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This is the final issue of the Vegetable Crops Hotline (VCH) for 2017. Now is the time for subscribers who receive a paper copy in the mail to renew. A renewal form is included with this issue. Note that we provide an up-to three years’ subscription of VCH with a reduced price. You can also sign-up for Veggie Texts with the same form. Email subscribers will remain on the subscription list for VCH as long as the email address works. Email subscribers will need to send us an email or call us to sign-up for Veggie Texts. An Indiana Vegetable Grower Association (IVGA) membership form is included here too. IVGA membership no longer automatically includes the VCH subscription. You need to indicate you would like to subscribe the VCH on the membership form. Thank you very much for your support of VCH. If you have any suggestions, ideas, comments, please do not hesitate to[Read More…]


he round lesions on this watermelon are caused by Phytophthora blight. Note that the Phytophtora blight fungus can be seen sporulating on the lesion under moist conditions.

This disease was a serious problem in much of the state this past summer.  As a result, I have had many questions about managing this disease.  The questions I have been asked have ranged from what do I spray to how does this disease work? Therefore, I have written an article about the symptoms, biology and management of Phytophthora blight. I will concentrate on Phytophthora blight of cucurbits, but this disease is also a very serious problem on peppers. In the following article, I will outline some of the information I think it is important to know about this important disease. Phytophthora blight-biology Phytophthora blight is caused by a fungus-like organism known as Phytophthora capsici. Even when I was in graduate school in the 1980’s, my professors told us that we would discuss Phytophthora and related organisms in our fungus taxonomy class even though these organisms are more closely related to brown[Read More…]


Farmers markets are a centerpiece of local food systems. These markets connect farmers with consumers and provide important economic benefits. While Indiana farmers can take advantage of the opportunities from selling directly to consumers, they face a dearth of information regarding pricing and marketing strategies. Information about pricing and product quality requirements are generally available for farmers who produce enough volume to enter wholesale markets. Larger farmers selling wholesale can access these weekly reports to define their marketing strategies, assess investment in new technologies, and assure profitability. On the other hand, Indiana’s small farmers have faced a lack of pricing and sales information regarding Indiana’s 155 farmer’s markets. Thus, Indiana farmers have had to rely on farmers market prices from neighboring states or walk down the market aisles to define prices, assess potential profitability, and determine market feasibility. The Horticulture Business Extension Program at Purdue University team started collecting fruit[Read More…]


Winter is the best time to recharge. In the last issue of this years’ Vegetable Crops Hotline newsletter, I would like to highlight a few free webinar resources that I found very useful in the past season. Hopefully, you can also benefit from them, and have a productive winter. eOrganic webinars http://articles.extension.org/pages/25242/webinars-by-eorganic A lot of great information related to organic production, including using biofungicides, biostimulants and biofertilizers to boost crop productivity and help manage vegetable diseases; Management options for striped cucumber beetle in organic cucurbits; Impacts of the food safety modernization act on diversified organic vegetable farms, and a lot more. Commercial Horticulture Webinars by Alabama Cooperative Extension http://www.aces.edu/anr/beginningfarms/webinararchive.php The webinar series cover topics including irrigation, greenhouse crop production, plant disease management, insect pest management, weed management and more. Vegetable webinars by Michigan State University Extension http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/beginning_farmer_webinar_series/vegetable_webinars The webinar series target for beginning farmers, topics include cover crops, season extension, plasticulture,[Read More…]


In the last two months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several communications dealing with the Produce Safety Rule (PRS). The following is a brief summary of those communications: Guidance On September 5, FDA released Guidance for Industry: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption: What You Need to Know About the FDA Regulation – Small Entity Compliance Guide. This is a compliance guide, prepared by FDA, to assist small entities in complying with the PSR. Copies of the document may be downloaded at https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ucm574281.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. Testing of Agricultural Water On September 11, FDA announced that it had determined that the following water testing methods are “scientifically valid” and “at least equivalent” to the method of analysis (EPA Method 1603) in §112.151(a) in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity: Method 1103.1 – Escherichia coli ( coli) in Water by Membrane Filtration Using membrane-Thermotolerant Escherichia[Read More…]


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Rhonda Taylor has recently joined the Department of Food Science, and the Extension food safety team, as Food Science Outreach Extension Specialist and Food Processing Manager. Rhonda obtained her B.S. in Science from the Purdue University School of Agriculture focusing on Ecology and Land Management, as well as an additional A.S. Degree in Applied Science in Biotechnology.  Prior to coming to Extension, she worked as a seed analyst for the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center and as a research technician working with soybeans and canola. Rhonda joined Purdue’s Food Science department in 2013 as a laboratory manager/research assistant in Food Safety with a research focus on food-borne pathogens, primarily in poultry and beef. In her new position, Rhonda will function as the point of contact for Food Science Extension programming. This includes working with the fresh produce industry, homebased vendors, and those interested in food processing validation studies. She[Read More…]


The new SafeProduceIN website is now live and may be accessed at www.SafeProduceIN.com. SafeProduceIN is a collaboration between Purdue Extension, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and the Indiana State Department of Health. The purpose of the collaboration is to assist Indiana produce growers with implementation of the Produce Safety Rule.  The new website will serve as a one-stop website where growers can submit produce food safety related questions, access food safety and FSMA resources, and register for trainings.


Consumers love cucumbers that are sweet, seedless and have thin skins. They are willing to pay high prices for the long or mini cucumbers sold at grocery stores. These cucumbers are often grown in greenhouses and shipped long distances. It will attract consumers’ attention if greenhouse type cucumbers can be produced locally in high tunnels, and be available in the early-season’s market. There are at least three benefits for targeting early-season cucumber production. First, prices are higher; second, there are less pest problems; and third, things are going slower in early seasons compared to in the summer. However, we all know that cucumbers love high temperatures and do not grow well when soil temperature is low, even in high tunnels. This is especially true for the greenhouse type cucumbers. The situation may be changed with the use of grafting technology. Using squash as rootstocks, we were able to harvest cucumbers[Read More…]


Strawberry production in Indiana primarily utilizes matted row systems, in which bare root strawberry plants are set in the spring, fruit is first harvested in the second year and plants are maintained for a few seasons. Strawberry production using an annual plasticultural system is popular in the southern states, at where strawberry is planted in the fall and harvested in the next spring. In the annual plasticultural system, strawberries have a longer harvest period and produce fruit with better quality. Growing strawberries as an annual crop is a challenge in Indiana. This is because our short fall makes it difficult for plants to reach the desirable sizes that lead to a sufficient yield in the following spring. This impression can be changed with the use of high tunnels that provide additional heat units and moderate frost protection. In a trial conducted in a 30 ×96 high tunnel at the Southwest[Read More…]


In the past season, we tested performances of eight specialty melons grown under high tunnel, greenhouse, hydroponic, and conventional field systems. The melon varieties we have tested in our trials include Lilliput, Inspire, Sugar Cube, French Orange, Tasty Bites, Escorial, Savor, and Artemis. Many of these melon varieties are Charentais (Cucumis melo var. cantalupensis). A specialty melon type with an outstanding fragrant smell. If you are wondering how to grow these specialty melons, please follow us at the Indiana Hort Congress. We will present what we have learned about growing these specialty melons under different production systems.


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