OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report – August 30, 2023

The OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable Report is written/published collectively by OSU Extension staff across the state. 

View a recording of the OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report below:

Spotted Lanternfly

Thomas Becker, Lorain County Extension Educator, OSU Extension

Quarantine map of spotted lanternfly (top) and adult spotted lanternfly (bottom). Images by Ohio Department of Agriculture (top) and Thomas Becker, OSU Extension (bottom).

ANR educators from across the state have been busy over the recent weeks tracking infestations of spotted lanternfly. At this point in the year, we are finding mostly adult spotted lanternfly with a few 4th instar nymphs still lingering. The current primary host plants for spotted lanternfly are tree of heaven and wild grapevine. They have a wide range of hosts, but as Ohio State specialty crop entomologist Dr. Ashley Leach put it, tree of heaven and wild grapevine are “gateway hosts”. While the 4th instar nymphs and adults are quite sizable and more showy, making them a bit easier to spot, they can be detected earlier in the year by locating their egg masses and watching for the 1st-3rd instar nymphs. The egg masses can be particularly difficult to find, as they can camouflage rather well with the surface they are attached to, especially if that surface is the side of a tree. The 1st-3rd instar nymphs are black with white spots. The 1st instars are very small, only about ¼ of an inch. The 2nd and 3rd instars look about the same as the 1st, but they get larger as they progress through their development. The 4th instars are about ½ an inch in length and are mostly red with some black and they maintain their white spots. The adults are about 1 inch in length and about 0.5 inch wide. Their front set of wings is tan with black spots and their hind wings are red and white with black spots. They have their wings folded back most of the time, so your best chance at seeing the red hind wings is when they are in flight. The spotted lanternfly is not a strong flier. They have more of a gliding flight pattern, climbing up to someplace high and then launching themselves to glide to a new location.

Spotted lanternfly egg mass (top), early instar nymph (middle), and 4th instar nymph (bottom). Photos by Thomas Becker, OSU Extension.

The main concern with the presence of spotted lanternfly is their anticipated movement into some of our fruit crops, especially grapes. So far, many infestations are being found in tree of heaven and wild grape vines near railroads. Spotted lanternflies really aren’t a fly at all, they are a planthopper in the order Hemiptera. They have a piercing, sucking mouth part called a proboscis that they use to feed on the sap of their host plants. With high enough pressure from spotted lanternfly, plants can be weakened which can result in a decline in the overall health of the plant and could potentially lead to some dieback issues. They will also excrete honeydew which results in sooty mold. Since they can feed in such large numbers at times, the extent of the sooty mold can be impressive. The honeydew can also attract other unwanted insects that feed on the sugars found in the honeydew.

Group of spotted lanternfly adults. Photo by Thomas Becker, OSU Extension. 

We ask that producers and homeowners alike keep an eye out for this pest and report your suspected findings. If you are able, collect the insect in a bag or jar and put it in the freezer or add a paper towel soaked with some rubbing alcohol to the container that you captured it in. If you are unable to capture the insect, try your best to get a clear picture of it for reporting purposes and get a nearby address or GPS coordinates of the site where you found the insect. You can then make a report using the online reporting system on the ODA website: Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) | Ohio Department of Agriculture

If you have questions, you can also reach out to your county extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resource educator. Here are some links with more information on spotted lanternfly:

“Seeing Spots – Spotted Lanternfly and Spring Egg Hatch” – OSU Extension

“Spotted Lanternfly Continues To Spread Across Ohio” – OSU Extension

Spotted Lanternfly Damage | CALS

Crop updates



Rhizoctonia fungi have recently been implicated in transplant loss of cauliflower in Highland county. This soil pathogen infects the surface of stem tissue at or below the soil line causing the appearance of the stem to rot off and the remainder of the plant to wither. This same pathogen is also responsible for damping off in direct-seeded plantings. No curative treatments are available. Preplant fungicide seed treatments and not planting transplants too deep are preventative measures. Wet and warm soil conditions exacerbate the issue.

Wirestem (Rhizoctonia) symptoms in cauliflower transplants – rotting stem tissue below the soil (left) and withering/decline of the plant (right). Photos by Logan Minter, OSU Extension.


Squash vine borer population numbers have dropped as the single generation nears its end. Damage from caterpillars earlier in the season can still be observed in the form of boring/feeding damage in squash and pumpkin fruit. Squash bug pressure remains high in northern Ohio but has still been manageable with insecticides. Whitefly populations have been increasing recently in cucurbits and solanaceous crops. Leafhoppers may be being moved up into Ohio with recent weather systems and hopper burn is being observed on some crops. Phytophthora is still being observed in some fields, with lesions observed on mature watermelon fruit.

Squash vine borer larvae damage on pumpkin fruit. Photo by Chris Galbraith, OSU Extension.

Fruiting Vegetables

Processing tomato harvest continues in NW Ohio. Copious amounts of foliage in high tunnel tomatoes have been leading to a higher prevalence of leaf diseases. 

Brown marmorated stinkbug and harlequin bug trap catches have been picking up. These insects, along with tarnished plant bugs, spotted lanternfly, squash bugs and other similar pests, are of the order Hemiptera and considered “true bugs”. These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts that leave cosmetic defects on fruit in the form of small, dark feeding wounds surrounded by light, colored blotches. On tomatoes, feeding can also introduce fruit-rot pathogens or cause fruit tissue below the skin to take on a corky texture that reduces quality. For more information and images, check out this article from the Buckeye Yard & Garden Hotline. Migration of brown marmorated stinkbug into Ohio usually peaks around late September, bringing higher populations and risk of feeding. 

Thrip and aphids populations have decreased slightly in the last few weeks, while mite numbers have gone up due to some hot, dry days.

Brown marmorated stink bug body and mouthparts. Photos by Patrick R. Marquez, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org.

Symptoms of stink bug feeding on tomato fruit. Photo by Joe Boggs, OSU Extension.

Sweet Corn

Corn earworm pressure is up slightly in a few counties in northwest Ohio as a weather system from the south pushed corn earworm populations up into the region. European corn borer, a non-migratory insect, is still showing low trap counts throughout Ohio. Western bean cutworm trap counts have dropped off as the single generation has passed its peak. Keep up to date on statewide sweet corn moth trap counts through the C.O.R.N newsletter put out by the OSU agronomy team. The insect tracker on the insectforecast website can also help you visualize and plan for pest migrations into Ohio. 


Peach harvest is wrapping up for the season. Grape cane borer has been reported recently. With the loss of Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) in specialty crop production, there are few options for control of the pest. Disposing of pruning brush from vineyards can help to decrease sites that harbor grape cane borer.

On-Farm Research on the use of Entomopathogenic Nematodes as a biological control of Spotted Wing Drosophila

Dr. Gary Gao, Professor and Small Fruit Specialist, CFAES South Centers, The Ohio State University

Steinernema feltiae (SF) is an entomopathogenic nematode (EPN). It has been shown to significantly reduce adult spotted wing drosophila (SWD) emergence at the pupal and infested fruit life stage, as discussed in a poster presentation entitled “CAN NEMATODES AID IN SPOTTED WING DROSOPHILA (DROSOPHILA SUZUKII) CONTROL?” by Emilie Cole, Jacqueline Perkins, Rufus Isaacs, and Marisol Quintanilla. Steinernema feltiae (SF) treated pupae had significantly less adult emergence compared to the control.

As a part of the USDA-NIFA funded project, Dr. Gary Gao and his research assistant Ryan Slaughter conducted an on-farm EPN study at the largest blueberry farm in Lexington, Ohio. We sprayed Steinernema feltiae on the ground beneath the blueberry bushes weekly at the rate of 1 billion per acre on July 14th, 21st and 28th, 2023. Three bushes of the control and treated blocks were netted with insect netting to prevent cross contamination from neighboring plots. There were three replications. The number of SWD larvae in fruits using the saltwater test and the number of SWD adults in traps baited with apple cider vinegar and a drop of unscented dish soap were counted and recorded weekly on July 21st, 28th and August 3, 2023. Steinernema feltiae products come in pouches of 250 million. Four pouches (1 billion) are needed per acre.

Mixing Steinernema feltiae (SF) with water. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Spraying Steinernema feltiae (SF) onto the ground beneath the blueberry canopies. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

SWD traps baited with apple cider vineyard and a drop of unscented soap. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

We are still figuring out the optimal timing, method, and rate of application. SWD is quite hard to control due to its short lifespan and multiple generations per year. In blueberry plantings, insecticidal sprays are very difficult to apply without knocking a lot of fruits off. A soil drench or spray with Steinernema feltiae may be one of the tools in the toolbox. We are hoping that a ground based robotic sprayer or drip irrigation can be viable methods of EPN application.

Project Information: RESTOCKING THE IPM TOOLBOX TO MEET INSECT MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES IN HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY – National Institute of Food and Agriculture CPPM program (Grant No.2020-70006-33015 and Project Number: MICL05122)

Using Laser as a Bird Deterrent in Fruit Plantings

Dr. Gary Gao, Professor and Small Fruit Specialist, CFAES South Centers, The Ohio State University

Laser or laser scarecrows are becoming more and more widely used as a way to deter birds in fruit or vegetable plantings, fish ponds, and commercial buildings. Dr. Gary Gao saw a commercial model being displayed at the trade show of 2023 National Association of County Agricultural Agents annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

AVIX MARK II, a laser bird deterrent produced by Bird Control Group. The company’s website is https://birdcontrolgroup.com/. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, the Ohio State University.

AVIX Mark II can project a strong green laser beam and can be powered by solar panels or connected to a power outlet. There are a lot of testimonials by people from many different counties. The unit looks quite impressive. However, I do not have any data of my own to validate it. I would love to install a unit at our research center to see how effective it is. I was told that one unit can protect 20+ acres when mounted, installed, and used properly. It is important to use it in conjunction with other methods.

Dr. Gary Gao and Ryan Slaughter have tested a less powerful unit at CFAES South Centers. Our results have not been consistent. There are many reasons for this. One is that our unit may not be strong enough – our green laser beam may not be visible enough during the daytime for birds to see it as a threat. The second reason is that our unit may be shutting off at different times. Third, one unit may not be enough for full control. Two units may need to be installed in different parts of the farm to minimize unprotected space. Fourth, our units may need to be kept on in the evening to prevent birds from roosting at night. There may be other reasons as well – birds are very smart. After a while, the birds may get used to the green laser beam. Distress calls and other bird deterrent methods may need to be used as well to keep birds guessing.       

More research is definitely needed to develop a more effective and economical way to reduce bird depredation. Lasers may play an important role in this. What we do know is that something has to be done to help growers!

Upcoming Events: 

September 13, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm, Tools at Twilight: Soil & Water Management Field Day & Demonstrations

September 19 – 21, Farm Science Review

September 27, Wooster, OH, Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day

December 5th – 7th, Grand Rapids, MI, Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, & Farm Market Expo

Avoiding Problems Associated with Too Much of a Good Thing

Just like folks who wish for rain or look for irrigation during dry times, growers experiencing more than optimal rainfall look for ways to handle soggy conditions.

Rain is obviously good but too much of it can be a huge headache or worse. While rainfall in some areas has been just about right in recent weeks, rainfall in other pockets of Ohio vegetable production has become troublesome lately.

Open field growers can prepare only so much for excess rain, especially when it falls in large amounts over short periods of time. However, predictions indicate that doing what is possible to prepare for deluges will be useful. Five steps familiar to most experienced growers because they always support positive production outcomes – not just during wet periods or seasons — can help.

1. Use a set of varieties ranging in maturity and seed/transplant multiple times (stagger plantings). This helps manage workloads, blanket market opportunities, and distribute risk since individual plantings will be at different stages in development when dry, wet, or other unwelcome conditions occur and, therefore, possibly be less affected by them.
2. Select naturally well-draining fields whenever possible. Fields that tend to hold moisture may be a blessing during dry periods but a problem during wetter ones. Assuming irrigation is available, naturally well-draining fields are likely to be more reliable across seasons.
3. Improve and maintain the site’s drainage, i.e., its capacity to withstand and “process” excess rain. Grade, tile, and employ rotations and soil management and production practices proven to limit the site’s potential to flood and for saturated conditions to persist.
4. Use appropriate crop-specific tactics to manage beds or hills from the start of each production cycle. Potato, Cucurbit, and other crops are often in direct contact with the soil. So, they can benefit from hills and beds being set and managed as if flooding is a real possibility.
5. Prepare for harvest in advance. Advanced preparation can help ensure it will be possible to harvest sooner than expected, if possible and needed.

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OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report – August 17th, 2023

The OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable Report is written/published collectively by OSU Extension staff across the state.

Tillage Options for Annual Vegetables

Different kinds of tillage equipment vary widely in their level of soil disturbance. Some tools work the ground to a fine tilth for planting, while others cause minimal disturbance or target only the area where the crop will be planted. Certain vegetable crops succeed better with certain tillage types than others. The following will provide a brief rundown on several common tillage systems and their respective benefits and drawbacks. 

Conventional tillage consists of a primary tillage event to turn over the soil and provide a basis for further secondary tillage that is used to further chop and bury vegetation/residues and prepare the seed bed. A moldboard plow is one of the most common types of primary tillage, inverting the topsoil and fully burying surface vegetation. A chisel plow can also be used for primary (as well as secondary) tillage and involves fracturing the subsoil using shanks tipped with chisel points in a way that does not turn over the topsoil. Secondary tillage implements include a disc harrow, which uses steel discs to slice up soil clumps, weeds, and residue. Newer high-speed discs perform better at faster operating speeds compared to traditional types. 

Tillage equipment uses a variety of tools to fracture and mix the soil as well as chop and bury residues. Top to bottom – chisel plow, vertical tillage implement, high speed disc, and strip till unit. Photos by Chris Galbraith, OSU Extension. 


Conservation tillage refers to tillage systems that create considerably less disturbance, leaving > 30% of the soil surface covered with residues. The advantage is reduced erosion, increased organic matter, and improved soil structure and quality. Various conservation tillage practices include:

  • No-Till is a very common production system where the soil is not disturbed at all by tillage operations and crops are planted into the previous year’s residues. The advantages of eliminating tillage are well-established – no-till maintains soil structure, conserves organic matter, retains moisture, and prevents runoff. The potential downsides are also well known and include greater difficulties in accessing the field for planting during wet springs, delayed soil warming early in the season, and greater reliance on chemical weed control. Large-seeded vegetables like sweet corn or pumpkins are more typically grown in no-till production.
  • Vertical Tillage is a shallow form of tillage designed to work the soil minimally while leaving residues on the surface for ground cover benefits. This tool helps incorporate soil amendments or chop up residues to more manageable sizes while side-stepping the more disruptive effects of conventional tillage. Vertical tillage equipment consists of fluted coulters, chopper reels, rolling baskets, and other features that open up the ground for warming and speeds decomposition by chopping/sizing residues, all in a way that has less negative repercussions than the heavier forms of tillage achieved by a plow or disc harrow.
  • Strip Tillage is the method of tilling only in strips where the crop will be planted, leaving soils undisturbed in between the strips. A typical row unit will include a coulter to slice through residue, followed by a row cleaner to clear the way for shanks, wavy discs, conditioners, and other attachments that help create a finely tilled strip. This method offers the best of both worlds by preparing a worked area that warms quicker than the inter-row zones while also retaining cover on top of most of the soil. Row units can further be set up to apply fertilizer or a fumigant to the strip during the same pass. Vegetables commonly grown in strip-tillage systems include sweet corn, squash, carrots, potatoes, and more.
  • Ridge Tillage is similar to strip tillage except that strips are formed as raised ridges to promote better drainage and aeration. Ridge tillage tends to be less common than strip tillage, particularly in vegetable production. 

Crop updates



Downy mildew continues to spread throughout Ohio, with the clade that can infect squash, pumpkins, and watermelons being reported in Fulton county. You can continue to track the spread on the Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecasting website. 

Cucurbit downy mildew symptoms on upper leaf surface (top image) and lower leaf surface (bottom image) of cucumber. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension. 

Fruiting Vegetables

Harvest of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra are all well underway. Verticillium wilt, Pythium fruit rot, and Phytophthora capsici have been causing problems in some fields. Preventative practices for managing these pathogens by promoting proper drainage and preventing spread from infected to non-infected fields can help in reducing disease severity.

Pythium colonizing pepper fruit. Pythium appears as white, “cottony” fungal growth on fruit while Phytophthora spores on fruit more resemble powdered sugar. Photo by Chris Galbraith, OSU Extension.

Sweet Corn

Western bean cutworm catches in NW Ohio have decreased as of late, with high numbers still being reported in NE Ohio. Corn earworm and European corn borer catches remain low. Check out the most recent OSU C.O.R.N newsletter for most recent trap counts. Japanese beetles remain a pest on sweet corn, as well as other crops. Insecticide options include Assail (acetamiprid), Baythroid (beta-cyfluthrin), Warrior II (lambda-cyhalothrin) and other products. See this article from Iowa State University on the biology of this pest and spray thresholds.

Japanese beetles feeding on corn silks. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension. 


Elderberry Fruits “Disappearing” from the Cluster (Cymes).

Dr. Gary Gao, Professor and Small Fruit Specialist, OSU South Centers

Ed Brown, the Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator with OSU Extension in Athens County, reached out to Gary Gao for answers on a question from a grower about fruits “disappearing” from the clusters or cymes of elderberries. There are several possible reasons for this phenomenon. The most common reason is bird feeding. As elderberry fruits turn color, birds typically start eating them. These little fruits are the perfect size for a lot of birds. Netting is the most effective way to keep birds out of the planting. It is important to put the netting on before fruits turn color. 

Elderberry bushes with ripening fruits under bird netting. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

There are other possible reasons. Japanese beetles can feed on florets causing the elderberry plants to set fewer fruits. Herbicide damage from 2,4-D or Dicamba is getting more and more common. These chemicals could cause fruits to abort. More studies need to be done to verify this hypothesis.

Mineral nutrient deficiency can be a possible cause too. Boron is one element that is important for fruit set. Tissue testing will help determine if boron levels are too low. If they are, a foliar application of boron will help increase fruit set in the future.

Ripe elderberry fruit cymes. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Cross pollination can increase fruit set. Elderberries can set fruit when only one cultivar is planted. However, planting two different cultivars that bloom at the same time will significantly increase fruit set cyme size.

Follow this link https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-0110 for more information on elderberry production in Ohio and possibly beyond.

Net Grapes for Preventing Bird Depredation

Dr. Gary Gao, Professor and Small Fruit Specialist, OSU South Centers

Some of the cold hardy grape cultivars, such as Frontenac, Frontenac Blanc, and Frontenac Gris, have reached veraison at OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio. Veraison is the onset of fruit ripening and change of fruit color of grape berries. This is the time when birds started poking fruits for sugar and moisture. All of the punctures are the perfect sites for attracting bees and wasps. These wounds also cause fruits to rot and make grapes less marketable. Birds can peck the fruits off. All of these activities can cause severe yield loss. In the case of wine grapes, fruit and wine quality will also suffer.

Frontenac grapes at veraison. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Veraison is the time to net the grapes to prevent bird depredation. Many grape growers use this method. There are many different nets out there. Since we grow mostly hybrid grapes on high wire cordon, we put the netting over the row. Our netting material is a black plastic netting that comes in a large roll. We bought a Netter-Getter a few years ago. This tractor mounted net applicator is typically operated by three people. One person drives the tractor and two other people follow behind to drape the net over the entire vine. 

Bird netting being applied to grapes. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

If you grower Vinifera grapes, side netting is the preferred method. We do grow several short rows of Cabernet Franc and Regent. They are trained on the Vertical Shoot Positioning system, or VSP.

Typically, the size of the openings is typically half an inch or smaller. Netting is quite an effective method in preventing bird damage. It is by no means perfect since birds can still peck the fruits through the openings. Raccoons and other animals can manage to get the netting to eat the fruits.

Frontenac grapes with bird netting applied. Photo by Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Other methods of bird damage prevention are bird distress calls, noise makers like propane cannons, and scarecrows. There is not one method that is 100% effective. 

It is important to get the net on the grapes as soon as they turn color. As a matter of fact, it is better to do this sooner than later. Sometimes, birds may just peck the green grapes off just for the fun of it!


Upcoming Events: 

August 23, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Agriculture Technology Field Day

August 24, 5:30 – 8:00 pm, OSU Extension Pumpkin Field Day

September 19 – 21, Farm Science Review

September 27, Wooster, OH, Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day

December 5th – 7th, Grand Rapids, MI, Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, & Farm Market Expo 

January 4th – 5th, Ohio Organic Grain Conference

More First Reports – Downy Mildews of Basil and Cucumber in Ohio

Basil plants with severe downy mildew symptoms in a big box store garden center in Wooster, OH, 2021. Photo by F. Rotondo.

We received a report on August 8 from an Ohio Master Gardener of sweet basil downy mildew in a garden near the  OSU main campus in Columbus, Franklin County. We often see this disease in Ohio for the first time in late July or early August, although our reporting, aside from sentinel plots in northwest and central Ohio, depends on the growing and gardening communities giving us a heads up when observed. So, downy mildew may have been present in Ohio earlier than this first report. The pathogen, Peronospora belbahrii, does not overwinter in Ohio and arrives most years on air currents from the south. The pathogen is also seedborne and has been introduced earlier on basil seedlings and transplants in nurseries and retail stores as we observed in 2017 and 2021. For future plantings, there are sweet basil varieties now available with good resistance to downy mildew. These include Prospera Compact DMR, Prospera DMR, Prospera Red DMR, Rutgers Devotion DMR, Rutgers Obsession DMR, Rutgers Passion DMR, and Rutgers Thunderstruck DMR, available from a number of seed companies as organic or non-organic seeds. Resistance in the varieties may break down under severe disease pressure from favorable weather conditions (cool, overcast, high humidity, rainy) and high inoculum levels, so crop protectants may also need to be applied. A detailed listing of fungicides and biologicals registered for downy mildew management was published recently by Dr. Andy Wyenandt, Rutgers University.

Downy mildew was also reported on cucumbers in Huron County, Ohio this week.

Mid-Late Season Check of Fertilizer Programs: Are They Right?

Four Rs are the cornerstones of successful fertilizer application: the Right Material, applied at the Right Time, in the Right Amount, and to the Right Place. In the last several weeks, troubleshooting with growers and others about under-performing squash, sweet corn, tomato, and watermelon crops led us to conclude that incorrect fertilizer application rates were probably to blame. The information available suggested that too little fertilizer had been applied to the squash and sweet corn while too much had been applied to the tomato and watermelon plantings.

Ohio growers produce many different vegetable crops, each with a farm-specific fertilizer program that is best or most “right” for them. Very important, those fertilizer needs are set by the biology of each crop and its growing conditions and market. Crops, growing conditions, and markets are diverse, and that calls for setting and monitoring fertilizer applications very carefully; material, timing, rate, and placement must be optimal to have the best chance of success.

Errors at each step in the application process from selecting the rate to applying the material can lead to under- or over-applying fertilizer. For example, target rates can be miscalculated. Hoppers and injection tanks can be under- or overloaded. Gears, valves, and other equipment can be poorly calibrated or malfunctioning. Applicators/spreaders can be driven over too much or too little ground. Irrigation and/or injection valves can be closed when they were supposed to be open or vice versa.

Overall, some appear to worry less about applying too much instead of too little fertilizer. Their desire to maximize yield and quality is understandable. That said, the consequences of significantly over-applying fertilizer should also be considered since they may be wider ranging and last longer. Applying too much fertilizer in one season can create the problems of under-application in that season (lost yield, quality, and income) while also complicating fertilizer programs in the following season(s), supporting unwanted changes in soil chemistry, and contributing to other issues. Benefit the most from investments in properly selected fertilizers by applying them at the right rates and times and to the right place.

Research Station Ramblings

Here is what I’ve been seeing in the various fields and plots at the Western Ag Research Station.

Pumpkin & Squash

Barely there powdery mildew on pumpkin.

Powdery mildew is very slow to take hold even in the susceptible plots thus far, barely averaging a few percent in untreated checks. Normally this time of year we have fairly moderate pressure and can see significant differences between treated and untreated foliage. Not seeing any symptoms of downy mildew in either pumpkin or squash despite it being reported in northern Ohio earlier this week. Striped cucumber beetles and squash bugs are not that bad at the station currently, perhaps I just jinxed my plots? There are at least a handful of bacterial wilt infected plants and several squash vine borer successfully attacked the plants in my various trials, oh well there is always next year.

Hartstack trap

Sweet Corn
The multi-state Bt sweet corn trial is up and running at the station for fifth or sixth year in a row; right now the late planted crop is just beginning to tassel and should be ready to harvest for ear and kernel damage in early September. The trial has shown in past years that most Bt traited sweet corn hybrids are not very effective against controlling corn earworm, the main pest of interest, without targeted insecticide sprays to protect the fresh silks. Only those hybrids that contain the Vip3A gene/trait are effective against CEW but due to the pressure on this single trait, erosion of control is slowly being detected. Very few European corn borer larvae or other caterpillars are found during the destructive sampling protocol of 100-200 ears per hybrid. In fact, very few ECB moths have been captured this year at the station.

Heliothis trap

There is also a study on the station comparing three types of CEW traps; Scentry Heliothis (plastic mesh), Hartstack (metal mesh) and Trapview AI (camera trap). We are focused on comparing the capture rates of these three traps to see how similar they are so that recommendations and spray guidelines developed over years of research can be faithfully applied. What’s so special about the Trapview AI trap? It doesn’t require any human intervention during the season except to change the lure every two weeks. It accomplishes this by taking nightly pictures of moths stuck to the sticky film inside the trap which are then sent for AI identification and finally confirmed by a human before being reported to the app for viewing. So far, the Heliothis and Trapview traps are behaving similarly with respect to trap catches; the Hartstack is catching many more moths as expected. As is generally the case in mid-August, the CEW catches begin to climb so if there are fresh silks out there, a series of protective sprays every 3-5 days may be warranted.

Trapview AI










Deer browsing leaves?

Deer browsing seedlings?

High oleic oilseed sunflower research plots have been planted at three research stations (Northwest, Western and Wooster) this year as both a full season crop and as a double crop after wheat or barley is harvested. This year like last year, we are seeing lower than expected stand populations and are trying to determine the causes which might include mechanical and biological processes. Unlike last year, we seem to have deer or some other animal browsing the early planted sunflower leaves which does not appear to pose a significant risk to the plants. During stand counts on the double cropped sunflower trial yesterday,  feeding was detected in several seedling plots where the tops of the plants were grazed off. This will affect final stand populations and ultimately yield. Both plots this year are nearer to a large wooded section on the Western Ag Research Station, which may explain the damage which was not seen in 2022.

Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day – Wooster OH

The nation’s premier event for mechanical weeding tools – will take place on Wednesday, September 27, at The Ohio State University, CFAES Wooster campus.

Here is the general information for the event:
When: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Where: OSU Wooster Campus, 1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, OH 44691
How Much: $50 (includes lunch)
Register online at:

Field day photo.

Register by calling Crystal at (217) 840-2128.

A full day of weeding tool demonstrations, trade show, and cultivation education for both vegetables and row crops! At the morning Expo trade show you can see weeding tools and speak with company reps from manufacturers in the US, Europe, and Japan, and meet the farmers in attendance from all over the region plus learn from experienced farmers and university weed scientists from surrounding states during the roundtable discussions – topics range from camera-guided cultivators to tine-weeders. A walk-behind tractor exhibition – ‘Walk-Behind Alley’ -features demonstrations of walk-behind tractors and implements from the past and present. You can also visit the trade show exhibit booths to meet other supply companies, like equipment dealers for all manner of machinery, seed, tools, fertilizers, and soils.

At noon, the field day will break for lunch – an opportunity for farmers to meet and network, or continue looking at trade show equipment and speaking with exhibitors. In the afternoon farmers follow the tractors out to the demonstration field, where corn, beets, and brassicas have been planted especially for the demonstrations. Myriad 3-point, camera-guided, autonomous, and belly-mounted cultivators and cultivating tractors will be demonstrated in the field and explained by manufacturers. These demonstrations will show how the machines should be mounted and properly adjusted according to crop and soil conditions, and will help farmers visualize how the implements can work on their own farms.

Row-crop tools in demonstration include precision-controlled tine-weeders and several types of camera-guided cultivators with finger weeders and all manner of other tooling – see all types of knives, hilling discs, etc. Demonstrations will be held in 5’’ corn. Check the field day website for a current listing of exhibitors and tools.

Vegetable weeding tools include cultivating tractors past and present, 3-point in-row camera guided machines, a variety of belly-mounted and rear-mounted steerable tools, and cultivators from Japan! Demonstrations will be held in 2’’ beets and transplanted brassicas. Check the field day website for a current listing of exhibitors and tools.

Registration for this full-day of learning and networking on mechanical weed control is just $50! Registration includes lunch and all the machinery demos you can handle. It is recommended that everyone register early as each year space runs out.

Inquiries for interviews on radio, print, and beyond are welcomed – Please reach out to Sam Oschwald Tilton, sam.oschwaldtilt@wisc.edu, or 920-917-9788.

Pumpkin Field Day – Aug. 24, 5:30pm – only 13 days left!

We are less than two weeks from the annual Pumpkin Field Day! Read below about the types of presentations at the field day and don’t forget to pre-register!

Fruit infected with virus.

If you are a new grower or have been growing pumpkins and squash for a few years, this field day is for you!

This year the Pumpkin Field Day will be on held on Thursday, August 24, starting promptly at 5:30pm ending at 8pm. The location remains at the Western Ag Research Station, 7721 S. Charleston Pike, South Charleston OH.

Topics include vole and mouse management (Gary Comer Jr. – ODNR), weed management (Chris Galbraith – MSU/OSU), pollinator protection and insect management (Ashley Leach – OSU), and powdery mildew fungicide trial (Jim Jasinski – OSU).  There will be a small hybrid trial to also visit after the talks (small because mice and voles ate most of the seed and seedlings!). And plenty of discussion with the specialists and fellow growers during the field day.

We will provide refreshments and handouts, cost is $5 per person.

You need to pre-register for this event at https://go.osu.edu/pumpkinreg2023

Hope to see you out there!

Field Day Flyer