Good and Bad Birds on the Farm

Do you have a bird problem on your farm?  Do you want to encourage beneficial birds as an IPM tool? If so, consider attending this free webinar.  Registration information below:

Webinar: Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds

Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds

Webinar: Tuesday, October 1 at 11AM Pacific, 12PM Mountain, 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern Time

Register in advance at https://oregonstate.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Yey2HdAZQ8S3CSKUuR8FIg

Join eOrganic for the first webinar of our fall season! The topic is Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds, by Jo Ann Baumgartner of the Wild Farm Alliance, Sara Kross of Columbia University, and Sacha Heath of the Living Earth Collaborative.

Beneficial birds can help farmers keep pest insects, rodents, and pest birds at bay. They act the same way that beneficial insects do in helping with pest control. The overwhelming majority of songbirds are beneficial during nesting season because they feed pest insects to their voracious nestlings. Farmers may be able to reduce their pest-control costs by providing habitat for these beneficial birds and by only targeting detrimental birds at the right time and place. Wild Farm Alliance and two avian ecologists will present on: a) How birds’ diets, foraging strategies, and nesting periods affect the farm, b) How best to manage and co-exist with pest birds, c) Why on-farm habitat and the surrounding landscape influences pest control, and, d) What farmers can do to make farms more bird-friendly and resilient. With this webinar and the associated Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds booklet, we aim to help all farmers and farm consultants make the most of birds on farms.

Harvests of Data Hopefully Increase Harvests of Money

Experiments planned in Fall-Winter 2018-2019 and initiated this spring at the OARDC in Wooster, OH are now yielding crop-based data. Additional experiments initiated this past week or to be initiated within several weeks will provide additional numbers of potential value to growers. Overall, these experiments are supported by: (a) the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (https://nifa.usda.gov/program/specialty-crop-research-initiative-scri), (b) the USDA-NIFA Organic Transitions Program (https://nifa.usda.gov/program/organic-agriculture-program), (c) the USDA-NIFA Potato Breeding Research support program (https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/potato-breeding-research), (d) North-central SARE (https://www.northcentralsare.org/), and (e) companies. Along with our collaborators, through these experiments, we look to provide growers and other members of the industry with information they can use beginning immediately, especially when making decisions involving the use of grafted plants, microbe-containing crop biostimulants, reduced-tillage approaches, high tunnels, and/or new potato varieties. Ideally, this information will increase the yield of money on Ohio farms.

Two ongoing experiments will help identify the optimal growing practices when grafted watermelon plants are used. Grafted watermelon plants are showing high potential in- and outside Ohio. However, their wider use has been slowed by their higher cost and the fact that yields from them are not always higher than from standard ungrafted plants. Importantly, an increasing amount of evidence provided by researchers and farmers suggests that growing practices may have to be altered in order to get the best return on investment from grafted watermelon plants. Studies and farmer experience point to changes in plant density, and/or nutrient and/or irrigation management as possibly beneficial. This is reasonable given characteristics of some watermelon rootstocks. So, since 2018, like others, we have been asking if yield can be maintained or increased even as grafted plant density or fertilizer inputs are modified. These two experiments total twelve variety-fertility program and eight variety-plant density treatments. On 8/21/19, the VPSL and OARDC Farm Crew harvested 849 “Jade Star” watermelon fruit from the forty plots spanning roughly 0.7 acre (including pollenizer plants). The 849 fruit totaled 6.2 tons (11 over-filled pallet boxes) and averaged 255 lbs/plot (nine plants). “Fascination” fruit will be taken from the same experiments the week of 8/26, fruit quality will be evaluated in the lab, and the harvest-evaluation process will be repeated for the same experiments to capture total crop yield potential. At the same time, we will continue to focus on: (a) tomato experiments testing grafting, strip-tillage, and/or microbial inoculant effects on fruit yield and quality; (b) butternut squash, carrot (fall high tunnel), and spinach (fall high tunnel) experiments testing microbial inoculant effects on yield and quality; and (c) potato experiments completed in cooperation with breeders at USDA, the University of Maine, Cornell University, and North Carolina State University.

Lab to Field to Basket: Potato Research and Extension to Strengthen the “Chip Business”

Pounds upon pounds upon pounds of potato chips are consumed each day. Few give the hard work on the farm or science and teamwork required to bring good chips to market one thought. Here, though, is a brief summary of recent activity in Ohio and elsewhere designed to help growers and processors and all others who rely directly and indirectly on local-regional “chip business.”

The Big Picture. USDA (e.g., https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/pots0918.pdf) and other information makes clear that potato production and processing remain important, enormously valuable industries throughout the U.S., Great Lakes, and, still, Ohio. Nearby on the ground evidence includes Lennard Agriculture (https://www.lennardag.com/) and impressive investments it and its cooperators have made in infrastructure (e.g., center pivot irrigation systems), expertise, research, and other assets in a four-county area of the Scioto River Valley, among other locations. Early, summertime harvests of large, high-quality crops suitable for use in chip-making are important to them. This activity maintains the strong tradition of supplying local-regional chipmakers … page 20 of the USDA report mentioned earlier shows that the U.S. contains approximately 89 chip-making plants with 15 (16% of the total) located within Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia. Thankfully in this case, it appears that little has changed since 2008 (https://www.potatopro.com/news/2008/ohio-boasts-second-most-potato-chip-manufacturers-us) and before.

Potatoes used to make chips must meet strict specifications. Tuber shape, size, specific gravity, sugar/starch content, flesh color, natural or man-made damage, and other characteristics influence the chip-maker’s desire for the crop. Since these traits hinge on each combination of potato variety, crop management, and growing conditions, the pressure is on growers to optimize each combination. Improved varieties better able to thrive in various conditions are always needed. With important exceptions, potato varieties used in chip-making in the U.S are bred by teams at USDA and a small number of universities, including Michigan State Univ. (http://potatobg.css.msu.edu/). In 2019, led by Chris Long of MSUE (https://www.canr.msu.edu/people/christopher_long), plots of a total of fifteen experimental selections from MSU, USDA, Cornell Univ., and North Carolina State Univ. were planted alongside ones of “check” varieties in fields in Ohio coordinated by Lennard Agriculture. During Aug 13-16, the OSUE team including Chris Bruynis and Ross Meeker (https://ross.osu.edu/about/staff), Brad Bergefurd (https://scioto.osu.edu/about/staff), Mike Estadt (https://pickaway.osu.edu/about/staff), Will Hamman (https://pike.osu.edu/about/staff), and the VPSL (http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/) harvested the plots and collected key data on the tubers. The VPSL has a long history of cooperating with potato breeders and others in developing improved varieties (e.g., see reports at http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/technical-reports/).

Yield was measured first and it ranged from 1.3 to 2.6 pounds per foot of row across all selections and varieties (these values equate to 226 and 452 hundred-weight/acre, resp.). Tuber specific gravity (S.G.) using the weight in air, weight in water method and a hygrometer was measured next (see URL above). This method involves placing exactly eight pounds of tubers (air, at left) into a basket attached to an air-filled bulb and calibrated meter. The basket-bulb-meter unit is then placed in water (middle and right). It will sink to a depth roughly consistent with the tubers’ combined moisture and dry matter (especially sugar/starch) levels. Tubers high in S.G. are needed in chip-making; S.G. is influenced by variety, management (especially nutrient and irrigation), and other environmental factors. The S.G. of experimental selections … lines still being tested and not yet named … is always benchmarked against the specific gravity of well-known standard varieties.

Next, tubers were peeled and placed in cold water until chipped. Tuber flesh that has been damaged and exposed to air typically begins to oxidize and brown. Submersion in cold water slows the process. Commercial chip-makers and other potato processors remove potato skin using various methods often involving pressure and/or steam.

In commercial chip-making, peeled tubers are then sliced to product-specific thicknesses. Chip enthusiasts know that products vary in chip thickness, a variable that has multiple significant implications for the chip-maker and for research teams working on their behalf. Slice thickness influences fry time, oil-absorption, chip texture, and many other variables which influence the suitability of a variety for the specific product. As in our other potato research, here, we produced slices measuring 0.051 inches thick using a DeBuyer Kobra mandolin slicer.

Slices were then fried for 3.5 minutes using oil provided by a local chip-maker (Shearer’s Foods, Inc.) and a standard tabletop fryer (left). The target oil temperature was 350 deg F and the actual oil temperature was monitored throughout and allowed to reach the target between batches. Finally, the color of completed batches was scored against the industry-wide standard Color Chart developed by the Snack Food Association of America (sfa.org; below right). A rating of 1 (upper left of chart) is desired by most chip-makers. Many batches completed on 8/16/19 using tubers harvested in the Scioto River Valley area scored 1-3, a very promising result. Remaining tubers have been placed in cold storage and will be chipped again later, as one assessment of the rate at which each genotype converts starch to sugar when exposed to storage-like temperatures.

Land. Equipment. Good varieties and growing methods. Proper inputs. And, crop-friendly weather. These are just some of the resources needed for success on the farm. However, a great team is also essential … just as in research, extension, and other activities. In 2019, for the VPSL, like for other teams, data collection is ongoing. The potato evaluation outlined here will be followed by work with tomato, squash, watermelon, carrot, and other crops, with plots in fields and high tunnels and at OARDC and on commercial farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responses to Pumpkin/Squash/Melon Grower Stress Survey

On July 5th I posted an article acknowledging the difficult spring and early summer planting conditions most Ohio growers faced, and asked to let us (OSU specialists and Extension educators) know what kind of issues you were experiencing. Once these issues were identified, I began researching possible solutions in order to help growers salvage as much of the season and market as possible. Attached at the end of the article is a PDF with my responses to your questions.

I wanted to thank the 36 growers farming just over 500 acres who took time to respond to the survey. In general, most growers were delayed 2-4 weeks but had a crop in the ground now. The biggest concern besides the ability the control the weather, was that OSU specialists continue to post current information about crop management, pest management, and markets. Several articles along those lines have recently been posted to the VegNet Newletter and we will continue to do so, but if there is a specific topic that has not been addressed, please reach out and contact that specialist directly. Below is a list of OSU specialists and Extension educators with their contact information.

Best of luck to you for better weather this summer and a fair harvest this fall.

Specialist                    Area                            Contact

Doug Doohan              Weeds                        doohan.1@osu.edu

Celeste Welty              Insects                         welty.1@osu.edu

Sally Miller                  Diseases                      miller.769@osu.edu

Jim Jasinski                   IPM/Insects                  jasinski.4@osu.edu

Brad Bergefurd             Horticulture                  bergefurd.1@osu.edu

Matt Kleinhenz             Horticulture                  kleinhenz.1@osu.edu

Steve Culman                Fertility                         culman.2@osu.edu

In case you are not aware, we are having a Pumpkin Field Day on Aug. 22 at the Western Ag Research Station. Read more about it here http://u.osu.edu/vegnetnews/2019/07/25/pumpkin-field-day/

Response to Cucurbit Growers Early to Mid Season

 

Making Up Lost Ground (actually, for Lost Plants or Leaves)

Reviewing the condition of various farm fields and research plots prompted me to revisit the process or phenomenon of yield compensation (also mentioned in VegNet June 30). Recently, I saw fields and plots showing missing plants and plants with leaves damaged by insect feeding, mechanical damage, and other causes.

For each crop, there is a plant population shown by research and/or experience to maximize yield potential under specific combinations of variety, planting date, irrigation and fertility program, and other factors. Similarly, yield potential is known to be greatest within target ranges of leaf area index (LAI). LAI is calculated as half the area of all leaves per unit area of ground. It is measured as the leaf area (e.g., square feet) per ground area (square feet) and unit-less. So, a plant, field, farm, or region with a LAI of 3 has enough leaf surface (one-sided) to cover an area three times larger than the area from which the leaves were collected. To calculate LAI, most researchers collect all leaves from above a known area of ground, scan the leaves to calculate their total area, then divide that area by the area from which the leaves were collected. Techniques involving cameras and smartphones are improving the opportunity for obtaining estimates of LAI in the field without removing leaves. Regardless, LAI values have long been used in different ways in agriculture, forestry, climatology, ecology, and other disciplines and industries.

Overall, yield compensation asks if yield will be reduced if plant populations or LAI values are less than the target. The answer is easy for some crops such as fresh market sweet corn; “yes”, since one less plant results in one less ear available for harvest. The answer is more complicated (and encouraging) for other crops able to “compensate” for a reduction in plant population and/or leaf area (LAI) under specific circumstances.

This picture taken at OARDC shows a young butternut squash planting. Based on in-row plant spacing, the image should contain thirty-four plants. However, four plants (12%) are missing outright and four others are noticeably weaker than all remaining ones. So, the absolute percent stand is 88% but, functionally, it may be as low as 76%. Will this planting have a yield equivalent to the yield at 100% of the target population? That is, will the remaining plants compensate for missing ones?

Work completed in 1998 and 1999 by a team of extension specialists in NY and PA gives some clues. Dr. Anu Rangarajan and her collaborators studied defoliation and plant loss effects on butternut squash yield (fruit number, size, and weight) and other variables. Stands ranging from 25 to 100 percent of target populations were created at different stages of growth. Likewise, stands were defoliated to simulate damage due to insect feeding, hail, or other issues. The team summarized its work in the July-September 2003 issue of the journal HortTechnology. Borrowing from that report, the team stated that reducing plant populations or leaf area reduced marketable yield, fruit number, and individual plant productivity (but not fruit carotene content). Damage occurring during fruit enlargement had a greater effect than damage occurring early in the season. Generally, yield was directly proportional to plant population. However, if plant population losses occurred when plants were in the rapid vegetative growth phase, remaining plants responded by increasing fruit number and weight per plant. Still, this compensation did not always provide yields equivalent to the original population. The authors concluded by saying that for growers trying to assess the impact of plant loss or damage, butternut squash compensated for loss of up to 50% of plant population and up to 33% loss of leaves, particularly if loss/damage occurred early in the season.

The take-home message for the planting pictured here and many others? Compensation may save the day. Let’s hope conditions hold steady or improve and that our plantings’ abilities to compensate are not tested further.

Information regarding the article referenced above:
Title: Moderate Defoliation and Plant Population Losses did not Reduce Yield or Quality of Butternut Squash
Authors: Anusuya (Anu) Rangarajan (Cornell Univ.), Betsy A. Ingall (Cornell Univ.), Michael D. Orzolek (Penn State Univ.), and Lewis Otjen (Penn State Univ.).
Source: HortTechnology July-September 2003, 13(3):463-468 (https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/13/3/article-p463.xml)

Persistently-wet Soils Early in the Season: Consequences and Mitigation

The Problem

Too much rain has fallen. Beginning in late autumn 2018, conditions turned wet and have persisted throughout the winter and spring seasons of 2019. For example, the OARDC-Wooster weather station (https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weather1/) registered rainfall on 47 days of the 88-day period April 1 – June 27, totaling 13.4 inches over the period (an average of nearly one-third inch of rainfall per day with rain). Not surprisingly, impacts have been accumulating. Much has been lost directly due to rain and rain-related delays: time, topsoil, fertilizer, targeted levels of stand establishment, and opportunities to start well with weed, pest, and disease management, and other operations. These primary consequences have had secondary ones. Field preparation and stand establishment is always a hectic phase and outcomes are never certain, even in years when weather is largely a neutral factor. Still, routines and schedules can follow a familiar timeline. Not so for many in 2019. Timelines and various common expectations have gone out the window (or, into the drainage ditch, as it were) and management has been more “seat of the pants” than many prefer. We’ve been required to reconsider what to do, when, how, etc.

A Set of Partial Solutions

Conditions can improve with a little cooperation from the weather and strategic action. What follows is a brief overview of factors to consider and steps to take when given a chance: (a) to kick-start or rejuvenate a stand or crop set back by persistently wet or saturated soil since seeding or transplanting or (b) to limit the recurrence of the same problem in future seasons. The amount of detail available for each factor and step could fill at least several VegNet articles. This article is more broad than deep and it draws from experience and excellent references developed through the years by members of the industry and vegetable research-extension community.

For 2019

1. Surface cultivation. Persistent or pounding rain can lead soil to crust. Crusting prevents seedlings from emerging, air from entering the soil, and some wastes in the soil from leaving it. Breaking the crust with light surface cultivation can help reverse these conditions. Choose the right time and equipment for the operation in order to maximize its benefit while minimizing the potential for creating compaction while heavy equipment is taken across the field with subsurface soil moisture levels still relatively high.

2. Careful cultivation and irrigation. Many now face a situation in which leggy, under-nourished, and generally weak transplants were set into soils wetter than ideal and which remained wet for long stretches thereafter. Not good. Root-shoot ratios are not ideal and root systems may be small and shallow, concentrated near the soil surface. This makes root systems prone to damage due to cultivation and ironically, plants susceptible to LOW moisture stress, especially if weather turns dry AND warm. Keep alert when cultivating, maintain the proper depth and distance from the crop. Also, as we shift toward a more summer-like pattern of scattered but intense rainfall, treat it as an opportunity to encourage root systems to expand and deepen. Doing so may require “weaning” plants off the saturated conditions many have experienced since planting. Guard against strict adherence to irrigation schedules based on a “normal” year with normal stand establishment conditions. Modify how often you irrigate and for how long the water flows each time according to soil and plant conditions, monitoring both carefully. Again, shallow- and small-rooted plants need time to adjust to drier conditions and the process largely cannot be rushed. Consider lengthening the time between irrigations gradually until you are confident the crop has, more or less, fully recovered and “toughened up” and you have reached an adequate level of control over soil moisture and other conditions.

3. Replant. Recall that the growth and productivity of individual plants can hinge on how many neighbors it has and where they are located, i.e., the plant population or density. Compensation allows some crops to produce similar yields across a wide range of plant populations. For these crops, thin stands can be less problematic because yield potential is maintained. However, for non-compensators (e.g., fresh market sweet corn), one less plant clearly results in less yield (e.g., one less ear to sell). Replanting may be more beneficial with crops that do not compensate. Regardless, check records, estimates of days to maturity, etc when selecting varieties and choosing to replant. Also, when replanting flooded-out portions of large plantings, be aware that the crop maturity in these replanted, “pieced in” areas will be different than the main crop but may maintain income potential that would be lost otherwise. These areas may also require slightly different management (e.g., fertilizer, irrigation, protection) than nearby areas planted earlier.

4. Replace. IF and only IF circumstances call for it and allow, replace the vegetable planting with a cover crop, forage/feed crop, or clean fallow program. This step has huge implications for the business and others for the soil. If the very weak or absent vegetable planting can be replaced by clean fallowing or a crop involving less expense, time, and effort but offering some soil building and/or cash-flow potential, this option may represent taking two steps forward starting from one back, i.e., a net gain compared to replanting or continuing with a very weak vegetable crop.

5. Keep planting. Vegetable and grain farmers have been hit hard by the weather so far. One aspect of vegetable farming that can help farmers through these difficult times is that many vegetable crops can be harvest-ready in much less time than full-season corn, soy, and other crops. Enough season remains to plant and harvest a profitable vegetable crop. Talk with your produce buyers. Discuss the possibility of adjusting marketing/delivery scenarios and schedules with, for example, late plantings of early-maturing crops such as sweet corn, green beans, peas, transplanted cole crops, radishes, turnips, daikon radish, zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers and pickles. Recall that most concentrated-set pickle varieties can be harvested 60 days from planting and northwest Ohio farms traditionally plant through early July.

6. Fertilizer application. Excess rain during stand establishment like many have experienced limits root growth and can allow fertilizer applied before or at planting to leach, runoff, or change form and become unavailable or taken-up less efficiently. Therefore, nutrient deficiencies, especially of nitrogen and potassium, may develop soon after growing conditions improve. Research and experience have shown that applying carefully determined, low amounts of N and K through fertigation, or as a sidedress, broadcast, or foliar treatment, can limit the progression of yield reductions caused by excessive soil moisture. Use plant tissue testing and petiole sap analysis to monitor plant nutrient levels useful in determining if fertilizer applications are needed. Review https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP08100.pdf and similar resources for additional information.

7. Support. Anchoring the plant is one of the six major functions of root systems. Anchoring is difficult in saturated soils and/or when root systems are small, especially compared to the canopy. Don’t underestimate the value of a trellis in supporting upright fruiting crops (e.g., tomato, pepper). It lowers the risk of lodging and wind-whipping (wind-whipping is more likely when transplants were particularly leggy).

For Future Seasons

8. Lengthen rotations and build soil internal drainage and moisture holding capacity. All the familiar approaches – e.g., cover cropping, soil amendments, tiling – apply here. Reduced-tillage approaches are less familiar to some but gaining attention.

Clean fields planted on the flat or then formed into raised beds topped with drip tape and plastic mulch are the current standard among commercial growers throughout much of the world. These standard systems have been very reliable and productive. Reduced-tillage systems, on the other hand, offer various benefits although, historically, their yields are often lower than yields in standard systems. Research by farmers and others has focused on retaining the benefits of reduced-tillage approaches while increasing the yield of systems involving them. For example, at OARDC, we have been investigating whether the use of grafted plants and/or microbe-containing crop biostimulants can enhance yield of tomato grown in a flat-ground, strip-till system. Results have been promising; using one or both treatments has narrowed the gap between yields of the strip-till and standard systems. Regardless, our experience and data collected by others also suggest that soils in strip-till plantings can be more resistant to flooding and resilient when flooding conditions develop.

9. A genetic solution to flooding. Flooding is a problem worldwide in agriculture and plant breeders have taken note. Flooding tolerant rootstocks are available for tomato and ones may become available for other crops that are routinely grafted (pepper, watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe). Pay attention to flooding tolerance and other grafting-related developments.

10. Study up. It will also remain important to pay close attention to information provided by the climate services community, which includes agroclimatology and other experts. Descriptions of historical trends and projections of future scenarios are constantly improving. My non-expert reading of some recent reports (e.g., see June 8 VegNet) suggests that conditions so far in 2019 are consistent with projections outlined in those reports – e.g., intense rainfall events occurring more often and becoming stronger, allowing for fewer days to complete field work. No one knows for certain that conditions many have encountered so far this season will repeat (weather variability). Still, for planning purposes, a broad reading of various reports can lead one to conclude that conditions so far in 2019 are better viewed as an extreme version of an emerging trend, not a fluke or once in a career scenario.

Brad Bergefurd of OSUE and Jason Cervenec, Education and Outreach Director of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (BPCRC) and Aaron Wilson, Research Scientist with OSU Extension and BPCRC, both with the State Climate Office of Ohio (https://climate.osu.edu/), contributed to this article.

Introduction to Using Mustard Cover Crops for Biofumigation in Pumpkin

This article is an introduction to the general processes and basic steps of how to use mustard cover crops to reduce soil borne diseases, such as Plectosporium, in pumpkin. Research using mustard plants to naturally biofumigate soil to allow for more normal yield and fruit quality, has been conducted in several states and Canada, sometimes with mixed results. The results of this trial will be released in a report later in the season.

Mustard cover crop in full bloom.

The field intentionally selected for this trial was cropped to pumpkin in 2018 and exhibited high amounts of Plectorsporium infections on both plant and fruit. The general recommendation for a field infested with this disease would be to rotate away from cucurbits for 3-5 years. Instead of rotation, we are investigating the use of biofumigation as a means to reduce disease incidence.

In mid-April when conditions were suitable for direct seeding, Pacific Gold (6lb/A), Caliente 199 (10lb/A), and a 50/50 blend of the two were drilled into plots at the Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston. Prior to seeding, 100 lb/A of urea and 34 lb/A ammonium sulfate were broadcast and incorporated to increase the biomass and glucosinolate levels of the cover crop. Glucosinolates are the compounds responsible for the biofumigation effect and are released when the mustard plant tissue is macerated and incorporated into the soil. The production of these compounds peak during flowering.

Once peak bloom has been reached it is necessary to mow the plants, immediately followed by incorporation (such as rototilling), packing, and then sealing the soil with water. Once these steps have been performed, the glucosinolates are broken down into other compounds in the soil such as isothiocyanates, where they begin the biofumigation reactions. It is recommended to wait 7-10 days after incorporation to either direct seed or transplant. We seek to confirm the necessity of the waiting period by both seeding and transplanting pumpkins one day after incorporation; we’ll report if any negative effects are seen on the germination rate or growth of the transplants.

To hear more details about the trial and see all steps including the incorporation of mustard cover crop, watch this video posted to the OSU IPM YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Taz-PhDphhA

If you have worked with mustard cover crops before and have any experiences positive or negative to share, please send them to me at jasinski.4@osu.edu.

More and Better Tools to Help Respond Effectively to Weather-related Challenges

A vegetable farmer pointed out to me recently that “rain” is a four-letter word and that like other ones, he likes rain to fall in just the right amount and at just the right time. Well, although we can’t control when, where, or how much rain will fall, many people in agriculture and the area known as climate services are working to develop reliable forecasts of and effective responses to current and future weather.

Shared commitments to that goal were evident throughout the recent Climate Services Summit (https://climate.osu.edu/news/byrd-center-hosts-ohio-climate-services-summit) coordinated by the State Climate Office of Ohio based at The OSU (https://climate.osu.edu/). Just as important, steps to providing farmers and others with better decision-aids also became clearer through discussions at the program. Ohio State University Extension contributes to the process – for example, see resources, programs, and input offered by Aaron Wilson, Jason Cervenec, and John Fulton – and addressing weather-related challenges and needs of vegetable growers will be important going forward. These were summarized well in two recent reports (https://www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov/archive/sites/default/files/Midwest_Climate_And_Specialty_Crops_2015_508.pdf and https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/15448) but more input is always welcome.

Throughout much of this field planting season, many have needed to scramble, improvise, and work round the clock to get work done as weather, soil, labor, and other conditions allowed. It seems that most have experienced the dark side of their share of passing fronts, with few farms experiencing clear skies and calm winds for extended periods. Overall, this seems consistent with information in http://glisa.umich.edu/media/files/GLISA%202%20Pager%202019.pdf (GLISA also participated in the recent Summit). Field and high tunnel plantings have been affected in their own ways by recent conditions, although it is fair to say that most high tunnel plantings were able to remain on schedule, an important early step toward a successful season. Ideally, we will soon see that high tunnels are just one of many key tools available to help maintain and enhance vegetable production amidst changing and increasingly extreme conditions.

Research newly Completed and Started

High tunnel studies are affected by weather. However, typically, high tunnel work continues when some operations in open field production are halted. Like growers, the Vegetable Production Systems Lab (VPSL is transitioning to full “summer mode” as conditions allow. See the six panels below for snapshots of a portion of our recent and near-term activities and don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or if we can assist another way.

Matt Kleinhenz (kleinhenz.1@osu.edu; 330.263.3810)

Growers and Researchers continue to Study Grafted Vegetable Plants

In Ohio, full-time study of grafted vegetable plants as products (i.e., sources of income) and production tools began more than ten years ago. Much has been learned and the popularity of grafted plants continues to trend upward. However, growers and researchers continue to ask many large, detailed, and tough questions about the roles of grafted plants in commercial production going forward. “Do grafted plants pay?” may be the most often asked and significant question. This brief article cannot address that question definitively for all readers due to the specific circumstances of each farm, field, crop, planting, season, etc. However, peoples’ collective understanding of the pros and cons of using grafted plants and of conditions leading to a good return on investment after using them is improving. As it does, success with grafted plants improves and their use increases. Regardless, additional research is needed. The three panels below briefly summarize a portion of the vegetable grafting research underway in Ohio in 2019. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about this work and stay tuned to VegNet and other outlets for updates.

Matt Kleinhenz, ph. 330.263.3810, email kleinhenz.1@osu.edu