Factors Influencing Measures of °Brix (Soluble Solids), an Indicator of Potential Crop Quality

°Brix readings continue to interest and confuse farmers and others. Collecting a reading is far easier than making decisions based on it. In fact, it takes just moments to obtain a °Brix (soluble solids) reading in the field, packing shed, or elsewhere; the major steps include collecting a small drop of plant sap or juice and placing it on a properly maintained and used refractometer, a handheld instrument that fits easily in your pocket. A reading typically can be in hand in less than two minutes. However, making proper use of the °Brix value requires effort and experience for reasons outlined below.

The sugar sucrose is perhaps the most prevalent soluble solid in plant juice. Therefore, many vegetable-based °Brix (refractometer) readings are set primarily by the number of sucrose molecules in the sap or juice used as the sample (unless the sample is contaminated). Within a crop, these sucrose levels are, in turn, influenced by:
1. Variety;
2. Plant population/density;
3. Irrigation or soil moisture status;
4. Nutrient management or soil fertility status;
5. The plant part sampled (e.g., root, stem, leaf, fruit) and exact portion of it;
6. The age (maturity, position) of the plant part sampled;
7. Time of day of sampling;
8. Temperature and light conditions;
9. Post-harvest conditions; and
10. Other factors.

Not surprisingly, experienced refractometer users understand that it is essential:

1. To use a standardized, consistent approach involving sampling the same plant part (and portion) at the same development stage at the same time of day, etc. That way, comparisons based on other factors are more reliable.
2. To obtain and record many values (the process is nearly free minus small initial investments). Much like measures of blood sugar, cholesterol, heart rate, etc, the worth of one °Brix reading in decision-making is often based on comparing it to readings collected previously and the conditions under which they were collected.

We have measured °Brix levels in vegetable crops grown on Ohio farms and at OSU research stations for nearly twenty years using protocols explained in fact sheets at https://u.osu.edu/vegprolab/research-areas/product-quality-2/ and taking factors listed above into account. The data below were collected in July-November 2011 by Dr. Natalie Bumgarner (then a graduate student at The OSU and now with Cooperative Extension at the University of Tennessee). Note the variation within and across crops.

Contact Matt Kleinhenz (330.263.3810; kleinhenz.1@osu.edu) for more information.

Wayne County IPM Scouting Notes from June 15 – June 19

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of June 15 – June 19)

Frank Becker, IPM Program Coordinator

OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Japanese Beetle on corn, F. Becker photo

This week I began seeing Japanese Beetles, specifically in sweet corn. These beetles are generalist feeders and will do damage to most any crop. Keep an eye out for the beetles and the defoliation that they can cause. More Info

Flea Beetles are doing damage to a lot of younger transplants. Flea Beetles will utilize weeds as host plants. Keeping your fields free from weeds will help to reduce the populations of flea beetles.

Cucumber Beetles are high in numbers right now. Cucumber Beetles vector the Bacterial Wilt disease so early season control of the beetles is vital to the long-term health of the plant. Also note that as your plants are blooming, the beetles may be in the blossoms. In small enough numbers, they are not detrimental, but they can also damage the fruit from feeding on the blossom and interfering with pollination. Consider the pollinators when planning out treatment options for cucumber beetle.

European Corn Borer moths are out. A trap this week in Wayne County picked up 14 moths. ECB will do damage to both peppers and sweet corn.

Onions are at a point where thrips populations could begin to increase. Consistent rains and small plants had kept the thrips population down, but with onions increasing in size and putting on more leaves, this will be a pest to watch in the next few weeks.

The Imported Cabbageworm larvae, among other worm pests of brassicas, are feeding on cole crops and leafy greens such as kale. Severe foliar feeding could stunt the plant growth or significantly reduce yield.

Vegetable Diseases

            Timber rot is still being found, mostly in high tunnel tomatoes. Botrytis is still being seen too, as is blossom end rot. To manage blossom end rot, it is important to limit moisture stress on a plant, from either too much or not enough moisture. Being consistent in watering and monitoring soil moisture conditions will help to prevent exposing the plant to moisture stress. Proper moisture will also provide conducive conditions for adequate nutrient uptake, given that the nutrients are present at appropriate levels in the soil.

Botrytis is also being seen in onions. This disease is primarily affecting the foliage but can impact the integrity of the bulb if left uncontrolled. Find out more about management of onion diseases here: Growing Onions

Some of the field peppers I am scouting showed signs of damping off. Damping off is caused by soil borne fungi such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium and Phytophthora.

Fruit Pests

Japanese Beetles, left untreated, feeding on young apples, F. Becker photo

With finding Japanese Beetles this week, I would encourage fruit growers to keep a close eye on their trees and small fruit plants. Grapes especially can be a target of the Japanese Beetle and can be defoliated very rapidly. This kind of damage can be detrimental to the yield of the crop. Japanese Beetles will also do damage to the fruit, as seen in the photo to the right, taken in 2019.

SWD traps are out and we will start getting an idea of population numbers within the next week.

Codling Moth and Oriental Fruit Moth traps counts were low but starting to tick up. This week will be an important week in determining the next generation of moths. More on Codling Moth management and additional information from Celeste Welty: Codling Moth

Fruit Diseases

            Now is the time to be managing early season diseases in apples. Scab, rust and powdery mildew are the three main diseases of concern at this point in the season. It may also be appropriate to start considering managing summer diseases such as flyspeck, sooty blotch, and fruit rots.

Strawberry leaf diseases may appear unsightly right now, however, now is not the time to be managing these leaf diseases. Once harvest is done and during patch renovation it is recommended that you address these concerns, either with a fungicide or with resistant plant varieties. This is also a critical time to be watching for fruit rots such as Botrytis.

 

Wayne County Scouting Notes, June 8 – June 12

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of June 8 – June 12)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Young Colorado Potato Beetle larva (F. Becker photo)

The Colorado Potato Beetle is still feeding heavily, especially on potato. The larvae are out in large numbers and many egg clusters are hatching or will soon be. They are most effectively controlled in the larval stage. It is best to coordinate insecticide applications in line with when the egg masses are hatching, and young larva are starting to feed on the foliage.

Flea Beetles are still prevalent and doing damage. Flea Beetles will also utilize weeds as host plants. Keeping your fields free from weeds will help to reduce the populations of flea beetles.

Cucumber Beetles are out in force right now. For growers who use a seed treatment on cucurbit crops, keep in mind that the treatment is typically effective up to the 2-leaf stage, at which point the efficacy starts to decline. Cucumber Beetles vector the Bacterial Wilt disease so early season control of the beetles is vital to the long-term health of the plant.

In sweet corn, cut worm damage has started popping up along with some more significant European corn borer damage.

Onions are at a point where thrips populations could begin to increase. Consistent rains and small plants had kept the thrips population down, but with some drier weather in the forecast and onions increasing in size and putting on more leaves, this will be a pest to keep an eye on.

Imported Cabbage Worm Larva (F. Becker photo)

The Imported Cabbageworm larvae, among other worm pests of brassicas, are feeding on cole crops and leafy greens such as kale. Severe foliar feeding could stunt the plant growth or significantly reduce yield.

Vegetable Diseases

Timber Rot on a high tunnel tomato (F. Becker photo)

Timber rot of tomato is being found, especially in high tunnel tomatoes. This disease will take down a plant very rapidly. The survival structure, called a sclerotia, can survive in the soil for several years. It is important to allow for good airflow to avoid excess moisture in the tunnel. Additionally, it is recommended that if you are pruning to sanitize the tools between each cut. Diseased plants may also be removed and disposed of to prevent further spread of the pathogen.  Find more details about timber rot and management options in this article by Sally Miller: https://u.osu.edu/miller.769/2016/06/22/white-moldtimber-rot-management-in-tomato-high-tunnels/

Botrytis is still being seen, as is blossom end rot. To manage blossom end rot, it is important to limit moisture stress on a plant, from either too much or not enough moisture. Being consistent in watering and monitoring soil moisture conditions will help to prevent exposing the plant to moisture stress. Proper moisture will also provide conducive conditions for adequate nutrient uptake, given that the nutrients are present at appropriate levels in the soil.

 

Fruit Pests

Strawberry producers typically are facing several insect pests this time of year. One of these pests is the eastern flower thrips. This small insect feeds on and damages the strawberry blossom. As the berry begins to develop, this damage results in cat-facing on the berry or a russeting/bronzed appearance. When you notice these symptoms on the developing berry, the damage has already been done and there are no treatment options. To look for thrips in the blossoms, take a white piece of paper or a plate and shake the blossoms onto the plate and watch for any small, slender yellow thrips to be moving around. Once you have reached 2 or more thrips per blossom, you should move forward with a treatment. Consider the pollinators before applying an insecticide, considering the target of your application is primarily associated with the blossoms. Preventative sprays can also be used in successive plantings. See more on Thrips in this post by Celeste Welty: Beware of thrips on strawberries

Another pest of strawberries and small fruits is the spotted wing Drosophila. The SWD is a small fruit fly that can lay its eggs in ripening fruit while it is still on the plant. As you are picking, do not discard unwanted fruit on the ground right next to the plant. The rotting fruit on the ground will attract SWD. Instead bring a bucket to discard unwanted fruit in and either bury it a foot or so deep in soil or seal the fruit in a clear plastic bag exposed to the sun for about a week to kill any larvae. If culls are discarded in the trash or compost pile, they might attract SWD flies and allow for more generations to be produced. This is also the time to put traps out in your bramble and blueberry patch but if you have June bearing strawberries, they likely won’t be affected by this pest. More details about how to set up traps can be in the  OSU IPM YouTube page under the SWD playlist at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzcWaLH3mx7HUKh4OF7bYPA and on Celeste Welty’s page here: https://u.osu.edu/pestmanagement/

Codling Moth and Oriental Fruit Moth traps are showing low numbers right now.

Fruit Diseases

            Now is the time to be managing early season diseases in apples. Scab, rust and powdery mildew are the three main diseases of concern at this point in the season. It may also be appropriate to consider looking at managing summer diseases such as flyspeck, sooty blotch, and fruit rots.

Strawberry leaf diseases may appear unsightly right now, however, now is not the time to be managing these leaf diseases. Once harvest is done and during patch renovation it is recommended that you address these concerns, either with a fungicide or with resistant plant varieties. This is also a critical time to be watching for fruit rots such as Botrytis.

Grapes are currently either at pre-bloom or blooming. This stage is the most critical stage of development for controlling diseases. Fungicide applications for black rot, powdery mildew and downy mildew are highly recommended during this time. See more details about grape black rot here.

 

Wayne County IPM Notes (Week of June 1- June 5)

These observations are from Frank Becker, Dept. of Extension Wayne County.

Vegetable Pests

The Colorado Potato Beetle is being seen feeding in both potato and eggplant. When approaching plants to look for them, be cautious. When the beetle is startled, they drop to the ground and may be difficult to see. They do significant damage to the foliage and can cause significant reduction in yield. The Colorado Potato Beetle also has a history of developing resistance to insecticides being used as control measures. This has limited our choices for treatment options. The best way to prevent further resistance is to avoid using the same insecticide repeatedly. At the current plant stage for potato, the threshold is approximately 1 beetle per plant. For eggplant, it is 25 beetles per 50 plants.

Another pesky insect this time of year is the flea beetle. Their damage may seem insignificant at first, however, their populations can rapidly increase and can quickly overwhelm young plants. Flea beetle damage is occurring primarily on potato, eggplant, cole crops and sweet corn. Sweet corn is of particular concern due to Stewart’s Wilt disease which is vectored by the flea beetle. Susceptible sweet corn varieties have a threshold of 6 beetles per 100 plants, while tolerant varieties have a threshold of 2 beetles per plant. On cole crops, the threshold is 5 or more beetles per plant. For potato, you will need to count the “shot holes” in the leaves caused by the beetle. The threshold is 15 shot holes per leaflet. Eggplants have a threshold of 8 beetles per plant.

In sweet corn, there is light slug damage occurring as well as some light damage being done by the European corn borer larva. Young sweet corn is also a target of black cutworm. The cutworm will cut plants at the soil line. If you find a cut plant, dig up some soil around the plant to see if you can find the cutworm.

Vegetable Diseases

In high humidity this time of year, greenhouse tomato crops become especially susceptible to infection from Botrytis. This can initially present itself on the fruit as “ghost spot” which appear as pale or white rings on the fruit. It can then progress into Botrytis gray mold and the fruit will begin to rot. It is important to increase airflow in the tunnel as well as between plants. It would also be beneficial to reduce the humidity within the tunnel.

Blossom end rot is also prevalent this time of year in crops such squash and tomatoes. Although this is not necessarily a pathogen, secondary infections commonly compound the issue. To manage blossom end rot, it is important to limit moisture stress on a plant, from either too much or not enough moisture. Being consistent in watering and monitoring soil moisture conditions will help to prevent exposing the plant to moisture stress. Proper moisture will also provide conducive conditions for adequate nutrient uptake, given that the nutrients are present at appropriate levels in the soil.

Fruit Pests

Strawberry producers typically are facing several insect pests this time of year. One of these pests is the eastern flower thrips. This small insect feeds on and damages the strawberry blossom. As the berry begins to develop, this damage results in cat-facing on the berry or a russeting/bronzed appearance. When you notice these symptoms on the developing berry, the damage has already been done and there are no treatment options. To look for thrips in the blossoms, take a white piece of paper or a plate and shake the blossoms onto the plate and watch for any small, slender yellow thrips to be moving around. Once you have reached 2 or more thrips per blossom, you should move forward with a treatment. Consider the pollinators before applying an insecticide, considering the target of your application is primarily associated with the blossoms. Preventative sprays can also be used in successive plantings.

Another pest of strawberries and small fruits is the spotted wing Drosophila. The SWD is a small fruit fly that can lay its eggs in ripening fruit while it is still on the plant. As you are picking, do not discard unwanted fruit on the ground right next to the plant. The rotting fruit on the ground will attract SWD. Instead bring a bucket to discard unwanted fruit in and either bury it a foot or so deep in soil or seal the fruit in a clear plastic bag exposed to the sun for about a week to kill any larvae. If culls are discarded in the trash or compost pile, they might attract SWD flies and allow for more generations to be produced. This is also the time to put traps out in your bramble and blueberry patch but if you have June bearing strawberries, they likely won’t be affected by this pest. More details about how to set up traps can be in the  OSU IPM YouTube page under the SWD playlist at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzcWaLH3mx7HUKh4OF7bYPA and on Celeste Welty’s https://u.osu.edu/pestmanagement/ page.

Orchard traps are now out in Wayne County and we will be monitoring Codling Moth and Oriental Fruit Moth numbers closely.

Fruit Diseases

Now is the time to be managing early season diseases in apples. Scab, rust and powdery mildew are the three main diseases of concern at this point in the season.

Strawberry leaf diseases may appear unsightly right now, however, now is not the time to be managing these leaf diseases. Once harvest is done and during patch renovation it is recommended that you address these concerns, either with a fungicide or with resistant plant varieties. This is also a critical time to be watching for fruit rots such as Botrytis.

Grapes are currently around the pre-bloom stage. This stage is the most critical stage of development for controlling diseases. Fungicide applications for black rot, powdery mildew and downy mildew are highly recommended during this time.

Grafted Plants, Suppliers, and Experiments


Growers typically convert to using grafted plants (e.g., tomato, watermelon) primarily because they can be much more productive when specific soilborne diseases are present (and the correct rootstock is used). In addition, however, grafted plants are often more vigorous than ungrafted ones of the same scion (fruiting variety). Grafted plants may also use water, fertilizer, and other inputs more efficiently. Therefore, it is necessary to optimize cultural and fertility practices for grafted plant-based production. Two experiments will be completed in this 1+ acre parcel in 2020. One experiment tests alternative fertilizer rates and the second experiment tests in-row spacings (plant populations/acre). All grafted plants are supplied by Tri-Hishtil in Mills River, NC.

Tri-Hishtil (http://www.trihishtil.com/) is one among a constantly-lengthening list of commercial grafted plant suppliers. Others include Banner Greenhouses (https://www.bannergreenhouses.com/), Grafted Growers (https://graftedgrowers.com/), and Re-Divined (https://redivined.weebly.com/) in the eastern U.S. and others based in the west. Local suppliers are also operating in Ohio and some farmers are preparing their own grafted plants. Commercial suppliers continue to ramp-up their capacity to meet the needs of vegetable growers, regardless of the size, location, or type of their operation (field and/or high tunnel; conventional and/or organic). Also, grafted plant costs are increasingly competitive. Overall, access to grafted plants is strong and increasing and no longer a reason for being unable to test the performance of grafted plants on your farm. The Vegetable Production Systems Lab at OARDC can also assist, if needed; we teach people how to graft and, in 2021, we hope to resume preparing small numbers of plants by request.

One empty and three filled cells of a 128-cell tray holding grafted watermelon plants prepared by Tri-Hishtil. Note roots are visible on the surface as healthy white ‘threads’ with smaller root hairs near the tip, creating a bottle-brush appearance. Slotted cells (as shown at the bottom-left) contribute to this root condition and morphology.

Hand-grafted watermelon plants from Tri-Hishtil in Mills River, NC.
Plant at left is Jade Star and plant at right is Fascination, both grafted to Carnivor rootstock.
Clear and green clips show the location of the graft union and supports (white sticks) will be removed at planting (scheduled for 6/8/20).
Root systems are well-developed, stems are sturdy, and the plants pull easily. Roots are not spiraling, partly due to the larger size and special shape of the cells.
Clips can be removed at planting or allowed to be forced off naturally by stem growth.

Contact Matt Kleinhenz (330.263.3810; kleinhenz.1@osu.edu) and see updates at this blog for more information.

Freeze / Frost Potential in Ohio – Aaron Wilson, Jim Jasinski

Now that the calendar has turned to April and warmer temperatures are becoming more frequent, those with horticultural interests are eager for the start of the growing season. But April can be a fickle month, with both warm spring rains and lingering cold nights that bring hard freezes and frost and occasionally, even a late-season snowfall. The threat of spring cold temperatures on horticultural production and operations (seeding, transplanting and flowering/fruit) can be greater following early season warmth, where phenological conditions may be advanced for this time of year.

Winter (December 2019 – February 2020) averaged 2-8°F above average compared to the climatological normal (1981-2010; Fig. 1). This warmth continued throughout March as well, with temperatures 4-8°F (west to east) above average. As a result, growing degree day accumulations range from the mid-60s (Ashtabula County) to nearly 200 (Lawrence County) after the first week of April 2020, with our landscapes, fruit trees, and gardening equipment coming to life.

Figure 1: Departure from average (1981-2010) temperatures for December 2019 – February 2020. Figure generated by the Midwest Regional Climate Center (http://mrcc.illinois.edu).

Frost and Freeze Potential

What is Ohio’s typical expectations regarding freeze (≤32°F) conditions in April and May? On average, locations throughout Ohio experience their last seasonal freeze from mid-April (southern Ohio) through mid-May (northeastern Ohio). Timing varies year to year and across Ohio. For a regional analysis, we have selected 8 locations from around Ohio to compare typical last seasonal freeze conditions (Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Selected locations around Ohio for freeze potential analysis displayed in Fig. 3.

Figure 3 shows the probability of experiencing a later freeze in Spring than indicating by the line graphs. All locations show probability based on the most recent 30-year period (1990-2019) except for 7-Lancaster (1996-2019). For each location, five temperatures are displayed (20°F-purple, 24°F-blue, 28°F-green, 32°F-yellow, and 36°F-red). For the purposes of this article we will focus on 32°F and 28°F (considered a hard/killing freeze). The bottom (x-axis) shows the probability that each of these temperatures will occur after a given date (indicated by the left or y-axis).

Figure 3: Probability of a later freeze in the spring for various locations (Fig. 2) around Ohio. Graphs generated by the Midwest Regional Climate Center (http://mrcc.illinois.edu).

Let’s run through an example of how to use Figure 3. For 1-Wauseon, we see that there is a 50% climatological probability of experiencing a 32°F temperature (yellow) after April 27, and this probability decreases to 20% by May 10. The colder, more damaging temperature of 28°F occurs 50% of the time after April 16, with only a 20% chance of seeing 28°F after April 27. For a southern location like 8-Marietta, these dates occur earlier in the season. Here, there is a 50% climatological probability of experiencing a 32°F temperature after April 18 with 28°F occurring 50% of the time after April 2.

Besides latitudinal (north of south) position, what other factors can influence springtime minimum temperatures? Colder air is more dense than warmer air, meaning it wants to remain close to the ground and will flow over the terrain like a fluid to settle in areas of lower elevation. If your location is in a valley or low-lying area, the climatological dates will likely be shifted later to account for more freeze potential later in the spring. Water bodies are typically colder than the surrounding land areas in spring which may keep temperatures in the immediate vicinity a little colder. For 2020, water and soil temperatures are above average, so they are likely to have a moderating impact this year. Cloud cover and higher humidity in the spring will keep air temperatures warmer due to their absorption of terrestrial (from the surface) radiational effects. Finally, late season snowfall combined with clearing skies overnight can also cause the surface to cool rapidly and lead to damaging freeze potential as well. All of these factors should be considered when comparing your location to those selected in Fig. 3.

April 2020 Outlook

At the time of this writing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/) outlook for April 10-20, 2020 calls for increased probability of seeing below average (unseasonably cold air) settling into the Upper Great Plain, Midwest, and Ohio Valley (Fig. 4) with a moderate risk of experiencing much below average minimum (nighttime) temperatures. Given the warm start to the year and current phenological conditions, those with horticultural assets should monitor this freeze potential closely and be prepared to mitigate when necessary to avoid losses. For a weekly climate update, please visit the State Climate Office of Ohio’s website (https://climate.osu.edu).

Figure 4: 8-10-day (April 13-19, 2020) temperature outlook. Figure courtesy of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Aaron Wilson is a research specialist with the Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center and a climate specialist with the Department of Extension. You can also follow Aaron on social media: @dwweather-Facebook or @drwilsonsWx-Twitter.

Pumpkin & Squash Growers Wanted for On-Farm Mustard Biofumigation Trial

Plectosporium blight on fruit and handle.

Plectosporium blight on petioles and leaf veins.

In 2019, research was conducted into the use of mustard cover crops as a biofumigant to reduce a specific soil borne disease in pumpkins, Plectosporium blight, also known as white speck or Microdochium. The signs of this disease start out as spindle shaped lesions on the petioles, vines and back of leaf veins potentially killing the plant. If the disease progress, it can infect the handles and turn immature and mature fruit white.

Although our trial in 2019 was planted in a Plectosporium infested field, very little disease developed due to the near drought like conditions at the research station in South Charleston. In wetter locations around Ohio this disease was seen last year and we still think there is potential for this cultural technique to reduce disease in pumpkin and squash fields. To accomplish this on a wider scale in 2020, we plan to replicate and expand our mustard cover crop (MCC) biofumigation study to include on-farm trials with growers.

We are looking to recruit 4-6 growers preferably in the central or southern part of the state to put out a mustard cover crop biofumigation trial to reduce soil borne disease pressure with the following guidelines and conditions.

Growers requirements and general protocol:
-Growers must plant in field known to have a Plectosporium blight infestation. Growers with fields infested with Fusarium or Phytophthora will also be considered.

Equipment needed to successfully manage a mustard cover crop.

-Growers need to have equipment to seed the cover crop, chop (bush hog or flail), incorporate (rototill), pack the soil (culti-mulcher) and possibly seal the soil using a sprayer or irrigation system. These steps will be done in rapid succession so 3-4 tractors are ideally needed, each hooked to an implement.

-Growers will put out 4 strips of MCC and 4 strips without a MCC.

-Strip sizes will be up to 0.1A for a maximum of 0.8A needed for the entire on-farm study.

-Growers will plant Caliente Rojo, currently the highest yielding glucosinolate mustard cover crop available.

OSU will provide:
-The MCC seed, the fertilizer (urea + granular ammonium sulfate) and 1K seeds of the pumpkin hybrid Solid Gold (Rupp).

-Also evaluate each grower site for disease incidence on foliage three times during the season, plus a harvest where mature fruit are weighed and graded for disease.

Study Timeline:
-The MCC strip plots fertilizer will be disked into the soil prior to seeding to ensure high biomass production.

-The MCC planting date will be between March 30 and April 30 based on soil conditions and weather forecasts.

Mustard cover crop at full bloom.

-Approximately 50-60 days later, the MCC will be at peak flowering and will be chopped, rototill incorporated into the soil and then packed using culti-mulcher. If irrigation is available, water will be applied to help seal the soil and create a better environment for biofumigation.

-Within 10-14 days of incorporation, Solid Gold pumpkins will be transplanted into those strips at roughly 4ft spacing between plants. Note that transplants are preferred at each site instead of direct seeding, but if this is not possible, we can discuss options. Transplants will lead to an earlier harvest.

Plot Care:
Each farm will follow their own standard weed, insect and disease control and fertility practices on the 8 strips. The fungicides used on the crop will need to be discussed ahead of time so we can limit the use of fungicides that might help control Plectosporium blight. These fungicides are Flint, Cabrio, Quadris, Inspire Super and Merivon.

Disease ratings of incidence on vines, foliage and fruit will be taken at 14-21 day intervals from vining until fruit maturity. Sections of all strips will be harvested and fruit will be weighed and graded for disease.

The Big Picture:
By expanding the number of sites for this research through on-farm trials, we expect to see the potential MCC may have to reduce the soil borne disease complex affecting cucurbits. By recruiting growers into this process at a small scale, we hope to gain their valuable feedback as to the feasibility and challenges of using MCC on their farm. If successful, growers will spread the news to other growers who might be willing to try MCC on their farm. In addition to the potential biofumigation benefit, growers will be enhancing their soil organic matter levels and provide premium although brief pollinator habitat during flowering.

If growers want to see a video detailing the steps and processes involved with planting MCC as a biofumigant, check out the work we did in 2019 at https://youtu.be/Taz-PhDphhA.

Sign up:
If interested in participating in this project or have questions, please contact me at 937-484-1526 or jasinski.4@osu.edu by March 14.

This project is being funded by the Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program and the IPM Program.

Midwest Vegetable Production Guide Now Available

If you are a vegetable grower in Ohio, the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide, is an essential resource to keep on top of the latest fertility, horticultural management, and pesticide recommendations for your operation. Each year the guide is edited and updated by specialist’s in eight states to bring you the most current information possible at the time of printing.

What’s new to the guide in 2020? Within the 262 spiral bound pages there is an updated Organic Production section plus updated sections on disease, weed and insect management on 45+ vegetable crops, from Asian vegetables to Zucchini.

The MVPG is also more mobile friendly now with an improved interface designed to get your crop production question addressed quickly. Enter your crop and pest information and receive cultural and pesticide recommendations matching your request. Try it out on your computer, tablet or smart phone at https://mwveguide.org. The site will default to the new interactive mobile friendly interface but if you want to access individual pdf chapters of the guide, click on the drop down and select “Production Guide.”

MVPG new and mobile friendly interface.

To get a traditional hard copy of the guide, contact your local Extension office and they can order a copy from main campus. Cost will be around $15.

MVPG cover for 2020. 

If you want to order a guide online through the new Extension publications website, here is the link https://extensionpubs.osu.edu/2020-midwest-vegetable-production-guide-for-commercial-growers/. If you order the guide online and have it mailed to your house, it will cost $21.25 plus shipping.

Be sure to purchase your guide soon, there are only 90 copies left in inventory at OSU! Best of luck for a productive season!

 

 

 

From New and Unusual to Common (or Maybe Not): The Dynamic World of Specialty Varieties

“Specialty” — as it applies to vegetable varieties – usually refers to ones differing in at least one noticeable way from the mainstream version of the crop preferred or expected by most buyers. That difference can be in size, shape, color, flavor, texture, and/or other characteristics. Oftentimes, specialty varieties are initially grown specifically to attract or meet the stated interest of buyers looking for “something different from what they can get everywhere else” and willing to pay higher prices for it. In a small number of cases, markets for specialty varieties increase to the point that the specialty designation or perception falls away, i.e., the variety is so widely grown that it resets what is considered normal or mainstream, but that process can require years to complete. The opposite can occur, too, as markets for individual specialty varieties can remain small and fade quickly. In any case, when grown and marketed well to a sufficiently large number of buyers, even if local, specialty variety production can be profitable. Well documented cases of specialty vegetable and variety production being significant for many growers on both coasts and within easy reach of urban areas in states between them fill the extension, research, and industry literature. Some growers are, more or less, always searching for the next unusual variety that will help set their farm apart.

A variety just being different is not enough to attract and maintain the interest of most buyers. The difference must be meaningful. In the well-chronicled case of ‘Honeynut’ squash (e.g., see https://www.bonappetit.com/story/honeynut-squash-history), the most meaningful difference may be size since ‘Honeynut’ is positioned as a mini-butternut. Its small size makes ‘Honeynut’ more versatile and appealing to buyers looking for the culinary/dietary benefits of butternut fruit but in a smaller package.

We included ‘Honeynut’ squash in two experiments in 2019, planting it in the same rows as ‘Metro PMR’. ‘Honeynut’ was used as the “spacer” between plots of ‘Metro PMR’, the actual focus of the experiments, both of which were managed organically. However, observing ‘Honeynut’ during the season and completing informal eating quality assessments, its appeal is clear. ‘Honeynut’ serves as a reminder of the benefit of considering alternative varieties, especially as the period for selecting varieties and ordering seed for 2020 gets underway.