Reflex and other herbicide thoughts for Pumpkin and Squash

Thinking about weed control.

It’s the second week of April and if you grow either pumpkin or squash, the notion of weed control has undoubtedly been on your mind. On May 29 2020, Reflex herbicide (fomesafen, Syngenta) was given a 24(c) label (local needs exemption) in Ohio for use on cucurbits.

What does Reflex bring to the weed control game to complement other currently labeled herbicides? Reflex is a pre-emergent herbicide which should be applied after seeding but before crop emergence. The primary fit would be against small seeded broadleaves such as lambsquarters, purslane, common ragweed, nightshade and pigweeds (see full efficacy chart here

As always, choose fields with low weed pressure if possible and start with a relatively clean field either through stale seed bed or use of burn down herbicides (glyphosate, paraquat). Use pre-emergent herbicides followed by post emergent herbicides if necessary to get weed control further into the season, then mop up with spot sprays as needed. The full list of herbicide options can be found in the 2021 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide pg. 102 (

Tony Dobbels discussing Reflex on pumpkins.

In July 2020, members of the department of Hort and Crop Science and IPM Program put out a small late summer herbicide weed screen trial at the Western Ag Research Station which was reported extensively in the 2020 virtual field day video segment starting at the 10:01 mark ( In this 16 minute video, Reflex alone plus combinations of Reflex with Dual II Magnum, Sandea and Strategy are shown and discussed.

There is a Vegblog post on June 16, 2020 with additional comments about this herbicide concerning direct seeded and transplanted pumpkin and squash (

Symptoms of herbicide injury.

Be sure to read the entire Reflex 24(c) label and understand the warnings about its use:
– Needs 0.5-1” rain or irrigation to be activated
– Sensitivity is possible on both pumpkin and squash hybrids – test on small area first
– Butternut is very sensitive to Reflex – test on small area first but expect thinning or yield reduction
– Cold and wet soils during germination and seedling growth may result in delayed maturity and / or yield.
– Heavy rain shortly after transplanting may also result in delayed maturity and / or yield.
– Reflex herbicide rates below 1 pt/A are not intended to be used as a stand-alone weed control program and should be used with other herbicides and/or other methods of weed control that support weed resistance management.
– Carryover injury possible and beware of rotation restrictions

The research and demonstration behind these new uses was paid for in part by the IR-4 Program, the Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program (OVSFRDP), and the IPM Program, and could not be conducted without the OARDC research stations and support from the chemical companies.

What plans are in store for 2021? We have another herbicide screening trial that will be rated for percent control of weeds and a hybrid sensitivity trial where we will look at potential seedling emergence and injury on pumpkin, squash and butternut as described by the label warning.

How Do You Maintain the Health – Quality – Productivity of Soils in Your High Tunnel(s)?

Growers are increasingly impacted by and/or interested in learning how to prevent declines in the health, quality, or productivity of soils in their high tunnels. More are experiencing or aware that various biotic and abiotic issues threaten crop yield and quality and farm income. As some have learned, increases in nematode populations, disease inoculum, salinity, nutrient deficiencies/excesses/imbalances, and/or compaction or reductions in soil structure can be troublesome. Thankfully, a comprehensive effort is underway to help understand and address soil health/productivity-related challenges in high tunnel production. Sponsored by the USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative and coordinated by Dr. Krista Jacobsen of the University of Kentucky, researchers with different expertise and extension specialists are documenting grower concerns and practices and charting a path leading to greater grower success. The OSU and five other universities are also currently involved. Team members recently hosted a focus group of eight growers from the Great Lakes (including Ohio) and will hear from more in other regions soon. Growers in the recent focus group represented a range of experience, size of operation, crops grown, typical number of annual production seasons (1-4), and overall farming approach (conventional, organic). Collectively, they shared concerns with issues referenced earlier and gave special attention to others such as the effects of high tunnel soils going extremely dry fall-to-spring unless watered (with or without also being cropped). Interestingly, this observation and concern lines up with the view shared by Dr. Bruce Hoskins of the University of Maine that high tunnel production is like “irrigated desert production in the west and southwest,” and that “failing to realize or take steps to address potential problems because of this” can be detrimental (see VegNet article Feb. 20, 2021). In any case, the recent conversation with growers was a reminder of: (1) potential causes of declines in (high tunnel) soil productivity (examples are listed below), (2) innovative steps growers and researchers are taking to limit the problem, and (3) benefits of addressing the complex problem through partnerships. It also prompted me to ask myself what I am doing to maintain the productivity of soils in my high tunnels. Maybe it will do the same for you!

The health-quality-productivity of soils used in vegetable production, including in high tunnels, can decline for many reasons. Some major ones are listed below in no particular order.

1. Repeated or excessive use of a potentially narrow range of fertilizers, various chemicals, and other soil amendments.
2. Vegetable plants often having relatively small and shallow root systems (compared to other annual crops) and crops returning relatively little residue to the soil.
3. Short rotations with few crops.
4. Placing frequent pressure on and aggressively disturbing soil, especially when it is wet.
5. In high tunnels, relatively unique and potentially extreme temperature and moisture profiles.


This article was submitted by Dr. Erdal Ozkan
Dept. of Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering

Pesticides need to be applied accurately and uniformly. Too little pesticide results in poor pest control and reduced yields, while too much injures the crop, wastes chemicals and money, and increases the risk of polluting the environment. Achieving satisfactory results from pesticides depends heavily on five major factors:

  1. Positive identification of the pest.
  2. Choosing the least persistent and lowest toxicity pesticide that will work.
  3. Selecting the right equipment, particularly the right type and size of nozzle for the job.
  4. Applying pesticides accurately at the right time.
  5. Calibrating and maintaining equipment to make sure the amount recommended on the chemical label is applied.
sprayer calibration

Proper calibration is key.

Inspection of sprayers

Higher pesticide costs and new chemicals designed to be used in lower doses make accurate application more important than ever. There is no better time than early spring to take a closer look at your sprayer. Here are some of the things I would recommend you do this week if you don’t want to unexpectantly halt your spraying later in the season when you cannot afford delaying spraying and missing that most critical time to control weeds:

  • First, if you need new or one other type of nozzles on the boom this year, do not delay purchasing new nozzles. Do it now.
  • Double-check your sprayer for mechanical problems before you start using it. You won’t have time to do this when planting is in full swing.
  • Clean the sprayer tank thoroughly and make sure all filters on the sprayer, especially the nozzle filters are clean.
  • Clean spray nozzles to make sure they are not partially plugged. Check their flow rates, and replace the ones that are spraying more than 10 percent of the original output at a given spray pressure.
  • Check the agitator in the tank to make sure it’s working properly. This is extremely important if you will be applying dry chemicals. Run water through the spray system to make sure everything is working properly.
  • Always carry a spare, excellent quality pressure gage (glycerin filled) in your shop, and check the accuracy of the pressure gage on the sprayer compared to the reading you see on this spare pressure gage. Your rate controller will not know if your pressure gage is bad, and the flow rate of nozzles will be adjusted by the rate controller using the bad pressure gage.
  • Once you are convinced that all sprayer parts are functioning properly, it is time to calibrate the sprayer.

Calibrate the sprayer

One can determine if the chemicals are applied at the proper rate (gallons per acre) only by carefully calibrating the sprayer. Calibration, perhaps more than anything else, will have a direct impact on achieving effective pest control and the cost of crop production. While applying too little pesticide may result in ineffective pest control, too much pesticide wastes money, may damage the crop and increases the potential risk of contaminating ground water and environment. Results of “Sprayer Calibration Clinics” I participated in Ohio a while back, and data from several other States show that only one out of three to four applicators are applying chemicals at a rate that is within 5 % (plus or minus) of their intended rate (an accuracy level recommended by USDA and EPA). For example, if your intended rate is 20 gallons per acre, the 5% tolerable difference will be 1 gallon (5% of 20). So, your actual application rate should be as close to 20 gpa as possible, but not outside the range of 19 to 21 gpa.

How do you calibrate the sprayer?

There are several ways to calibrate a sprayer. Regardless of which method you choose, you will end up measuring the nozzle flow rate (in ounces), and the actual travel speed in miles per hour to determine the actual chemical applied in gallons per acre. Once you determine the actual application rate, you should find out if the difference between the actual rate and the intended rate is greater than 5% of the intended rate (plus or minus). If the error is greater than the 5% tolerable error margin, you will need to reduce the error below 5% by doing one of three things: 1) Change the spraying pressure, 2) change the travel speed, and 3) change nozzles (get a different size) if the error cannot be reduced below 5% by making adjustments in either the pressure or the travel speed, or both.

It usually doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to calibrate a sprayer, and only three things are needed: a watch or smart phone to record the time when measuring the nozzle flow rate or the travel speed, a measuring tape, and a jar graduated in ounces. Please take a look at the Ohio State University Extension publication FABE-520 for an easy method for calibrating a boom-type sprayer.  Here is the URL for this publication:


Can YOU Help Solve the Case of the Missing Pumpkin?

pumpkinPumpkins are a beloved fall crop ushering in all kinds of festive activities such as hayrides, fall festivals and agritainment events at local farms. When you include Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays into the mix, this iconic orb gets plenty of exposure across the state and provides much needed revenue when most other field vegetables are winding down.

But Ohio’s slice of the pumpkin pie has dramatically shrunk in recent years. From 2011-2015, acres planted averaged 6,680 compared to 2016-19 with an average of 3,840 A planted, a 42.3% loss in acres planted and production value according to the Ohio Annual Statistics Bulletin from 2011-20 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Pumpkin statistics from 2011-2020.

So the question becomes, what caused the loss of nearly 3,000 acres of pumpkin in production years 2016-20? People I have asked about this offer explanations such as Ohio growers are increasingly importing cheap and widely available pumpkin fruit from other states or abroad, saving on production costs. I have also heard that growers may not be reporting their pumpkin acres accurately or at all on National Ag Statistic Surveys which could account for the drop in reported acreage, but likely not so much from 2015 to 2016-2020. Was there a market shift due to buyer demands or Food Quality and Protection Act leading to a mass exodus of growers, again not known.

If YOU have an idea for the loss of 3,000 A of pumpkins from Ohio production, please feel free to share it with me at or call me at 937-772-6014.

If you prefer to leave a written comment of any length, here is an anonymous link where you cannot be identified if that is a concern you have.

If any production issues are mentioned, I’ll be sure to follow up with additional articles in the VegNet Blog to address these.

Organic Production Series

organic production series

Ohio State’s organic production winter webinar series will finish up in the next few weeks, but session recordings will remain available at, where you can also find log-in details for our final sessions.

These sessions are brief, free, and can be accessed online or by telephone. All sessions are 11:00-11:45 a.m. and will include time for questions and discussion. Speakers are from Ohio State unless otherwise noted. The webinars are intended for growers involved in, considering, or simply curious about organic agriculture.

March 31, 2021, 11 a.m.
Remediation of Post-Industrial Urban Soils by Organic Management – Larry Phelan
The loss of manufacturing in a number of U.S. cities, particularly in the Rust Belt, along with the 2008 housing crash, has led to population loss and abandonment of a large number of properties and land area. Unfortunately, what did not leave was the legacy of soil contamination and degradation caused by this industrial past. This project documents the impact of this history on chemical, physical, and biological dimensions of soil health in Cleveland’s vacant lots and investigates the changes associated with conversion of industrially damaged soils to urban organic farming.

April 14, 2021, 11 a.m.
The Organic Consumer: What We Know – Zoë Plakias
Knowing who your customers are, can help you reach them more effectively. Ohio State economist Zoë Plakias will share market research about consumer attitudes and behaviors toward organic products. Demographically, who are our customers? What motivates them to purchase organic products? How much extra are they willing to pay? And how can organic growers and retailers increase their appeal with these customers?

Previous sessions are available for viewing at, including:

  • Management Practices That Impact Soil Health and Organic Matter – Christine Sprunger
  • Tips for Using/Attracting Beneficial Insects – Mary Gardiner
  • Cultural Control Strategies for Nightmare Weeds – Douglas Doohan
  • Considerations for Organic High Tunnel Production – Matt Kleinhenz
  • Irrigation Basics – Larry Brown
  • Transition Q&A – Julia Barton, OEFFA
  • and more.

Heads Up on a Billion Heads Up!

Figure 1. Area shaded in orange is where brood X of the periodical cicada is expected to emerge in 2021 (from Periodical and “Dog-Day” Cicadas, OSU extension Fact Sheet ENT-58, by D. Shetlar and J. Andon, 2015;

In case you have been living underground for the past 17 years, take note of the map showing the impending mass emergence of billions of Brood X cicadas in central and southwestern Ohio (Figure 1).

There is also a useful timetable for when to expect the emergence, mating, oviposition and end of the Brood X cicadas (Figure 2). The whole process is temperature driven but should begin in April and be over by the end of June.

If you are primarily a vegetable grower, you can relax a bit as the cicada emergence will likely not affect or damage any crops but adults may randomly appear in a crop and serve as a noticeable and potentially loud contaminant.

Figure 2. Estimate for cicada stages and life cycle (source


For small fruit and tree fruit growers, there is a chance of damage to stems about ¼” in diameter due to cicada oviposition. Celeste Welty, OSU Dept. of Entomology,  wrote an excellent article for the Ohio Fruit Newsletter recently that covers chemical and cultural options (

For anyone with an interest in reporting locations of cicada emergence, there is an app called ‘Cicada Safari’ that is available for iOS and Android devices. It is interesting that most of the cicada broods do emerge as expected 17 years after the previous emergence, but if they are off-schedule, it is usually by 4 years, usually 4 years early. Excellent information about the biology and behavior of cicadas can be found at the cicada mania website: . Other general information about cicadas can be found there too.

Last but not least, why not take advantage of this rare free protein and try cicadas in a variety of tasty snacks and meals!


Bon appetite!

IPM Video Library on YouTube

For over 100 years OSU Extension has delivered information to growers in the form of field days, workshops, conferences, newsletters, factsheets, guides, bulletins, etc. However, in the past decade there has been a shift in how people (including growers) search for and consume information. That newer method of information transfer is through the use of “how to” videos to show people how to do something or prepare for something, and it’s available free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Partial screen shot of OSU IPM YouTube Video Library.

The OSU IPM Video Library on YouTube ( embraced this digital delivery trend and was launched in 2009. The site now has 81 videos on a variety of crops (pumpkin, sweet corn, carrots, strawberry, hops, field crops and coming soon apples) and a number of topics including identification, monitoring and management of traditional and invasive pests.

Videos are added throughout the year to these categories called playlists and new playlists are being created to house specific content such as apples. In the next month or two, new videos on squash vine borer and striped cucumber beetles on pumpkin will be released. Updated videos on monitoring brown marmorated stink bug and spotted lanternfly are also on this list.

This year in addition to shooting in our traditional video format, we intend to experiment with shorter (one minute long?) but more frequent (weekly?) videos, including some live streaming from the field; stay tuned for more details on that.

How can YOU participate in adding content to the video library? What kind of topics would YOU like to see added to the YouTube channel? You can either email me directly at about specific topics or ideas you have or if you prefer to send them 100% anonymously, click on this link ( and leave your suggestion. One thing we always struggle with is how long to make the video. While we generally know that shorter is better, it can be challenging to convey the nuances of some pest management topics in shorter videos but we try!

We hope the content on the site is useful to your operation and our IPM Team is looking forward to your video suggestions. Remember, YOU put the You in YouTube!

Limiting Bird Damage in Sweet Corn

Bird damage in sweet corn and other specialty crop production can be significant and those affected by it need different types of effective solutions. Some are described in articles and publications such as,, and Still, the search for additional farm-ready ‘tools in the toolbox’ continues. A team led by the University of Rhode Island is working with growers in the Northeast and other regions to better understand the extent of the problem and success of current control measures. Consider completing their very brief (5-minute) survey at to help inform and get the most from the team’s work.


2021 Home Garden Vegetable Trials

The second year of the statewide Home Garden Vegetable Trials kicks off during the month of February. Citizen scientists are recruited to contribute to our vegetable trials for Ohio. We look for people excited about growing vegetables in their home or community gardens and then letting us know what they think. Youth and adults are welcomed to participate. Each trial contains two varieties that  are grown side by side to compare throughout the season. They can select multiple trials with 5 cool-season vegetables and 5 warm-season vegetables available. For each trial, participants get:

  • Seed for two varieties of a vegetable
  • Row markets
  • A garden layout plan to prepare your rows or beds
  • Growing information specific to the crop species you, including planting date, plant spacing, nutrient requirements, etc.
  • An evaluation sheet (can be completed online)

Participants may select up to 5 trials. We are now asking you to complete the sign up and send payment. The trial catalog has a  description of each variety that will be used this year. On the last page is a registration page that can be printed and filled out by hand for those who do not use computers.

Some seeds are from organic sources, but a few are not. The vegetables are not experimental, but some have been released in the last few years. Others are old favorites being compared to new varieties to see if they still stand the test of time. All seeds are non-GMO (as all vegetable seeds available are non-GMO) Each trial is $3. We have created an online registration site. Please go through the sign-up process and select your vegetables. On the payment page, you can choose to pay by card or check. If you choose check, the details for filling out and sending the check will be displayed. Please send that in as soon as possible. You will also see the $8 charge for home delivery added to your bill. We have had to do this because our Extension Offices have been temporarily closed. You also have the option of registering and paying for more than one person while visiting the site. The deadline for ordering is February 28 for guaranteed participation and March 15 while supplies last.

VEGETABLE TRIALS web site  registration site


Farmer’s Tax Guides – Tax Guidance for Your Farm Business

Do you need a resource to answer those tough farm tax questions? If so, you can access the Farmer’s Tax Guide (IRS Publication 225) online at:

The 2020 Farmer’s Tax Guide explains how federal tax laws apply to farming. This guide can be used as a guide for farmers to figure taxes and complete their farm tax return.

The explanations and examples in this publication reflect the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation of tax laws enacted by Congress, Treasury regulations, and court decisions. However, the information given does not cover every situation and is not intended to replace the law or change its meaning.

Some of the new topics for the 2020 tax year which are included in this publication are: Tax treatment of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments, Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loans and Forgiven Debt, Increased section 179 expense deduction dollar limits, COVID-19 related employment tax credits and other tax relief, Redesigned Form W-4 for 2020, New Form 1099-NEC, and much more.

Hardcopies of the 2020 Farmer’s Tax Guide are also available at select county OSU Extension offices.

The Rural Tax Education Site has additional resources for agriculturally related income and self-employment tax information that is both current and easy to understand: