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Showing posts from November, 2020

Winter food safety planning - 5 tips to prepare for next season

 Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, Food Safety Winter is a good time for planning, reflection and thinking about the systems behind your farm's operation. What worked, what didn't, and what can be improved for next season?  What did your employees suggest for improvements? That review should include your farm's food safety plan. Here are some key things to consider when reviewing your farm's plan. Reminder:  Use the UMN food safety plan template here . You don't need to start your plan from scratch.  1) Employee training  One of the most fundamental and important parts of your farm's food safety system is your employee training. Anyone who works with your produce needs to know your farm's food safety policies.  This employee training could include: Your policies about handwashing and where the handwashing and toilet facilities are located Illness - don't work when you are sick, including any vomiting, diarrhea or other signs of communicable disease

Paid focus group opportunity for specialty crop farmers

  The University of Minnesota Extension horticulture team is conducting a series of focus groups with farmers and farm managers related to COVID-19 prevention and risk management on Minnesota farms. We are looking for farmers or farm managers who developed or implemented a COVID farm plan to participate in a 90 minute focus group and complete a short (<5 minute) anonymous survey. All participants will receive a $75 Visa gift card for their time, and their names and farm names will be kept anonymous. The information gathered will help UMN Extension develop future education resources and outreach for farmers in Minnesota. Benefits of participating include: Hear from fellow farmers / farm managers about how they created a culture of safety on their farms this summer, both internally with their employees, and with the public Receive a $75 gift card Shape future outreach conducted by the UMN Extension horticulture team related to risk management on farms Who can participate?  You are eli

To till or not to till? A deep dive on tillage in vegetable crops

Author: Natalie Hoidal, Extension Educator, local foods and vegetable crops Reducing soil disruption is one of the most significant challenges for vegetable farmers who wish to improve their soil health and resilience. I often hear growers expressing shame about the degree of tillage they use on their farms. However, the impacts of tillage are less black and white than they may seem, and other management practices can be equally important. I did a deep-dive literature review this fall to understand how tillage impacts five key aspects of farming: soil structure, water dynamics, pests (including insects, diseases, and weeds), yields, and climate change resilience. Before discussing these dynamics, it’s worth noting that tillage is never black and white, or as simple as tilling vs. not tilling. Tillage is simply a spectrum of disturbance. On one end is the Moldboard plow, and on the other is no disturbance at all; in between those extremes are practices like broadforking, strip tilling,

Managing Japanese Beetle and Variety Preferences in Apple

Authors: Hailey Shanovich, Dr. Arthur Vieira Ribeiro, Dr. Robert Koch, Dr. Bill Hutchison, Annie Klodd, Natalie Hoidal Research on the impact of Japanese beetle (JB) in Minnesota apple orchards is ongoing. A research team at UMN has been studying infestations of JB in apple orchards and whether JB prefer some apple varieties over others. This article discusses the current research findings and reviews the habits of JB in apple orchards. JB is an invasive insect in the U.S. that has become a significant pest of turfgrass and ornamental, horticultural and agricultural plants in the eastern and midwestern states. JB is considered a “generalist” insect, meaning it can feed on many different plants, over 300 plant species. As larvae, JB feeds underground on turfgrass roots including lawns, athletic fields and golf courses. Adult JB mainly feed on leaves of plants, leaving a characteristic “skeletonized” or “lacey” appearance. Adult JB can also feed on flower petals, including roses, and on

Building New Grapevine Cordons: Only Strong Wood Allowed

Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator; John Thull, researcher, UMN Grape Breeding Program; and  Matt Clark, Assistant Professor of Grape Breeding Minnesota grape growers are familiar with the need to establish new cordons on spur-pruned vines. Not only do we do this when pruning newly-planted vines, but we also have to replace mature cordons when they are injured or killed by winter cold spells or disease. With proper planning and know-how, maintaining fruitfulness on each arm of every vine improves yields across the vineyard. Photo: A grapevine with newly established cordons, near Mankato, MN. In very general terms, the process of establishing a new cordon on spur-pruned vines is to find a strong cane from the previous growing season and tie it onto the trellis wire so that it will become the new cordon. We will call this cane the “renewal cane” for the remainder of the article. While this is the basic process, there is more to consider if it is to be done well.  We typically do not wan

FSMA Trainings for fruit and vegetable farms - registration open

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety FSMA Produce Safety Rule trainings - registration open for winter 2020/21 Do you grow fruits and vegetables for sale or donation to others? Join the University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and experienced fruit and vegetable growers for these 100% virtual FSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Trainings.  Who should participate?  This virtual training course is for produce growers and those interested in learning about produce safety, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. If your farm is not excluded or exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, at least one supervisor or responsible party from your farm must complete a training that uses FDA-recognized curriculum or equivalent. This course will satisfy this requirement.  (Read more here  to learn whether or not your farm is covered by the Produce Safety Rule.)  Da

Upcoming events: Farmer to farmer soil health conversations

We are excited to announce four upcoming virtual soil health gatherings for vegetable farmers.   Join innovative farmers, University of Minnesota Extension, and Land Stewardship Project for a series of virtual gatherings to discuss soil-building practices with fellow vegetable farmers who are caring for their soils and their communities. Gatherings will include a short video highlighting farmers who are leading the way with innovative soil health practices, followed by Q&A, and a series of breakout discussions where participants can share their expertise and brainstorm soil health ideas with fellow farmers. Hmong interpretation available upon request. December 2: No till vegetables with Racing Heart Farm (12-1:30) December 16: Scaling-up soil health with Featherstone Farm (7-8:30) January 6: Building and navigating organic matter in various soil types with Tiffany LaShae (12-1:30) January 20: Cover crops with Cala Farm (7-8:30) Pre-registration is required to receive the link to

Please tell us how we're doing at Fruit and Vegetable News

Photo: USDA We appreciate you reading the Fruit and Vegetable News, and hope you find the articles helpful, timely, and enjoyable to read.  Your input is critical to the success of the newsletter. We use your input to make sure our articles meet your needs. Will you please take this quick survey to evaluate the Fruit and Vegetable News?  Our survey software says it will only take you 3 minutes! Access the survey here.

NEW! "Growing Asparagus in Minnesota" guidebook

A new asparagus spear emerges in spring. Photo: Annie Klodd We are excited to announce the release of a new production guide, Growing Asparagus in Minnesota .  This publication is the culmination of a 2-year collaboration between University of Minnesota and the Sustainable Farming Association . The guide describes asparagus production from a sustainability lens and almost all recommendations in the guide are applicable to organic farms. This 24-page, photo-rich guide describes details of how to plant, harvest, and manage an asparagus crop in our cold Minnesota climate. The information in the guide is informed by sound research as well as experiences of Minnesota growers like Paul Schmidt, Noreen Thomas, and Terry Nennich.  In this guide, you will find information on: Preparing a field for planting Planting asparagus from crowns Variety options for USDA hardiness zones 3 and 4 Nutrient management recommendations for organic and conventional farms, including manure management guidance Go

Education Opportunity - Winter Series of Food Safety trainings

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Do you grow fresh produce for sale or donation? If so, join U of MN Extension and farmer presenters this winter for a series of short, focused, virtual sessions to learn practical steps for keeping your produce safe, your customers healthy, and your business flourishing (and growing!) When:  Third Thursday of each month November 2020 – March 2021 Time:  9:00am – 10:00am Cost:  Free (thanks to funding from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program) Register and more info here: WinterGAPSeries One attendee at each session entered to win a kit with handwashing stand materials for their farm! These virtual trainings are designed for small- to medium-sized fruit and vegetable growers, but any farmer or gardener is welcome to attend. Each session will be led by Extension educators and experienced farmers, with time for conversation and questions. Topics include:   Monitoring water used on the far