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Showing posts from June, 2022

Using a hose end sprayer to quickly sanitize totes, tools and equipment

 Annalisa  Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety It is important to sanitize food contact surfaces on the farm to reduce the levels of disease - causing organisms, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria that can be on surfaces and spread to our fresh vegetables. It can also help increase  produce shelf life and reduce the spread of plant diseases around the farm.   Here are some tips on sanitizing efficiently and effectively to keep your customers and product healthy. Why sanitize? Sanitizing reduces the contamination level on surfaces by killing  microorganisms that cause disease. Sanitizers are most effective  when surfaces are clean and free of soil and residues.  So, make sure to clean surfaces before you sanitize! Here are the steps: remove visible soil, scrub with detergent and water, rinse again, and then sanitize the surface. The surface will not be totally free of microorganisms, but  they will be greatly reduced. If done correctly, this process results in safer produc

Weekly vegetable update 6/29/22

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops  This week our team visited farms along the North Shore, as well as in the Twin Cities and the Brainerd area. Crops are at totally different stages across the state; tomatoes are still less than 1 foot tall along the North Shore, while they are already setting fruit elsewhere. Growers in Northern Minnesota reported being anywhere from 3-6 weeks behind their typical schedules due to cool temperatures and excessive rainfall, while growers in the south are experiencing excessive heat and very little rain. Crop updates Tomatoes: While a couple of farms have ripe tomatoes, most people are at the stage of waiting patiently for their green tomatoes (in tunnels) to ripen. Peppers: Peppers are generally doing well, despite some of the odd looking plants I talked about last week. There are a couple of issues starting to emerge: we've seen some sunburn on exposed peppers, particularly in tunnels. As the canopy de

Weekly Fruit Update - June 29, 2022

Photo: The fruit & vegetable Extension team toured farms along the north shore last week, including a community orchard in Grand Marais.   Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit Production, It's strawberry season! Insects and diseases to watch for this week are fairly similar to last week, but spotted wing drosophila, apple maggot and Japanese beetles are starting to appear in traps in very small numbers. We continue to experience dry, hot weather that reduces disease pressure. Note about mentions of weather events: It's a big state, and we don't always know about the weather events in each region. Always check the NEWA model using a weather station in your area before deciding whether or not to spray fungicides. Apples Fruitlets are over 30 mm diameter near the Twin Cities, and were about 10 mm in Grand Marais when we visited last week. We observed that pollination was low along the north shore, probably due to cool temperatures during bl

How to apply for drought relief

The 2021 Agricultural Drought Relief Program (ADRoP) reimburses Minnesota livestock farmers and specialty crop producers for expenses related to the 2021 drought. Eligible farmers and producers may receive up to $7,500 for actual expenses incurred after June 1, 2021, and before May 23, 2022. Growers in all counties except Goodhue, Rice, Wabasha, and Winona are eligible to apply. The application for drought relief payments is now open, and will remain open through July 6, 2022.  Growers can apply online at the MDA Agricultural Drought Relief website. Printed and mailed applications will also be accepted if they are postmarked before July 6th and received by July 12th.  There are a few resources to help guide farmers through this process.  These recorded webinars from MISA, MDA, and MN Farmers Union walk viewers through the application process.   Big River Farms and The Good Acre are hosting an in-person application clinic on June 29 from 4 to 7 PM. Those who would like assistance f

Weekly vegetable update 6/22/22

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops  Following some extremely hot weather, the week ahead will provide some respite. As many crops reach their "critical periods" for development, consistent irrigation will become critical. Take some time this week to take stock of your irrigation plan to make sure your soil moisture is not fluctuating too dramatically. Crop updates Tomatoes: The very first tomatoes are ripening in high tunnels, and field grown tomatoes are flowering and beginning to set green fruit. A lot of people are seeing blossom end rot. Even if you have watered consistently and supplied plenty of nutrients, it's common for the first few fruit to have it. This is especially true in very hot weather, as the heat results in rapid cell division, leading the fruit to grow faster than the plant can get calcium to the new cells. If you're seeing more blossom end rot than usual, don't panic! Just remove the fruit

Weekly Fruit Update - June 22, 2022

Photo: Strawberry season has begun! Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit Production. In this week's update: Strawberry tarnished plant bug and thrips, codling moth on apples, grape post-bloom, raspberry cane borer, and blueberry dieback. Plus: Are Japanese beetles here yet? Apples Apple fruitlets are around 20-30mm in southern Minnesota and the metro area. Northern Minnesota areas like Duluth are about a week behind the metro based on my visit up north last week. The time for chemical thinning is rapidly coming to a close (or is over for some). If additional thinning is needed, hand thinning is the best way to go. However, many orchards have skipped chemical thinning or just doing a very light thinner this year because of slightly low or optimal crop loads. Insects: Codling moth and tarnished plant bug are active. Keep checking codling moth traps at least weekly to determine if, what, and when to spray. The first biofix for codling moth happened about 2

How to control tarnished plant bug while protecting pollinators

Photo: Flowers that were fed on by tarnished plant bug nymphs during bloom develop into "catfaced" fruitlets. University of Maine Extension.   Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production Key Points: Tarnished plant bug (TPB) is the most economically significant pest of strawberries in the Midwest Keep pollinators in mind when spraying for TPB in strawberries, since they are both present during bloom Both synthetic and organic insecticides can be toxic to bees Multiple conventional insecticides control TPB, and they vary in pollinator risk level. Beleaf and Rimon have the lowest pollinator risk while also being effective on TPB. The most effective organic insecticide on TPB, based on existing research, is azadirachtin. Scout weekly to determine the need to spray for TPB Manage weeds in and around the field to reduce TPB populations   Tarnished plant bug (TPB) is a significant insect pest of strawberries that remains a concern as long as strawb

Did the wet May weather affect your farm?

A flooded sweet corn field after a 4 inch rain in Waseca. Photo: Natalie Hoidal If you grow vegetables, fruits, or other specialty crops:  Please answer 4 questions to help us understand how our rainy May weather impacted produce farms in Minnesota: Fill out the 4 questions here Dr. Cindy Tong will use this information in a research project on how cover crops can help moderate field moisture in the spring, keeping fields workable during wet weather. We can also share these results in the next newsletter. You can talk to Cindy about this and other projects at our July 26 organic field tour .   

Are you looking to get a GAP audit on your produce?

  Annalisa Hultberg Extension Educator, On-Farm Food Safety This time of year we get calls and emails from growers thinking about entering into new markets that might require GAP audits. What is a GAP audit, and when is it required? How will it benefit you? Should you get one on your produce? Here are 5 key tips to think about if you are considering a GAP audit. What is a GAP audit?  A GAP audit is basically a verification that your farm is following science-based best practices for food safety in growing fresh produce. An inspector from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) or another certifying body comes to your farm with a checklist to verify that you have implemented and are following Good Agricultural Practices during the growing, harvesting, packing, storage, and transportation of your product. It is not a law or regulation; it is a voluntary audit that you pay for, and farmers generally get it to access a market that requires an audit.   Read more about what the audit a

Weekly Fruit Update - June 15, 2022

Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit Production, Apples Apple fruitlets on SweeTango in White Bear Lake, 6/15/2022   Apples are between 10-20 mm this week. Aborted fruit (fruitlets that will not grow to maturity) is now apparent or is being dropped by the tree. This makes it easier to estimate crop load and whether or not to do more chemical thinning. Identify them by smaller size and yellow pedicels (see below). They also fall off easily when brushed or shaken. An aborted apple fruitlet with a yellow pedicel, 6/15/2022   Apple pests: Codling moth flights started last week. We sprayed for codling moth last week in Minnetonka, and this week traps contained 0-3 moths each (average 0.83 per trap). This is below the economic threshold. In Preston, most traps contained 0. In White Bear Lake, most traps contained 0, with three traps containing 5 or more. No apple maggots have been caught at any of the trapping sites. Read the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide for infor