitting a soil sample is necessary in order to know the nutrient status of the soil. Without soil test results, we don't really know what rates of fertilizer to apply, or whether the soil pH needs amending, in order to support healthy crop growth.

Fall is an ideal time to take a soil sample for your orchard, vineyard, or crop field. It allows us to get the soil test report back in plenty of time to formulate a nutrient management plan for the spring. Go out and do this before the ground freezes! Taking a Soil Sample: Vineyards and Orchards
For perennial fruit crops, such as orchards and vineyards, there is an extra step we must take in addition to the soil test: a foliar nutri…

Potatoes: post-harvest disorders and handling

Author: Natalie Hoidal

From hollow heart to soft rot to freeze damage, we've seen a whole host of potato issues this fall. This article provides an overview of these issues and management tips for each.
Hollow heart Hollow heart, the formation of an irregularly shaped hole in the center of potatoes, is caused by alternating periods of rapid and slow growth. We see this occur when we have excessive moisture followed by dry periods, and when soil fertility is not managed well. Often after really wet weather we welcome drier periods, but it's important to monitor soil moisture and irrigate when necessary to prevent symptoms like hollow heart.

Hollow heart does not affect the flavor or safety of potatoes, but customers who purchase potatoes with this condition may think that something is wrong and throw them out, or choose to purchase from someone else in the future.

Tips for managing hollow heart:
If you have some hollow heart in this year's potatoes, let your customers know…