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Showing posts from March, 2021

Pre-season asparagus weed control

Asparagus spears in various stages of emergence at Schmidt Farm in Preston, MN. Photo: Annie Klodd  Author: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production Our warm spring will likely bring an earlier-than-average asparagus spear emergence. Emergence typically starts in mid-late April, depending on location and weather. Can you believe we're almost at asparagus season?  For those using herbicides in your asparagus weed management plan, an application prior to spear emergence will help reduce in-season weed problems. It will also reduce the need for cultivation, which disturbs the soil structure and can damage spears. Do not wait until the spears have emerged to start thinking about weed control - it will be too late for most herbicides at that point. In-season weed control is challenging and labor intensive, as herbicide options are extremely limited once spears emerge. Solid asparagus herbicide programs use both preemergent and postemergent products, and rotat

What we learned from COVID-19 farmer response focus groups: tips for 2021 season

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension educator, food safety, Natalie Hoidal, Extension educator, vegetable production, Annie Klodd, Extension educator, fruit production, and Cynthia Matthias, graduate student, Evaluation Studies.  In December 2020 UMN Extension hosted a series of focus groups with 23 fruit and vegetable growers representing pick-your-own operations, orchards, wineries, and vegetable farms. These farms ranged from small family farms to large commercial farms with up to 100 employees. The goal was to understand best practices that farmers learned from the 2020 season with regards to managing COVID-19 risks, and then to share these lessons to guide the 2021 season and beyond.  Participants also completed a brief anonymous online survey that gathered further specific information in regards to the implementation of various safety practices. All participants received a $75 gift card for their participation. We learned some important lessons that we hope will help farmers to navigate

Jumping worms: What do farmers need to know?

Author: Angela Gupta, UMN Extension Educator, Forestry Jumping worms, Amynthas spp ., are a genus of invasive earthworms new to Minnesota. Farmers should learn about jumping worms and the conditions that allow them to spread in order to prevent jumping worms from coming on to their farms. These worms are most noticeable when they reach full size in late July or early August, but prevention activities are important throughout the year. Currently there are no scientifically recommended management options for jumping worms so prevention is the only clear choice. Jumping worm basics Jumping worms are a major problem for gardeners and potentially farmers because they live in the top few inches of soil and vigorously consume many types of organic matter in that top soil horizon, including plant roots. There are no native earthworms in Minnesota and invasive earthworms have long been a problem in Minnesota’s forests, but jumping worms create additional problems. The normal suite of non-native

2021 Considerations: Optimizing Onions

Authors: Natalie Hoidal and Marissa Schuh , Extension Educators, University of Minnesota Extension Our biweekly crop by crop growing season prep series continues. This week we are focusing on onions. The more you know about these likely issues, the better prepared you will be to deal with them. Seeding time: weighing the risks of a wet spring Many Minnesota gardening charts tell you to seed onions as early as February, but plenty of growers hold off until mid March. As a general rule of thumb, you should start your onions in Minnesota 10-12 weeks before planting, and transplant a month to a few weeks before the frost-free date. Some growers seed onions with a nurse crop of oats or another cereal to protect them from wind in early spring (which, mixed with cold weather, can cause significant plant stress), but the cereal nurse crop must be terminated with an herbicide, so this is not a viable option for organic growers. As such, organic growers may want to plant a bit more conservativel

New Guide: Comparing Bird Management Tactics for Fruit Crops

Author: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator, Fruit and Vegetable Production We have developed and just released a concise 8-page guide comparing the various management strategies available for bird control in berry crops and vineyards.  The guide provides pros, cons, recommended uses, and helpful tips for each strategy. It also points out some emerging strategies currently being researched.  Click here to download a PDF of the guide.   We hope that this new resource is helpful, and welcome your feedback. Applying bird netting to a vineyard with a NetterGetter. Photo: Annelise Winery.

Grape Winter Bud Survival Data from the HRC

Authors:  Annie Klodd, University of Minnesota Extension John Thull, Jenny Thull and Colin Zumwalde, University of Minnesota Grape Breeding and Enology Program Matt Clark, UMN Assistant Professor, Grape Breeding and Enology   Photo: Pruning and training 3-year old Itasca. Annie Klodd. The grape breeding program team collects annual grapevine bud survival counts at the UMN Horticultural Research Center in late winter. In general, bud survival was high at this location. Most varieties are coming out of the winter very well. The data reported below is meant to help inform grape growers about relative 2021 expectations, but only reflects a sample of vines on one site. Growers must do their own bud survival counts in order to know how each variety did on their vineyard, and to make site-specific pruning decisions. Table: Grapevine bud survival counts, using 2-4 vines per variety, at the UMN Horticultural Research Center in Excelsior, MN, in early March, 2021. Source: John Thull. V

Agricultural Workers Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

Authors: Natalie Hoidal and Annie Klodd, Extension Educators  Agricultural workers have become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. While food processing plant workers will be prioritized (Tier 2) above other agricultural workers (Tier 3), farmers are now eligible to sign up. How do I sign up?  Agricultural workers (or anyone else) in Tier 3 are eligible to receive the vaccine, and should register on the COVID-19 Vaccine Connector website . Once you’ve signed up, you will be notified of available appointments in your area when they become available.  Local public health officials in each county receive vaccines and determine how to allocate them. Individuals in Tier 2 will be prioritized for vaccines, but in the event of a surplus or an unclaimed appointment, individuals in Tier 3 will be notified.  Other websites like and have emerged in recent weeks. They show pharmacies and other vaccine sites with available vaccines.  We asked representatives a