COVID-19’s Effect on the Meat Industry

With plant closures, backed up local butcher shops and other COVID-19 implications, the meat supply chain has come under some scrutiny. OSU Extension and its counterparts across the country have developed several resources for consumers and producers alike.

FAQs on Impacts of COVID 19 on Meat Industry

What You Need to Know About Food Animal Processing in Ohio FINAL (on-farm processing)

Why Buying Local Matters 5.20

Raised Bed Gardening Provides Some Options

Raised bed gardens at Piqua Central Intermediate. Photo credit: Amanda M. Bennett

Although the calendar says spring is here, the weather seems to be confused. Spring keeps popping its head in and out with the teasing of warm weather followed by a 30 degree temperature drop overnight. And, was that snow this morning!?

Rest assured, spring will come and the warm weather will be here to stay for a few months allowing us to get out in the garden and grow something! If you are considering a garden for the first time or you are thinking about making some adjustments based on the less than ideal growing conditions last summer (remember all the rain?), I’ve got some tips and points to consider for those looking at raised bed gardening.

 

Raised Bed Gardens In-Ground Gardens
Prevention of soil compaction and plant damage

Because of less foot traffic (or really, no foot traffic), the soil in raised beds does not get as compacted and plants are less likely to be injured.

Use existing soil

This works if your soil has adequate drainage and tilth. If you are unsure, I recommend a soil test. Our research indicates there is little variability among soil testing labs in Ohio. The variability usually has to do with the way the sample is taken. Use these links for information on how to take a soil sample and available laboratories that do testing.

Space saver

Raised beds can be intensely planted (more plants per square foot) and therefore, use less space than a traditional in-ground garden. And, raised beds are a way to garden on a slope utilizing a terraced type bed. Raised beds can also be built on heavily compacted areas and in difficult to garden urban lots.

 

Financially economical

This is a more cost saving option as there are less input requirements. And, you might be able to divert some of that cost savings into purchasing amendments for the soil if the conditions are not ideal. Amendments such as compost, peat, or others can be added to the current soil to improve its condition, drainage and workability.

Longer growing season

As the soil is above the ground, it warms faster in the spring and is better drained. This allows for earlier and later planting than traditional in-ground gardens.

Less Work Upfront

You can utilize a tractor or a rototiller to prepare the seed bed.

Less weeding and maintenance

As the soil is not experiencing compaction, there is little need for tillage. And, weed pressure is reduced each year if the bed is properly cared for and mulched.

Temporary

The area can easily be planted back to grass or another crop or moved to another location when it has served its purpose.

Better drainage

Because you can control the soil inputs in a raised bed, drainage is improved making them the ideal solution for a poorly drained area.

Lower water requirements

In-ground gardens are better at maintaining soil moisture and therefore, watering is not required as often.

Easier soil amendments

If you are seeking to grow a particular crop that is highly sensitive to something such as soil pH and you live in an area with soils that don’t meet those requirements, raised beds can be a way to grow those crops by specifically amending the soil in the beds to meet the plants requirements.

Easier irrigation

You’ll find installing irrigation on a flat surface easier than in raised beds.

Material conservation

Because it is a smaller, more controlled area inputs such as water, fertilizer, mulch and soil amendments can be methodically applied to reduce waste.

Accessibility

Raised beds can be an excellent way to provide access to those that have difficulty bending over or those that utilize a wheelchair to improve mobility.

 

Raised beds will not work well for all crops. Crops such as sweet corn require a large planting plot for proper pollination and often raised beds are too small to accommodate the population needed. Vine crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins are a challenge in raised beds as well as they can easily overtake the bed or spill onto the ground beside the bed. This design also requires more labor than traditional in-ground beds as tasks like planting, fertilizing, and weeding are done by than whereas in-ground beds usually can utilize tillers and planting equipment to accomplish the same tasks. Raised beds are also more expensive as soil amendments, topsoil, and construction materials can add up quickly. An important note: When considering construction material for raised beds, it is important to not use treated wood unless a heavy gauge plastic is used to line the bed to prevent leaching.

For additional information on raised bed gardens, check out these resources:

Creative raised bed material: hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/raised-beds

Raised bed checklist: aces.illinois.edu/news/raised-bed-checklist

Intensive spacing for raised beds: www.johnson.k-state.edu/docs/lawn-and-garden/in-house- publications/vegetables/Intensive%20Spacing%20for%20Raised%20Beds_13.pdf

References:

Berle, David Christian; Westerfield, Bob. (30 Sept 2019). Raised Beds vs. In-Ground Gardens. Circular 1027-3. University of Georgia Extension. Retrieved at https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1027-3&title=Raised%20Beds%20vs.%20In-Ground%20Gardens;

Boggs, J., Meyer, C., Gao, G. Chatfield, J. (2017). Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens. Retrieved online at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1132.

 

 

Plant Bulbs Now for Spring

Fall is not only a time for pumpkins and mums, but it also time to plant those spring blooming flower bulbs for a much appreciated splash of color in the spring.

The ideal time to plant bulbs, especially daffodils, are September to October as they need time for root growth ahead of winter freezes. These bulbs are dormant in the summer heat and need lower fall and early winter temperatures to resume growing.

Choosing the right bulbs is key to a successful, showy display in the spring. Start with bulbs that are large, as they will bloom better and be wary of small or bargain bulbs as they are often will not bloom the first season. The bulbs should be firm, heavy, smooth and without injury. The earlier in the season, the better selection.

Bulbs should be planted in full sun, however, they can be planted under deciduous trees which will only provide partial shade in the spring. Take care not to plant bulbs in a southern facing location near a structure for fear it could cause warmer soil temperatures inducing bulbs to emerge too early and risk freeze injury.

Properly drained soil will provide the best situation for bulbs as they tend to perform poorly or rot in heavy clay soils. If needed, add one-third to one-half peat moss, compost or well-rotted manure to loosen heavier soils and allow for more drainage. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches and add in a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 at a rate of three pounds per 100 square feet.

Plant bulbs with the pointy end up (think of a triangle) to a depth of about four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. For example, hyacinths should be planted at least six inches deep and daffodils about six to eight inches deep. Plant larger bulbs about six inches apart. Take care to read the planting instructions that come with your purchase. For the ultimate spring show, plant in clumps or irregular masses rather than singly.

After planting, backfill with half of the soil, water, add the remaining soil and water again. Water as needed through the fall. Once the soil has frozen to a depth of two inches, mulch may be added. Bulbs may be dug up and fed on by rodents (like squirrels, chipmunks, or mice) but not daffodils or hyacinths.

Some recommended spring blooming bulbs for Ohio are:  daffodils, hyacinth, crocus, anemone, tulips, scilla, muscari, snowdrops, chionodoxa, and some lilies.

So, as you dig out the rake for that not-so-fun autumn chore, take some time out for bulb planting. You’ll thank yourself this spring.

For more information, contact the Ohio State University Extension Office in Miami County at 937-440-3945.

OSU Extension Hires ACRE Intern

You’ll be seeing a new face this summer as Isaiah Purves from Troy, Ohio, will be working with Miami and Champaign County OSU Extension as their Agronomic Crop Research Experience (ACRE) Intern.

Started in 2015, the ACRE Internship is designed for undergraduate students to provide rich training experience and work with county educators on-farm trials. The primary responsibilities of the ACRE intern are to assist with crop scouting, sample collection, field data collection, laboratory analysis, data entry, and field plot maintenance, crop reporting and other activities related to research, extension and outreach.

Isaiah is a 2015 graduate from Troy High School. He decided to further his education at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana studying Environmental Management. Isaiah is a member of the Ball State University Soil Judging Team, where he helped the program bring home its first trophy ever receiving third place in the group judging tournament at the American Society of Agronomy contest hosted in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

In prior years, Isaiah has worked for a lawn care company in Miami County. He plans on graduating in May of 2019. After his graduation he intends on pursuing a career in Soil testing for agriculture and in the construction field, he is also thinking of continuing his education to a Master’s Degree.

For more information about OSU Extension, Miami County, visit the Miami County OSU Extension web site at www.miami.osu.edu or the OSU Extension Miami County Facebook page.

Fruit Growers: New Disease Resource

Most Ohio fruit growers, whether they have thousands of trees or just a few in their backyard, are well acquainted with the woes of growing fruit in Ohio. We have the perfect conditions for a slew of fruit diseases from fireblight and apple scab to peach borers and a variety of fungus.

But, great news! There is hope. Check out the resurrection of the Ohio Fruit News, a monthly newsletter put together by experts from Ohio State University to give disease updates and recommendations for treatments. Check out the newsletter at: https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/u.osu.edu/dist/b/28945/files/2017/04/Edition5_04302018_RM_VF-1d60e9x.pdf. You can subscribe to receive the newsletter by email by visiting https://u.osu.edu/fruitpathology/ and clicking on the “Subscribe Now” pop up in the bottom right-hand corner.

Happy growing season!

Gardeners Getting Itchy Fingers

I thought we were set for a bit of warm weather with the teaser at the end of last week. But, alas, with the snow yesterday and the frigid, soggy weather today it looks like warm weather has once again escaped us… for a bit anyway. Farmers and gardeners alike are anxious to put this very cold winter behind us and enjoy some warm sunshine.

And, those perennial plants might have some trouble early on with the yo-yoing temperatures. Remember May 2017 with the frost that came well after many had planted those precious tomatoes? While we might not experience a frost, we are definitely behind in terms of growing degree days when compared to the last six years.

What are growing degree days?   Growing Degree Days are a measurement of the growth and development of plants and insects during the growing season. Development does not occur at this time unless the temperature is above a minimum threshold value (base temperature). The base temperature varies for different organisms and is determined through research and experimentation. Due to placement variation (location of plants – shade/sun, etc) and some other scientific considerations, a base temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is considered acceptable for all plants and insects. Learn what the growing degree days for your location here. On April 17, 2018, Troy, Ohio was at 121 growing degree days, which is the lowest it has been in six years. In 2017, the same day was 294 days and in 2016 it was 210 days. This means insects and plants are not maturing as fast as they previously have.

In other words, “we are behind.” But, no fear. It will eventually warm up. Plants will bloom and leaf out. And, the bugs will mature. In the meantime, utilize the website https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/gdd/default.asp to learn to predict and identify when insects will emerge and when to think about controlling them.

 

Summer Agronomy Intern applications now accepted through 1/26/18

The ACRE program seeks to provide a rich training experience to undergraduate students in a wide diversity of disciplines related to agronomic crop research. Interns will support on-farm research by being placed in strategic hubs throughout the state. Students will gain real-world experience in scouting, sampling and evaluating agronomic crops in Ohio. Undergraduates, graduating seniors and incoming OSU graduate students are welcome to apply.

The internships are paid, full-time summer positions lasting 12-14 weeks. Applications are due January 26th, 2018. 

For more information: go.osu.edu/acre
To apply: go.osu.edu/apply-acre

Tree Talk: Spruce, Pine or Fir?

photo credit: OSU Extension

According to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’s Clark W. Griswold, the tree is the “most important of Christmas symbols.” Now, whether or not you share his enthusiasm or sentiment for the holidays, it is good to know the difference between trees as some of you make that annual trek to the tree farm to pick out that one, perfect tree to adorn with those treasured ornaments and brightly colored lights. Learning to identify them even in your landscape is helpful as they have differences in pruning time, as well as providing the first step in diagnostics if ailments arise.

There are three popular types of trees grown for Christmas trees in Ohio. One is the pine. Although there are many different types of pines, they share one characteristic. Their “leaves” aka needles are attached to the stem in bundles or clusters of two, three or five needles depending on the species. These include White pine (5 needles) and Scotch pine (two needles).

Another type is spruce. The needles of the spruce are attached individually to the stem; are sharp and pointy; and are square which makes them easy to roll between your fingers. Making them even more distinguishable from other species is that spruce needles are attached to the stem by small, wooden structures, which remain on the stem when the needles are shed making the branches very rough.

The final, arguably the most popular type of tree, is the fir. Like spruce, fir needles are attached singularly to the stem, but lack the wooden structures making a needleless branch feel smooth. In contrast to spruce needles, fir needles are flat and cannot be rolled easily in your fingers.

Another distinguishing feature of these conifers are the cones. Now, all conifers produce cones but the true pinecones are woody, rigid and sturdier, while the cones of the spruce are more delicate with thinner scales. Fir trees also have cones, but they often fall apart on the tree making finding one on the ground a rarity.

No matter which species you choose to be the centerpiece to your holiday décor, care for a live tree is the same. 1) If you bought an already cut tree, trim ¼” off the base of the trunk before you put it in the stand so that it can readily absorb the water. 2) One clean cut is all that is needed as the xylem which conducts water to the tree is located on the outside wood. Any complicated cuts, drilled holes or tubing does not improve absorbency. 3) Nothing but cold, clean water.  There are many home recipes online for using additives to keep your tree “fresh” such as vodka, 7-Up, bleach, aspirin, sugar and others, but they are not needed. 4) A stand that holds a quart of water for each inch of stem diameter is ideal.

For questions about tree care or other horticulture related topics, please call Ohio State Extension in Miami County at 937-440-3945 or email bennett.709@osu.edu. May your tree look great! Be a little full and have a lotta sap.