Biological controls for common pests on edible crops

by Katie Navarra

Leanne Pundt, Extension Educator for University of Connecticut at the Litchfield County Extension Center, shared strategies for biologically controlling pests common to herb and vegetable bedding plants during the annual Bedding Plant/Nurseryman’s Education Day and Tradeshow.

A variety of “good” bugs can be used to control “bad” bugs in a greenhouse to limit the need for chemical pesticides and reduce crop loss. There are several types of pests that can be used as part of a biological control program. Learning about each beneficial pest and subspecies is critical to success. [Read more…]

Retail Farm Market School

CM-MR-3-RETAIL-FARM_0306by Steve Wagner

“Fruit and vegetable produce are living, breathing organisms,” says Penn State Extension Educator John Berry, adding, “We do not handle produce like a baby kitten; we are very rough with our produce.” Berry is largely responsible for the course he teaches, called Retail Farm Market School. The day-long seminar held at Yoder’s Farm Market in New Holland PA, offered insights to crisping and trimming, sanitation, food safety, food borne illness and handling produce. Attending this workshop were several people who were already in the business of farm marketing and were looking for ways to upgrade their operations; others came who were thinking about getting into it. [Read more…]

Bedded pack barn management one of many topics at VA’s 2015 area dairy conferences

CM-MR-2-VA-FARM-CON-1by Karl H. Kazaks

MARION, VA — Virginia Extension recently hosted its 2015 Area Dairy Conference at five locations around the Old Dominion: in Amelia, Dayton, Brandy Station, Rocky Mount and Marion. The program varied at each location, with topics addressed including management strategies to endure adverse scenarios, an update on Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farm, calf auto-feeder management, and an update on the Southeast Quality Milk Initiative. [Read more…]

Soil fertility: getting it right

by Tamara Scully

“Feed the soil to help feed the crops that you want to grow,” Neil Kinsey, soil fertility specialist, advised. “If you just put down what the plants need, you aren’t feeding the soil.”

Feeding the plants does not feed the soil. Growing plants remove essential elements from the soil. If those elements aren’t replaced, and aren’t in balance, then soil fertility is compromised, and crop health and yields will be impacted, Kinsey cautioned.

Just getting the pH right is not nearly enough. The result of the interactions of soil chemistry is pH, and a target pH can be achieved even when the chemistry is out of balance. But when the chemistry is unbalanced, important elements are not available to the plants. [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…]