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Tips for spring cover crop planting

Author: Adria Fernandez, Researcher, Grossman Lab As you make your field plans for this year, consider complementing your later-planted vegetable crops with an early spring cover crop. In fields where you plan to grow a vegetable with a summer planting schedule, like transplanted broccoli or cauliflower for fall harvest, or even a late succession of beans or sweet corn, you may have time to grow a cover crop to build and protect your soil until the vegetable is ready to go into the field.  Cover crops can serve several purposes in a short spring growing window: They can suppress weeds and keep the soil covered in the field while you’re waiting for transplanting time They can take advantage of the soil moisture and sunlight available in April and May to build organic matter that will become part of your soil reserves when the cover crop is incorporated. If the cover is a legume (like a pea or clover), it can also contribute to long-term nitrogen fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen
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Develop a heat and air quality safety plan for your farm

High heat and humidity can make it dangerous for growers to work outdoors, while wildfire smoke and other air pollutants can make it dangerous for growers to breathe the air while working outdoors. We've been working with the U of M Doctor of Nursing Practice Program to develop guidance for fruit and vegetable farmers about safely working in high heat and poor air quality, and we're excited to share a new resource with you all. Over the last two summers we received a lot of questions from growers about staying safe during heat waves and periods of poor air quality. It was difficult to find resources beyond just tools for recognizing heat stress, so we brought in health and safety experts to help us develop some guidance that could be specific and actionable, allowing growers to create policies to keep themselves, employees, and volunteers safe.  Check out the new webpage here.  If you would like a printable PDF with this information, you can reach out to Natalie Hoidal at hoi

Last chance to sign up for on-farm collaborative research trial: high tunnel cover crops

The University of Minnesota and University of New Hampshire are partnering to conduct on-farm research about the performance of legume cover crops in high tunnel vegetable rotations. The goal of this project is to enable high tunnel growers to reduce their dependence on purchased composts and manures by using nitrogen-fixing legume cover crops to support soil fertility, productivity, and sustainability.  Join us for an information session about our 2024-2025 on-farm high tunnel cover crop research trial on March 5th from 11:30 am -12:30 pm on Zoom . During this webinar you’ll learn more about participating in the trial and have opportunities to ask questions. The webinar will be recorded.  Sign up to learn more about the trial at z.umn.edu/ hightunnelcovercroptrial . We will send the webinar link and a calendar invitation to everyone who signs up.     

Submit a proposal to present at the Emerging Farmers Conference

  The Emerging Farmers Conference is now accepting Calls for Proposals! The EFC is focused on farmers and led by farmers. It is for farmers who traditionally face barriers (including immigrant farmers and farmers of color) to the education and resources needed to have a successful and sustainable farm. SUBMIT A SESSION PROPOSAL HERE Do you have a session you'd like to share at the conference? Would you like to work with the EFC planning team to put together a presentation?  Do you have experiences to share that will help other emerging farmers become successful?  We invite you to submit a proposal for a session!  As a conference, we prioritize sessions led by emerging farmers, immigrant, indigenous and farmers of color.  We look for sessions that are either led by farmers or co-presented with farmers.  The style of learning preferred is hands-on, demonstrations, visual and observation based. Conference Dates: Friday November 1- Saturday Nov 2, 2024 - Minneapolis, MN Typical sessio

Reducing tillage in vegetable crops

This spring and summer our team visited 100 small-scale vegetable farms in Minnesota to do soil health assessments, and one of the key drivers of healthy soil was tillage. Soils with less tillage had better aggregate stability, faster water infiltration, and less compaction. While tillage is harmful in the long-term, it provides short-term benefits that can make growing vegetables easier. This article covers some of the main reasons that farmers till their soil and provides other ways to get the same benefits. Tillage is the practice of disturbing soil by digging, stirring, or turning. It is commonly used in vegetable farming to loosen compact soils, add residues to the soil, prepare fields for planting, incorporate fertilizers, and manage weeds. Reducing tillage provides long-term benefits to soil health. Soils that have less tillage tend to: Have more stability Resist compaction Hold more water Have less erosion Have enhanced biological activity Reason 1 for tilling: Loosening com

Weed Control in Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Author: Marissa Schuh , Integrated Pest Management Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Extension. Reviewed by Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production. Originally published April 2021, updated February 8, 2024. With their long season and spreading growth habit, pumpkins often present a weed control challenge.  Here are some important factors and considerations when working to manage weeds in pumpkins and winter squash.  Waterhemp in a pumpkin patch. While a few sporadic weeds may seem insignificant, one average waterhemp plant produces about 250,000 seeds. Photo: Annie Klodd, University of Minnesota Extension. First, know your weeds. This is beyond knowing you have general issues with grasses or broadleaves.  Some cultural techniques and herbicide chemistries are more effective against some weeds than others.  Being familiar with the specific weed issues in the fields you are planting into will help you tailor your weed control program for success.  The