Central Ohio Grower’s Report and Weather Update for Winter 2019

The next week has a period of intense cold coming to central Ohio.  Grower’s who planted spinach under low tunnels using row cover should make sure that they have a second layer of frost blanket covering the planting and that the row cover is weighted securely against wind shear.

While there is a good chance that a full harvest amount of spinach is present, we have not had a warm enough day to break the micro-climate to check.  Be patient,  there is usually a chance for a significant harvest in February.

 

The period of warm and wet weather we had earlier in winter provided a chance to get good growth on winter cover crops.  If you were unable to get cover crops planted this year, as you make your 2019 planting plan, try to add cover crops into your rotation to keep a living cover on your ground.  It adds organic matter, prevents soil erosion and builds fertility.

A mix of winter rye, forage radish, crimson clover and hairy vetch. This mix is cold hardy and will persist into spring, starting a period of intense growth when the weather warms up.

The winter rye mix will require intensive management in the spring.

 

 

This plot contains a mix of oats and Austrian winter peas. This mix is cold tolerant but not hardy. It should die following the upcoming period of intense cold. The residue will act as a ground cover protecting the soil that will incorporate easily into a seed bed via tillage in spring.

 

Right now is a good time to start seeds if you have a seed start station.  You can start the following:

  • Artichokes –  a tender perennial not generally grown in central Ohio,  this crop can be grown as an annual if started early indoors.
  • Perennial herbs such as thyme and oregano.  The seeds are extremely tiny and take weeks to germinate.
  • Lettuce, cabbage-family – this assumes some risk due to weather pressure.  Start a small amount now looking to plant outside around late Feb under season extension.  Start another small batch every two weeks for the next month or two to have a steady harvest.
  • Leeks – seed takes awhile to germinate.  Transplants will be ready to go outside in late March if started now.

 

Central Ohio Weather Update 

The three month forecast for temperature and precipitation is calling for colder and dryer than normal weather.   There is a 65% of an El Nino weather phenomenon to form in spring.  That will certainly affect backyard growers, community gardeners, and urban farmers in Central Ohio.

 

CLICK HERE for the NWS/NOAA Weather link.

 

 

Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable at OARDC

Winter is a time for many activities, including obtaining new information and reconnecting with friends, peers, and partners. All these activities and more happen at programs coordinated by grower associations, universities, and others. In that light, consider participating in the upcoming Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable on February 4, 2019 at the OARDC in Wooster, OH.

Every program has something to offer. The Roundtable will offer brief, to-the-point presentations, demonstrations, exhibits, and trainings, and ample time for one-on-one and small group discussion — great value for commercial vegetable, fruit, and herb growers, especially ones active in local to regional markets. There will be plenty to hear, see, say, and do at the Roundtable. Please note: attendance is capped at 50 and pre-registration is required.

Learn more about the Roundtable program, including how to register. specialty-crop-roundtable-19-flyer-for-distribution-1-2j2bze6

The 2019 Ohio Produce Network Program: Count on It

The upcoming Ohio Produce Network program (http://www.opgma.org/ohio-produce-network/) sponsored by Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association will be held on January 16-17, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Dublin, OH. Topics selected by growers during months of event preparation will be addressed in presentations, demonstrations and trainings, discussions, and displays and exhibits.

The program has five tracks and begins with the OPGMA Annual Meeting and Keynote Address. The Keynote Address will be given by Liliana Esposito, who serves as the Chief Communications Officer with Wendy’s. The entire program includes eleven hours and of presentation and discussion time across five tracks (55 hours total) plus five hours dedicated to viewing the tradeshow and various exhibits and participating in trainings and demonstrations.

Combined, the Vegetable, Food Safety, and Greenhouse/High Tunnel tracks also comprise interesting numbers. For example, they include twenty-nine speakers and at least that many topics. Of these twenty-nine speakers, thirteen are with a university (three institutions), five are farmers, eight represent farming-related businesses, two represent organizations, and one represents the ODA. These numbers are matched by equally impressive ones across the Fruit and Marketing tracks. However, for now, the most important numbers to remember are 5100 Upper Metro Place, Dublin, OH 43017 … the address of the OPN program and where we hope to see you on January 16 and 17!

Grower, Gardener, Educator, and Researcher – All can Gain from Vegetable Grafting

Grafting is an ancient technology currently coming of age, helping vegetable growers and gardeners and educators and researchers in Ohio and the U.S. address some of today’s most significant challenges. Find out more at two upcoming programs.

The Muck Crops School on January 10 in Willard, OH will include a presentation by grafting expert Dr. Richard Hassell of Clemson University. He will outline progress made in developing rootstock (RS) varieties resistant to Phytopthora capsici, a devastating disease of pepper, tomato, melon, and other major vegetable crops. In grafting, root systems of RS varieties are spliced to the shoots of scion varieties, creating physical hybrids that often out-perform ungrafted versions of the scion variety, especially under stressful conditions. Indeed, creating physical hybrids opens key opportunities in production, research, and education. Contact OSUE-Huron County (https://huron.osu.edu/home) about attending the Muck Crops School on Jan 10, 2019.

The Ohio Produce Network program on January 16-17 in Dublin, OH will include two sessions on grafting, both occurring on January 16. Session 1 will feature presentations and discussion led by six additional experts: Dr. Chris Gunter (NCSU), Dr. Matt Kleinhenz (The OSU), Dr. Sally Miller (The OSU), Cameron Way (Way Farms), Chuck Mohler (Sweet Corn Charlie Farms), and Ed Kerlikowske (http://lifegivingfruit.com/). A representative of TriHishtil (http://www.trihishtil.com/), a major supplier of grafted plants, may also participate. Together, the six presenters and discussion leaders will provide a comprehensive, up-to-date, and stakeholder-focused summary of grafted plants as sources of income and production tools. Session 2, later on Jan 16, will deliver individualized training in making grafted plants, a straightforward process that can be completed in many settings. See http://www.opgma.org/ohio-produce-network/ about attending the OPN on Jan 16-17, 2019.

Contact Matt Kleinhenz (330.263.3810, kleinhenz.1@osu.edu) for additional information about these programs and see http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/ and http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/grafting-2/ for more information about vegetable grafting.

Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference

Registration is now open for the 2019 Southern Ohio Specialty Crop Conference. It will be held on February 5, 2019 at the Oasis Conference Center in Loveland, Ohio. The deadline to register for this conference is February 1, 2019 at 12:00 Noon. No walk-ins are permitted. Registration is limited to 75 people, so register early to avoid being shut out.

This is the conference to attend for Southern Ohio specialty crop growers. Fifteen different class options on fruit and vegetable production are available at this conference. Your registration includes a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. All attendees will receive a USB memory stick with copies of every available presentation to take home, so even if you don’t attend the session, you’ll still get the information. Private pesticide and fertilizer re-certification credits will be available for categories 3, 5, core and fertilizer. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from industry experts and share information with other growers.

The Oasis Conference Center is conveniently located about 5 miles off of I-275 on the northeast corner of Cincinnati.
For more information about the schedule and to register for the conference, go to the conference website.

Registration brochure. 

 

Managing Spotted Wing Drosophila – Exclusion Netting Video

Medina County grower talking about his exclusion netting project to manage SWD.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) has become a well-known pest for any grower producing small fruit such as raspberry, blueberry,

blackberry, strawberry, grapes or peaches. Ohio State University Extension educators and Department of Entomology faculty have been conducting workshops around the state since 2012 to help growers identify and manage this pest.

Over the past few years a new management technique has emerged that involves no pesticides but may only be economically feasible for smaller or organic growers.  The use of insect proof exclusion netting such as ExcludeNet (80g) or similar netting has been tried in several states (MI, NY, MN, VT, MO) with generally good results (http://u.osu.edu/pestmanagement/pests/swd/).

One of the potential downfalls of wide adoption is the cost of the netting may run as high as $840 for a roll measuring 13’ x 328’ (this includes shipping). A rough estimate for the netting alone would place the cost per acre close to $8,600, not including the cost of the supporting structure. Based on the footprint of the area to protect, the netting may need to be cut and stitched by a tarp shop or similar business to create the appropriate size, which would be an additional cost. Another issue to consider would be pollination and when to put the netting in place in relation to flowering and the use or addition of pollinators.

If you have been considering using netting to reduce SWD infestation on a particular crop, take a look at this video for some great information on how to get started including some of the other advantages and disadvantages.

The SWD netting video is posted to the OSU IPM YouTube channel along with other videos on how to monitor and manage this pest. https://youtu.be/_eAODdcYnXk

Additional information about SWD management can be found here http://u.osu.edu/pestmanagement/pests/swd/

Celeste Welty (Entomology) and Ashley Kulhanek (Extension) were also involved in this project.

Inversion and Drift Mitigation Workshop – Dec. 14

Recognizing weather conditions that could cause inversions is important when using certain herbicides in corn and soybeans. On Dec. 14, join a discussion about recognizing inversions as well as ways to improve communication between farmers growing sensitive crops and pesticide applicators.

Inversion and Drift Management Workshop, presented by the Ohio State University Extension IPM program will be conducted on Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon. Farmers and pesticide applicators can attend the workshop in-person at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 or attend virtually through the online webinar link. More information about the workshop is available at http://go.osu.edu/IPM

Leading off the workshop will be Aaron Wilson, weather specialist and atmospheric scientist with OSU Extension and the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. Wilson will focus on weather conditions that cause inversions and provide useful measures and observation to help determine if inversions are happening. Wilson will also look at average growing years and the days available for herbicide applications that avoided inversion or wind concerns.

Jared Shaffer, plant health inspector with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will speak next focusing on FieldWatch, the sensitive crop registry available to Ohio farmers and used throughout the Midwest. Shaffer will showcase tools available for farmers with sensitive crops to communicate about the location of their crops. Shaffer will also detail techniques available to applicators to find real-time information about crops in the area and how this information can be used in their spray planning.

There is no cost for the workshop; however, pre-registration is required at attend in-person at the Reynoldsburg location and is limited to the first 75 registrants. Registration is online at go.osu.edu/IPM. Commercial and private applicator recertification credits for core will be available only at the Reynoldsburg location. No recertification credits are available for online participants.

For further information about the workshop, contact Cindy Folck at 614-247-7898 or folck.2@osu.edu. The workshop is sponsored by the OSU Extension IPM Program and the USDA NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Competitive Grants Program (Grant number: 2017-70006-27174).

Farmer Focus – Vest Berries

Rick Vest, of Vest Berries farm, had a record sweet potato crop this year. The two largest specimens weigh 13 and 14 pounds each! They are Beauregard traditional orange variety; and the other big ones are Murasaki white sweet potatoes. His total sweet potato crop yield for this year was 10,000 pounds.

They were planted on May 21 during very good weather. No fertilizer or chemicals were used on the sweet potatoes. According to Rick, this was an exceptional year for sweet potatoes. They got the rain and sunshine needed at just the right times. Rick said he hilled this year’s crop extra high – up, fifteen inches. Due to the rainy hurricane season, namely Hurricane Florence, they were dug three weeks later than usual.

Sweet potatoes of all sizes are available at the Athens Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9am-noon. He also sells wholesale to local restaurants, and takes orders to sell to individuals.

Since the State does not keep official vegetable records, this is an unofficial record sweet potato.

 

Growing from a young age

Rick began his passion for farming as a young child, as he worked on a truck farm near his hometown of Harrison, Ohio. He moved to Nelsonville to attend Hocking College after high school and never left Athens County. Rick met his future wife, Terry, at Hocking College, and soon began a life together. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. The couple just celebrated 40 years of marriage.

Rick and Terry have owned and operated Vest Berries since the early 1980’s. While maintaining the farm, Rick also had a career as a graphic designer at McBee from 1978-2006. After McBee relocated, Rick rekindled his love for farming. He has been farming full-time ever since. During the spring/summer months, they operate a pick-your-own strawberry farm in Stewart, Ohio.

Over the years, Vest Berries has grown to include much more than just their staple crop, strawberries. On any given Saturday, Rick can be seen at the Athens Farmers Market selling carrots, beets, potatoes, lettuce, kale, squash, and berries, among other fruits and vegetables. He is an active member in the local farming community, serving as a member on the Athens Farmers Market executive committee, and previously on CFI’s Board of Directors.

For those who know Rick, they know what a lively spirit he has. He enjoys talking to people and socializing with fellow farmers at the market. He is a hard-working family-man who would give the shirt off his back for anyone in need. His family is proud of his accomplishments in the community and appreciate the recognition of his gigantic sweet potatoes.

Giving Back

Vest Berries put in a call to the Community Food Initiative’s Harvest Hotline for help harvesting all of this year’s sweet potato crop. Together, they yielded approximately 700 pounds of Yukon potatoes and 1,100 pounds of sweet potatoes that may have gone to waste, but instead has gone to feed people facing food insecurity.

 

Proper winterizing and storing your sprayer now help you mitigate costly problems in the spring – Erdal Ozkan

It is very likely that you will not be using your sprayer again until next spring. If you want to avoid potential problems and save yourself from frustration and major headaches next spring, you will be wise to give your sprayer a little bit of TLC (Tender Loving Care) this time of the year. Yes, this may still be a busy time of the year for some of you. However, do not forget about winterizing your sprayer. Do not delay it too long, if you already have not done so. You don’t want a pump that is cracked and/or not working at its full capacity because you did not properly winterize it before the temperature falls below freezing.  Here are some important things you need to do with your sprayer this time of the year.

Rinsing

It is very likely that you did the right thing when you used the sprayer the last time: you rinsed the whole system (tank, hoses, filters, nozzles) thoroughly. If you did not, make sure this is done before storing the sprayer. A sprayer that is not rinsed thoroughly after each use, and especially after the spraying season is over, may lead to cross-contamination of products applied next spring. Another problem that may result from lack of, or insufficient rinsing of the complete sprayer parts is clogged nozzles. Once the nozzles are clogged, and they remain in that condition a long time, it is extremely difficult to bring them back to their normal operating conditions you expect from a comparable clean nozzle. Leaving chemical residues in nozzles will usually lead to changes in their flow rates, as well as in their spray patterns resulting in uneven distribution of chemicals on the target.

Photo: Sprayer cleaning_tops-life.org

 

Depending on the tank, proper rinsing of the interior of the tank could be easy or challenging. It will be very easy if the tank is relatively new and is equipped with special rinsing nozzles and mechanism inside the tank. If this is not the case, manual rinsing of the tank interior is more difficult, and poses some safety problems such as inhaling fumes of leftover chemicals during the rinsing process. To avoid these problems, either replace the tank with one that has the interior rinse nozzles, or install an interior tank rinse system in your existing tank.

For effective rinsing of all the sprayer components, circulate clean water through the whole sprayer parts several minutes first with the nozzles off, then flush out the rinsate through the nozzles. Rinsing should be done preferably in the field, or on a concrete chemical mixing/loading pad with a sump to recover rinse water. Regardless, dispose of the rinsate according to what is recommended on the labels of the pesticides you have used. Always check the label for specific instructions. However, most labels recommend following procedure: If rinsing is done on a concrete rinse pad with a sump, put the rinsate collected in the sump back in the tank, dilute it with water and spray it in the field where there is no potential for the rinsate to reach ditches and other water bodies nearby. If the rinsing is done in the field, make sure you are not flushing out the rinsate in the system in one area. It is best to further dilute the rinse water in the tank and, spray it on the field on areas where there is no potential for the rinsate to reach ditches and other water bodies nearby.

Cleaning

Rinsing the system with water as explained above may not be sufficient to get rid of chemicals from the sprayer. This may lead to cross-contamination problems. Residues of some pesticides left in the sprayer may cause serious problems when a spray mixture containing these residual materials is applied on a crop that is highly sensitive to that pesticide. To avoid such problems, it is best to clean and rinse the entire spraying system with some sort of a cleaning solution. Usually a mixture of 1 to 100 of household ammonia to water should be adequate for cleaning the tank, but you may first need to clean the tank with a mixture containing detergent if tank was not cleaned weeks ago, right after the last spraying job was done. Some chemicals require specific rinsing solution. There is an excellent Extension Publication from University of Missouri which lists many commonly used pesticides and the specific rinsing solutions required for them. It is available online. Check it out (http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G4852). However, you should always check the product label to find out the most recent recommendations on cleaning agents.

Cleaning the outside of the sprayer components deserves equal attention. Remove compacted deposits with a bristle brush. Then flush the exterior parts of the equipment with water. A high pressure washer can be used, if available. Wash the exterior of the equipment either in the field away from ditches and water sources nearby, or a specially constructed concrete rinse pad with a sump. Again, the rinsate should be disposed of according to the label recommendations. As I mentioned earlier, most labels recommends the same practice: put the rinsate collected in the sump back in the tank, dilute it with water and spray it in the field where there is no potential for the rinsate to reach ditches and other water bodies nearby.

Photo: K. Horniblow
Make sure the nozzles and filters are cleaned before storing the sprayer.

Winterizing

Check one more time to make sure there is no liquid left inside any of the sprayer parts to prevent freezing. Especially the pump, the heart of a sprayer, requires special care. You don’t want a pump that is cracked and/or not working at its full capacity because you did not properly winterize it before the temperature falls below freezing.  After draining the water, add a small amount of oil, and rotate the pump four or five revolutions by hand to completely coat interior surfaces.  Make sure that this oil is not going to damage rubber rollers in a roller pump or rubber parts in a diaphragm pump. Check the operator’s manual. If oil is not recommended, pouring one tablespoon of radiator rust inhibitor in the inlet and outlet part of the pump also keeps the pump from corroding. Another alternative is to put automotive antifreeze with rust inhibitor in the pump and other sprayer parts. This also protects against corrosion and prevents freezing in case all the water is not drained. To prevent corrosion, remove nozzle tips and strainers, dry them, and store them in a dry place. Putting them in a can of light oil such as diesel fuel or kerosene is another option.

Storage

Find ways to protect your sprayer against the harmful effects of snow, rain, sun, and strong winds. Moisture in the air, whether from snow, rain, or soil, rusts metal parts of unpro­tected equipment of any kind. This is especially true for a sprayer, because there are all kinds of hoses, rubber gaskets and plastic pieces all around a sprayer. Yes, the sun usually helps reduce moisture in the air, but it also causes damage. Ultraviolet light softens and weakens rubber materials such as hoses and tires and degrades some tank materials. The best protection from the environment is to store sprayers in a dry building. Storing sprayers in a building also gives you a chance to work on them any time during the off-season regardless of weather. If storing in a building is not possible, try covering the sprayer with some material that will protect it from sun, rain and snow. When storing trailer-type sprayers, put blocks under the frame or axle and reduce tire pressure during storage.

Finally, check the condition of all sprayer parts one more time before leaving the sprayer behind. Identify the parts that may need to be worked on, or replaced. Check the tank, and hoses to make sure there are no signs of cracks starting to take place. Check the painted parts of the sprayer for scratched spots. Touch up these areas with paint to eliminate corrosion. By the way, don’t forget to cover openings so that birds don’t make a nest somewhere in your sprayer, and insects, dirt, and other foreign material cannot get into the system.

Erdal Ozkan, Professor and Extension Agricultural engineer, can be reached at 614-292-3006, or ozkan.2@osu.edu.

 

 

Fall Vegetable Planting Update October 2018

For the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer, there is still time to put seeds and plants in the ground.   There are many choices available in vegetables and cover crops to take advantage of the cooler fall harvest weather and utilize the abundant rainfall and still optimal soil temperature, especially if the grower has the ability to utilize season extension.

As of 10/8/18, soil temperatures as recorded in central Ohio on the OARDC website temperatures were still above 70 degrees.

CLICK THIS LINK to see soil temperatures in your part of the state.

Vegetables:

Those who followed the Fall Vegetable Planting timeline are harvesting basil, lettuce, radishes, green beans and summer squash now.  Monitor for frost closely and be ready to use season extension to protect tender crops.

There are still some choices to direct seed,  these will need season extension to allow harvest into November and later:

  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Asian Greens
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

This arugula was started from seed under grow lights. It will be transplanted outdoors in a week. This was done to allow more time for flea beetles, a major pest of arugula, to finish its life cycle.

 

I still have several lettuce plugs from an earlier project that will be transplanted outside under row cover in a week.

There are several pests to continue to monitor for this time of year.  Slugs will be numerous if organic matter levels are moderate to high.  Deer are a serious threat due to decreasing amounts of fresh forage.  They will consume nearly all fall planted vegetables without protection. The  Cabbage White butterfly can persist in the environment deep into fall and their larvae can eat large amounts of foliage.

Spinach that will be grown overwinter in low tunnels under row cover should be planted withing the next couple weeks from direct seed.

Check out this VegNet Newsletter post for a documentation of that process.

 

Cover Crops:

It is important to keep something growing all year long and avoid bare ground.  This is especially critical over winter to avoid loss of fertility and organic matter from erosion.  There are still several choices available including grasses such as rye or oats, legumes such as crimson clover or vetch and brassicas such as forage radishes.  The choice of what to plant depends on what the goal is, what crop will follow and the grower’s ability to manage the crop in the spring.

This past weekend I prepared the area that had previously grown cucurbits into a seedbed.

 

I had used woven plastic landscape fabric as mulch and weed suppression for my winter squash and pumpkins.  This was my first foray into using this method and I was impressed by how effective it was.  The only drawback was that after removal the ground had reverted to its base state as a heavy clay soil.  I think it is imperative that I cover crop following plasticulture to improve soil health going forward.

Note the bindweed seedling that persisted under black heavy weight landscape fabric. The fabric was placed in early June and temperatures were in the 90’s multiple times this season.

There is still time to plant cover crops.  I planted a mix of winter rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and forage radish.   This mix will require intensive management in spring, but will persist over winter and provide multiple soil health benefits.