Articles from 2016

130 articles found.

Vegetable growers are familiar with pesticide labels that specify how much of a product may be applied. As commercial growers, we usually think about such instructions as telling us how much pesticide is the right amount to apply to a crop to be effective. While such an interpretation is correct, there is more to the labeled rates of a pesticide. While many researchers (including myself) are involved with experiments to try to manage pests with pesticides, others are involved in trying to determine the pesticide concentrations that may safely exist in the produce we all eat. The latter is known as the pesticide tolerance. Both efficacies of the pesticide and human safety are involved in determining the label rates and timing of each pesticide. Indeed, some pesticides are not labeled for certain crops for reasons of safety. There is mostly good news in the just released 2015 Pesticide Data Program. Each year, the USDA’s[Read More…]


Last fall, my lab received a carrot sample with disease-like lesions (Figures 1 and 2). There are at least 3 carrot diseases that may appear similar. These diseases are: Alternaria leaf blight (late blight), Cercospora leaf spot (early blight) and bacterial leaf blight. Often an examination in the laboratory is necessary. My examination revealed the characteristic spores (conidia) of Alternaria dauci, causal agent of Alternaria leaf blight. Figure 1  shows a stand of carrots with several leaves that appear chlorotic (yellow) and necrotic. A closer examination reveals small lesions on the leaves (Figure 2). Loss of leaves may lead to fewer or smaller carrots. Sometimes severe infections can lead to the premature separating of the leaves and root. Alternaria leaf blight can be rapidly spread between plants by the conidia that are produced on the plant surface. I could easily find these spores on the surface of the carrot leaves brought to my lab. The conidia may[Read More…]


Figure 1. The relationship between costs, prices, and profit margin

Fall is already here and winter is closer than expected. As business starts to slow take the opportunity to reflect on what was great, good, or not-so-good during this growing season. This time of year also brings the opportunity to start planning next year’s strategies. Pricing strategy is one of the key strategies influencing your earnings. This article provides you the top 5 issues you should consider before setting prices for your products. 1. Define your price floor. The price floor is the minimum price you can afford to receive from customers and still cover the total costs involved in bringing your products to life. A tomato farm that sells tomatoes by pounds can calculate the price floor, or total costs per pound of tomato, by adding all costs and dividing them by the total pounds produced. Costs can be further categorized as variable costs if they vary with the level[Read More…]


The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) strives to facilitate widespread adoption of cover crops throughout the Midwest, to improve ecological, economic, and social sustainability. The Cover Crop Decision Tool is an initiative by the MCCC to consolidate cover crop information by state to help farmers make cover crop selections at the county level. The tool makes seeding date recommendations based on county specific weather information, and sorts cover crop species by desirable attributes of the farmer’s choosing. Indiana was the first state in the Midwest to implement a decision tool for field crops and Michigan is currently the only state with a decision tool for vegetable crops. Indiana SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) is funding the creation of a decision tool for vegetable crops in Indiana this fall. Both the IN field crops tool and MI vegetable tool can be found on the MCCC website (mccc.msu.edu). We are seeking[Read More…]


Figure 2. Older leaves were pruned on cucumber plants.

Tomato is considered one of the most profitable crops grown in high tunnels, but continually growing one single crop leads to build-up of diseases. In addition, growers are facing more competition in selling tomatoes in the market. To enhance resilience of high tunnel system and increase access to consumers, crop diversification is important. In this article, instead of discussing tomatoes, we will focus on another high-value crop, seedless cucumber. Fresh consumed seedless cucumber is a popular crop in local food markets. It sells at a premium price in early seasons as does tomato. Seedless cucumbers grown under protected cultures are parthenocarpic, which do not require pollination. In addition, the climbing habit allows trellising, which maximizes the use of vertical spaces, making seedless cucumber an ideal crop for high tunnel production. Parthenocarpic cucumbers are available in different types. The long ones are often referred to as European, Japanese or English cucumbers. They have thin skins with longitudinal[Read More…]


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We have two new extension faculties join the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at the Purdue University. Please join me welcome Dr. Ariana Torres and Dr. Krishna Nemali. Dr. Torres’ background combines field experience in agriculture with theoretical and applied research on agricultural economics. After earning her B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering at Zamorano University, she came to Purdue to pursue her graduate studies. She completed her M.Sc. in Horticulture and her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics, both at Purdue University. She has worked on projects such as the impact of market channel choices on the certification and decertification process of organic farmers; the economic implications of social capital on entrepreneurship; and the resilience of small businesses after disasters. Her research focuses on the intersection between the horticulture industry and marketing decisions. Her goal is to conduct innovative outreach and applied research in Specialty Crops Marketing, with the end of promoting[Read More…]


As Indiana growers finish up the 2017 season, it is important to remember to clean and sanitize equipment and tools. In this article, I would like to discuss the importance of and how to sanitize. Bacteria and fungi that cause plant disease may survive on some types of equipment. Examples include: stakes, transplant trays, shovels, greenhouse benches etc. Equipment can be contaminated by diseased plants in close contact with the surfaces. For example, a tomato with bacterial canker may rub up against a wooden stake, transferring some of the bacteria to the stake. Such bacteria may cause disease problems next year. A transplant tray of cantaloupe with a damping-off problem may have the same disease next year if the tray is not properly cleaned and sanitized. It is important to clean the equipment of crop debris or soil prior to the use of one of the sanitizers described below. Equipment free of crop[Read More…]


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