The main focus of our three-state (Iowa, Kentucky, and New York), three-year (2020-2022) project is on finding better ways to manage diseases, insect pests, and weeds in organic systems, and getting that information to growers. Our funding comes from USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
The Intelligent Sprayer is the creation of a team of USDA-ARS engineers at Wooster, Ohio, led by Dr. Heping Zhu. It has been tested on nursery trees, peaches, grapes, and other large-canopy crops, and is now available commercially for retrofitting standard airblast sprayers. Our study is the first to evaluate the Intelligent Sprayer for control of the full range of pests and diseases on apples during the whole growing season.
Multiple days of excessive heat can be hard on vegetable crops, especially ones known to be cool-season. Brassicas, lettuce, carrots and spinach are particularly vulnerable to bitterness, wilting, bolting, deformities and coloring that affect the quality of the produce.
The growth and development of alfalfa is affected by many factors, including temperature, soil moisture, stand age and even cultivar. Alfalfa growth has been slower than normal due to cool conditions in April. This is a good reminder that using a calendar date to determine when to harvest the first crop of alfalfa may not the best method. In order to accurately predict the optimal time for the first cutting, the University of Wisconsin developed the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality (PEAQ) method.
Prepare for a safe pesticide application season by checking the FieldWatch® registry before making pesticide applications. The FieldWatch® registry provides easy-to-use, accurate, and secure online tools to enhance communications and awareness between crop producers, beekeepers, and pesticide applicators.FieldWatch® features a voluntary mapping tool through Google Maps™ that shows pesticide applicators the locations of registered sensitive crops and beehives so they can make informed decisions regarding pesticide applications.
In few weeks growers will be planting sweet corn in Iowa. Sweet corn is an important commercial crop in Iowa. Based on the 2017 Agriculture Census, sweet corn is planted across 329 farms in Iowa with a collective acreage of 2,739 acres. Of the total acres, 1,743 is harvested for fresh market and the remaining for processing. For the fresh markets, growers practice succession planting of sweet corn to have a continuous supply for their customers during the growing season.
The pandemic of 2020 provided opportunity for specialty producers in Iowa to expand production and sales. But managing risk for specialty production is critical to capitalizing on new market opportunities.
Many commercial growers and home gardeners often confront the issue of Blossom End Rot (BER) in their tomato, pepper, and eggplant. The BER is a physiological disorder caused by a localized calcium deficiency in the blossom-end of the fruit. It is a physiological disorder and is not caused by fungi, bacteria, or any other living disease microorganisms. Also, BER could also be seen on non-solanaceous crops such as pumpkins, squash, and watermelons.
A personal weather station is simply integrated “tools” that measure weather variables such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, soil moisture, and leaf wetness. Some are affordable enough to install at your own farm which will give the most accurate representation for the weather in your farm.
For audio versions of this article, see the Small Farm Sustainability Podcast where we discuss return bloom, soil sampling, and interpreting soil reports over three separate podcast. The following discussion represents a snapshot in time as a lot can happen between now and next spring.