What are You and Others You Hear from Willing to Pay for New Farming Technology?

Technology surrounds us and is often defined as: “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry” and “machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.” Whether by definition or experience, it’s clear that vegetable production requires a lot of technology. Hybrid varieties and clean lots of true-to-type seed, seed coatings and treatments, the many crop inputs (e.g., fertilizers, protectants), small and large pieces of machinery and equipment … the list is long and growing. Each technology growers rely on has its own characteristics and pros and cons of use. Therefore, it’s important to be clear on what you are willing to pay for a technology and what others (e.g., advisors, educators) say about it. Helping develop and people to use new technology effectively is a big part of my job. In recent years, I have tested and advised people on high tunnel, grafting, microbe-containing crop biostimulant, and other technologies. So, what growers like and dislike about these and other technologies and are willing to pay for them is important to me, too. Growers and others provide key information, sometimes in scientific reports. A report describing peoples’ perspectives on biodegradable mulch (BDM) caught my attention recently. It is useful in two ways. First, it includes important information on BDM, an emerging technology. Second, it can help guide similar evaluations of other technologies and, perhaps, products.

The report was published by a team of investigators led by Kuan-Ju Chen (University of Guam) and including partners at Washington State University, Colorado State University, and Massey University (New Zealand). The report is available at https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH04518-20 or from Dr. Chen or me by request.

The team’s specific objective was to assess peoples’ willingness to pay (WTP) for BDM characteristics. More broadly, they wanted to understand how ‘green’ technologies affect agricultural production when they are introduced into the market. Using input from farmers, educators, advisors, and others, the team assessed the WTP for adopting BDMs and peoples’ rankings of the relative importance of different BDM characteristics. The input indicated that study participants were willing to pay a statistically significant premium for healthy soil and a lower fraction of plastic residue left in the field after harvest. The data also indicated that farmers and others ranked the attributes of BDMs differently. In this case, attributes included cost, soil health, plastic residue, and consumer premium.

People interested in BDM may wish to examine the report closely or contact me, the authors, or BDM experts about it. People considering investments in a technology (new or old) or advising people on one may wish to review the report as an example of how willingness to pay assessments are completed.

Pumpkin Patch Notes (J. Jasinski and C. Welty)

Weed Control

Plots stakes delineate herbicide treatments.

Research and demonstration plots are slowly going in as rain dances across the experiment station in South Charleston. On Tuesday a herbicide screen featuring common products (Strategy, Sandea, Dual Magnum) plus various Reflex treatments were planted. According to the 24(c) label, Reflex is known to have potential phytotoxic reactions with some butternut and squash hybrids, so a sensitivity trial with four butternut squash hybrids, four squash hybrids and two pumpkin hybrids was also planted.  Both trials were sprayed on Wednesday, followed by 0.7 inch rain which should have activated all the pre-emerge herbicides. These trials will be rated for weed control and phytotoxicity several times in the next month.

Missing Pumpkin Acres – Partially Solved


Missing pumpkin acres?

On April 2, an article was posted on the OSU VegBlog that looked at the sudden drop of pumpkin acreage from 2015 (>6,000A) to 2016 (<4,000A). I gave a few ideas for the potential drop in acreage and asked growers if they had any thoughts on the matter. I received several email and phone calls about the subject, here is the summary of our discussion.

Imports: Pumpkins are being imported from other countries or other states more cheaply than they can be produced here in Ohio, so growers who couldn’t compete with the prices of imports got squeezed out of the business.

Buyers: Many buyers of large chain stores are shopping around for the lowest price possible which has strained traditional supplier relationships. As a result, fewer Ohio growers are willing or able to compete at the lowest possible price so they are not supplying these market needs.

Labor: It is getting more difficult to find the labor needed to plant, maintain and most importantly harvest and pack a pumpkin crop in a timely manner. This labor used to be local folks or high school kids but that is getting tougher to find, as is qualified migrant labor.

All of these factors and undoubtedly others have contributed to the loss of pumpkin acreage in Ohio. What remains most interesting is the confluence of these factors between 2015 and 2016 to generate a nearly 2,500A loss, which has still not rebounded five years later.

More Cucurbit Pests About to Get Active
A few weeks ago I mentioned options for controlling early season cucumber beetles and by extension, bacterial wilt. As we look past the beetle

Squash Vine Borer Video Released on OSU IPM YouTube Channel.

invasion, remain vigilant for squash bugs and squash vine borer. A new video describing how to identify, monitor and manage Squash Vine Borer has just released on the OSU IPM YouTube channel.

Additional points that could have been made in the video include:

-An alternative to shaking the insects from the trap top into the plastic bag is to have a spare top, so that the active bag can be stuffed into a freezer to kill the contents which makes sorting and identifying much easier.

-The trap bottom should be about one foot above the ground and the string that holds the lure needs to be taught across the bottom of the trap to maximize catch. Use of a thin wire to hold the lure will help prevent sagging. The traps and pheromone lure can be found at just about any insect trapping supply business such as Great Lakes IPM.

-For non-chemical management row covers may work better on some crops than others based on how quickly they flower. There is also the possibility of late planting and/or trap cropping as a means to avoid peak SVB flight provided it fits with your marketing plans.

-While some plants do succumb to SVB attack, many other plants infested with SVB larvae survive and continue to produce fruit.

-Here are the results of a 2020 SVB trial on zucchini conducted by Celeste Welty. This research was funded by the Ohio Vegetable Small Fruit Research and Development Program.

Wayne County IPM Notes from the Week of May 17th – May 21st, 2021

Vegetable Crops

             As we move into warmer temperatures, it would be best to remove row covers from field planted crops in the interest of pollination and reducing heat stress. In crops that do not need pollinated such as cole crops, the row cover can serve as an insect barrier and prevent early infestation from the Imported Cabbageworm. Crops such as summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes

Flea beetles feeding on a recently transplanted brassica plant.

all need to be uncovered sooner than later to avoid poor pollination and subsequently, poor fruit set.

Hot weather can also be problematic when transplanting into black plastic. The black plastic can become very hot and planting a young, tender transplant into the plastic on a hot, sunny day can cause a significant amount of stress, burns on the leaves and stems and in some cases, death of the transplant. Try to plant in the evenings, as temperatures cool down or on cloudy, cooler days.

Colorado Potato Beetle adults on a potato plant.

In the last week we have seen an explosion of flea beetle in cole crops, and the Colorado potato beetles have begun to make their way into potato plantings. Frequent scouting and monitoring of these insect pests is extremely important. Large populations on young plants can stunt their growth and reduce yields. Conditions have been ideal for rapid population increases, hence the need for frequent scouting. An interesting insect problem we observed was a planting of cole crops where the roots of some plants were being destroyed by ants. In most cases, as you turn on your irrigation lines under plastic, it will drive the ants elsewhere.

Generally speaking, disease pressure has been very low in vegetable crops to this point. We have observed some early blight in a tomato high tunnel, as well as blossom end rot in high tunnel tomatoes.

Small Fruit and Orchards

            Apples and peaches are both reaching fruit development. There was significant growth and change in the size of the fruit over the past week. Out of all of

Strawberry blooms with black centers, damaged by freezing temperatures, alongside healthy blooms.

the orchard traps that we have out, we caught 1 OFM and 1 CM. We began to find aphids in apple orchards. The feeding was evident by curling leaves and shoots.

Blueberries are in petal fall and are setting fruit. Raspberries are getting ready to bloom and overall seem to be coming along just fine.

Grape bud that had been damaged due to freezing temperatures now showing secondary growth. Tommy Becker photo.

Strawberry varieties that were early to bloom, and left uncovered, likely suffered heavy bloom loss due to the freezing temperatures that we experienced. Some early blooming varieties had very few, if any, healthy looking blooms. Many plants have put on new blooms, which are very easy to distinguish from the frosted blooms. Early varieties of plasticulutre strawberries that were covered and protected from the cold are setting fruit and beginning to ripen and may even be in harvest. We are not finding any thrips at this time. Unfortunately, we are finding a lot of slugs in strawberry plants and on the berries.

Currently, grapes are now past the bud burst stage, as most are at the 4-8” shoot stage.  We are beginning to see where grape buds that had been damaged due to freezing temperatures are putting out secondary buds and shoot growth, which is very promising

Managing Phytophthora Blight and Pythium Root Rot in Peppers – Fungicide Update

Ohio pepper growers are taking advantage of some dry, warm days to set transplants in the field. If Pythium root rot or Phytophthora blight has been a problem in these fields in the past, or high levels of rainfall are expected in the coming weeks, growers may want to consider preventive fungicide applications. The following is an update of my blog on this subject in June 2020.

Heavy rains early in the planting season favor both Pythium root rot and Phytophthora blight. While Pythium root rot is caused by several different species of Pythium with different temperature optima – cool to hot, Phytophthora blight is only favored by hot weather. Transplanting peppers into wet soil followed by high temperatures can be a predictor of future problems with these diseases.

Young pepper plants killed by Phytophthora blight

Pepper plants (background) stunted by Pythium root rot

Phytophthora and Pythium are soilborne oomycete pathogens, also called water molds, that thrive in rainy weather. They produce motile spores (zoospores) that are attracted to plants, then form a structure that allows them to infect, and aggressively attack any type of plant tissue. Zoospores can be splashed onto leaves, stems and fruits during rain events and overhead irrigation. Phytophthora blight and Pythium root rot are often seen first in low spots or other poorly drained areas of production fields, but also occur on well-drained, even sandy soils if the environmental conditions are right. While Pythium root rot is not as explosive as Phytophthora blight, both must be managed preventatively.  Pepper varieties partially resistant to Phytophthora blight are available and should be used in fields with a history of this disease. There are no varieties with identified resistance to Pythium root rot. Cultural practices including crop rotation, good drainage, raised beds, avoiding surface water for irrigation, and sanitation should be used – see details here.

During the growing season, fungicide application is the main option for management of Phytophthora blight. Andy Wyenandt (Rutgers University) published a really nice piece on Phytophthora and Pythium control in peppers in April 2020 (https://plant-pest-advisory.rutgers.edu/phytophthora-control-during-wet-weather-3/). Fungicides must be applied preventatively for maximum benefit. Keep in mind that:

  1. Orondis Gold premix contains oxathiapirolin, which is very effective against Phytophthora blight (but not Pythium) and mefenoxam, which is effective against both Phytophthora and Pythium.  However, if mefenoxam (Ridomil Gold) or metalaxyl products have been used for a number of years in the same field, the Phytophthora population may be resistant.  We have found mefenoxam/metalaxyl-resistant Phytophthora capsici in Ohio in recent years. Orondis Gold can be applied through drip and in transplant water.
  2. Ridomil Gold can be applied to peppers as a soil spray or via drip, but not in transplant water. Under some conditions peppers can be severely damaged and unlikely to recover.
  3. The active ingredient in Orondis, oxathiapiprolin, does not move well through the soil profile. Our research has not shown a benefit of using Orondis as a soil application vs. foliar sprays. I recommend “saving” Orondis Ultra for foliar application when the weather is continuously conducive for Phytophthora blight.
  4. Elumin is a newer product for Phytophthora blight and application through drip or soil spray at transplanting is labeled, as well as foliar sprays during the season. Pythium root rot is not on the label for peppers but is labeled for Pythium in potatoes and related crops.
  5. Like Elumin, Ranman and Presidio are labeled for Phytophthora blight management in pepper, and not Pythium root rot; however, they are labeled for Pythium management in other crops.
  6. For Previcur Flex, Pythium root rot is on the label for peppers, but Phytophthora blight is not.
  7. The phosphites like ProPhyt and others are labeled for both Phytophthora and Pythium and are systemic.  The ProPhyt label allows drench application at transplanting although not in the transplant water per se.  However, it can be drenched onto seedlings prior to transplanting. The phosphites are good supplemental products but will not control Phytophthora blight alone. They should be used in tank mixes or rotated with products listed below.

Growers have a lot of choices, but if wet conditions continue and both Pythium root rot and Phytophthora blight are a concern:

  1. If Ridomil or related products have been used routinely on the farm or Phytophthora is known to be resistant to mefanoxam/metalaxyl, peppers should be treated with a soil application at or near transplanting with Ranman, Elumin or Presidio, followed by foliar applications in a rotation that includes Orondis Ultra, Presidio, Elumin or Ranman. These may be tank-mixed with a phosphite product.
  2. Keep in mind that a number of products such as Orondis Gold, Orondis Ultra and Elumin have strict use limitations – e.g. two applications per season. Check the label.
  3. Always rotate fungicides with different modes of action (FRAC codes):

Ridomil Gold: 4

Orondis Gold: U15+4

Orondis Ultra: U15+40

Elumin: 22

Presidio: 43

Ranman: 21

Previcur Flex: 28

Phosphite products: 33

Nominate alumni and friends for the 2022 CFAES Alumni Awards

Deadline is June 30, 2021, for all nominations for the 2022 awards. 

The CFAES Alumni Awards are given annually in four categories:

  • The Meritorious Service Award gives public recognition to non-alumni and/or alumni of the college who have been singularly significant in the college’s quest for excellence.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Award gives public recognition to those who have brought distinction to themselves and the college at large through their participation, commitment, and leadership.
  • The International Alumni Award is presented to outstanding international agriculture alumni representing, supporting, and promoting the college and The Ohio State University across the globe.
  • The Young Professional Achievement Award recognizes alumni for their early professional accomplishments. This award provides recognition for these individuals and serves as a stimulus toward further efforts by younger alumni. Honorees are to be no more than 35 years of age at the time of the award ceremony.

The award winners will be recognized at a celebration on the first weekend of March 2022.

Please note that once you enter the webform you will not be able to save your progress, so we advise compiling nominations in a separate document and copying them into the webform.

Don’t delay! Nominate a deserving colleague or former classmate before time runs out on June 30.

Early Season Cucurbit Pests – Cucumber Beetles & Bacterial Wilt

Striped cucumber beetle.

In the next 2-3 weeks, pumpkin, squash, melon and cucumber growers looking for an early crop will start direct seeding in the field or preparing seed flats for later transplanting out in the field. One of the perennial pest’s growers run into is the striped cucumber beetle which can attack seedling plants and chew them nearly to the ground. In addition to the physical damage the beetles can inflict, there is also a chance that some can transmit bacterial wilt to the plant which will prevent it from setting mature fruit.

A variety of control measures and tactics to manage cucumber beetles and bacterial wilt are reviewed in this recent video (https://youtu.be/RSzTT_gbma4) which includes methods to limit the impact of these early season treatments on pollinators.

Here is a quick review of the recommended options:

Cucumber beetle leaf feeding injury, be sure to scout cotyledons for damage.

  1. Plant fungicide only treated seed, scout fields frequently and treat with a foliar insecticide if the cucumber beetle threshold per plant is exceeded. Typically we think of 0.5 beetles per plant at the cotyledon stage or 1-2 beetles per plant at 1-4 leaf stage as general thresholds.
  2. Plant systemic insecticide treated seed (FarMore FI400) to control cucumber beetles for 2-3 weeks in the field after seedling emergence.
  3. Sow trays with fungicide only treated seeds in a greenhouse or high tunnel, then treat transplants with systemic insecticides on benchtop just prior to transplanting or drench transplants in the field using treated water. If using this technique do NOT use FarMore FI400 treated seed as it will not control cucumber beetles when transplanted but additional insecticide residue will be present in the pollen and nectar.
  4. Use systemic insecticide products in-furrow at planting time; this technique will produce the highest amounts of insecticide in the pollen and nectar of any of the options outlined above so use the lowest effective rate.

For more information on all the recommended foliar and systemic insecticides for cucurbit insect pests, consult the Midwest Vegetable Control Guide (https://mwveguide.org/guide).

New Strawberry Disease in Ohio?

A new strawberry disease has been found in Indiana and researchers are looking fo

New strawberry disease symptoms on foliage.

r samples to determine the extent of the problem. The disease, caused by a species of the fungus Neopestaltiopsis, has been reported in several southeastern states and other countries where it causes leafspots, fruit spots and a plant decline. In Indiana, the disease has been reported to cause a leafspot (Figure 1) and a plant decline. This disease resembles Phomopsis and upon further investigation may ultimately turn out to be Phomopsis.

Researchers are asking commercial growers who believe that they may have observed the disease to contact the Purdue University Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic (ppdl-samples@groups.purdue.edu​ or 765-494-7071). The PPDL will waive sample handling fees for these samples until the researchers obtain the desired number of samples for the survey. Updates will be posted to the Hotline and to the PPDL website. Samples from multiple strawberry varieties and different types of production fields (matted row, plasticulture, high tunnel) are encouraged.

Information required for each sample:

  1. Strawberry variety
  2. Growing method: Matted row or plasticulture
  3. Location (state and county) where grown
  4. Approximate date of planting or year of matted row culture.
  5. Symptoms observed: Leaf spot, fruit rot, crown rot, or a combination of these.

This research will attempt to determine where the disease exists in Indiana and how the disease may be controlled. Results of these studies will be reported here when completed. The North American Strawberry Growers Association is sponsoring this research.

Irrigation Water Quality Testing

The active irrigation season is underway, so let’s pause briefly to review why irrigation water quality testing is important, the value of proper sampling, and what to look for in test results.

Links to seven resources on the topic follow this brief summary. Reviewing those and similar resources is a good idea.

To summarize, irrigation water can:
1. Have a mineral or chemical composition that damages soil, irrigation plumbing and equipment, or crops directly. That same composition may also lower the effectiveness or complicate the use of other inputs such as fertilizers of crop protectants.
2. Contain plant pathogens.

Of course, using the same water source to wash produce and/or fill spray tanks can raise additional unwanted possibilities.

Regardless, the bottom-line is that irrigation water quality affects growers directly and indirectly and in the short- to long-term.

Testing the chemical and particulate (nonliving) composition or characteristics of water used for irrigation is relatively straightforward when major recommendations are followed. Keep the “garbage in-garbage out” principle in mind and collect, handle, and submit your water samples carefully. Also, be mindful that special steps are required for sampling surface (pond, stream/river) versus well water. Consult your testing service for specific guidance, if needed. Testing for plant and/or human pathogens is also important and consulting a plant pathologist and/or human health and food safety specialist is recommended. As you know, Drs. Sally Miller, Melanie Ivey-Lewis, and Sanja Ilic with The OSU are experts in these areas.

Test results of the chemical characteristics will often include the levels of: pH, total alkalinity, hardness, electrical conductivity, total dissolved solids, and multiple elements. The importance of and acceptable ranges for each are outlined in resources linked below and other publications.

Soil and plant testing are common – consider testing irrigation water, too!

Related Resources





https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1160&context=anr_reports (focused on nursery and greenhouse crop management but also a good reference for vegetable growers)


Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers (https://www.amazon.com/Knotts-Handbook-Vegetable-Growers-Maynard/dp/047173828X) also has five pages of handy reference tables on irrigation water quality, including regarding crop tolerance to various characteristics of irrigation water. Contact me for more information, if needed.