Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2020

New variety trial network for Upper Midwest growers

Photo: Allison Sandve 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 ere .

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 Production Matt 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, supp

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

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, Food safety Your 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 bi

Final weekly vegetable update - 9/17/2020

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

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  Salmonella ,  E 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 contamina

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 Winter squash leaves with mottling and a yellow-green mosaic, characteristic of a virus. Photo: Annie Klodd 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.  Squash mosaic virus on zucchini. Photo: Anna Racer, Waxwing Farm. Squash mosaic virus on zucchini, near Webster, MN. Photo: Natalie Hoidal. Knowing which virus is

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 rows If possible, avoid fertilizer application to the grassy aisles unless groundcover renovation is the intent Fertilizer 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 remo

Weekly Fruit Update - 9/10/2020

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production In this week's update:  Wait until dormancy to prune grapes, fruit trees, shrubs Fall soil testing and applying amendments Critical freeze temperatures for grapes Splitting on apples and grapes due to recent rainfall Note: Because harvest for apples and grapes are in full swing, you will notice that this week's update is heavy on grape and apple content. However, bullets 1 and 2 also apply to brambles and shrub fruits.  Wait until dormancy to prune grapes, fruit trees, shrubs It is still too early to do any pruning on grapevines, fruit trees, brambles, or fruiting shrubs (blueberries, aronia, etc.). While it can be tempting to get a head start on pruning before cold winter temperatures set in, it is critical to wait to prune anything at least until the plants go dormant (leaves turn brown and fall off). Better yet, wait until the winter or early spring to prune. Here is why: From now until dormancy (late

Tips for Fall Manure Applications

Authors: Chryseis Modderman, Extension Educator, Melissa Wilson, Extension Specialist, Annalisa Hultburg, Extension Educator Fall manure applications are right around the corner, so here are some reminders on best practices to make accurate applications and avoid nutrient loss. Application tips  Sample your manure and get it tested . Manure is a variable product so knowing the actual nutrients in the manure is important for accurate application. Don’t trust the “book value” manure nutrient tables. Those are just estimates and averages, and your manure almost definitely differs in nutrient content. A basic manure test will tell you the N, P, and K content as well as the moisture content; add-on tests can tell you about micronutrients and secondary macronutrients.  You can learn more about accurate sampling by visiting our Manure sampling and nutrient analysis page. Test your soil. While we’re on the subject of nutrient analysis sampling, you will also need to have a recent analysis of y

Grading and Sorting Apples for Direct-to-Customer Sales

Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production.  Reviewed by BJ Haun, UMN Technology Commercialization Office, Jim Luby and David Bedford, UMN Fruit Breeding Program. Once fruit is harvested, apple growers should sort the fruit by several quality traits before putting it on the shelf. Some varieties, like First Kiss ®  and SweeTango ® , must meet certain parameters before being sold by those names. This article offers tips about how to sort Minnesota apples based on marketability qualities. Zestar! apples ready for harvest on Aug. 31, 2020. Photo: Annie Klodd. In contrast to orchards selling apples via wholesale channels, growers selling direct-to-consumer have much more liberty when it comes to sorting and marketing their apples. Apples slated for wholesale must follow guidelines set by the buyer, which typically follow  USDA grading standards .  Managed varieties : Those licensed to grow club varieties including First Kiss ®  and SweeTango ®  have agreed to

Weekly vegetable update 9/10/2020

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension Educator, Local Foods and Vegetable Production Crop report It's been another intense week of harvesting. While the cold has slowed things down a bit, farmers are now harvesting both summer and fall crops. Growers in far northern Minnesota experienced some frost on Tuesday night, but it looks like the week ahead will be warmer. Cucurbits: Melon and squash harvest is ongoing. Some pumpkin growers have begun to harvest as well. Continue to treat powdery mildew up to 7-10 days or so before harvest if it is serious enough to reduce canopy cover. If you've already lost substantial canopy cover and you're seeing sunscald, consider harvesting if fruits are at least 50% orange and moving them to the shade to cure. Tomatoes and peppers: Tomato and pepper harvest has slowed down with the cold, though high tunnel tomatoes are still looking great. See the photo below for a seriously impressive tunnel of tomatoes. Take time this fall to remove all