Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chandler Strawberry Plugs Available

Are you in the need of some strawberry plugs? Scott Walker of Jersey Asparagus Farms in Pittsgrove, NJ has 45,000 Chandler plugs available in 50 cell trays.

If interested contact Scott ASAP at:

Jersey Asparagus Farms
105 Porchtown Road
Pittsgrove, NJ 08318
Phone: 856.358.2548
Fax: 856.358.6127

Monday, September 29, 2008

2009 WNC AgOptions Announced!

The 2009 cycle for the WNC AgOptions Grant Program have been announced!

The goal of WNC AgOptions is to enhance the sustainability of WNC agriculture by assisting farmers in establishing themselves economically, environmentally and socially through new ventures. In order to provide direct financial assistance to farmers to minimize the risk of diversifying their operations, WNC AgOptions makes "mini grants" available on a competitive basis. Since 2004, 168 farmers have participated and have been provided "mini grants" ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 totaling $527,500. Just a few examples of projects include growing new/different crops, starting agritourism ventures, season extension and value-added products.

This year awards can be $3,000, $6,000 or $9,000! If you are interested in this fantastic opportunity visit WNC AgOptions for more information and to see what kinds of projects have been funded in the past. The site also includes frequently asked questions, links and contact information. Those who are interested should contact their local extension agent for assistance.
Click here to download an application.

Support for the WNC AgOptions program comes from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund and other partners include NC Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services and HandMade in America and NC Cooperative Extension.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Downy Mildew: Cabbage

Today I went to a field of cabbage, a nice change from all of the time I have been spending in tomato and pepper fields. I noticed that the lower leaves had some spots that were yellow and turning necrotic. When I turned the leaf over I notice that familiar fungal growth- downy mildew.

Symptoms of downy mildew on cabbage include irregular shaped lesions that vary in size and are sunken and whitish-gray (image, left). The tissue around the lesions will turn yellow. When you flip the leaf over, a fluffy, white, downy growth is evident (image, below). One can distinguish downy mildew from powdery mildew because only downy mildew will sporulate (reproduce new spores) on the bottom side of the leaf.

Downy mildew on cabbage is caused by Peronospora parasitica. This organism causes downy mildew on vegetables in the Brassicacea family such as broccoli, cauliflower and radishes, and is different from the organism that causes downy mildew on cucurbits (Pseudoperonospora cubensis). P. parasitica, like most downy mildews, thrives in cool, wet weather (temps. 50-60 degrees F) though it can tolerate cooler and warmer temperatures.

P. parasitica forms two types of spores, oospores and sporangia. Oospores are the overwintering, resistant spores that can survive in the soil (not shown). The other spore type are sporangia. Sporangia are large (relatively speaking for a microscopic organism), round spores that are born on tree-looking structures known as sporangiophores (images left and right). These sporangia are disseminated by wind or rain splash. Isn't this organism beautiful (I know, I know... a face only a plant pathologist could love). Making a successful slide is difficult because P. parasitica is quite delicate. You will notice that some areas of the image to the left are out of focus, this is because P. parasitica is 3-D and taking a 1-D image doesn't do it justice.

Downy mildew can be introduced into a field through transplants, so make sure that your transplants are disease free. Also, if you notice that you have diseased plants, do not dump these plants in a cull pile in the field because they have the potential of infecting the non-diseased plants. Try to eliminate brassica weeds and rotating the field with non-brassica vegetables might help.

There are no downy mildew resistant cabbage cultivars, however there are a few effective fungicides for the control of downy mildew on cabbage. A new fungicide from Syngenta, Revus (mandipropamid) has shown excellent efficacy for controlling this disease. Also, ProPhyt (potassium phosphite) + Manex (maneb) can be used to control the disease.
Reduced efficacy of Ridomil Gold and Bravo has been shown in NC (Adams et al., 2007, Plant Disease Management Reports 2:V119. DOI:10.1094/PDMR02).

As always refer to manufacturers' recommendations on the fungicide label.

**Special thanks to Kelly Ivors and Dreams Milks who assisted with the pictures of P. parasitica.**
*Much of this information was gathered from Univ. of FL Plant Pathology Fact Sheet 33 (Tom Kucharek) available on-line.*

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Strawberry Time!

Many growers are getting ready to prepare their fields and plant their strawberries. Luckily, we are not expecting the rain amounts in WNC that eastern NC is expecting and planting can continue. However, if it is possible that we get heavy rains and/or strong winds when you begin field preparation and planting there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are a few tips from Dr. Barclay Poling (Horticultural Science Dept. at NCSU) and Sam Harrell (Lewis Nursery and Farms in Rocky Point, NC) for planting during extreme weather and otherwise:
1. "Don't lay more plastic than you can cut waterways". In other words, when laying plastic prior to heavy rains make the necessary provisions to allow for adequate water drainage.
2. Lay plastic so that "a cup of dirt is formed" at the edge of the plastic. You don’t want to just throw dirt up against the base of the plastic bed, but you want to make sure that a “groove” is formed that actually holds some soil – the so called “cup of dirt.” Doing this will make sure that your plastic will stay down in case of strong winds.
3. Wait 2 full weeks before plantback. After fumigation with 50:50/methyl bromide:chloropicrin at recommended rates, allow the full 2 weeks (14 days) before planting. This is true with VIF plastics as well. Some growers are playing it safe, allowing 3 weeks, though 2 weeks should be adequate with warmer soil temperatures (than the spring). If you are using another fumigant be sure to strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s label on rate and plantback.
4. Punching holes. You can go out 24 hours in advance of planting to punch holes and this should further reduce the chance of any plant damage from residual gas. The EPA DOES NOT like the idea of cutting holes in the plastic any sooner than 24 hours ahead of planting at the end of the required 2 week waiting period for methyl bromide:chloropicrin.

More info on VIF (virtually impermeable film) plastic and punching holes. Growers have shown concern with using water wheel equipment or the bicycle wheel for punching holes. Dr. Poling states: "We are not aware of any issues with punching holes through VIF plastic with water wheel equipment or the bicycle wheel (uses a protruding 1" bolt from wheel to punch a small hole). As one veteran in Florida told me this morning, in the early stages growers "wonder" about this problem, but apparently there has been no problem experienced in Florida with punching holes through VIF vs. standard poly film. I also called out to Clayton and Kirby Jones could not recall any problem last year (we used a water wheel to punch holes for plugs last fall). In any case, we do not believe the bicycle wheel will be a problem either with the 1 inch bolt - about 3/4 inch of the bolt protrudes from the wheel for punching the plastic. And, if a problem is encountered, you can fill the bicycle wheel with water."
If you would like to purchase a bicycle unit they cost about $550. Contact me for the phone number of Ronnie Martin, a grower who is making these units. Dr. Poling uses these units for his experiments.
*Special thanks to Dr. Poling and Sam Harrell for their advice and expertise.*

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bramble Fungicide Sprays

As a result of the rain last week and the possibility of more rain from Gustav, Hanna and Ike, blackberry and raspberry growers should think about disease control options. Dr. Gina Fernandez of the horticulure department at NCSU was kind enough to pass along some information from Plant Pathologists Dr. Phil Brannen (UGA) and Dr. Turner Sutton (NCSU).

From Phil Brannen big issues for FLORICANE fruiting types:
1. Pruning wounds and cane blight. Dr. Brannen recommends suspending pruning until dry conditions are predicted for several days. Applications of Prisitine or another broad-spectrum fungicide to pruning wounds after each day of pruning is recommended.
2. Leaf spots. Leaf spots will also likely develop and early defoliation due to pathogens like Septoria and others is possible, so a preventative spray ahead of heavy sustained rains may be helpful. A broad-spectrum material, like Prisitine, would be good for control of these pathogens with application 24-h prior to rains being the ideal.
3. Orange cane blotch. Dr. Brannen suggests the consideration of copper application both ahead of and following the storms in order to suppress orange cane blotch. Copper materials are not great, but they are still the best products available for the algal disease.
4. Phytophthora. If winds are severe, tearing of roots and the entry of Phytophthora is possible. Application of ProPhyt or other Phosphonate materials are recommended. Where possible, drip-applied Ridomil Gold either before or after the rain can be used.

From Turner Sutton big issues for PRIMOCANE fruiting raspberries and blackberries:
"Anyone with fruit needs to spray asap if they haven't already. (As soon as it stopped raining would have been an ideal time)."
1. Botrytis and other fruit rots. CaptEvate (a broad-spectrum fungicide with a 3-day phi) may be a good choice than a botrytis-specific fungicide. Alternatively, Captan + a botrytis fungicide can be applied (check the phi).
2. Leaf spots. Monitor leaves of primocanes closely (at least weekly) for leaf spots or rusts. You do not want to lose a lot of leaves before frost to predispose then to winter injury. If rust is not a problem, Captan is okay and is the least expensive.
3. Phytophthora. Phytophthora is typically not a problem until the soils cool in late Sept/Oct, unless you are in very heavy wet soils. Sutton also recommends a phosphite foliar spray at this time.
*Thanks to Dr. Fernandez, Dr. Sutton and Dr. Brannen for this great information. As always, follow manufacturers' guidelines on the fungicide label.*