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Showing posts from March, 2020

Silver Linings: Attend Produce Events-Turned-Webinars from Other Regions

Authors: Annie Klodd and Natalie Hoidal, Extension Educators - Fruit and Vegetable Production

Here at University of Minnesota Extension, we are working hard to develop webinars, online resources, videos, podcast episodes, and more for produce farmers during our current work-from-home situation. 

Please stay tuned to Fruit and Vegetable News and the UMN Fruit and Vegetable Farming Facebook page for more of these resources as we release them.

Similarly, University Extension educators in other states are also working hard to create resources and move events online via webinars during the COVID-19 pandemic. This presents a unique opportunity for Minnesota growers to virtually "attend" events from other states that we did not have access to before.

Here are a few upcoming meetings that we are excited about attending or speaking at:

UMN Extension Local Foods College Webinar Series:

April 2: Online Ordering Systems for Local Foods w/ Katie MeyreApril 7: Food Safety and COVID-19: what we …

Factsheets from UMN Extension on Farm Food Safety Topics for download

Author Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety

With increased interest in handwashing and sanitation to slow the spread of COVID-19, many farms, farmers' markets and other food producers and retailers are looking for guidance on how to improve handwashing and sanitation on the farm.

Follow this link to find 7 PDF factsheets recently developed by the University of Minnesota relating to on-farm food safety topics.  Feel free to download and print, or use these however you see fit.

These might be useful for farms, farmers' markets, aggregators/food hubs, or others in food production or sales.

Factsheets that specifically pertain to the current COVID-19 pandemic include:

How to build a low cost handwashing station (with step-by-step instructions and materials)

Cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces



Other factsheets include:

What is a GAP audit? Do I need one for my farm?The Produce Safety Rule: how does it apply to your farmWhy and how to test your farm's waterWa…

When to Remove Straw from Strawberries in 2020

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production

Straw mulch must be removed from strawberries when they first begin growing in the spring. Delaying mulch removal too much leads to delayed harvest and decreased yield. However, removal timing must also be balanced with the weather, to minimize risk of late spring frost damage.

Each spring is so different in Minnesota, that it is challenging to figure out the ideal time to remove straw from strawberry fields. Therefore, this decision should be made depending on a few factors:
Strawberry leaf growth under the strawSoil temperature and moistureThe weather forecast This year, our spring has started relatively early. Therefore, straw removal will likely occur relatively early as well. It will most certainly be earlier than last year (2019), when we still had plenty of snow on the ground at this point in the season. Here are some guidelines for deciding when to remove straw:
Check for strawberry leaf growth under the s…

How-To VIDEOS: Soil and Foliar Testing of Fruit Crops

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production

It is almost time to go out and take spring soil samples for fruit crops. Soil samples can be taken as soon as the soil is workable and not too wet.

Last fall, I recorded two videos to demonstrate soil and foliar sampling of orchards and vineyards, with the help of my colleague Gail Hudson. These videos were in response to frequently asked questions that I receive. So, I hope that you enjoy these videos!

And, for a very interesting look at soil nutrient testing and how to choose which nutrients to test for, please visit Natalie Hoidal's article from today: Spring Soil Testing: Which Tests are Best for Your Farm?

For information on how to calculate fertilizer rates based on soil test results: Calculating Fertilizer Rates for Fruit and Vegetable Crops

Without further ado, here are the videos:
Taking a Soil Sample: Vineyards and Orchards
Taking a Foliar Sample: Vineyards and Orchards






Spring soil testing: which tests are right for your vegetable farm?

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension Educator, Local Foods and Vegetable Production

With so many types of available soil tests available, how do you know which analyses to select, and how often should you do each one?

As of the publishing of this article, the University of Minnesota Soils Lab is still processing samples. Due to COVID-19 precautions, they cannot accept in-person drop-offs, and all samples must be submitted through the mail. Due to reduced staffing, your sample may be delayed. 
There are a few nutrients and soil properties that can be measured reliably with a soil test, and should be done every 2-3 years. Organic Matter Organic matter is a good basic measure of soil health and is a reservoir of nutrients essential for plant growth. This test should be done every few years when organic matter levels are optimal. If your organic matter is low, consider a soil test every year to track progress in building organic matter.
pH This test should be done every few years since pH…

New podcast mini series: climate change adaptation on fruit and vegetable farms in MN

We are back with another season of What's Killing My Kale! We're starting it with a four part mini series about how climate change is impacting fruit and vegetable production in Minnesota, and adaptation strategies for resilience.

In a time of immense uncertainty, we realize that it may be a weird time to release a mini series about climate change (another topic that comes with uncertainty and anxiety). We decided to release these podcast episodes now for a couple of reasons: 1. You are likely in your greenhouses starting plants or out pruning your trees and vines, and it's a great time to listen to podcasts. 2. (More importantly): While climate change can be an overwhelming topic, we found these interviews to be full of hope, ideas, and insight. The farmers we interviewed shared creative adaptation strategies and an overall sense of resilience and commitment to community - things that are all vitally important in this moment.

We hope you enjoy these episodes! We'll con…

What's Killing My Kale Season 3 Episode 4: Climate adaptation at Little Hill Berry Farm

In Season 3 Episode 4 of What's Killing My Kale, Annie talked with Aaron Wills from Little Hill Berry Farm. They discussed how climate change is impacting fruit production, and strategies for adaptation. This is the fourth and final episode in a mini series about how climate change is impacting our ability to grow fruits and vegetables in MN.

You can listen to and download the episode here.What's Killing my Kale is also available on Apple Podcasts and FruitEdge. If you enjoy listening to our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. As always, reach out and let us know if there are any topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes!

What's Killing My Kale Season 3 Episode 3: Climate change adaptation at Open Hands Farm

In Season 3 Episode 3 of What's Killing My Kale, Natalie talked with Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty from Open Hands Farm. They discussed the ways that they have noticed the impacts of climate change on their farm, and strategies they're using for adaptation. 
This is the third episode in a mini series about how climate change is impacting our ability to grow fruits and vegetables in MN.

You can listen to and download the episode here.What's Killing my Kale is also available on Apple Podcasts and FruitEdge. If you enjoy listening to our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. As always, reach out and let us know if there are any topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes!

What's Killing My Kale Season 3 Episode 2: Climate adaptation at Loon Organics Farm

We are back with another season of What's Killing My Kale!



In Season 3 Episode 2, Annie talked with farmer Laura Frerichs from Loon Organics farm about how climate change is affecting their ability to grow vegetables, and adaptation strategies. This is the second episode in a mini series about how climate change is impacting our ability to grow fruits and vegetables in MN.

You can listen to and download the episode here.What's Killing my Kale is also available on Apple Podcasts and FruitEdge. If you enjoy listening to our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. As always, reach out and let us know if there are any topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes!

What's Killing My Kale Season 3 Episode 1: Growing produce in a changing climate with Kenny Blumenfeld

We are back with another season of What's Killing My Kale!


In Season 3 Episode 1, Natalie talked with Kenny Blumenfeld, Senior Climatologist with the DNR about how our climate has changed over the last 100 years, and projections for the future. 
This is the first episode in a mini series about how climate change is impacting our ability to grow fruits and vegetables in MN, and adaptation strategies.

You can listen to and download the episode here.What's Killing my Kale is also available on Apple Podcasts and FruitEdge. If you enjoy listening to our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes. As always, reach out and let us know if there are any topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes!

Planning for COVID-19 on your farm: logistics, communication, and preparedness

Authors: Natalie Hoidal & Jake Overgaard, University of Minnesota Extension Educators

Many farmers are wondering how to respond to the COVID-19 virus. The information in this article is intended to help growers navigate communication, logistics, and planning. We will continue to develop resources as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to our fruit and vegetable team with questions and concerns.

This is a rapidly evolving situation. For the most up-to-date information and updates, please follow theCDC. Annalisa Hultberg, UMN Extension Food Safety Educator, just wrote an excellent article about managing food safety riskrelated to COVID-19, so please see her article for more food safety information.

Good communication Maintaining good communication with customers (and potential customers) is one of the most important things farmers can do right now. Use social media, newsletters, and other marketing tools to let your customers kn…

Information for fruit and vegetable producers during the COVID-19 pandemic: what we know

Updated 4/10/20
Author Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, on-farm food safety

As our state and the nation responds to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working with fruit and vegetable growers and other food producers to answer questions about the coronavirus that causes the disease.  Here are some things to know and sources of current and credible information about the pandemic as it relates to food and food production. 

You can find up-to-date information about the current outbreak at theCDC situation pagehere. 

Updated 4/10/20
Looking for signs related to COVID-19 to hang at the farm? Check out these great CDC signs in multiple languages.

Preparing for sick agricultural workers and COVID-19: new factsheet from Minnesota Department of Agriculture


Guide for Farmers’ Markets and Vendors: new factsheet from Minnesota Department of Agriculture


Updated 3/25/20 The FDA has released updated information on the COVID-19 epidemic and coronavirus for food producers on their extensive F…