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New variety trial network for Upper Midwest growers

When we were doing our needs assessment process last year, many farmers expressed an interest in more local variety trials. You've possibly heard of Julie Dawnson's Seed to Kitchen Collaborative project in Wisconsin. This breeding network is now expanding beyond Wisconsin under a new project called the Upper Midwest Collaborative Breeding Network. The network is co-run by Organic Seed Alliance, SeedLinked, and Julie Dawson's lab.This collaborative breeding project will include tomato and sweet peppers. If you're interested in signing up or learning more, check out their press release and sign up for updates h
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Recent posts

Things to Consider Before Propagating Your Own Grapevines

This article was originally published in the UMN Grape Breeding and Enology blog, Sept. 22, 2020
Authors: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator - Fruit ProductionMatt Clark, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist - Grape Breeding and Enology
Why some growers consider propagating their own vines
A popular question this week has been "How do I propagate my own grapevines from cuttings?" Some growers consider propagating their own cold climate grapevines rather than purchasing bare-root plants from a nursery. 
The idea may come about with the goal of saving money on new plants. Other growers are simply interested in learning about plant propagation by trying it out. 
Because cold climate hybrid grapevines are not grafted onto rootstocks like Vinifera varieties, the process of propagating is relatively approachable. It may also seem free at first glance. However, growers considering doing their own propagation should keep in mind the potential risks and cost of labor, supplies an…

Gunk build up! "Hygienic Design" and equipment design for food safety

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, Food safetyYour hard-working wash and packing line equipment might be seeing a lot of carrots and their soil these days. Hygienic design is the principles of equipment design with cleanability in mind so that the excess soil and filth does not build up on the equipment. All equipment that you use during postharvest activities on the farm such as conveyors, barrel washers, brush washers, dunk tanks and spray tables can be assessed with hygienic design in mind. Bacteria are very, very tiny. They can survive in small bumps, cracks and welds in equipment and tools. If given the right conditions (water, warmth, humidity, oxygen), bacteria can grow exponentially and form a "biofilm", which is a layer of slime. Picture the slime that builds up on a fishbowl or your dog's water bowl; that is from secretions from microorganisms. The goal is to design and purchase your equipment with easy cleaning in mind to avoid the accumulation of this bio…

Final weekly vegetable update - 9/17/2020

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension Educator, Local Foods and Vegetable Production
Crop reportThis will be the last weekly vegetable report of the season. Thanks to all of you who followed along and submitted photos and questions! After a week that felt like late fall, we're returning to fairly "normal" fall temperatures for a couple of weeks. Light frosts and cold weather have ended or substantially slowed harvest of summer crops, and fall crop harvest, field cleaning, and curing and storage season is fully underway. There is no rain in the forecast for most of the state this week, which is ideal for harvest, clean up, and bed prep.
Cucurbits: Farmers are harvesting the last of the melons, and winter squash and pumpkin harvest is entering full swing. It seems like the demand for pumpkins is creeping earlier and earlier each year. At this point, with Halloween only two weeks away, treating powdery mildew and other foliar pathogens is not worth it. There seems to be a w…

Dogs, cats, deer, the neighbor's cows? Animals in the growing area during harvest and what to do about it

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator food safety What are the risks with animals?  Cats are often welcome farm pets,  but should not be allowed to roam in the growing area Image: Produce Safety Alliance Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in soil, under the sky and near both wild and domestic animals, so there is always a risk of contamination from bacteria, viruses and parasites that can transfer to your fresh produce from these animals and their feces. Virtually all animals can carry human pathogens. Large numbers of animals means more risks because they produce large amounts of fecal matter; this could enter fields through run-off, contaminated irrigation water, airborne particles, direct deposit or insects. Animal fecal material can contain bacteria like SalmonellaE coli 0157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes that can make people sick with serious illness and complications, especially the young, old, and people with compromised immune systems. Therefore preventing contamination of th…

What to do if you suspect a virus in your squash or melons during harvest

 Authors: Annie Klodd and Natalie Hoidal - Extension Educators-Fruit and Vegetable Production
Last week, we responded to a disease inquiry in a pumpkin field, and found symptoms that looked like a mosaic virus. We immediately sent the samples to the UMN Plant Disease Clinic, and they promptly diagnosed the plants with Squash Mosaic Virus (SqMV). Additionally, Natalie found SqMV and watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) earlier in the summer, on several farms.If you suspect a virus on your crop, do not hesitate to send samples to the UMN Plant Disease Clinic or another diagnostic clinic for diagnosis. Viruses cannot reliably be self-diagnosed in the field, as visual symptoms can look similar among the various mosaic viruses. 
Knowing which virus is present is very important for knowing how to manage it. For example: while SqMV is spread through infected crop seed and cucumber beetles, other viruses of cucurbits are spread mainly through aphids and not through infected crop seed. Mosaic viruses s…

Applying Fertilizer to Cold Climate Vineyards After Harvest

Authors: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator-Fruit and Vegetable Crops, and Anne Sawyer, Extension Educator - Water Resources. 
This article was originally published on the UMN Grape Breeding and Enology blog, on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

Grape harvest will be over before we know it. Now is the time to start thinking about buying and applying fall fertilizers, so they are ready before snow covers the ground.
Key Points:Do not apply nitrogen in the fall, especially not before dormancy. Save it for the spring.Granular fertilizer is best applied as a broadcast directed to the vine rowsIf possible, avoid fertilizer application to the grassy aisles unless groundcover renovation is the intentFertilizer application rates should be calculated based on soil and foliar tests. Use test reports from the current year or recent years.Why grapevines need fertilizer: During the growing season, grapevines allocate significant amounts of sugars and nutrients to the fruit, which is then removed from…