Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Organic Blueberry Spray Guide From NCSU

Check out Dr. Hannah Burrack's blogpost on this great new resource she and NCSU plant pathologist, Bill Cline put together!

Here is a direct link to the new resource:
2011 Organic Blueberry Spray Guide

New Resource for Folks Interested in Farmstays

The Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture has a new Farmstays Manual. Though the manual is intended for Minnesota residents, there are some relevant details to anyone interested in Farmstays.

Here is a description of the manual from the website:

"Farmstays are well-suited to meet the needs of travelers looking for unique and genuine experiences. They offer people a way to reconnect with their agrarian roots—or to form new roots. While research has not been conducted in Minnesota on travelers’ interest in farmstays, the success of existing farmstays, as well as natural food co-ops, farmers’ markets, and “buy-local” campaigns indicate that the opportunity is there. Many people are hungry to establish a relationship with the land on which their food is grown and with the farmers who grow it.

This manual is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a first stop for those considering a farmstay in Minnesota. Since we won’t cover everything you’ll need to know in this guide, we will refer you to other publications, organizations, and agencies that can aid in the various aspects of developing a farmstay.

This Farmstay Manual was a collaboration of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Renewing the Countryside, and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast, May 10

The second Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 am. The event will take place at the Virginia Boone Building at the WNC Ag Center (1301 Fanning Bridge Rd, Fletcher).

The guest speaker will be John Queen, WNC Regional Livestock Center Manager and president and owner of John Queen Farms in Waynesville.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Melinda Roberts at 828.255.5522.


Agritourism Workshops Scheduled

The NCDA&CS Agritourism Networking Association (ANA) has scheduled agritourism workshops across the state. Workshops are scheduled for:
  • May 5 at WoodMill Vineyard in Lincoln County
  • May 19 at Coston Farm in Henderson County
  • June 2 at Shadow Springs Vineyard in Yadkin County

To learn more about the workshops, see an agenda or to register, visit the ANA website.

Food Safety Information Resources

There are some great on-line resources available for growers, agents, industry folks, regulators, consumers, etc who want to learn more about Food Safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Here is a run-down. If you have any to add, let me know.

  • BarfBlog, Food Poisoning and Foodborne Illness Info and Research

2011 EQIP Sign-Up for Organics Deadline May 20

From Southeast Farm Press:

"The USDA — NRCS is offering a second sign up for conservation assistance on certified organic farms or agricultural ventures transitioning to organic production in North Carolina through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Farmers and growers who are transitioning to organic production, or are currently certified, must sign up for EQIP before the May 20, 2011 deadline in order to be considered.

A number of conservation practices may be funded including irrigation, cover crops, crop rotations, prescribed grazing, forage harvest management, nutrient management, pest management, and seasonal high tunnels (also known as hoop — houses).

Cost-share assistance is provided based on the average cost of conservation practices implemented, and is usually between 75 and 90 percent of the practice costs.

Once again, the deadline is Friday, May 20, 2011. For more information on Organic Initiative, NRCS, and how to sign up for EQIP, please contact your local USDA Service Center or NRCS office."

USDA/NRCS Service Centers

Friday, April 15, 2011

South Carolina: Downy Mildew Found on Cucurbits in Home Garden Center

**No cucurbit plants infected by downy mildew have been identified in NC big box stores, but growers and home owners should always inspect transplants before purchasing**

Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Keinath at Clemson sent the following report to agents:

"My technician found cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) on yellow summer squash and zucchini plants at a Home Depot store in Charleston, SC on Wed. 4/6/11. There were several plants at bloom stage in 1-gallon pots with spots of downy mildew on about 25% of the leaves. Several CDM spots had begun to sporulate. (The plants also had powdery mildew, which was more severe than CDM.) The plants were grown in Miami, FL, and labeled with Home Depot tags. The garden manager pulled all of the remaining plants. However, it appears that some diseased squash plants were purchased between Wed. and Sunday, when I confirmed CDM.

Please check your local Home Depot store to see if they also had a shipment of diseased squash plants. These plants could be the start of an early epidemic of CDM in your area! If you find any diseased plants, please let me know. (Squash plants with powdery mildew only also should not be sold.)"

Dr. Keinath put together an informational fact sheet on this problem including control recommendations. Timely Talk: Cucurbit Downy Mildew.

Please revisit my blogpost from April 22, 2010 on diseases in home garden centers entitled "Don't Bring Problems in With Transplants! "

Use the "Search WNC Veggies" application at the top of the right hand menu to find pictures and descriptions of cucurbit downy mildew.

Two-Day Food Safety Course for Small Producers Interested in Marketing Rabbit Meat

Contact: Janna Spruill, regulatiry programs coordinator, Food and Drug Protection Division (919) 733-7366

RALEIGH -- A two-day course geared toward rabbit producers interested in selling rabbit meat will be held May 3 and 4 at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. The deadline to register for the course is April 27.

The NCSU Poultry Science Department and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are hosting the event to provide the basics for rabbit producers. Course topics include rabbit processing, the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, small business management, good manufacturing practices and sanitation standard operating procedures. Attendees will also participate in practical exercises as part of the course.

Cost for the workshop is $50 and includes lunch and printed materials. Registration information is available online at To register by mail, make checks payable to N.C. Ag Promotions and mail to NCDA&CS, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020, Attn. Ron Fish. For more information, contact Janna Spruill at (919) 733-7366 or, or Doug Smith at (919) 513-7157 or

To view the event flier click here.

Researchers Taking Bite Out of Late Blight

Late Blight on Tomato Leaf

• The North Carolina State effort will focus on the development of an online national late blight reporting and alert system.

• The system, which will show farmers late blight outbreaks across the nation, will include what is known as decision support information on how best to deal with the disease.

North Carolina State University scientists will be heavily involved in a national effort to help farmers better manage a plant disease called late blight, which can decimate tomatoes and potatoes.

Jean Ristaino, a professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State, and Ryan Boyles, state climatologist and director of the State Climate Office of North Carolina, which is located on North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus, are part of a $9 million, 5-year U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to give farmers better tools to use in dealing with late blight. The effort is being led by the University of California at Riverside but will involve scientists across the nation.

Ristaino said the North Carolina State effort will focus on the development of an online national late blight reporting and alert system. This system, which will show farmers late blight outbreaks across the nation, will include what is known as decision support information on how best to deal with the disease.

Late blight, which is caused by a pathogen called Phytophthora infestans, infects American tomato and potato crops every year, Ristaino explained, but various factors, including weather, determine whether the disease causes significant crop losses from year to year.

The disease was particularly bad in 2009, she added, when cooler than normal temperatures and abundant rainfall helped spread late blight. In 2009, late blight destroyed much of the tomato production in the northeast U.S.

Ristaino said growers can protect their crops from the disease if they apply fungicide prior to a disease outbreak and if they apply the correct fungicide.

The system that Boyles and Ristaino are developing is designed to give farmers the information they need to protect their crops from the disease.

The state climate office will develop an online map that will use information from monitoring teams around the nation to locate late blight outbreaks.

Usually begins in Florida Ristaino said that on the East Coast, the disease typically begins each spring on tomatoes in Florida and then spreads to other areas by weather events.
The spores that cause the disease can be carried on the wind, although Ristaino said that in 2009 most pathogen movement was the result of the shipment of infected plants from one part of the country to another.

The severity of the disease also depends to a large degree on the strain, or type, of late blight. Working with scientists at Cornell University in New York, Ristaino will determine the type of late blight found in farmer’s fields. Ristaino said 24 different late blight strains, or genotypes, have been found in the United States, and some of these strains tend to damage one crop, either
tomatoes or potatoes, more than the other.

At the same time, different strains are more or less susceptible to different fungicides. In 2009, five different strains were found on tomatoes and potatoes, but one particular strain, US-22, did most of the damage, she added.

When reporting teams across the country find the disease, they will send samples to Cornell and North Carolina State and to Oregon State on the West Coast. At North Carolina State, Ristaino’s lab will determine the disease genotype. This information along with the location of the disease will be available through the online map.

The late blight website will also include information on how best to protect crops from the disease. Ristaino added that as she and other scientists identify late blight strains they should be able to track the development of strains that are resistant to various fungicides, information that should be extremely helpful in aiding farmers in managing the disease.

Ristaino said the project also includes an educational component. Summer internships will be available to undergraduate students who wish to work on the project.

The reporting and alert system is expected to be operational for the 2011 growing season, and Ristaino said she expects to begin receiving disease samples in early May.

She added that the disease typically moves up the East Coast as the growing season progresses. Late blight is usually found on North Carolina potatoes in June, while it’s usually found on tomatoes in western North Carolina in late July and August.

This year, farmers should be better prepared than in the past when late blight makes its annual appearance.

Source URL:

Byline: By Dave Caldwell, North Carolina State University

Friday, April 1, 2011

EPA Plans Stricter Rules to Protect Pollinators

We all agree that pollinators are critical for fruit and vegetable production. Check out the article "EPA Plans Stricter Rules to Protect Pollinators" from the Western Farm Press on what EPA is doing to help protect this important resource.

From the article:
  • EPA is planning to strengthen its certification requirements for pesticide applicators to protect bees and other pollinators -- the latest effort by the agency to limit pollinators' exposure to the chemicals.
  • EPA also is weighing changes to how it assesses the risks that pesticides pose to pollinators but the revised applicator certification requirements action likely will precede that because the changes have broad support and can be implemented quickly.
To read the entire article click here.

Small Fruits Newsletter April 2011

The latest edition of the Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium newsletter is now available.

Inside this edition:
  • Strawberries - Why Cut-Offs May Make Sense for Your Operation
  • Growing Gourmet Strawberries Commercially
  • Mid-South Greenhouse Strawberry Production
  • Blackberry Varieties For Tunnel Production in Northern Areas
  • Inspection Recommendations for Colletotrichum gloeosporiodes in Strawberry
  • 2011 Georgia Rabbiteye Blueberry Budget
  • Strawberry Spring Checklist
  • Blackberry and Raspberry Seasonal Checklist