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!




Spotted Lanternfly Slowly Approaching Ohio

The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is a newly discovered invasive pest from Asia. It is primarily a pest of trees like apples, cherries, black walnut, poplar, maple, tree of heaven and vines such as grapes and hops but it’s not reported to attack most vegetable crops. This pest was first detected in Berks County, PA in 2014, and has since spread to NJ, DE and VA; it has also been observed in MD, NY, CT and NC. In January 2020, new detections were found in western PA bordering Ohio and in eastern West Virginia (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Current known distribution of Spotted Lanternfly.

Damage is caused by inserting large sucking mouthparts into the trunk of the tree or vine and then siphoning out large amounts of sap. Excess sap from either the trunk injury or the planthopper can drip down the trunk and turn dark if infected with sooty mold. No diseases are known to be spread by this insect at this time, but excessive feeding weakens the tree and causes increased mortality during winter.

This pest is a planthopper and as an adult has red and purple wings and nearly one inch long (Figure 2). The immatures resemble stink bugs, being black with white spots when young, and red with black and white spots when older. The overwintering stage is the egg which is laid in masses of 15-30. At this time of the year, the eggs look like elongated brown seeds which can be attached to just about any surface including wood, stone and metal.

Figure 2. Life cycle of Spotted Lanternfly.

While we have NOT seen this pest in Ohio yet, it is within 15 miles of our eastern border and could very likely hitchhike its way into Ohio on a car, truck, trailer, train or boat. If you have tree of heaven on your property, which is one of its favorite hosts, or a vineyard nearby, check the trunks or vines for eggs now or check for nymphs and adults later in the season. If any questionable insects are seen, mark the location, take pictures, and contact your local Ohio State University Extension office or the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Health at 614-728-6400. Do not collect or transport any suspected SLF eggs, nymphs or adults.

For more information and pictures, see USDA’s Pest Alert on this pest: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/alert-spotted-lanternfly.pdf

This article was prepared by Jim Jasinski, Dept. of Extension and Celeste Welty, Dept. of Entomology

Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference “Sowing Seed for Success”

OSU Extension Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success scheduled for March 14th
Do you own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do with it?
Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?
Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage?
Do you want livestock but have questions about fencing and forage?
Do you raise or produce products that you would like to market and sell off your farm but you’re not sure how to make it successful?
If you’re asking yourself these questions you should think about attending the 2020 Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success on March 14th from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Mansfield OSU Campus in Ovalwood Hall.
The campus is just minutes from I-71 and US Rt 30.
Please visit: go.osu.edu/osufarmconference2020 for class and registration details or call OSU Extension Morrow County 419-947-1070.

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training in Southern Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety is announcing a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training to be held on January 28, 2020 at the Clermont County OSU Extension Office, 1000 Locust St, Owensville, OH 45160. The training will be one day, 9AM-5PM with an hour for lunch(not provided). There is no cost for in state residents, $85 for out of state. Regulation excluded and exempt growers are also welcome to register for the training.

The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) which states ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’

The course will cover basic produce safety; worker health, hygiene, and training; soil amendments; wildlife, domesticated animals, and land use; agricultural water (both production and postharvest); postharvest handling and sanitation; and developing a farm food safety plan. As a participant you can expected to gain a basic understanding of: microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they may be found on the farm; how to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks; how to begin implementing produce safety practices on the farm; parts of a farm food safety plan and how to begin writing one; and requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and how to meet them. There will be time for questions and discussion, so participants should come prepared to share their experiences and produce safety questions.

To receive a completion certificate, a participant must be present for the entire training and submit the appropriate paperwork to their trainer at the end of the course.

Registrations to be submitted by January 17, 2020 (ASAP):

Email: Jordyn.Brown@agri.ohio.gov

Fax: (614) 644-0720

Phone: (614) 728-6250

Mail: Ohio Department of Agriculture

Division of Food Safety – ATTN: Jordyn Brown

8995 E Main St

Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (614)600-4272 or mfout@agri.ohio.gov.


Matt Fout

Produce Safety Manager, Division of Food Safety

Ohio Department of Agriculture

Specialty Crop Conference

Registration is now open for this annual and newly expanded event.

The ​Southern Ohio ​Specialty ​Crop ​Conference ​is ​the ​most ​diverse ​training ​opportunity ​for ​specialty ​crop ​growers ​in ​Southern ​Ohio. ​An ​a ​la ​carte ​menu ​of ​classes ​allows ​participants ​to ​pick ​and ​choose ​throughout ​the ​day, ​finding ​topics ​that ​interest ​them ​most. ​Pesticide ​credits ​are ​available ​for ​Core, ​Category ​3 ​(Fruits ​& ​Vegetables) ​and ​Category ​5 ​(Greenhouse).

​A ​continental ​breakfast, ​buffet ​lunch ​and ​USB ​memory ​stick ​with ​all ​of ​the ​available ​conference ​handouts ​are ​included ​as ​a ​part ​of ​your ​registration ​fee. ​ ​

Click here for registration and additional information.

Pumpkin and Squash Hybrid Trial Results via Video

Interest in pumpkins and squash peaks today on Halloween and slowly fades as we head toward Thanksgiving. While thoughts of cucurbits are still fresh in your head, take a few minutes to watch the results of our 2019 pumpkin and squash hybrid trial at the Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston.

In keeping with the principles of IPM, most of the hybrids selected have tolerance to powdery mildew, which allows for a healthier less diseased plant through the growing season. This is not to say these hybrids can go without protection from fungicides for the whole season, as there are many diseases that attack the foliage and fruit, but sprays can be delayed or have longer intervals without significant damage to the plants.

The trial consists of 27 hybrids from Harris Seeds, Harris Moran, Rupp, Johnny’s, and Siegers.  Fruit size ranges from small to extra large, and colors include orange, white, blue, and pink; some even have bumps and warts. Estimates of average fruit weight and fruit number per plot are given during the narration. Hopefully you see something worth trying in 2020!

Detailed Commercial Review

Shorter Consumer Friendly Version

These videos were partially shot and edited with the help of Brooke Beam, Highland County Extension Educator.

For those people who want to see all the trial data in one table, here it is.

pumpkin trial data 2019


Plant health check – get to the root of it

Root-knot nematode galls on tomato

As the vegetable growing season winds down, now is a good time to dig up plants in high tunnels and open fields and determine the health of the roots. Root diseases that may not kill plants outright can nonetheless stunt plant growth and reduce yields. Look for plants that appear less vigorous than others and remove them with a shovel, taking care to maintain root integrity. Shake off the soil and rinse the roots gently with water. Then examine roots for symptoms.

While some soilborne diseases such as Phytophthora blight can “explode” in the field from relatively low initial inoculum levels, many others build up slowly from season to season. Root-knot, caused by the the plant pathogenic nematode Meloidogyne spp., is increasing in prevalence in Ohio in high tunnel tomatoes and other crops in open fields. Root-knot is fairly easy to identify – galls are clearly visible on roots. The Northern root-knot nematode, which predominates in northern Ohio, causes small galls, while the southern species, which occurs in southern Ohio, causes large galls. Since root-knot nematodes have a very broad host range, crop rotation may not be helpful, although certain cover crops such as sudangrass are toxic to nematodes, and wheat and corn are not hosts of northern root-knot nematodes. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is highly effective against root-knot.

Corky root rot of tomatoes

End-of-season root health checks are especially important for high tunnel tomatoes, which are often produced in the same soil year after year. Root-knot, Verticillium wilt, corky root rot, black dot root rot, and Pythium root rot are among the root diseases that can predominate in long-term non-rotated tomatoes.  The roots should be evaluated every year to assess disease development and the need for control measures such as grafting on disease-resistant rootstocks and ASD.  A fact sheet describing  tomato soil borne diseases and their management can be found here.


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.

Beware of late worms on peppers and tomatoes!

Fall armyworm and beet armyworm are two pests that we monitor with pheromone traps throughout the summer at several sites in Ohio. These two pests are sporadic in occurrence; they are sometimes absent in Ohio and sometimes present at damaging levels, especially in September and October. These were absent for most of this summer at Ohio sites, but are present now at some sites.

Fall armyworm attacks sweet corn, peppers, and tomatoes. This year, the fall armyworm was detected in Huron County, Medina County, and Franklin County starting in late August, and it is still being detected at those locations.

The beet armyworm has been absent at most sites but has been detected during the past week in Franklin County. It attacks peppers and tomatoes.

These two pests are challenging to manage because their appearance is so sporadic and because the larvae are generally tolerant of pyrethroids; they are better controlled by non-pyrethroids such as Avaunt, Proclaim, Radiant, or Intrepid.

Corn earworm is a third pest that is best known as a significant pest on sweet corn in late August and into September, but once the sweet corn is gone, the corn earworm can cause significant damage to bell peppers. It also attacks tomatoes where it prefers green fruit over red fruit. Corn earworm moths were detected at very high levels in late August at some sites, and they are still being detected at high density in Clark, Franklin, and Huron Counties.

-Celeste Welty, Extension Entomologist