232 articles tagged "Vegetable Crops - General".

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“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  – Yogi Berra No matter what your business does or who it serves, the business (and its employees) need goals and objectives. Yogi Berra sums it up best – you need to have a target or you’ll never make it there. Goals are general and can help to shape where you are going, where objectives should be concise and explain how you will get there. Action plans can subsequently be established to break down each objective into small, manageable projects (normally taking no longer than a week each to complete). Goals and objectives give you something to work towards, complete with timelines and metrics.  When defining goals and objectives, make sure that they are SMART – smart, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and timely. You can set goals, objectives, action plans, and associated timelines and metrics related to personal[Read More…]

As you prepare to fill your high tunnels and greenhouses or even field plots, take a close peek at the weeds in your area. There can be some sneaky pests that have overwintered on the plant material in and around your farm. In high tunnels in particular, I have recently found overwintering populations of two spotted spider mites and a variety of aphid species. Before you put those tender little transplants into these environments, be sure to get rid of the straggling weeds and insects. Remove the plant material, move it away from your growing space, and allow some down time before you move the new crops in. Aphids and mites can not survive without living plant material. They will not overwinter in the soil, they need to be feeding on active growing plant material. Happy growing season!

While not a new technology, I thought it timely to talk about the use of yellow sticky cards as a monitoring tool. These cards will not manage insect pests in your crops, but can be a very valuable monitoring tool in high tunnels and greenhouses. Many of the insect pests that migrate into our crops move on wind currents (aphids and mites for example) or the people working in these spaces. Strategically placing sticky cards around the borders of a planting, where they can intercept wind currents, or along high traffic areas, is a great strategy for monitoring early signs of infestations. Considerations: The industry has come to the consensus that yellow sticky cards are the best tool. There is no need to invest in cards with other colors. Some cards also contain pheromones, an added chemical to attract a particular pest. For general monitoring this is not necessary. For[Read More…]

In the October 2019 issue of the Vegetable Crops Hotline, I referenced the new regulatory changes to herbicides containing the active ingredient paraquat. One of the new requirements is for closed system packaging. To quote the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “New closed-system packaging (is) designed to prevent transfer or removal of the pesticide except directly into proper application equipment. This will prevent spills, mixing or pouring the pesticide into other containers or other actions that could lead to paraquat exposure.” Earlier this month I had a chance to see one of the ways chemical companies are complying with the new regulation. At the Weed Science Society of American Annual Meeting, Syngenta presented their closed packaging and transfer system. It contains a closed system cap that cannot be removed or opened by hand (Figures 1 and 2). In order to remove herbicide from the container, the cap must be connected to an[Read More…]

Meteorological winter (December-February) is finally over and we can start looking forward to spring.  Across Indiana, winter brought above average precipitation (Figure 1), though below average snowfall.  The temperatures were slightly above normal (2°F-6°F; Figure 2) with no record-breaking cold periods.  Since there were so few colder-than-normal periods, the overwintering of pests and therefore increased pest populations will be a concern for this 2020 growing season. Forecasts for the next several weeks are showing high confidence for above-normal precipitation and temperature.  This pattern is currently projected to continue throughout the March through May 3-month period, and there is strong consensus across the climate community that the rain will not be as impactful as it was in 2019. Computer models are providing guidance that around 2 inches more than average are likely in southern Indiana decreasing to only one-half inch more than average in the northern counties. The 1981-2010 climate normal[Read More…]

When houseplants and garden seedlings are kept too wet, roots can rot and the fungus that grows in the soil can feed fungus gnats. For houseplants, fungus gnats are usually just a nuisance. When growing seedlings or in a greenhouse adults can spread fungal diseases to flowers. Larvae can spread fungal diseases when they feed on roots. Where to fungus gnats come from?  Fungus gnats can get in the home when plants are brought in from outside, or when transplanting plants with infested potting soil. How do you manage fungus gnats? Avoid overwatering your plants. Plants need less water in cloudy days in winter and spring. As such, it is easy to overwater plants if you water by the calendar.   It is better to check you plants to see if they need water by touching the surface to see if it is dry. After you water, do not let plants[Read More…]


One concern for every vegetable grower is finding solutions to pest management problems quickly. An example would be anthracnose of watermelon. You recognize the disease or you have had it officially diagnosed. Or perhaps you anticipate this disease every year and want to start applications of a fungicide early in the season. Where do you find recommended products and application details? For years, vegetable growers have reached for the Midwest Vegetable Guide for Commercial Growers (known in Indiana as the ID-56). This annually updated guide includes disease, insect and weed recommendations as well as detailed info about such subjects as food safety, soil fertility and organic production. Starting in 2020, growers may choose to reach for their phones instead of a hard copy. While the hard copy is still available at the same $15 price, the guide is now searchable from data phones, tables, laptops and desktop computers. Read on[Read More…]

Table 1. Growing media evaluated and major ingredients as listed by manufacturer.

Growing media for organic transplant production vary a lot in their chemical composition: pH, electrical conductivity, nutrient levels, and C:N ratio. This of course influences how seedlings grow. Knowing the characteristics of growing media can help growers decide whether adding nutrients or materials to adjust pH are likely to improve seedling growth. As part of our research into media for organic transplant production we would like to test growing media used by Indiana growers using organic practices. The media could be a commercially available product, or a product made on the farm. If you would like your media to be tested, please fill out the form at https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eezVW7ubRhgh3Ip . Wait for notice that your submission will be accepted and then send 4 pints of media to Liz Maynard, Purdue University, 1101 Glendale Blvd, Suite 101-A, Valparaiso, IN 46383. To request a hard copy of the form, contact Liz Maynard, emaynard@purdue.edu, [Read More…]

Figure 1. Take soil samples at 6 inches deep

This article introduces a new soil test for high tunnel growers. Why is there a need for a new soil test for high tunnel production? Soil tests are valuable tools helping growers decide how much fertilizers and/or other soil amendments to apply for growing a specific vegetable crop. It also helps growers to detect soil fertility-related problems early. The routine soil test and its recommendations for vegetable crops were developed based on research conducted in the open field. When it comes to high tunnel production, the routine soil test and recommendations become less valuable for at least three reasons: Crops growing in high tunnels typically have a much higher yield potential; they require more nutrients than the same crop grown in the open-field with lower yield potential. Therefore the soil test index (low, medium, high) and recommendation for specific nutrients may not apply for high tunnel crops. Since there is[Read More…]

Beginning this month, Purdue Extension will offer produce food safety trainings throughout Indiana. The trainings utilize the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) training curriculum and will be offered at multiple locations across the state. For produce farms that are covered under the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, at least one manager or responsible person is required to receive food safety training equivalent to FDA’s standardized curriculum. Completion of a PSA grower training is one way to meet that requirement. For growers who are not covered by the Produce Safety Rule, the trainings are an excellent introduction to produce food safety and will be useful to those who are beginning to develop a food safety program on their farm, or who want to learn more about this topic. There are currently 6 offerings across the state. Classes are from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Cost is $100. This includes a[Read More…]

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