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Welcome to a new year of the Vegetable Crops Hotline (VCH), Purdue Extension’s newsletter for people in the business of growing vegetables. As usual, we will have fifteen issues throughout the 2020 growing season. The first issue of the year is sent to all who subscribed to VCH via US-mail in 2019 as well as new subscribers for 2020. To continue receiving future copies through US-mail, renew your Hotline subscription using the form attached  to this issue. The year that your subscription is paid through is on the bottom right hand side of your envelope. Note that we provide an up-to three years’ subscription of VCH at a reduced price. If you receive the issue through email, you will continue to receive the newsletters on the issue dates. In addition, you will receive emails if there are articles or announcements that need your immediate attention. These articles will be posted under Hot[Read More…]


A grafted tomato plant grown in a high tunnel

Tomato and Cucumber growers who are interested in grafting tomato and cucumber plants by themselves may find this information helpful. Step-By-Step instruction of how to graft tomato plants is available from Purdue Extension publication Vegetable Grafting: Techniques for Tomato Grafting https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=HO-260-W as well as a Purdue Extension video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ufx66Isf88 A cucumber grafting instruction was also released. It provides step-by-step guidance of cucumber splice grafting technique. The publication is available at https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/HO-328-W.PDF The cucumber grafting video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-tXoobiMnY&t=1s


Did you read this article about How Growing Media for Organic Production Compare ? Or this one about Abnormal Transplant Symptoms Might be Caused by Poor Media ? Please let us know whether they were helpful by taking a short survey here: https://purdue.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_54rCQ6xW3w7ZcXz


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…]


It is time to renew your Indiana Vegetable Growers Association (IVGA) membership for 2020. Please use the form attached to this newsletter or download from ivga.org/renewal.pdf and send in with your membership dues. About IVGA IVGA was established in the early 1900’s to be the Voice for Vegetable Growers in Indiana and is dedicated to the improvement of vegetable production and marketing in Indiana. The IVGA supports education and research about vegetables and melons in Indiana, and as your advocate, the IVGA is your resource to help find solutions for your everyday problems. Join today and be a part of a great team in Indiana!


The 2019/2020 winter has not been very white so far, and as we move further into February, it is not looking like any snowfall records will be broken. Starting October 1, 2019, most of the state is 50-75 percent of normal through February 18, 2020. This translates to as much as 10 inches of snow behind average! The 1981-2010 normal snowfall amount for the rest of this season (i.e., February 18th through April 16th) ranges from 2 inches in southern Indiana up to 10 inches in northern Indiana. Unless some major snow events occur over the next several weeks, this winter season will be one of the least snowy. That does not mean Indiana is in a drought, however! The precipitation has been falling – just not the frozen kind. Since October 1, 2019, Indiana has received above normal liquid precipitation ranging from a few inches above normal in the[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…]


Warm-season vegetables like tomato, cucumber, pepper etc. often receive premium prices if they were sold at farmers’ markets earlier in the season. The same happens on summer squash, with the different fruit shape and color, summer squash provides a great diversity to the market. High tunnels that  are planted with warm-season vegetables are often closed to maintain heat inside the structure in the spring. Growers often hesitate to bring beehives to high tunnels because of the increased production cost and potential worker safety concerns. Under such circumstances, crops that can set fruit without pollination (parthenocarpic) have an advantage for early-season high tunnel production. Previous studies indicated parthenocarpic character exists in some summer squash cultivars. But such information is not always clearly indicated in seed catalogs. Without knowing the information, farmers may miss the opportunity of growing summer squash and targeting for an early harvest in high tunnels. In the spring[Read More…]


Recent studies have suggested that on-farm food safety practices can have unexpected economic and ecological impacts. Despite the potential for negative consequences, limited data is available on the costs and benefits of implementing specific practices. Co-managing farms for food safety and sustainability is further complicated because farms are linked to adjacent environments so that management decisions can have unexpected ecological, economic and food safety consequences. A comprehensive understanding of the links between agricultural and adjacent environments is key to ensuring environmental health, sustainability, and food safety. A new survey, funded by the Atkinson Center at Cornell University, promises to give a clearer picture of these linkages and what this means for growers. Specifically, to meet this need, a new collaborative research project between researchers at Cornell University, the University of California, and the University of Rochester is reaching out to growers in the Eastern United States to fill out a[Read More…]


Vegetable growers in Northwest Indiana may want to take advantage of a March 17 Specialty Crop Irrigation Meeting in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Presenters Phil Ausra, Trickl-Eez Irrigation Inc., Dr. Younsuk Dong,  MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Irrigation, and Lyndon Kelley, MSU Extension/Purdue Extension Irrigation Educator will cover irrigation scheduling, irrigation design process, and using irrigation for fertilizer and chemical application, in addition to Michigan rules and regulations. For more information see the brochure at https://www.canr.msu.edu/irrigation/upoads/files/Specialty%20Crop%20Irr%20Meeting%2003.17.20%20FINAL.pdf or contact L. Kelley, (269) 467-5511, kelleyl@msu.edu


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