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Showing posts from August, 2022

Anaerobic disinfestation and biofumigation to manage soilborne disease: are these strategies a good fit for your farm?

Fusarium, Verticillium, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotium, Phytophthora, Pythium , nematodes... do any of these sound familiar? As farms mature, we tend to see soilborne pathogens and nematodes build up over time. This can be especially true in high tunnels, where we often lack good options for crop rotation. Anaerobic disinfestation and biofumigation are two strategies growers can use (in both organic and conventional systems) to treat soil without the use of conventional fumigants. The Vegetable Beet crew just released two new podcast episodes about these strategies. Tune in to hear about how they work, and whether they might be worth trying on your farm. How to listen:  You can stream episodes directly from You can also look up "The Vegetable Beet" on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you stream podcasts.    

Saving seeds? Look out for this new non-native insect

By: Marissa Schuh , Horticulture IPM Extension Educator With the end of the growing season on the distant horizon, those saving seeds for themselves or for others should be on the lookout for a pest with the potential to hurt seed production - purple carrot-seed moth. What is purple carrot-seed moth? Purple carrot-seed moths are a small, generic moth native to Europe and Asia.  The immature, caterpillar life stage feeds on seeds and flowers of plants in the family Apiaceae , which includes herbs and vegetables like carrots, celery, parsley, cilantro, dill, and fennel.   They were first reported in the US in 2008, and have been found in neighboring Midwestern states in recent years. They were first reported in Minnesota (Washington County) earlier this summer. Purple carrot-seed moth larvae can be found feeding together.  They are small, produce webbing,  and have white spots. Photo: Minnesota Department of Agriculture The small caterpillars (¼ inches) feed on flowers.  They may group t

Using ponds or streams for irrigation - risky waters, and ways to reduce the risks

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety If you are using surface water sources like ponds, creeks, rivers or water that has been collected from roofs for irrigation of your produce, remember that these sources of water can be high risk for contamination and you must take steps to reduce those risks. The water is open to the environment and can be contaminated with human pathogens like Salmonella and toxigenic E. coli that can sicken people if it is on your produce. Read on for tips on safety when using surface water for produce irrigation. What are the risks with using surface water for irrigating fruits and vegetables? While surface water like water pumped from a pond, stream, creek or river might seem like a cheaper alternative to ground water, this water must be used with caution. Water used for irrigation can be a source of contamination for our fruits and vegetables if the water contains human pathogens, such as Salmonella or  E. coli  from human or animal feces.  It s

Weekly Vegetable Update 8/25/22

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops My colleague David said something this week along the lines of "at this point in the season, the cake is already baked". This is definitely true to some extent; the finish line is getting closer, and at this point most of what we're seeing in the field is a direct result of weather and management decisions that have already happened. But, we're still seeing some interesting things in the field, and there are still some important management decisions to make for fall crops as well as practices to implement now that can make your life easier next spring. Problems in the field / things to note this week Plant legume cover crops asap While there is still plenty of time to plant cold hardy winter cereal cover crops, the windows for reliable establishment of many cover crops are closing in. Especially if you're hoping to plant a legume cover crop this fall, review the Midwest Cover Crop Coun

Weekly Fruit Update - August 24, 2022

Author: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Educator - Fruit and Vegetable Production This week's update includes information on: judging apple ripeness, grape harvest parameters and lady beetle management, and day neutral strawberry disease control. Apples Using the starch iodine test on First Kiss apples shows the correlation between a calyx color and level of ripeness. Photo: Annie Klodd. First Kiss harvest is going on this week. To determine if your First Kiss apples are ready for harvest, check out this article.  Zestar! apples may be ready now or in the next week. They should ideally have a yellow background color, not a green background color, when ripe. SweeTango apples were still too starchy to harvest in southeast Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro this week. If you are harvesting for long-term storage, a higher starch content is acceptable, but apples meant for direct sales to customers (i.e. eaten shortly after purchase) should be left on the trees for at least another week to

Weekly vegetable update 8/18/22

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops What a difference a week can make! After a hot, dry summer, we've been experiencing heavy rainfall and fall-like temperatures across the state. This is the busiest part of the summer for many growers. We're at peak harvesting time for many labor intensive summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and cucurbits, while still scouting, weeding, and maintaining fall crops. This week's rainfall will likely cause some common physiological issues related to moisture fluctuation, and could exacerbate disease pressure. Problems in the field / things to note this week Anticipating the impacts of fluctuating precipitation on vegetable crops Whenever we have a lot of rainfall following weeks of drought, we can anticipate some changes in our crops. As I talk about often in this newsletter, fluctuating water levels are behind a range of issues like cracking and blossom end rot in tomatoes, blossom end

Food safety for flooded fruit and vegetable fields

 Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety Recently some farms in Minnesota were hit with significant flooding damage. Flooding can be detrimental to crops for a number of reasons, including potentially introducing chemical and microbial risks to the fresh produce that can then cause human illness if ingested.  Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when you are considering the safety of your produce after a flooding event.    Image courtesy of Produce Safety Alliance and Keith McCall,  of the National Resource Conservation Service Food Safety Risks with Flooding First, remember that according to the FDA, floodwater is defined as the water that has come onto your property from a source off the property. It is not just heavy rain falling and pooling around your plants, or a sprinkler left on overnight.  The risks from flood waters that come in two main categories:  human microbiological pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause foodborne illness chemica

Sign up for our annual pumpkin grower meetup!

Our annual pumpkin grower meet-up will take place in Waseca on Friday September 16th at the Southern Research and Outreach Center. We'll tour a field trial showcasing cover crop and herbicide compatibility in pumpkins, and hear about how pumpkin breeders choose new varieties. Guest speakers are Charlie Rohwer, SROC; and Jenna Price, Sakata. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and talk about all things pumpkins - pest management, weed control, going low-till, you name it. Attendees can also tour other vegetable trials happening at SROC. Details include:  Location: Southern Research and Outreach Center, 35838 120th St, Waseca, MN 56093 Time: 10am - 1pm Cost: $10 (helps cover the cost of lunch and other field day expenses) Please register ahead of time through this link.

Weekly Fruit Update - August 10, 2022

Japanese beetle trap counts have declined from their peak in mid-July. Image: UMN FruitEdge UMN entomologists check SWD traps weekly at 4 locations to reveal how populations change throughout the season. Image: UMN FruitEdge Author: Annie Klodd, Extension Educator - Fruit Production.  Apples Zestar! fruit ripening in Minnetrista, MN. Photo: Annie Klodd Because I was traveling for strawberry and grape projects in the first half of this week, I was unable to do my usual Wednesday apple orchard scouting. However, here are some things to keep in mind for this week: Brown marmorated stink bug: Keep an eye out for this invasive pest in your apple orchard. It is fairly new to Minnesota and is spreading. They feed on the fruit directly and can decrease marketable yield of apples. Sightings are common in the Twin Cities metro and are occurring in other counties as well. If you live outside of the 7-county metro area, please report sightings of BMSB. Grower reports help us and

Weekly vegetable update 8/10/22

Author: Natalie Hoidal, UMN Extension educator, local foods and vegetable crops This update includes suggestions for late summer cover crops, a reminder about postharvest intervals when using pesticides, notes about diseases and insects we've started to see this week, reminders about postharvest handling, and more. This weekend brought some desperately needed rain to grower across the state. However, according to the Minnesota WeatherTalk blog, "the NOAA Climate Prediction Center models continue to show a likelihood of warmer than normal temperatures and less than normal rainfall prevailing across Minnesota through the first half of August." Problems in the field / things to note this week Make time for cover crops! You've harvested your garlic and quite a few onions. Your cucumbers may be slowing down. While many growers stick to September planted oats and peas as their primary cover crop, planting a cover crop right now in open beds opens up some exciting opportunit

Quick links to find the most important food safety supplies

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety This time of the season is very busy, and we get lots of questions about finding commonly purchased materials for cleaning, sanitizing, handwashing, and in the packshed so growers don't have to spend time searching for supplies. I have compiled some of the most commonly sought out materials for handwashing, cleaning, sanitizing and packshed maintenance and links to purchase them.  For instructions on how to build the handwash stand, see this factsheet Handwashing Stand You can purchase the supplies for a handwashing stand from many suppliers, but here are some suggestions.  RelianceProducts Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container  = $19.76 each Rubbermaid 11 qt. Dish Pans (to hold the paper towels)  = $12.60 each Seventh Generation Hand Soap, Free & Clean Unscented , 12 oz, 8 Pack = $30.32 Pacific Blue Basic Recycled Multifold Paper Towels (Previously Branded Envision ) by GP PRO (Georgia-Pacific), Brown, 23304, 250 Towels P