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New 6-3-2020: Application for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) open; Jim Mintert and Indiana FSA Director Steve Brown discuss CFAP application;Indiana State Dept. of Health – Food Safety Guidance (English and Spanish); Guidance for Migrant Farm Workers, Labor Camps Operators and their Employers (Spanish); FDA and USDA release recommendations for those short of PPE. What is new? (6-3-2020) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Application Details with Purdue’s Jim Mintert and Indiana FSA Director Steve Brown – video and podcast  (5/27) https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/home/resource/2020/05/coronavirus-food-assistance-program/ Application for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program open on May 26 (5/27) https://www.farmers.gov/cfap Indiana State Dept. of Health – Food Safety Guidance – 5/29 update (6/3) English https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/IN_COVID-19_FoodGuidance_5.29.20.pdf Spanish https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/IN_COVID-19_FoodGuidance_03.31.20_version%20nueva.pdf Indiana State Dept. of Health – Interim Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Guidance for Migrant Farm Workers, Labor Camps Operators and their Employers – Spanish version (5/19) https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/COVID-19%20migrant%20worker%20Spanish%205.19.20.pdf FDA and USDA release recommendations for those short of PPE (5/22) https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-and-usda-release-recommendations-those-food-and-agriculture-sector-experiencing-shortages-ppe  Here are[Read More…]

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What is wrong with these strawberries?  Answer: The deformed fruit is likely caused by frost damage or poor pollination. More information about deformed strawberry fruit can be found in this issue’s article Factors may cause deformed strawberry fruit.      

Watermelon is best grown at temperatures around 80-90°F. Temperatures above 90°F reduce the growth rate; above 105°F may cause plant injury. Temperatures below 42°F result in watermelon chilling injury; below 32°F will kill watermelon plants. Extended cool days that lead to soil temperatures dropping into lower 50°F can also kill watermelon seedlings. Using low tunnels is one strategy to avoid chilling injury and encourage early plant growth. How does the plastic covered low tunnels modify temperatures in early watermelon season? Figure 1 shows the air temperature comparison between low tunnel (1 mil plastic film, perforated) and without low tunnels. The data was taken from April 24 to May 25, 2020 in a watermelon field at Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center. During the time period, the recorded minimal temperatures were below 40°F for 5 nights. Low tunnels increased the minimal temperature from 0-4.5 degrees (Table 1). Table 1. Minimal air temperatures with and[Read More…]

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This article discusses the abiotic factors that may cause deformed strawberry fruit. unevenly developed strawberry fruit (Figure 1): Frost damage is probably the most common abiotic factor causing misshapen strawberry fruit. Temperatures lower than 30°F kill the pistil (female part) of strawberry flowers. Depending on the extent of the injury and the stage of fruit development. The entire pistillate portion of the flower may be killed, which will result in the loss of fruit; Or a few pistils may be killed, fruit expansion stops at where pistils were killed. The damaged fruit then develops unevenly, resulting in misshapen fruit. Lack of wind for pollination is less likely a problem for field strawberry production but can be a concern for high tunnel production. Because high tunnels are typically closed at the peak strawberry blooming stage in order to attract heat. Air movement is very limited inside of the high tunnel that results in poor[Read More…]

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is making headlines and eliciting USDA action. Growers need to learn more about ToBRFV biology, symptoms and control. Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is a newly identified virus affecting tomato, pepper and possibly their relatives. ToBRFV first appeared in Israel in 2014. Since then, it has shown up in several other countries, including eradicated greenhouse outbreaks in 2018 and 2019 in Arizona and California. These back-to-back U.S. outbreaks indicate ToBRFV will probably be something that without good diligence has a high probability of happening again. An added concern for the U.S. industry is ToBRFV is present in countries exporting tomato and pepper fruit to the U.S.; these include Mexico (where it was widespread in 2018) and the Netherlands. The virus has not been found in Canada, but some fruit imported into the U.S. goes through Canada. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is[Read More…]

Waterhemp is prevalent in the Midwest and the Great Plain States. It became a significant agricultural weed in 1990s. Before then it was present in crop fields, but it is presumed that it rarely reached economic infestations. It became a problem in Indiana by 1998. Waterhemp is best adapted where less aggressive tillage is practiced. The adoption of conservation tillage might have aided in its widespread establishment. Also, the use of herbicides in the late 1980s coincided with the spread of waterhemp, and it quickly became resistant to Group 2 herbicides (ALS-inhibitors). Today waterhemp populations have been documented to also have resistance to Groups 5 (Photosystem II-inhibitors), 9 (glyphosate), 14 (PPO-inhibitors) and 27 (HPPD-inhibitors or “bleachers”). Identification: At the seedling stage, it can be difficult to distinguish waterhemp from other pigweeds. Cotyledons are egg- to ovate-shaped (Figure 1). When plants are larger, waterhemp can be differentiated because it has no[Read More…]

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a temporary policy regarding eligibility for the qualified exemption under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The policy is designed to provide flexibility to growers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The policy and guidance may be found on FDA’s website at https://www.fda.gov/media/138316/download. Under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, growers may receive a qualified exemption if total food sales (defined as anything that may be used as food and drink for humans and animals) are less than $500,000 annually and more than half of all sales are to a qualified end user. A qualified end user may be (a) the consumer of the food or (b) a restaurant or retail food establishment that is located in the same state or the same Indiana reservation as the farm or not more than 275 miles away. The COVID-19 public health emergency[Read More…]

As we continue to move toward harvest for many of our produce crops, numbers of workers will continue to increase on produce farms. Management of worker health has been, and continues to be, critical to insuring that farms have adequate labor. The following are a few resources available to growers as they continue to monitor and manage worker health: 1.  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Labor: Joint guidance for agriculture workers and employers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-agricultural-workers.html. 2. Indiana State Department of Health: Spanish and English versions of guidance documents are online at https://www.in.gov/isdh/23276.htm. a. Guidance for Migrant Farm Workers, Labor Camps Operators and their Employer b. Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (poster) c. Stop the Spread of Germs Like COVID-19 (poster) 3. Purdue Extension: Management of Farm Labor During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Publication FS-38-W) available from[Read More…]

The month of May was sprinkled with a record-breaking freeze over Mother’s Day weekend, followed by heavy rainfall the following weekend, with a roller coaster of cool periods and extremely warm periods. We often think of spring as being that transition between winter and summer with lots of ups and downs, but those extremes from one week to the next made it difficult to know what to expect more than a few days out. By the time the month ended, precipitation was slightly below normal in the southwestern and west-central parts of Indiana with the rest of the state slightly above normal. May’s temperatures averaged to only 1°F to 2°F below normal. This is a great example of how averaging data can mask the extremes that made up reality! What will June be like? The latest national Climate Prediction Center outlooks for June are showing increased confidence for above normal[Read More…]

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