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Can I safely use animal-based compost in my garden this spring?

  Annalisa Hultberg, extension educator, food safety Animal-based soil amendments such as composted manure and poultry litter can build the health, tilth, fertility and water hold capacity of your soil. They can also be a great way to use resources you might have on the farm such as manure.  However, all animal-based soil amendments, especially those that include untreated (raw) manure can have pathogens that can cause human illness. Here are some guidelines to help you minimize any potential risk of contamination and foodborne illness as you use these products. What are the risks with animal-based soil amendments? All animal-based amendments carry a risk of microbial contamination, though many factors affect the level of risk in each. Different animals tend to be reservoirs for different pathogens. For example, poultry like chickens and turkey often shed  Salmonella  and  Campylobacter  and ruminants (cows and sheep) often shed toxigenic  E. coli  (STEC). It is not possible to know if
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Prepare your high tunnel for a hot summer

After a record setting warm winter, NOAA is continuing to predict above average temperatures in their three month forecast as well as their July-August-September 2024 forecast. With so many new high tunnels in Minnesota we want to make sure that high tunnel growers are prepared for a hot summer. Shoulder season crops that are better suited to cool weather often struggle in June as temperatures heat up, and even heat tolerant crops like tomatoes can struggle when temperatures get too high. If you've ever worked in a high tunnel in August, you also know that it can be pretty miserable for people. There are a few key practice that can help you and your plants thrive in a high tunnel during hot summer weather. What are some common issues that arise when high tunnels get too hot?  Poor yields caused by flower abortion and pollen issues Cool season crops that bolt or become bitter Ripening disorders like blossom end rot, yellow shoulder, and internal white tissue in tomatoes Sunscald, w

Resources for making an IPM plan

  Marissa Schuh , IPM Extension Educator With March behind us, plants are in greenhouses and the growing season is approaching.  Refresh yourself on tools for managing pests here. Cucumber beetle is a pest to be prepared for. Photo: Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Building knowledge about pests While the exact mix of problems we see varies each growing season, there are some problems we should be ready for every year. Some tools for learning about pests we regularly see in Minnesota include… Insect management for vegetable crops lists and links out to detailed pages on pests we see regularly in different Minnesota crop families Disease management for vegetable crops lists and links out to pages on vegetable disease by crop family Subscribe to our newsletter ! If you’re reading this, you are likely already subscribed to the UMN Fruit and Vegetable News . We will be releasing weekly crop updates to help you get up to speed with whatever pest issu

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