Avian Influenza Updates and Information

Avian Influenza or “Bird Flu” is a type of influenza that is specific to poultry. It is introduced into commercial flocks from migratory birds who carry the virus. Some strains of the virus are very aggressive and have the potential to greatly influence American poultry production and consumption. This is because after exposure, generally 100% of the flock perishes. Not only does Avian Influenza pose a threat to commercial poultry, but also backyard poultry. Anyone raising poultry could potentially be impacted. It is very important that poultry managers know the signs of Avian Influenza and the steps to take if exposure in the flock is suspected. The Ohio Poultry Emergency Disease Management Committee, which is a collaborative effort between the Ohio Department of Agriculture, USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, The Ohio Poultry Association, and OSU Veterinary Extension has put together a brochure to help spread the word in the poultry community. Please share it with your peers.

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry_Page_1

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry_Page_2

Access the printable PDF here:

Brochure -Noncommerical Poultry


Watch Out for Cucumber Beetles

Striped cucumber beetles start flying around even before many of our plants emerge. This means they are often there just as the cucumber, squash, pumpkin and melon seedlings push through the soil, eating off the stems and first leaves to emerge. Later, adults feed on leaves, vines and fruits that survive. Larvae feed on the roots of the plants, weakening them and making them susceptible to other problems.

One problem these beetles cause is a disease called bacterial wilt, a serious disease of many vine crops. The bacteria overwinters in the bodies of hibernating beetles which introduce the bacteria to the plants during feeding. Infected plants quickly wilt, the leaves dry, and the plants eventually die. Cucumber beetles also spread the squash mosaic virus.

Bacterial wilt and mosaic virus must be prevented since they cannot be controlled once the plant is infected.  Inspect plants frequently for the striped cucumber beetle (the adult is about 0.2 in. long, tan in color with three black stripes down the back). Row covers provide some protection, but must be removed during pollination. Some resistant varieties are available, and there are a few products labeled for control of the beetle.  Always read and follow pesticide label directions when used.

Cover Crop Experiments

One of the best ways to improve a patch of ground is by using a cover crop.  Cover cropping is when you plant a certain plant or mix of plants into an area to solve an problem or improve the soil. Things cover crops can do include:

  • add biomass
  • smother weeds
  • drill through hardpan
  • increase fertility
  • prevent runoff and erosion
  • tie nutrients up in the soil

Almost sounds too good to be true, but it is not.  Cover crops have been used for a long time in agriculture and with the increased focus on preventing nutrient loss into our waterways and the resulting problems this has resulted in, you will be hearing more about them in the future.

Currently I am monitoring/helping with three different small scale cover crop experiments.  I do not have 100 acres of corn or soybeans so I am observing them in three different community garden experiments.

Experiment 1: Demonstration garden at the fairgrounds. 

Tomatoes into no-till residue

Tomatoes into no-till residue

Rob and Rebecca planted winter rye, crimson clover and vetch into the raised beds last fall and crimped them over in spring, the tomatoes went straight into holes in the residue and are doing great.  This cover crop mix added fertility from the legumes, mulches the soil to prevent disease and water loss, prevented erosion over winter and added biomass from the top growth and root remnants. The tomatoes are doing great.  If you go to the garden, you will see they are outperforming tomatoes planted into straight compost.

Experiment 2: Logan Community Garden

Buckwheat in unused plots

Buckwheat in unused plots

The Logan Community Garden had some space that needed filled that was not going to be used this season and had a fair amount of weeds present.  The cover crop for this area needed to smother weeds, prevent erosion,  keep the soil in use, tie up nutrients and be easy to manage. The crop chosen was Buckwheat, which is elite at all these needs.  The crop is entering flowering right now if you visit the garden and will be a magnet for pollinators, helping the vegetables the gardeners have as well.  It will be mowed to prevent it from setting seed and allowed to decompose in place adding organic matter.

Experiment 3: Wallace Community Garden

BMR sorghum x sudangrass

BMR sorghum x sudangrass

Sheesh,  what guy planted this? (me).   This spotty planting of BMR(brown mid-rib) Sorghum X Sudangrass is being used as a three year rotation in my garden plot.  My needs are for weed control, increased fertility, increased biomass/organic matter and sub-soil drilling through hardpan.  I have not used this variety before, but have heard many wonderful things about it and its reputation is stellar.  It will get very tall, like corn, and should completely take over this plot by mid summer.  I will mow it to keep it a couple/few feet tall which will signal the roots to double down on root growth.  I will let you all know how this turns out over the season.

Would you like to learn more about cover crops?   I will be talking about cover crops as well as Fertilizers, Organic Matter and Soil Health on Tuesday June 14th at 7pm in a FREE class at the Youth Center,  bring friends and questions and hope to see you there.