IPM- Crop Rotations

In Extension, we often talk about integrated pest management, a way to control a pest from various angles. These angles are cultural, mechanical, and biological options for managing pests.  A pest is simply something unwanted in a particular area.  Pests could be plants, insects, or even mammals at times.  The thought process is that there is no one perfect solution to a problem.  Easy come easy go, some would say.  I guess in this case it would be; easy go, easy come back!

A cultural way to break the cycle of many pests is to plan a crop rotation that involves crops from different plant families. Families in the sense of phylogenies or grouping according to similarities.  For instance, the following plants: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and even potatoes are all in the Solanaceae family.  As you can tell, many of our garden crop favorites share a lot with one another.

One of the biggest mistakes in crop rotations is to rotate between unrelated plants/crops. This is important because pests can share similar crops and over winter in that specific crop residue.  Take for instance the cucumber beetle; this pest will over winter on cucurbit residue and be ready to re-infect that crop, whether it is a cucumber, pumpkin or zucchini.  This bug will also spread bacterial wilt that can cause a loss of an entire crop with a systemic infection.

The cucumber beetle will not damage tomatoes so planting a Solanaceae crop in an area that a Cucurbitaceae was growing would break that pest cycle. Pests can also be fungal.  A fungus called Alternaria tomatophila causes early blight in tomatoes.  The fungus can over winter in certain cultivars of potato and eggplant, both of which are in the Solanaceae family.

A good crop rotation starts with careful planning and can be successful by utilizing crops with complementary planting and harvest dates. A good rotation for May plantings would be to start with sweet corn (Poaceae).  Sweet corn can be harvested around August and into September.  A crop rotation will prevent certain cutworms and corn borers from being problematic in a specific area.  A good follow-up crop in that area would be garlic (Alliaceae) planted in September/October and harvested in July.  Once July comes, planting a legume (Fabaceae) will help remediate the soil and get the soil ready for the following season, hairy vetch for instance.

There are many rotations that work well in a crop rotation system, utilizing soybeans for a food plot can also be done. Just remember to rotate crops that are unrelated and replenish the soil at times.  This can be accomplished through the use of legumes or fertilizers.  A rotation only needs to be more than one crop; two is good, but three is great!  Get your garden plans in place and dig right in.

Giving Thanks for Ohio Agriculture

Did you know that so far this year Ohio has produced enough young, chilled or frozen turkeys that each Ohioan could eat up to 12 lbs. of turkey and there still be leftovers? Yum, that is a lot of healthy protein. It is incredible to see how diverse our agricultural production is when you look at the numbers from our great state. I hope that the spread on your Thanksgiving dinner table will include at least one local favorite. Get lunch ready before you read on, because this is going to make you hungry.

I’m drooling already thinking about dipping succulent turkey into a serving of fluffy mashed potatoes. When you think potatoes you probably think Idaho, but Ohio produced a fair 2.76 million lbs. of potatoes in 2015. What goes better on the side of a great meal than a flaky croissant roll? Thanks to Ohio wheat growers, soft red winter wheat production is forecasted at 44.8 million bushels. Broken down into terms you can throw around for family trivia, 1 bushel of wheat can be milled into 42 lb. of white four, which is enough to make more than 70 dozen dinner rolls. As for pumpkin pie, you can eat up while eating local. Last year’s pumpkin production was nearly 8.5 million lbs. Not a pumpkin fan? Apple is delicious too and also a thing to be proud of. Already in 2016 apple production has surpassed 42 million pounds. That is about 4 lbs. of apples per Ohioan. Isn’t that amazing?

Now, if you’re trying to keep things healthy this year, hidden calories can be found all over the table. Butter is one of those things that can really enhance flavor. It can also be easy to get carried away with how much we add to our meal. In contrast to criticism by the public for many years, it has actually been proven that butter is a healthy choice for families in moderation. Moderation is the key. One tablespoon of butter is about 100 added calories to your side dish. Real whipped cream is delectable on top of a dessert, but it also can also be one of those overlooked calorie additions. Depending on what type you use one tablespoon could add 25 calories or more. Rethink your drink too if you’re monitoring sugar intake. Water in your cup will help you savor the flavor of what is on your plate. Ohio State Extension has a variety of information that can help you prepare a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving dinner. Feel free to give us a call or visit ohioline.osu.edu and click on “Food” to see the factsheets we have available anytime, day or night.

OSU Local Foods Week August 9th-15th

Local Foods Week

The week of August 9th-15th, 2015 is Local Foods Week in Ohio and if you don’t already support locally grown food, now is a great time to start! Right now is a perfect time to support locally grown food in our state due to the wide variety of fresh produce available! Tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, apples, peaches, and berries are available just to name a few!

Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry that contributes jobs for one in seven Ohioans and more than $107 billion to the state’s economy. Ohio has many rural areas, but several metropolitan areas in close proximity, which links the rural and the urban consumer. This allows growers and their communities to produce and consume food from small, medium and large-scale family owned farms.

While Ohio ranks in the top ten states for direct sales to consumers of a wide variety of foods that include eggs, milk, cheese, honey, maple syrup, bread, vegetables, fruit and many other food products one in six Ohioans are food insecure and lack the access to fresh, healthy local foods. You are all a part of the food system of Ohio by making the daily decision on what foods you will consume.

When making your food decisions many people consider where the food was grown or raised and make an effort to develop personal connections with growers and producers to enjoy flavorful, safe, local food. The focus of Ohio Local Foods week is not only about enjoying the wonderful taste of local food but to also become more aware and better informed about the nutritional, economic and social benefits of local foods in Ohio.

The Ohio State University Extension Local Food Signature Program invites everyone to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week this week. We encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to grow, purchase, highlight and promote local food all the time, but we ask you especially emphasize it this week. We are also inviting everyone to participate in a challenge to spend $10 this week on local foods. Two convenient places to spend $10 on local foods in Noble County include the Farmers Market on Friday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. or the Witten’s trailer located in the BP parking lot. You will be surprised just how much you can get for $10, too! In the past I have purchased a cantaloupe, half a dozen ears of sweet corn and a couple tomatoes for $10.

To follow the event search Ohio Local Foods Week on Facebook or Twitter and post your foods you are enjoying this week. Sign up for the $10 challenge at http://go.osu.edu/olfw10dollars