Sugaring season begins at Williams Farm Sugarhouse

CN-MR-2-Sugarhouse013by Laura Rodley

After a savage winter beset by Nor’easters and valiant storms, sugaring is underway. The Williams Farm family in Deerfield, MA has been sugaring since 1853. They started tapping in early March, with their first boiling on March 14.

“The season’s off to a slow start so far; we’re hoping to have a good month of March, maybe beginning of April. You never can tell,” said Kenneth Williams IV, best known as Chip, 5th generation, speaking at their Williams Farm Sugarhouse restaurant. It is two to three weeks later than usual, as traditionally, they start sugaring Feb. 20, if the weather allows. What they waited for was 40-degree days with 20-degree nights for the sap to run. [Read more…]

Inconvenient truths about GMOs

CM-MR-2-Inconvenient1253by Steve Wagner

It is now crystal clear that GMOs, topically and acronymically, will be conversational fodder for the next few years and possibly the next decade. Equally clear is the notion that American public understanding, or lack thereof, stems largely from European thinking, especially British attitudes toward the subject. At a farmer’s breakfast in 2013, former PA Ag Secretary George Greig said something that bears repeating and sets a general tone for this discussion. “I think a lot of this comes from Europe because there has been an effort against GMOs in European countries. We’ve met with quite a few different countries including Germany about a month or six weeks ago to form an ag co-op. Their concern is that they won’t be able to produce the food for their population. So they came here to talk to the Department of Agriculture. They also talked to Penn State to see what they could do. They were interested in how we’re keeping up with our population, and still have food to export. I don’t know the answers to what people’s fears are with GMO. There have been studies done at Penn State and the University of Michigan which have stated that conventional food supplies are as safe as organic and non-GMO products. I would say that we have to keep educating our people. Germany’s cash receipts were about a little over a third of what Pennsylvania’s are. In other words, Pennsylvania produced more food, which was enlightening to Germany to learn that they are not quite so big a country as they thought they were.” [Read more…]

Trouble-shooting irrigation ponds

Homeowner treating algae in an irrigation pond.by Bill and Mary Weaver

Farm ponds can be both beautiful and functional as irrigation reservoirs. In addition, having a pond can save you about 10 percent on your farm insurance premium, if you install the right type of fire hydrant hookup for your local fire department. “These hook ups cost only a couple hundred dollars to put in,” commented Bryan Swistock, Penn State Water Resources Extension Coordinator. Some regular attention to potential problems can help to keep your pond from causing you headaches. Here are some suggestions from Swistock for irrigation pond owners, starting with ones that could be less obvious until you find yourself clobbered by them. [Read more…]

2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop ~ Part 3

CEW-MR-1-Small Grain pt3by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Dr. Gary Bergstorm, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, spoke to attendees at the 2015 CNY Small Grain Workshop about identifying and controlling some common diseases in small grains. [Read more…]