Soilless Strawberry School

Online live lectures and discussion on March 26th

Recordings will be available for additional 2 weeks

Registrations fees: $180 per person

Ohio resident discount available (please contact Chieri Kubota)

More information & registration

Register by 3/23/21

Contact for your questions: Chieri Kubota (kubota.10@osu.edu)

Could you grow vegetables in the same manner?

Grower Survey to Assess Herbicide Drift Damage in the North Central U.S.

A special project group of the North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center wants to learn about your concerns and experiences with herbicide drift. The group is surveying growers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in the upper Midwest.

To truly understand the frequency, severity, and economic impact of herbicide drift on specialty crops, we need to hear from growers: growers who have experienced drift damage, growers who can share their concerns around this issue, and even growers who have not dealt with drift but who grow sensitive crops in drift-prone regions. Survey responses are needed to establish herbicide drift as a serious economic and regulatory concern in Ohio and across our region.

Please complete the survey at go.osu.edu/drift21.

Who should take this survey?
The study is for commercial growers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, or WI. Even if you have never experienced herbicide damage, we would still like to hear from you if you grow specialty crops in one of these states.

Why is this survey necessary?
Dicamba and 2,4-D drift damage has made headlines in recent years, but no study to-date has attempted to quantify the overall impact drift has on the specialty crop industry. While all states have a way for growers to file a drift complaint, the process and requirements are inconsistent and may involve time and information that a grower does not have. In most states, for instance, the source of the drift must be identified. Research has found that dicamba and 2,4-D both have the potential to travel for miles in specific weather conditions, making source identification difficult.

What good will this survey do?
This study is designed to assess the potential and actual frequency of drift damage, along with the severity and economic impact of such damage. The survey includes questions on grower awareness, experience, actions, and decisions related to herbicide drift and drift-risk management. The responses will help establish needs for research on drift mechanisms, prevention, and remediation; and/or the need to review current policy and reporting requirements.

How long will it take?
The survey takes 5-20 minutes to complete, depending on your experience with drift damage.

How will this data be shared?
Summarized survey data will be shared broadly with regulatory agencies, university educators and researchers, agricultural policy makers, grower support organizations, and the general public using news articles, report summaries, and peer-reviewed journal articles. While this study is administered by The Ohio State University, it was planned in partnership with industry experts across the region who will assist with sharing results. Participants may also request a copy of the study summary.

How will my data be used and protected?
Your privacy is important. No individual survey data will be released or shared beyond the limited group of project staff. The survey questions and procedures have been reviewed by the institutional review board at The Ohio State University and are designed to protect your data and identity. Additional details on privacy and confidentiality are provided at the beginning of the survey.

How can I learn more?
The North Central IPM Center’s special project group created a series of fact sheets on herbicide drift especially for specialty crop growers. The series includes: Overview of Dicamba and 2,4-D Drift Issues, Frequently Asked Questions, Preparing for Drift Damage, and Responding to Drift Damage. Fact sheets and more information about our special project group and study are available at go.osu.edu/ipm-drift.

This study is facilitated by The Ohio State University and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through agreement 2018-70006-28884.This study is being conducted in cooperation with regional universities and non-profit grower organizations, including Ohio State Extension.

Soil Sampling and Analysis for High Tunnel Production

Installing a stationary high tunnel (HT) is a significant, long-term commitment to the parcel of soil beneath it, especially if the crops will grow directly in that soil. Maintaining, and preferably enhancing, the health, quality, or productivity of that soil for as long as possible should be a high priority beginning at HT installation.

Soils in HTs are less well understood than uncovered soils in “open sky”/open field production. However, the HT farming, extension-research, and industry communities are aware that HT soils are prone to specific issues and require specific care to remain commercially viable. These issues and preventative or reclamation tactics are the subject of much research and extension. Therefore, HT growers are encouraged to stay tuned for more information, including on how they can participate directly in identifying concerns and developing solutions. Examples of concerns and working solutions were summarized in a recent presentation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpUl0IwaDFI). Choosing one concern, in a summary of a presentation given at the 2013 New England Fruit and Vegetable Conference (https://newenglandvfc.org/sites/newenglandvfc.org/files/content/proceedings2013/Hoskins%20High%20Tunnel.pdf), Bruce Hoskins of the University of Maine’s Analytical Lab and Soil Testing Service mentions that the buildup of nutrient salts over time is “one of the most common problems in a continuously covered HT system,” that HT soil management can be similar to “irrigated desert production in the west and southwest,” and that growers familiar with open-field production can “fail to realize this potential problem or take steps to remediate it.” He also mentions that nitrate may carryover from one HT crop cycle to the next more readily than in open field production.

We heard from Bruce Hoskins and John Spargo during recent conversations about HT soil management. They direct soil testing and analytical labs at the University of Maine (https://umaine.edu/soiltestinglab/) and Penn State University (https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl), respectively. Each of these labs receives soil samples from hundreds of HT growers (conventional, organic) each year and have been actively helping improve soil management recommendations and cropping outcomes for HT growers. They have been joined in that work by others, including farmers, across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions for years.

Take-aways from these recent conversations include that routine soil testing is essential, along with accounting for potential nutrient salt buildup when collecting soil samples. Normally, samplers: 1) use a soil probe or spade to retrieve a column of soil about twelve inches deep, 2) drop the soil in a bucket, 3) repeat the process one or more times from other areas, 4) mix the soil in the bucket, and 5) submit a portion of it for analysis. Listening to testing and other experts, the best approach appears to include “stratified” sampling; that is, submitting samples taken from 0-4 inches deep (upper layer of the rooting zone) separately from samples taken from four inches and deeper (lower layer of the rooting zone). Salts tend to accumulate in upper layers, especially if soil is heavy-textured and irrigation is frequent but brief. So, standard “mixed” samples may either: (a) underestimate salt levels in upper layers of soil experienced by roots of transplants and more mature plants or (b) overestimate salt levels if samples include only the upper level. Stratified sampling, mindful that soil characteristics can change with depth, equips growers and others with information to better manage HT soils. Regarding the costs of soil testing, especially of stratified samples, input from soil testing labs suggests that few of the growers they work with mention it as a significant concern. Instead, most growers appear to have done their math and concluded that soil analysis offers a significant return on investment, given that its cost is more than offset by gains in crop yield and quality in the current and subsequent years.

Southwest Ohio Beekeeper School

Ohio State University Extension in Warren County is offering this webinar series as a replacement for the 2021 Southwestern Ohio Beekeeper School which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our “live” school will return on March 26, 2022. Mark your calendars.

The following webinars are free but do require you to register for each meeting at our website. Anyone is invited to participate, but attendance is limited to 300 people. All sessions will start at 7:00 p.m. and will be finished by 9:00 p.m. Website Address for Registration: warren.osu.edu 

March 22, 2021
Equipment Basics
Amanda Bennett, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County
Many products are available to the beginner beekeeper. But which ones do you really need? This session will cover basic equipment needed to begin your beekeeping adventure. The benefits and drawbacks of different systems will be discussed and participants will take away a list of essential items needed.

March 24, 2021
Bee Basics
Amanda Bennett, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County
Opening up a hive can be a very daunting task for the new beekeeper. What is “normal”? What should a beekeeper be looking for during inspections? It is important for all beekeepers to understand normal lifecycles, seasonal activities, bee abnormalities and oddities to be able to accurately assess colony health and look for red flags to guide management decisions.

March 29, 2021
Bees and Plants: An Essential Relationship
Denise Ellsworth, Ohio State University, Program Director, Pollinator Education
Bees depend on plants for energy-rich nectar and high-protein pollen, while plants depend on bees and other couriers to transport pollen from flower to flower. This session will focus on the rewards plants offer and key plant sources of this essential food. Participants will also learn how to use phenology to track bloom time of local plants using a web-based biological calendar.

For more information about the Southwestern Ohio Beginner Beekeeping Webinars, contact Greg Meyer, OSU Extension Educator in Warren County, by email at meyer.213@osu.edu .

2021 Home Garden Vegetable Trials

The second year of the statewide Home Garden Vegetable Trials kicks off during the month of February. Citizen scientists are recruited to contribute to our vegetable trials for Ohio. We look for people excited about growing vegetables in their home or community gardens and then letting us know what they think. Youth and adults are welcomed to participate. Each trial contains two varieties that  are grown side by side to compare throughout the season. They can select multiple trials with 5 cool-season vegetables and 5 warm-season vegetables available. For each trial, participants get:

  • Seed for two varieties of a vegetable
  • Row markets
  • A garden layout plan to prepare your rows or beds
  • Growing information specific to the crop species you, including planting date, plant spacing, nutrient requirements, etc.
  • An evaluation sheet (can be completed online)

Participants may select up to 5 trials. We are now asking you to complete the sign up and send payment. The trial catalog has a  description of each variety that will be used this year. On the last page is a registration page that can be printed and filled out by hand for those who do not use computers.

Some seeds are from organic sources, but a few are not. The vegetables are not experimental, but some have been released in the last few years. Others are old favorites being compared to new varieties to see if they still stand the test of time. All seeds are non-GMO (as all vegetable seeds available are non-GMO) Each trial is $3. We have created an online registration site. Please go through the sign-up process and select your vegetables. On the payment page, you can choose to pay by card or check. If you choose check, the details for filling out and sending the check will be displayed. Please send that in as soon as possible. You will also see the $8 charge for home delivery added to your bill. We have had to do this because our Extension Offices have been temporarily closed. You also have the option of registering and paying for more than one person while visiting the site. The deadline for ordering is February 28 for guaranteed participation and March 15 while supplies last.

VEGETABLE TRIALS web site

go.osu.edu/veggies2021  registration site

 

Grafted Plants: What They May Offer You and How to Obtain Them

Grafting creates physical hybrids between seedlings of at least two varieties. The rootstock variety is used for its root system and traits and the scion variety is used for its shoot and fruit traits. Grafting is providing growers with an expanding list of key plant traits more rapidly and in different combinations than standard hybrid variety development. These traits include resistance to specific soilborne diseases (e.g., Fusarium, Verticillium) and the ability to overcome various abiotic stresses (e.g., salinity, drought, low fertility). Plant growth at low soil temperatures, improved fruit quality, and/or greater fruit holding ability on the vine may also be possible in specific cases. Among grafted crops, field and high tunnel acreage of tomato and watermelon are greatest, although interest in and acreage of grafted pepper, eggplant, cucumber, and melon are also rising.

Resources to help growers make the best use of grafting are also increasing and improving. The most important resource is growers who have experimented with grafted plants and share their experiences and views. Online resources (e.g., http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/) can also be useful. For example, one site (http://graftingtool.ifas.ufl.edu/) helps growers “run the numbers” on grafting’s potential impact on their bottom-line. That decision-support tool improves as information from farm-level tests of grafting is added.

Growers also ask how they can obtain grafted plants. The number of operations supplying Ohio and the U.S. (http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/resources/suppliers/) is rising. I have personal experience with the three suppliers listed below in alphabetical order. Contact them soon if you are interested in receiving grafted plants for use in 2021.

1. Banner Greenhouses (Nebo, NC; ph. 828-659-3335; https://www.bannergreenhouses.com/).
2. Re-Divined (Bainbridge, PA; ph. 717.286.7658; grafted@redivined.net; https://redivined.weebly.com/).
3. Tri-Hishtil (Mills River, NC; ph. 828.891.6004/828.620.5020 – Chris Furman; sales@Tri-Hishtil.com; http://www.trihishtil.com/).

Grafted plants can also be prepared by the same person or farm that uses them in the field or high tunnel. Many guides describing how to graft vegetables are available. The following are a small number of examples.

1. https://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/grafting-guide/ and other resources at https://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/grafting-2/.
2. http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/resources/grafting-manual/.

Please contact me if you need additional information.

“Spraying done right!” Webinar February 4, 2021

Zoom Webinar
February 4, 2021
12 pm EST, 9 am PST

This 1-hour long Zoom webinar, is meant for growers, and for people who assist them–especially pest management advisors and pesticide applicators. The event will host top-notch experts in the fields of herbicide science, plant pathology, atmospheric sciences and agricultural regulation. Register for free at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/137078903691

This webinar will deal with pesticide application in agriculture, from the following perspectives:

  • Damages to crops, due to pesticide and herbicide drift from neighboring fields.
  • Inefficiency in pesticide application, and ways to correct it.
  • Pesticide drift liability: perspectives and lessons to recipients and to sources;
  • growers and pesticide applicators.
  • Meteorological factors affecting pesticide application, and localized weather forecasting.

List of speakers:

  • Prof. Doug Doohan (Herbicide Science), Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University.
  • Prof. Dorita Edelstein (Atmospheric Science), Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Institute for Biological Research.
  • John Fentis, Esq. (Law), Environmental Director, California District Attorneys Association.
  • Moderator: Dr. Nadav Nitzan, Head of Plant Pathology, Valley of Springs Research Center, Israel (formerly of the Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University).

Register for free here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/137078903691

Good Agricultural Practices Trainings

The OSU Produce Safety Team has three online Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) trainings scheduled this winter, with the first one coming up next Thursday, on January 21st. These programs are free to attend.

You can find more information at producesafety.osu.edu/events. Registration links are available for each event: