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2021 Planning: Cucumber Considerations

Authors: Natalie Hoidal & Marissa Schuh We’re starting a new series this spring: a biweekly crop by crop overview to help growers choose varieties, navigate different growing methods, and anticipate insects and diseases. Last year some of you said that while the summer vegetable updates were helpful, you wanted more time to anticipate problems and prevent them. So, in each newsletter for the next couple of months, we’ll be highlighting one vegetable crop. While the growing season is still a few months away, now is the time to plan and order supplies. Read on for information about varieties, trellising systems, insects, and a common cucumber pathogen.  Navigating varietal terminology There are so many cucumbers available to growers, and so much variation in performance, cost, and management between varieties. While we will not discuss specific varieties here, it’s important to understand the reproductive biology of the varieties you choose. There cucumbers available today have thre
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Join us for a discussion about broccoli varieties

The Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, UMN Extension, and SeedLinked received a 2021-2022 grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to screen broccoli varieties for tolerance to black rot and Alternaria. Join us for a discussion on February 8th to learn about our upcoming trial, hear about which varieties we'll be including and why, and join our 2021 on-farm broccoli trial network. This virtual discussion will occur via Zoom on February 8th from 7-8pm. Sign up at z.umn.edu/broccolimeetup Image:  David Monniaux , Wikimedia

New videos on pruning grapevines in cold climate vineyards

Pruning 1-year old grapevines at Rustic Roots Winery in Scandia, MN   Prune your grapevines between January and early April, while they are dormant and ideally before temperatures regularly exceed 35 degrees F. Hundreds of pruning tutorial videos are out there on the internet, but it is important to get accurate advice that is specific to grapevines in our cold Minnesota climate. Turn to UMN Extension for videos on pruning grapevines in our cold Minnesota climate. These videos aim to fit the needs of grape growers of varying skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Watch before pruning your vineyard this winter: Pruning grapevines in Minnesota (Level: Beginner) UMN Extension Grapevine winter injury (Level: Beginner to advanced) Pruning out grapevine trunk diseases (Level: Beginner to advanced) Pruning New Vines – One or Two Years Old (Level: Beginner to advanced) Pruning high cordon grapevines in Minnesota (Level: Intermediate to advanced) Subscribe to the Small Farms YouTube

Farm financial management webinar series for specialty crop growers

Photo: UMN Extension J oin Extension's Farm Business Management and Horticulture teams for a webinar series  covering farm financial management basics for diversified specialty crop farms.  In this three-part series we will go over their balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow; as well as the financial ratios that go along with those statements.  Through this workshop, you will learn the importance and usefulness of these different financial statements and ratios to make better business decisions for your own farm.   In the workshop series, we'll use a fictional case study farm with multiple crops, chickens, and multiple market outlets including   you-pick, on farm-store, farmers markets, and direct to a local restaurant and school.  Workshops are free. Each session will build upon the last, and so you are encouraged to attend all or as many as possible.     Workshop dates:  Monday February 1, 12:00pm - 1:00pm Monday February 8, 12:00pm - 1:00pm Monday February 15, 12:00

Exploring alternatives to plastic mulch

 Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension Educator, local foods and vegetable crops As our farmer to farmer soil health for vegetables series has unfolded, plastic mulch has come up in every conversation. There are so many benefits to using it, including moisture retention, weed control, and soil warming, but the environmental impact is hard to ignore. It's estimated that in the US alone, farmers use around 1 billion pounds of plastic annually. In this article, I'll review some alternatives and share up-to-date research and grower feedback.  Our final farmer to farmer soil health gathering is Wednesday January 20th at 7pm. We'll feature Rodrigo Cala of Cala Farm, who has been experimenting with cover crops for years. He'll discuss his efforts to integrate sheep for terminating cover crops, as well as his efforts with summer cover crops and species mixtures. Sign up at z.umn.edu/soilhealthchats .  Plastic is a mainstay on most vegetable farms, but farmers are working hard

Jersey asparagus varieties being discontinued - next steps

In summary: The producer of asparagus crowns for asparagus varieties Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, and Jersey Supreme has stopped propagating these varieties. This means that for the most part, crowns of the "Jersey" varieties are no longer available for growers to order. Read on for recommendations on how to proceed with other varieties in 2021.   Asparagus spears thriving at Schmidt Farm in Preston, MN in May, 2020. Photo: Annie Klodd We recently confirmed that Walker Brothers, the producer of Jersey asparagus crowns, has stopped propagating the Jersey Knight, Jersey Giant, and Jersey Supreme varieties. This information came through conversations with asparagus colleagues at Michigan State University and Nourse Farms. While a handful of large retailers may still have limited stock of these varieties left for purchase, growers will no longer be able to source these varieties in general once that limited stock is sold. Walker Brothers has no plans to sell their existing breedi

Improving irrigation management in 2021

Authors: Natalie Hoidal & Vasudha Sharma Over my two seasons as a vegetable crops educator in Minnesota, I've been surprised by the number of questions and photos I get about disorders that are related to irrigation issues. Have you ever experienced hollow heart in potatoes, blossom end rot in tomatoes or peppers, yellow shoulder in tomatoes, woody carrots, or hollow stems in broccoli? While the causes of these disorders are often complex, fluctuating water levels are connected to all of them.  I'm excited to share a new resource with all of you to provide some guidance about improving irrigation management.  There are many ways to schedule irrigation. Common methods include irrigating when you expect high temperatures or when a few days have passed without rain, feeling the soil with your hands to determine whether it's dry, and irrigating on a regular calendar schedule, such as every two days. While all of these methods are better than nothing, there are accessible a