What Are the Most Worrisome Diseases in Your Vegetable Crops?

Many specialty crop growers are aware of the USDA IR-4 Minor Use Program, which works to promote registration of products for  pest, disease and weed management in “minor use” crops – including vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, among others.  The US IR-4 Program will participate in a Global Minor Use Summit in Canada later this year, and is asking for help in identifying the most important priorities among growers worldwide.  This is a good opportunity to voice your opinion about the diseases, pests and weeds that are your greatest concern and for which labeled products are needed to manage the disease.  In some cases this is a matter of expanding labels that include other crops, while in others it may involve research to find a solution to a problem.

For example, bacterial diseases such as bacterial spot and bacterial canker in tomatoes, are very difficult to manage in the field, and therefore can cause significant losses.  There are no highly effective products available, so research is needed.  

Please take the time in the next ten days to let us know what you think are the most important crop/disease, pest or weed priorities on your farm or community.  Which are the ones that keep you awake at night? You can send me an email at miller.769@osu.edu or reply in the Comment section below.

Use of compost products as raised bed growing media

A project started in Hocking County in fall of 2016 was the creation of an Urban Farm at the food bank that serves the ten county southeast Ohio Appalachian region.  This will allow the food bank to achieve its own personal stream of fresh produce for use in sales, Senior Farmer’s Market vouchers, Meals on Wheels as well as the USDA Summer Nutrition program for school children.

Seven raised beds were constructed with a  fill need of approximately 8 cubic yards of material.  Funding would not allow purchased topsoil so alternatives were sourced locally.  One local partner in The Urban Farm at Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen is Athens Hocking Recycling Center LLC.  Their Organics product is made by combining local food waste obtained through a subscription pick up process which is mixed with wood chips in large windrows via hot composting.  The finished product is screened and sold by the yard for bulk pick up.  AHRC has been a partner for local food production programs and was able to provide 4 yards of finished compost at cost.

The second compost product is produced in Hocking county.  The City of Logan collects municipal yard waste which is cold composted in large piles on site at the city maintenance facility.  This product had been used in spring of 2016 as the sole growing medium in raised beds at The Children’s Educational Garden at the Hocking County fairgrounds and plants exhibited extreme chlorosis symptoms.  Half of the raised beds would contain AHRC compost, the other half City of Logan.  This would allow for comparison for selection of future media as expansion of the garden progresses.

The first compost evaluated was AHRC Organics.

Here is a close up of the product, some cover crop seeds are visible:


Soil test results for AHRC Organics:


Pretty impressive numbers.  High organic content,  lots of nutrients.  You can still see some wood pieces as well as some egg shells if you look close.  It is an excellent soil amendment  The problem with using it straight is the alkaline pH of 7.7 can cause some problems with certain nutrients being available right away.   The soil test states to add sulfur to combat that.

Next up is municipal yard waste from the City of Logan.


Not bad looking stuff,  still some bits and pieces.  This sample was cold composted for 3-4 years in place prior to being delivered.The soil test results:


Very similar numbers noted here.  High organic matter,  lots of nutrients,  same alkaline pH.  I did the same with both.   Added ammonium sulfate fertilizer then sowed cover crop seed.


Ammonium sulfate has  both sufur, to correct the pH and some nitrogen to help both the cover crops grow and help the soil bacteria break down the residual carbon bits.  My hope is that the fertilizer, the cover crops and the winter will combine to help both of these growing media get to a good point for vegetables by 2017.  Anecdotally when doing research what I encountered regarding wood/leaf compost seemed to suggest little fertility and an acid finished product. More to be used as a soil amendment and not a pure growing medium.  Soil testing suggested the opposite.  Both growing media will be reevaluated in spring 2017 after first spring vegetable harvest, then later in summer harvest for production, weed pressure,  and chlorosis symptoms.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs Already Active

It’s that time of year when many pests become active and begin moving from their overwintering sites to crop fields. One of the pests we have been monitoring statewide over the past six years is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). This is a rather large brown mottled stink bug known to attack field crops, landscape and ornamental plants, and a wide array of fruit and vegetable crops including apples, peaches, caneberries, blueberries, grapes, beans, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, and many more crops.

Brown marmorated stink bug, adult female; note the distinctive white bands on the antennae.

Brown marmorated stink bug, nymphs, feeding through husks of sweet corn.

In our pheromone trapping program in Ohio since 2011, we have typically geared up for trapping this pest in early June and finished in September, but as part of a large multi-state research project this year, we established monitoring sites by early April in several central and southwest counties using two different style traps; the traditional black pyramid and a new clear panel sticky trap. Both traps use a dual pheromone lure that is quite attractive to both male and female adults as well as to nymphs of BMSB. The study is designed to compare one type of trap to the other in terms of catch efficiency, and to determine when the BMSB become active and leave their overwintering locations in nearby woods to move into adjacent fields. So far we’ve been catching male and female BMSB in Franklin, Greene, and Clinton counties since mid April.


New clear sticky panel trap for BMSB.

Traditional pyramid style BMSB trap.

Even though we haven’t seen much injury from BMSB in fruit and vegetable crops in most Ohio locations over the past few years, it is possible that the overwintering survival rate of the stink bugs is higher this year due to the mild winter.  It would be prudent for growers to keep a close eye out for this particular pest in 2017. For more information about the biology and management of this pest, visit http://www.stopbmsb.org.


Basil Downy Mildew Reported in Ohio

Basil plants in a nursery in Ohio were confirmed to have downy mildew by Nancy Taylor of OSU’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic (Fig. 1).  The pathogen that causes basil downy mildew, Peronospora belbahrii, is seed borne and favored by cool, humid/rainy conditions.  Overhead irrigation in the greenhouse/nursery promotes the development and spread of the pathogen, as does rainfall outdoors.  Symptoms on leaves start with diffuse yellowing and browning that can look like sunburn.  Leaf lesions later become black (Fig. 2).  A diagnosis of downy mildew is made when spores of the pathogen are observed on the underside of lesions (Fig. 3); the best time to look for these dark purple-black structures clustered together is early in the morning.

Fig. 1. Downy mildew symptoms on basil seedlings.

Fig. 2. Black lesions on upper surface of leaf of basil plant.

Fig. 3. Spores (sporangia) of the basil downy mildew pathogen on the lower surface of a basil leaf lesion.

There are differences in susceptibility of basil varieties and types to downy mildew, with sweet basil generally the most susceptible.  Fungicides are available for downy mildew management in basil – see Dr. Meg McGrath’s article for recommendations for both conventional and organic systems. However, as is the case for the closely related cucurbit downy mildew, fungicides work best when applied preventatively – before symptoms are observed.  Many, but not all of the fungicides are allowed for use in greenhouses or other protected culture systems such as high tunnels.  See page 45 of the 2017 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers for a listing of allowed uses of fungicides for protected culture.

If you suspect downy mildew in your basil crop, you may send or drop off samples to the OSU Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic in Reynoldsburg or the OSU Vegetable Pathology Lab in Wooster (call, text or email Sally Miller (miller.769@osu.edu)/330-466-5249 or Francesca Rotondo (rotondo.11@osu.edu/865-640-5621).


Attend the FSMA Training on May 31

Fruit and vegetable growers and others interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and co-management of natural resources and food safety should attend. The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that requires ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’

What to expect at the PSA Grower Training Course
The trainers will spend approximately seven hours of instruction time covering content contained in the PSA Grower Training curriculum outlined in the draft agenda. In addition to learning about produce safety best practices, key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements are outlined within each module. There will be time for questions and discussion, so participants should come prepared to share their experiences and produce safety questions.

Cost to Attend
Registration cost is $50. This cost covers course materials, certificate of attendance, and lunch. To register, fill out the REGISTRATION FORM – GROWER TRAINING MAY 31 2017 and send by mail to Allison Penate (Gourley Hall 1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, OH 44691), email to Allison Penate (penate.3@osu.edu) or call to 330-641-8147. Contact Dr. Sanja Ilic (ilic.2@osu.edu) with questions about the content of this PSA course.

Benefits of Attending the Course
The course will provide FSMA Produce Safety Rule training requirements. Individuals who participate in this course are expected to gain a basic understanding of:

  • Microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they may be found on the farm
  • How to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks, and how to begin implementing produce safety practices on the farm
  • Parts of a farm food safety plan and how to begin writing one
  • Requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and how to meet them.

After attending the entire course, participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies they have completed the training course. To receive an AFDO certificate, a participant must be present for the entire training and submit the appropriate paperwork to their trainer at the end of the course.

For more information about the PSA Grower Training Course, please visit the PSA website at http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu

8:00 AM Registration and Refreshments
8:30 AM Welcome and Introductions
9:00 AM Module 1: Introduction to Produce Safety
9:45 AM Module 2: Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training
10:45 AM Break
11:00 AM Module 3: Soil Amendments
11:45 AM Module 4: Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use
12:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM Module 5: Agricultural Water – Part I: Production Water
2:30 PM Module 5: Agricultural Water – Part 2: Postharvest Water
3:15 PM Break
3:30 PM Module 6: Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
4:30 PM Module 7: How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan
5:15  PM End of Training Session


Vegetable Grafting: Why and How

Research and experience continue to reveal conditions under which using grafted plants during the production of tomato, melon, and other Solanaceous and Cucurbit crops — in open fields and high tunnels — can pay (it is already standard in greenhouse production). These conditions and grafting process are described in a free guide (http://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/grafting-guide/) developed over years with input from many.  Additional information and a link to a listserv about vegetable grafting that may be especially useful for advanced grafted plant users, consultants, and extension personnel are available http://www.vegetablegrafting.org/, another portal developed with Ohio- and U.S.-wide input. On April 24, students in OSU-ATI 2570 (Plant Propagation) taught by Dr. Uttara Samarakoon received hands-on training in preparing grafted tomato plants at the OARDC. For more information, contact Matt Kleinhenz (330.263.3810; kleinhenz.1@osu.edu).


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