Friday, April 30, 2010

Herbicide Carryover: Bioassay Results

About a month ago I reported on a farmer who had received manure that was contaminated with the herbicide picloram and applied it to his vegetable production fields. We conducted a bioassay on the contaminated land to see if the soil was safe to plant. Last week we assessed the results of the test.

The first site we tested was "Moses". This field had been contaminated by the manure, however the manure was only applied in a small amount in each of the holes where tomatoes were planted. From the test, it looks like this site should be safe for planting this year.
Side note - The greenhouse where the seedlings were located was very hot, so some of the "crispy" edges are more than likely due to the temperature because some of the control plants also were affected.

Beans are sprouting in soil that was contaminated with manure containing the herbicide picloram.

Control test using soil that was not contaminated.

Next up was the field we called "Fred". Manure was applied to this entire field. The field appears to be unsuitable for vegetable production at this time. The grower will not be producing on this plot this season.

Bean seedlings did not emerge from the soil collected from field "Fred".

Control soil taken from part of field where no manure was applied. Seedlings look pretty good.

We were also concerned about the field below "Fred". There were a few spots where the grower's Austrian winter peas did not emerge. So we tested these areas to see if runoff from "Fred" was the reason. Looks like that field should be okay.

Bean bioassay of soil taken from a field below "Fred" where some water runoff from "Fred" flows.

The final plot that was tested was a field that is located next to the growers house. This field had the most manure applied and there was no soil available to test as a control. As you can see, this soil appears to be unsuitable for vegetable production.

No bean seedling emerged from the soil taken at the home site. This plot had the most manure applied to it.

Overall, we were not surprised by the results. All of our seedlings from the control plots emerged successfully. The seedlings planted in soil from the field with the least amount of manure applied ("Moses") emerged and there appeared to be no damage. The grower is planning on producing vegetables in this field this season. Luckily, the grower did not lease field "Fred" this season due to other reasons.

The most unfortunate situation is the field that is located next to the house. The grower will continue to work this land to allow for the elements, sun, rain, etc to break down the herbicide. He is considering growing a less susceptible crop in this field, such as corn or a grass cover crop.

To read more about the bioassay and herbicides that may be a problem in manure, read Dr. Jeanine Davis's article "Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost and Grass Clippings".

**UPDATE May 2010**
New Herbicide Carryover publication available!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Bring in Problems with Transplants!

Healthy vegetable transplants in a local greenhouse.

This is the time of year when commercial growers and homeowners alike are preparing for transplanting of vegetable crops.

Warning: Don't bring diseases into your garden or field on transplants!

Purchasing and planting diseased plants into your garden or production field can cause big headaches and major problems later in the season.

Be sure to inspect transplants before you purchase them, especially from home garden centers! Often diseased vegetable starts find their way onto retailers' shelves.

Last year, there was a major problem with late blight on tomato transplants that were purchased from some garden centers. Though this was not a problem in North Carolina, the lesson is still an important one: Do not purchase any plants that have visible signs of disease including lesions, spots, specks, wilts, discoloration, etc!

Some disease problems to look out for are bacterial spot on tomatoes and peppers, damping-off on many different vegetable crops and late blight on tomato and potato.

In addition, always make sure your transplants have nice, healthy, white root growth. Pull a few plants out and inspect their root system. Also, handle your transplants with care. If you pinch the tender stem of a transplant too tightly, you could damage it and invite pathogens in for attack.

Pepper transplants which became diseased by Alternaria spp. after improper handling.

Dr. Mary Hausbeck from Michigan State University has just published an on-line report for greenhouse producers entitled: Transplant Diseases: Identification and Control. This publication includes conventional control measure for greenhouse producers that produce transplants, but it also includes some good identification tips for everyone purchasing or producing vegetable transplants.

*Special thanks to Dr. Kelly Ivors for reminding me about this important topic!*

New Hops Page!

Everyday Blogger gets more and more sophisticated! This year Blogger has decided to allow bloggers to create different pages to their sites.

Today I am launching the new Hops Page on WNC Vegetable and Small Fruits News blog. This page will be maintained as a one-stop-shop for information on hops production, diseases and insects, pictures and other resources.

The new Hops Page can be found just above the "Exciting Stuff!!!" section on the left-hand side bar of the blog.

This is a work in progress and will be updated with new information as I post about hops or find exciting resources. I also welcome comments, suggestions or other information that you find important to include on the new page.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hops Season Has Begun!

Saturday was a beautiful day! The weather was perfect for some work on the farm. I decided to volunteer at a hops farm in Haywood County. Winding River Hops is run by Scott Grahl and Stephanie Willis, a pair of energetic and friendly growers who began growing hops last year. The pair received a WNC AgOptions grant in 2009 to get started.

When I arrived at the hops yard, I was pleased. The hops plants looked great and the site was virtually, weed free! Scott and Stephanie grow Sterling, Nugget and Glacier hops.

Hops bines at Winding River Hops. Beautiful, lush, green spring growth.

Our first task was to cut string (sisal fiber twine that is biodegradable) into long segments. We did this by winding the string around two posts that were set apart by the correct number of feet. Once it was wound, it was cut and then carried to the rows.

Stephanie and Scott carrying the strings to the hops yard.

The strings were then laid next to the rows in preparation for tying.

Sisal fiber twine used to tie hops to the trellis system.

The next step was to tie the strings to the top wire of the trellis system. This requires carrying the strings up a ladder and tying a the string in a slipknot onto the top wire of the trelis. The ladder is a special design, crafted by a man in California specifically for hops production.

Special hops ladder used to string and harvest hops. Not the Model ID: 1718HOP

Stephanie had been doing the climbing until I arrived, but I decided to give it a go!

Sue atop the hops ladder tying the string to the top wire of the trellis.

Once the strings are tied on, the rest of the crew slid them down the top wire, secured the knot onto the top wire by pulling the string, and then tied the string around the individual hops plant.

Lane and Scott tying the strings around each hops plant.

Getting the hops tied is very important in the training of the plants. Hops require a wire to climb up - they may grow a foot per day!

Hops are a bine, a plant that has spikes and grows in a helical fashion around a wire (unlike vines, which have tendrils). This is one of the downfalls to working with hops - they are very spiny! By the end of the afternoon, my arms were all scratched up and itchy. Next time I will definitely wear long sleeves!

Look how nice a finished row looks!

Finished hops row, all strung up!

I had a great time volunteering at Winding River Hops Farm on this beautiful Saturday! Scott and Stephanie are delightful and fun to work with! We had a great time working and chatting with one another. My reward for volunteering was, of course, a refreshing, local brew.

French Broad Brewing Company's Gateway Kolsch. The perfect finale to a great Saturday volunteering at the hops yard!

I look forward to working more with Scott and Stephanie!

Here are some interesting sites/blogs on hops production.
Eastern Hops Guild
Hop'n Blueberry Farm News
Ocean State Hops
Growing Hops Yourself

To read previous posts on hops on WNC Vegetable and Small Fruits News, go here.