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Showing posts from March, 2024

Escaping spring frost in the Upper Midwest

Madeline Wimmer , Extension Educator, Fruit Production Image: Young grape shoots damaged by late spring frost (May 11th, 2021). Photos taken by Madeline Wimmer. Cold stress and frost damage have the potential to impact perennial fruit crops during different times of the year, and springtime in the Upper Midwest is no exception. While cold stress can happen at warmer temperatures, frost occurs when ambient temperatures fall below freezing (32 ° F).  When a spring frost happens, it can harm vegetation, and negatively impact bloom and fruit set. This is problematic recognizing that many perennial fruits exit dormancy and begin growing in Minnesota before the threat of spring frost has passed. Crop loss due to frost damage can be devastating and many strategies that help annual crop growers (e.g., delayed planting) are not usually possible for perennial crops. What happens when dormant chilling requirements are ahead of schedule? During winter seasons when more chilling hours (total hours

Climate resilience resources for vegetable growers

We've developed a new webpage for growers to learn about projected climate changes in Minnesota, and strategies for resilience that are specific to Minnesota, and to vegetable farming. Climate models project the following about our future climate in Minnesota by the years 2040-2060: Increased average precipitation statewide in spring, winter and fall. No change or a slight decrease in average summer precipitation. Increased frequency of wet and dry extremes such as heavy rains (more than 2 inches) and drought statewide. Longer periods between wet and dry events. Warmer average temperatures year-round, with the greatest change in winter average temperature. Increased number of days at or above 90°F, increased number of nights at or above 70°F. Higher intensity of drought due to higher temperatures. Decreased number of days at or below 32°F, decreased number of nights at or below 0°F. Later freeze dates, earlier thaw dates. If you are applying for funds for climate mitigation practic

New MDA grants for specialty crop growers: weather resilience

Recognizing the risks posed by extreme weather, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering a new grant opportunity to help eligible producers make their operations more resilient to drought, flooding, and severe weather events like storms, tornadoes, and straight-line winds. The Preparing for Extreme Weather Grant, also referred to as the Prepare Grant, offers one-time competitive grants of up to $10,000 for Minnesota livestock and specialty crop producers to buy and install supplies and equipment for weather event preparation. It requires a 50% match. Eligible projects include — but are not limited to — water tanks, pipelines, and wagons/trailers; wells (new improvements, fixes, replacement pumps); irrigation equipment (including drip irrigation); fans; misters; livestock shade systems; and windbreaks. The MDA expects to award 50 to 75 grants with the $500,000 available for this program and encourages producers to apply early. Applications will be accep

Opportunity to participate in a study developing enterprise budgets for wholesale specialty crops

University of Minnesota horticulture faculty and Extension educators would like to work with local produce farmers who aim to sell to institutions to develop enterprise budgets and decision tools. The goal is to better understand which crops are most profitable for sales to institutions, and profitability at different scales of production. During the summers of 2024, we will survey farmers who grow melons, cucumbers (high tunnel or field) and tomatoes (high tunnel or field) about their production costs. Each farmer will be paid a stipend of $500 per crop that they report, and you can sign up to report on multiple crops. Participants will keep track of costs and labor associated with growing the crop, as well as yields and sales.   To sign up or learn more please reach out directly to Chengyan Yue at .  Image: University of Minnesota

Weeds get spring fever too

Marissa Schuh , IPM Extension Educator Models suggest that significant cold has passed , things are starting to green up and soil is warming . While this warm winter is causing growers stress about what diseases and insects will do this spring, this early spring can provide rare windows for weed control.  As with everything, what happens will vary at each farm and with each weed, but it might not all be bad news. Early season weed flush. Photo: Tom Peters For example, much of Minnesota had minimal snow cover for most of the season. For annual weeds that shed seeds, if those seeds were left on the soil surface, those seeds were easy picking for birds and rodents for most of the winter. For those seeds in our soil’s weed seedbank, each species will be looking for different environmental cues to emerge. We are likely to see many weeds emerge earlier than usual. For example, common lambsquarters germinate when temperatures are as low as 43F, but most will germinate when daytime temperature

What does a wimpy winter mean for insects?

Marissa Schuh , IPM Extension Educator. Reviewed by Anthony Hanson, Field Crop IPM Extension Educator. The National Weather Service's Seasonal Temperature outlook for March, April, and May suggests our dud of a winter has wrapped.  Many people are wondering how this will impact insects, and as always, it depends! Here are some things to think about. National Weather Service Each species of insect, both beneficial and pest, has a different strategy for riding out the winter.  While this winter was overall pretty mild, we still had a cold snap in January, and we still got below-zero temperatures many nights.  We had minimal snow cover, but we still had plenty of freeze thaw cycles.  Each one of these factors will impact each insect  that spends the winter in Minnesota differently. We likely had enough cold snaps to make sure insects that don’t typically spend the winter in Minnesota weren’t able to spend it here. Insects like corn earworm , potato leafhopper , and  black cutworm w