OSU Agricultural Extension Educators and vegetable producers in eastern Ohio welcomed Ohio State University Extension specialist July 25th for a vegetable production field day originating at Captina Produce Auction south of Barnesville. The Captina Auction began in 2005 and has increased production and sales each year since its beginning. A new 60’ addition was added this past winter to provide needed floor space to accommodate increased production. Approximately 100 acres of local vegetable produce is grown and marketed through the auction each year, predominantly by Amish growers.
The produce auction is named Captina Produce Auction due to its proximity to Captina Creek, a very high quality watershed and important water source in the community. The local Amish growers have a very good reputation in their farming practices as well as the quality of produce they provide to homeowners, roadside stands, wholesalers and local grocers.
Celeste Welty, entomologist, Sally Miller, plant pathologist, Matt Kleinhenz, vegetable crop physiology and management specialist, Doug Doohan, weed control specialist, and Jim Jasinski, integrated pest management coordinator came to provide a wealth of information to vegetable producers in the area. The team provided diagnostic information for various insects, diseases and weeds encountered during the day along with many other recommendations for common vegetable production problems.
Dr. Doug Doohan addressed a question about using pesticides in vegetable production and effects on the environment. He was adamant that safety is always the first concern, but very positive and confident that safety measures are taken into consideration, with extensive testing, before products are marketed. Therefore, when growers use products at labeled rates, and as directed on the label, environmental impacts are negligible. Doug also provided valuable information for producers to help them control and reduce weeds. Timely applications of glyphosate in the fall can really be helpful to decrease hard to kill weeds such as Canada thistle he said. Eradicating weeds before plants are allowed to set seed is a practice all producers should strive for. One plant can produce thousands of seeds in a growing season if left unchecked.
Downy mildew, a potentially devastating cucurbit disease, was identified and eventually confirmed on cucumbers leaves as a result of the field walk. This diagnosis, led into a discussion about downy mildew and Dr. Sally Miller made the point that the disease does not overwinter in Ohio. It blows in on wind currents from the south where it can overwinter and from Canada, where it is thought to overwinter in greenhouses. Downy eventually makes its way to Ohio during the growing season so growers were encouraged to keep close watch to detect the disease. It was brought up by the specialists, downy mildew might not be as devastating to an early cucumber crop in mid-July, but later crops are at much greater risk from this late season disease.
Next to the cucumbers with downy mildew there was a very clean pumpkin patch that had not been sprayed with a fungicide. Dr. Miller discussed the different strains of downy mildew on cucumbers verses pumpkins. Even though they are both in the cucurbit family, the variant of the downy mildew that infects each one is different. This brought up a point of preventative fungicide sprays. Once a field is severely contaminated, it usually is too late for fungicides. A preventative spray program was recommended to keep the pumpkin field healthy and utilize various modes of action to prevent resistance.
Dr. Matt Kleinhenz provided information to the group about extending the growing season using hi-tunnels and discussed production and use of grafted vegetable plants. There is a growing market out there for this technology he said. Matt discussed how superior yields and increased disease resistance can be provided when the correct root stock is used. Heirloom tomato varieties, for example, really benefit when they are grafted to a root stock that has resistance to many problems growers deal with.
Dr. Celeste Welty discussed many insects with producers during the day. She provided specimen displays of beneficial insects and unwanted pests so each person could learn to identify ones they did not know. She said, many insects in vegetable crops are beneficial
insects and growers need to know the difference. Integrated pest management starts with correct identification of the insect. At one-point a question was asked about cucumber beetles. Celeste discussed the different beetles and explained the process of how damage to cucurbit crops takes place. Early monitoring and control measures for this pest were stressed. At the edge of a sweet corn field a Scentry Helothis trap was viewed by participants and Dr. Welty explained procedures for using this trap. This type trap is not to reduce pest numbers like many traps we use, but this is used to capture male moths and monitor flight numbers by using a pheromone to attract them into the trap. Threshold numbers were discussed and she explained how producers can use this information to make the most-timely applications of sprays to reduce corn earworm and European corn borer damage. (Instructions can be found at) http://u.osu.edu/pestmanagement/files/2014/12/CornTrapInstructions2009-u47rp3.pdf
The field walk provided growers a wealth of knowledge and the specialists were thanked for their participation and willingness to share information with growers in eastern Ohio.