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Showing posts from May, 2023

Weekly vegetable update 5/31/2023

Authors: Natalie Hoidal , Marissa Schuh , Shane Bujega , Anthony Adams Fields dried out enough for a very productive week of planting. This update includes reminders about early season insect management, an overview of quackgrass and crabgrass management, reminders about herbicide drift, and some miscellaneous observations about snakes and ants in vegetable fields. Crop updates Asparagus: Hot weather is really going to push spears to grow quickly. Keep up with irrigation if possible, and remember to stop harvest when spears are pencil sized. If you’re seeing asparagus beetle pressure, review When and How to Use Insecticides for Asparagus Beetles . Tomatoes: Some tomatoes are looking great and some are looking pretty rough. Many people had to hold their tomatoes a bit longer than expected, leading to rootbound plants that were light stressed, and prone to water stress. Paired with high temperatures and limited water last week, we’re seeing some sunburnt tomatoes, and plants that

Worker safety and morale on vegetable farms

As seasonal employees begin working over the next couple of weeks, make sure you're following best practices to prevent heat stress and keep employee morale high. This post highlights best practices for acclimatizing workers to hot weather, and a new report about what diversified vegetable farm employees value in a workplace.

Weekly vegetable update 5/24/2023

Authors: Natalie Hoidal, Emily Hansen, Quincy Sadowski Fields are beginning to dry out, and the week ahead will be ideal for transplanting. This update includes reminders about early season insect pests and irrigation needs, information about harvesting from new rhubarb plantings, wildfire smoke safety best practices, and tips for keeping transplants healthy when planting is delayed. Crop updates Cole crops: We’ve seen some beautiful early spring cole crops nearing maturity in high tunnels, but field production has mostly been delayed due to wet fields. Cabbage maggots are flying and laying eggs, flea beetles are out, and we’re already seeing diamondback moth feeding. This means growers will need to be extra vigilant about keeping seedlings and small transplants protected from early season insect damage. Row cover is the best-bet for avoiding all three of these insect pests, which all have different types of lifecycles and different management strategies. Diamondback moth larvae and

Insurance and liability considerations for agritourism

Author: guest contributor Jerry Ford, Network Coordinator, Sustainable Farming Association Insurance is very important for all farming operations, but is especially important for agritourism operations that host visitors on this farm. This article details important topics related to insurance for agritourism farms. Image: Cory Ryan This article was not written by an insurance professional or a lawyer. Please note that insurance policies vary across providers, and that agritourism activities like u-pick, farm stays, and tours all have different risks and considerations for insurance and regulations. This article is meant to serve as a starting place, but please reach out to a lawyer or insurance provider for more detailed information as it pertains to your specific agritourism activities. Before talking about insurance, let's talk about the law. Laws related to liability and agritourism We are fortunate in Minnesota to have a statute that specifically protects those of us involved i

First weekly vegetable update of 2023: 5/17/23

Authors: Natalie Hoidal, Shane Bugeja, Quincy Sadowski   Following a slow, wet spring, the growing season is finally picking up. Our team of educators has been visiting farms across the state, and in general, everything is extremely delayed due to wet soils. Some fields are still flooded following heavy rainfall events this week. Nonetheless, we’ve seen plenty of exciting things in high tunnels and greenhouses already. Since things are so delayed, we’re foregoing our usual series of crop-by-crop updates this week and instead sharing some general observations. Soil testing reflections Many of you have likely heard about our 100 farms project: our team is visiting 100 vegetable farms this month to complete a series of chemical, biological, and physical soil tests with the goal of developing a better baseline understanding of MN vegetable farm and high tunnel soils. We’ve learned a lot already just from observations, and we’re excited to see what the test results show us. A few key observ

Apply now for the USDA's Emergency Relief Program

Did a natural disaster like the drought or the pandemic cause a loss of revenue from farming for you in 2020 or 2021? If so, you may be eligible for support from USDA’s Emergency Relief Program (ERP) or the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) from your local FSA office if you apply by June 2, 2023. ERP is a revenue-based program for crops including specialty crops, so you can determine if applying makes sense by comparing your disaster year(s) in 2020 or 2021 to a typical benchmark year of either 2018 or 2019. If your sales were down 30% or more from your typical season, it may make sense for you to apply. Ryan Pesch, Extension Educator in Ag Business Management is available to help you determine your eligibility and assist in preparing the application based on your farm financial records. More information about about ERP phase 2 and other disaster assistance from USDA is at available at the Go Farm Connect website at . The Go Farm Conne

FSMA update webinar about agricultural water for fruit and vegetable farmers

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety If you have attended a FSMA Produce Safety Rule grower training in the past and want to refresh your knowledge, this webinar will provide updates on the FSMA Produce Safety Rule for produce farms. Come to this webinar to hear about what is new since you attended and get your questions answered. All are welcome, even if you have not attended a Produce Safety Rule training. Presenters will include Extension Educators in food safety and horticultural systems at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University and inspectors from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Did you see the post earlier in April about water-related updates to the FSMA rule? These are the topics that we will be discussing, and more, at this webinar.  Topics will include: Overview of who is covered by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule Updates! Subpart E water related requirement updates. What you need to know about water testing, postharvest water use for washing a

Let pesticide applicators know where your specialty crops are

The DriftWatch program provides a simple way for crop producers to communicate information about their crop locations to pesticide applicators. Growers do this by posting their fields on the online FieldWatch Map . Pins in the map mark the site locations. The field borders are shown by zooming in closely on the map. Selecting a pin brings up additional information such as crop, conventional/organic production, and producer contact information. Pesticide applicators can view this information prior to spraying in an area and take needed precautions to avoid drift to sensitive sites. There are few restrictions on DriftWatch submissions. The program is for commercial producers, not home gardens. Sites must be at least half an acre in size. For more detailed information about using this program, refer to the FieldWatch User Guide: How to Register Your Crops and Beehives in FieldWatch . There is also DriftWatch information and videos on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) websit

Farm to School grant recipients announced - find a school looking to buy from you

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety The Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently awarded $4.22 million in Farm to School grants to school districts to purchase Minnesota-grown and -raised foods for school meals. The full press release is available online. This record amount of grant funding seeks to increase access to local foods served in schools, expand market opportunities for emerging farmers in the state, and support development of relationships between farmers and schools. If you are interested in selling to schools, this is a great time to reach out and make connections.  To see a list of 114 school districts that received grant funding, see the  press release  from the MDA and visit the MDA Farm to School grant website: First Bite Grantees and Full Tray Grantees .  Questions? Contact Kate Seybold, MDA Regional Marketing Specialist at or 651-201-6165 to learn more.

Cutworms in High Tunnels

Marissa Schuh, Integrated Pest Management Extension Educator. Originally published in 2022, updated for 2023. We hear from growers in the summer about cutworm issues in high tunnel crops, oftentimes long after the damage has been done.  It is always hard to retrace the steps and figure out what caused the damage.  As crops go into high tunnels, now is the time to think about past cutworm problems so we can hopefully catch the culprits and work on the problem in the future. There are many species of cutworm, though they all have a habit of curling up when disturbed. Photo: Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series , Who are the cutworms? “Cutworms” is a label that applies broadly to a large group of caterpillars with a wide range of life histories.  Some of the insects live in Minnesota year-round, while others migrate on weather fronts.  There are approximately 10 different cutworms and armyworms species we see in Minnesota that could cause the damage pe