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Showing posts from February, 2022

Packshed design and postharvest handling for safety and efficiency

 Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety The flow and design of a packshed is a critical but often overlooked aspect of fruit and vegetable operations. Packsheds do not need to be expensive or constructed with all stainless steel equipment to be safe, efficient and comfortable places to wash and pack produce. Here are some tips for designing and maintaining a packing area this coming season.  Understand and follow principles of hygienic design for your packing area Hygienic design is a set of principles that apply to processing, packing and washing areas to ensure that they are cleanable, washable and sanitizable. Some very helpful new resources from the University of Vermont Extension Ag Engineering program  include packshed designs and information to help you guide your packing area set up.  For example, your equipment should be easily accessed for cleaning, with smooth and cleanable surfaces.  You can learn more about ideal finishes for food contact surfaces here.  Wood,

Schedule cover crops into your rotation this year

One of the most common reasons for not using cover crops is that as the growing season progresses and people become busy, planting cover crops end up at the end of the to-do list each week. By scheduling cover crops into your rotation early in the season and treating them like any other crop, it's easier to make time for it in the summer. Select cover crops best suited to your open planting windows Some growers with tight rotations may only have time for a late fall cover crop each year. Others may have periods during the summer where building soil organic matter or nitrogen in the soil is more important than producing a crop in a given field, so pairing a cover crop for half the season with a spring or fall vegetable is ideal.  There is no one-crop-fits-all cover crop. Some cover crops thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and late fall, whereas others do best in the middle of the summer. Our cover crop selection page for vegetable growers walks through the various cover cro

New irrigation resources for specialty crop growers

Following the extreme drought conditions last summer, many growers are reconsidering their irrigation infrastructure.  While long-term climate trends actually show our climate is becoming wetter , projections show an increased likelihood of irregular precipitation patterns , as well as more hot days in the summer. Since vegetable crops are especially susceptible to fluctuations in heat and soil moisture, having a good irrigation system is an important resilience strategy.  Our team has developed tw o new webpages with information to support specialty crop growers with decision making. The first, Digging or expanding a well , talks about things like understanding your farm's water needs and determining pump sizes, well diameter, and permits required.  The second, Irrigation set-ups for specialty crops , highlights different options for hose materials, emitter spacing, nozzles, injectors, and more. We hope that these resources will be useful to you as you develop or adapt your

Winter fruit webinars

The University of Minnesota Extension and WU-Madison Extension Fruit Team are hosting a weekly webinar series about fruit crops. The series includes topics about: Advanced Apple Production and Management Alternative Berry Production Systems Pesticide Selection and Resistance Management for Your Vineyard There will be a new webinar topic every Thursday at 1:00 PM CST, beginning February 3 through April 14. You can find the individual webinar topics listed below. Click the images for registration links and more information about each webinar offering. We look forward to another informative and great webinar season.  Questions? Reach out to Josie Russo, Communications Specialist ,

Upcoming winter series of food safety trainings starts February 9th

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 virtual sessions to learn practical steps for keeping your produce, business and customers healthy. Many of the things we do to protect food safety on our farms have other benefits, like improved efficiency, organization, product quality and shelf life. One Hour GAPs Deep-Dive Webinars These one-hour interactive webinars will cover specific topic areas related to food safety on the farm and how to integrate food safety into your operation. You will have the opportunity to learn from experienced farmers and University of Minnesota Extension staff in each session.  Bring your questions! Sessions recorded but you must register to receive recording. All sessions are free.  Register here for all Deep Dives: Feb 9 9:00am - 10:00am: Lean & Clean: Applying Food Safety and Lean Farm