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Have you thought about producing your own value-added products (value-added: further process fresh produce to increase its value)? What’s the challenges for you to start or scale up your own value-adding business? We would like to invite you to participate in the study “Attitude, Knowledge, and Barriers towards Value-Adding Business among Indiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers”. We are interested in learning about your perspective and experiences. Your feedback will be very valuable for us to develop better food safety curriculum for value-adding business that address your challenges. All the responses will be kept confidential. We have two projects that you can participate in: Online Survey: this survey mainly focuses on understanding your attitude and experience on value-adding production, and your barriers to building value-adding process. You can participate in this project if you are Fruit and/or Vegetable Grower. You do not need to have a value-adding business! Please help us[Read More…]

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The initial cool wave of September is likely over as we welcome warmer temperatures for the next several weeks. The Climate Prediction Center is showing strong confidence for above-normal temperatures through September 24rd, which should help accumulate growing degree days and move agricultural production further along (Figure 1). Outlooks are showing significant probabilities for above-normal precipitation over the next few weeks, but it is uncertain how much and when that precipitation will occur. The 3-month (September-November) climate outlook is indicating significant probabilities for above-normal temperatures (Figure 2). This will hopefully discourage any cold waves passing through from causing an earlier-than-desired hard freeze event. However, keep in mind that predictions are still too far in the future to provide any certainty and climate outlooks are unable to account for a brief (1-to-3-day) event from passing through with temperatures low enough to cause a frost. Primary message: still too soon to predict[Read More…]

You may be seeing a few “stink bug-like” insects crawling around on your cucurbit crops this time of year. However, these slightly more slender insects are not stink bugs, they are actually squash bugs. Similarly to stink bugs though, they do give off quite an odor when crushed! Squash bug adults and nymphs (immatures) (Figures 1 – 3) attack all cucurbit vine crops, especially squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and melon. These insects feed by sticking their needle-like mouthparts into plant parts to sip on sap. Feeding damage by adults and nymphs can cause significant damage to the fruit and foliage: damaged fruits are disfigured and discolored, and leaves may wilt and become brittle and discolored as well. Generally, squash bugs are not a problem if controlled earlier in the season with insecticides. If not however, it’s still possible to see adults, nymphs, and even egg masses on plants as we move[Read More…]

As the days grow shorter and those of you who adventure into winter production begin to prepare your seed starts, keep an eye out for unwanted invaders. Pests such as thrips, mites and aphids may be on the move as our field production dwindles, and nothing is tastier than a tiny new plant! In order to increase the success of winter production, be sure that you are starting with clean plants before you tuck them away under those cozy row covers! Controlling weeds, which can serve as alternative hosts to the aphid pests, will lessen problems of re-infestation. Scout with diligence for aphids, they can be one of the most damaging and hard to control pests during the winter months in high tunnels. The first step to managing aphids is to develop a scouting plan. Aphids reproduce clonally and develop quickly leading to very large population build-up in a short[Read More…]

Purdue Extension is planning educational sessions for the Illiana Vegetable Growers Symposium (Jan. 7, 2020 in Schererville), Indiana Horticultural Conference (Feb. 11-13, 2020, in Indianapolis), and others. Your suggestions for topics and speakers that will be useful for your operation help us plan the programs. Phone (219) 548-3674, email emaynard@purdue.edu or text (219) 508-1644 your ideas to us soon! Thanks!

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Please join us for the grand opening of the Purdue Extension Food Safety Training Hub, located in the newly constructed Vincennes University Agricultural Center. Located on Highway 41 adjacent to SWPAC, the new facility features lab and office space, a large postharvest research area, classroom and audio-visual room for use in food safety programming. The event will be held on November 4 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm and will include guided tours, as well as remarks from individuals involved in the project. Light refreshments will be served. Those attending are asked to RSVP at http://bit.ly/FoodSafetyGrandOpening by October 21.

Many vegetable growers are closing in on the final harvest. Several growers have asked me about fungicide applications late in the season. In this article, I want to address when to stop. To limit the scope of this article, I will concentrate on tomato, cantaloupe and watermelon crops. These are crops where the fruit is consumed, not the foliage. For most vegetable crops, there is no need to apply a fungicide shortly before the final harvest. Foliage needs to be protected to preserve fruit quality. A plant with reduced foliage will produce a smaller fruit and/or fruit that have fewer sugars and other desirable compounds. I don’t know how much foliage needs to be reduced to affect fruit size or quality. However, I do know that for many foliar diseases, symptoms will not be obvious for a week to 10 days. It will take even longer for the foliar disease to significantly reduce foliage. Therefore, for[Read More…]

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Northwest Indiana Food Council 2019 FarmHop: Local Farm Tour Date: September 21, 2019, 9 to 4 pm Central Time Location: Valparaiso or Gary, IN Valparaiso, IN departure – This widely diverse tour will take you to a lively family farm with nearly 600 egg-laying chickens; an organic tilapia farm; a biodynamic farm producing vegetables, fruits, and flowers; and a homestead with incredible diversity including fruit production, heritage breed animals, and value-added products. Gary, IN departure – See several thriving urban farms with unique solutions for community food access, a beautiful aquaponics system, an urban farmstead with exotic plants and medicinal garden and a church changing the face of farming with an abundant supply of homegrown produce! Tickets are only $20 for adults or $10 for kids 12 and under and include a locally-sourced lunch! Plus, adult ticketholders will receive an added bonuses. Register at: https://farmhop2019.eventbrite.com or call (219) 313-8828. Southwest Indiana[Read More…]

Farmer Rancher Program This program is for farmers/ranchers to explore innovative sustainable agriculture solutions to production, marketing, labor, and other problems. This grant is offered as individual ($9,000 maximum), team of two farmers or ranchers ($18,000 maximum), or group ($27,000 maximum). Projects may last up to 24 months. Proposals are due December 5, 2019. Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online as well as useful information for completing a proposal at https://www.northcentralsare.org/Grants/Our-Grant-Programs/Farmer-Rancher-Grant-Program  Partnership Program This program is intended to foster cooperation between agriculture professionals and small groups of farmers and ranchers to catalyze on-farm research, demonstration, and education activities related to sustainable agriculture.  Partnership Grants are funded for up to 24 months. Up to $40,000 total funding request per application is allowed. The deadline for Partnership Program proposals is October 24, 2019. Interested applicants can find the call for proposals online at https://www.northcentralsare.org/Grants/Our-Grant-Programs/Partnership-Grant-Program

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Earlier this month Dr. Stephen Meyers joined the faculty in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture as an Assistant Professor. His research and extension efforts will focus on weed management in specialty crops. Before returning to Purdue he served as an Associate Extension/Research Professor and Sweetpotato Extension Specialist with Mississippi State University where he conducted practical crop production, pest management, and value-added research to address stakeholder concerns and needs. He also co-managed a 640 acre research station in North Mississippi that focused on sweetpotato, cotton, corn, and soybean research. Stephen grew up in Rensselaer, Indiana (Jasper County) and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 2007 where he majored in Horticultural Production and Marketing and minored in Weed Science. Upon graduation, he pursued a M.S. and Ph.D. in Horticulture at North Carolina State University (2009 and 2012, respectively) conducting weed management research in numerous vegetable, small[Read More…]

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