137 articles tagged "Vegetable Crops - General".

Figure 2. Demonstration soil solarization in a high tunnel.

Soil solarization can be used as a tool for soil disinfestation. It is accomplished by covering moist soil with transparent polyethylene film for 4 to 6 weeks in the summer. During this period, soils are heated to temperatures that are lethal to many soil pathogens, nematodes and weed seeds. This summer we conducted a demonstration trial in one of the high tunnels at Southwest Purdue Ag Center. The high tunnel was divided into three parts that were covered with 6-mil plastic, 1.5-mil plastic, and no plastic. The 6-mil plastic is the old covering of the high tunnel, and the 1.5-mil plastic was purchased from a paint store. Air temperature and soil temperature at the depth of 12 inches were recorded. We saw little difference between temperatures of the soils covered with 6-mil plastic and 1.5-mil plastic, which indicated that the old coverings of high tunnels are as good as thin[Read More…]

Figure 1. Odd pricing used by farmers selling at the Lafayette (Indiana) Farmers Market.

This publication is the second part of a series of publications that aim to help farmers selling at farmers markets and other local markets. Below we offer information on price determination and pricing strategies for farmers markets. The importance of understanding pricing information Pricing is probably the single most important driver of farm profitability and long-term sustainability; yet it tends be one of the least controlled factors by farmers. The price that you tend to set for their produce represents the monetary value of a product. In economic terms, price reflects how much the consumer values your produce, which depends on internal (produce quality, the farm’s image, production yield, credit terms) and external (competitors, consumers’ preferences, seasonality) factors. A study by Darby et al. (2008) found that consumers prefer locally grown over regional or U.S. grown, and are willing to pay almost twice as much for local products. For example,[Read More…]

Farmers markets continue to grow in number and locations. According to the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), there are currently 8,702 farmers markets in the United States, an increase of almost 400 percent since 1994 (USDA-AMS, 2017). The USDA-AMS directory of farmers markets reported 191 farmers markets in Indiana by August 2017: 129 summer and 62 winter markets. Indiana farmers markets vastly differ in size: markets may occupy a few stalls to several city blocks. For example, the Broad Ripple Farmers Market is an 80-vendor market in Indianapolis and is considered one of the biggest farmers market in Indiana. Depending on the location, summer market season is anytime between mid-March until mid-November, while the winter season tends to be between November and March. Winter and summer markets offer vastly different produce choices. Winter markets usually offer less produce and the majority of the sales are spinach, kale,[Read More…]

Figure 1. Fertilizers form insoluble precipitations that clog drip emitters.

When mixing fertilizers, it is important to check fertilizer compatibility before application. If incompatible fertilizers are mixed, they form insoluble precipitations that can clog drip emitters and damage sprayers used to apply foliar fertilizers (Figure 1.). This article discusses a few scenarios for which special attention should be paid on the solubility of mixed fertilizers. Scenario 1. A grower is using 20-20-20, a complete fertilizer to fertigate tomatoes. To prevent blossom end rot, he decided to add calcium nitrate in his fertigation program. However, problems may be caused by the application of these two fertilizers.  The reason is that calcium from calcium nitrate and phosphate from ammonium phosphate in the complete fertilizer may form calcium phosphate, which is insoluble in water. Scenario 2. A soil test indicates that tomato plants are low in magnesium. Epson salt (magnesium sulfate) is recommended to correct magnesium deficiency. The grower should avoid applying Epson[Read More…]

When we first began working in high tunnels about 8 years ago, most of the popular literature said that the tunnels would provide protection from most insect pests, other than the usual greenhouse pests like aphids and mites. What we found very quickly is that that information was untrue. We found very high populations of a variety of insect pests within our high tunnels. Caterpillars of various types seem to be especially problematic in high tunnels. Our theory is that the moths fly into the tunnel and can’t figure out how to escape, so the females just lay their eggs on the crop they can reach. The key to managing these caterpillars is regular scouting and treating early. For the crop you are growing, look for the products recommend in the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for caterpillars, then check Table 16 on page 45 to see if it can be[Read More…]

Figure 1. Spider Mites damage on cucumbers in a high tunnel

We have received a number of reports of spider mite problems lately. Some of them have been on crops grown in high tunnels, particularly tomatoes and cucumbers. High tunnels are the perfect environment for mites because it is hot, which means they reproduce faster, and the mites are protected from rainfall, which is a major mortality factor for them. So far, our efforts to develop biological control strategies for mites in high tunnels have been unsuccessful. Therefore, chemical control is often required. One important point is that you should start the management process early, before the mites get out of hand. Don’t wait until you have a disaster before you take action. Check the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for the miticides labeled for use on your crop, and then check the table on page 45 to see if it can be used in greenhouses or high tunnels. Most of the[Read More…]

Recent dry weather raises concern about effectiveness of preemergent herbicides.  Preemergent herbicides applied on the soil surface need to be moved into the soil where the target weed seeds are germinating (normally 1-2 inches deep) in order to be effective. The process normally requires 0.5 to 0.75 inch of water within a few days of herbicide application. For example, product labels state that Curbit 3EC® needs 0.5 inch of water within 5 days of application, and Dual Magnum® needs at least 0.5 inch water within 10 days of application. In nonirrigated areas where rain is not anticipated, a shallow cultivation is needed to move the herbicide into the zone of weed seed germination. Most areas of Indiana were dry the last week of May and first week of June. If preemergent herbicides were not incorporated in a timely manner by water or machine, unsatisfactory weed control might be observed. In that case,[Read More…]

Developing and mixing your nutrient solution is one of several very important steps in the production process. Mistakes are easily made when fertilizers are mixed. Not only does this have a cost implication, but also it can have severe consequences on production and therefore revenue. In the previous article Taking Care of Plant Nutrition in Your High Tunnel-Water Soluble Fertilizer Calculations, we have looked at basic calculations that is important when interpreting the fertilizer formulation in the bag and how to use that information to apply specific concentrations of mineral nutrients. In this issue, we will discuss what you need to consider when developing a nutrient program, and focus on key fertilizer characteristics and nutrient solution mixing tips. Developing a nutrient program A nutrient solution is just as good as the quality of the ingredients and the time spend on formulation, calculation and mixing. Fertilizer should be of a high[Read More…]

Figure 1. A 30% black shade cloth was added to one of the high tunnels

Tomatoes growing in high tunnels are in the middle of or close to harvest. Developing and maturing fruit are under leaf canopies. On the top of the plants, many flowers are still blooming. These flowers will contribute to the second big harvest. Although tomatoes in June are most valuable, we certainly appreciate big, red and delicious tomatoes in July and August.  To ensure a sustained yield, it is important for these flowers to set fruit. The process of fruit set is very sensitive to excessively high temperatures. When temperatures rise above 100°F, even just for a few hours for a handful of days, tomato flowers may be aborted and fruit set fail. Night temperatures above 75°F may also cause tomato fruit set failure. In addition to fruit set, high temperatures affect fruit ripening process. Ethylene associated ripening decreases markedly at a temperature above 93°F. As a result, there might be an increasing number of[Read More…]

Managing domestic animals in a direct market venue can be very challenging. While best practice is to exclude domestic animals from production and packing areas, produce may be exposed to domestic animals at the point of sale if selling at a produce auction or farmers market. When selling through a direct market venue, growers should take steps to exclude domestic animals from produce. This may mean appropriate signs discouraging or prohibiting pets or a designated area where buyers may tie-up their pets away from the display area. Service animals present a special case. Service animals are protected by both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Indiana Law. Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. The tasks or work the animal does must be directly related to the[Read More…]

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