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Modifier eXtension Articles,News,Faqs,Events- organic production (anglais)

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Farm Case Studies

mer, 2016/09/14 - 16:00

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T1227

Incorporating High Tunnels into a Diversified Organic Vegetable Farm in Oregon: Case Study of Gathering Together Farm

mer, 2016/09/14 - 15:44

eOrganic authors:

Galen Weston, Tuolumne River Trust

John Eveland, Gathering Together Farm

Jolene Jebbia, Gathering Together Farm

Alex Stone, Oregon State University

Introduction

In a collaboration between Gathering Together Farm (GTF) and Oregon State University (OSU), three high tunnels (Haygroves) were constructed side by side in January of 2003 on site at GTF. For the last three years, data has been collected in order to analyze high tunnel performance within the context of a diversified organic vegetable farm.

Gathering Together Farm is a 40 acre organic farm in the Willamette Valley that markets produce through a CSA, farmers markets, and direct sales to restaurants. When the high tunnels were constructed in 2003, GTF had 11 smaller greenhouses in use totaling 25,000 square feet. This report summarizes the experiences of the farmers over the three year trial.

Three high tunnels at Gathering Together Farm, Philomath, Oregon. Photo credit: Galen Weston, Tuolumne River Trust

History of High Tunnels at GTF

In January of 2001, 5 GTF employees spent 2 full days constructing the three tunnels. In the first growing season, High Tunnel 1 (HT 1) was used for 3 beds of potatoes planted February 15, and two beds of tomatoes planted April 4. High Tunnel 2 (HT 2) contained 1.5 rows of both peppers and eggplants planted May 1, 1 row of basil planted April 20 and 2 rows of zucchini planted April 20. High Tunnel 3 (HT 3) contained 1.5 rows of cucumbers planted June 1, 2.5 rows of tomatoes planted June 1, and 1 row of okra planted June 1.

In 2004, HT 1 was home for 2.5 rows of tomatoes, 2 rows of zucchini, and 0.5 rows of basil all planted on April 25. HT 2 contained salad mix sown in mid February, followed by 2 beds of peppers planted May 1, 1 bed of eggplant planted May 1, 0.5 bed of hot peppers planted May 1, 1 bed of cucumbers planted in June, 1 bed of late basil planted at the end of August, and 1 bed of okra planted June 1. Half of HT 3 was planted to early carrots on February 5 and potatoes in February 5. On June 1, storage tomatoes were planted following the carrots.

In 2005, each tunnel had an early and late crop. HT 1 was seeded with salad mix in mid February, which was harvested during the month of April. Following the salad mix crop, 2 rows each of zucchinis and peppers and 1 row of eggplant were transplanted. In HT 2, carrots were sown on January 9 and again on February 9th. One bed each of peppers and eggplants were transplanted following the potatoes and 3 beds of storage tomatoes were planted on June 1st following the carrots. In HT 3, 2 beds of endive and 3 beds of head lettuce were transplanted on February 20th. Following the lettuce harvest in mid April, 1 bed of basil and 4 beds of tomatoes were transplanted.

Harvesting Salad Mix (4/18/05). Photo credit: Galen Weston, Tuolumne River Trust

Farmer Observations

According to farmers John Eveland and Jolene Jebbia, the most significant attributes of the high tunnels are their large size and their capacity for excellent ventilation. For GTF, the most serious limitations to the length of their growing season are wet soil conditions that prevent mechanical bed preparation and planting in the spring; and pest and disease pressure resulting from cold, wet conditions in the fall.

Together, the three tunnels keep a total of 18,000 square feet dry and their size permits easy access for most farm implements. The large size of the tunnels also makes them more suitable for sprawling crops such as zucchini that had previously been impractical for greenhouse culture. By keeping the soil dry through the winter and thus available to be tilled at the farmer’s discretion, the tunnels allow for earlier plantings and more diverse rotations. Another factor influencing early spring plantings is the difficulty in managing weeds because wet conditions in the fields are unsuitable for mechanical cultivations. The crops grown in tunnels avoid this problem and allow GTF to maintain a cultivation schedule regardless of outside weather.

By having adjustable side walls, the farmers are able to manage the humidity and airflow within the tunnels thus reducing disease and pest pressure. The dry, well ventilated climate of the tunnels is often superior to conditions in the field and in other greenhouses. In previous years, late plantings of carrots were often decimated by the larvae of the carrot rust fly which thrive in wet soil. However, by growing carrots within the relatively dry tunnels, GTF has been able to extend its carrot harvest by one month into the late fall. Compared to other GTF greenhouses, John Evelend observed that the ventilation options in the high tunnels were superior for later plantings of tomatoes because the farmers were able to create cooler night temperatures and thereby produce hardier plants.

From left to right: February planted potatoes, January sown carrots, February sown carrots, workers harvesting salad mix. (4/18/05) Photo credit: Galen Weston, Tuolumne River Trust

The size of the tunnels and their ventilation options do have a downside. The tunnels have proved less suitable than other greenhouses at GTF for the earliest plantings of tomatoes because they are less efficient at maintaining the relatively high temperatures required by that heat loving crop.

Due to the benefits associated with the tunnels, GTF now grows 7 crops in greenhouses that it previously had planted solely in the field: peppers, eggplants, basil, potatoes, head lettuce, zucchini and carrots. Compared to field culture, tunnel culture has extended the harvest window of these crops both early and late in the season.

This greatly expanded winter/early spring selection of vegetables has had a significant economic impact on GTF. Table 1 shows how much additional yield the tunnels made possible during 2004 and indicates a $29,000 contribution to the farm budget. GTF maintained 5 more restaurant contracts in the winter of 2004-2005 than in previous years and also significantly increased the variety in their winter CSA offerings.

Estimate of high tunnel impact on 2004 farm profits. Crops Weeks Early Weeks Late Total Additional Yield Price/Unit Gross Profit Peppers 3   150 lbs $2.00/lb $300 Eggplant 4   100 lbs $2.50/lb $250 Basil 3 3 1100 bunches $2.00/bunch $2,200 Potatoes 12   600 lbs $1.50/lb $900 Carrots 6   500 bunches $2.00/bunch $1,000 Lettuce 4 4 2500 heads $1.25/head $3,125 Zucchini 3   450 lbs $2.00/lb $900 Mesclun     300 lbs $7.95/lb $2,385 Tomatoes   4 9000 lbs $2.00/lb $18,000       Gross Additional Income   $29,060 Conclusions

Prior to 2003, the limited greenhouse space at GTF only allowed for a simple rotation of salad mix followed by either cucumbers or tomatoes. Now, the tunnels complement the GTF production strategy and ensure a significantly increased selection of fall and spring crops. In January, the smaller greenhouses are sown to salad mix while the tunnels are planted to early crops of salad greens, potatoes, and carrots throughout January and February. Following the harvest of the earliest salad mix, the first plantings of tomatoes and cucumbers go into the smaller greenhouses. Following the spring tunnels crops, late plantings of summer solanaceous crops perform better in the well ventilated tunnels than in the smaller greenhouses and last longer than solanaceous crops planted unprotected into the field.

The result of this well planned rotation is a significantly larger harvest occurring over many more weeks of the year. While the tunnels are a central component of this expanded rotation, the farmers at GTF would not recommend tunnels as a replacement for other greenhouses. Rather, they view them as a complementary tool which greatly increases the versatility of a season extension strategy for fresh market growers. For information on how other organic farmers use high tunnels in vegetable production systems, see eOrganic article High Tunnels on Organic Vegetable Farms: Case Studies

References and Citations

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 2775

Weed Management Case Study, Quiet Creek Farm, Kutztown, PA. Penn State Extension Start Farming Video

mer, 2016/09/14 - 15:42

Penn State Extension Start Farming Farm Profiles Series: Weed Management.

John and Aimee Good run a 200 member CSA on 8 acres of land leased from the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, PA. In this video, John Good discusses weed management practices on their farm.This series of videos is designed to give new farmers ideas and advice from experienced producers.

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 7586

Organic Vegetable Farms in New England: Three Case Studies

mer, 2016/09/14 - 15:38

eOrganic author:

Kim Stoner, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Source:

Stoner, K., S. Gilman, S. Vanek, B. Caldwell, C. Mohler, M. McGrath, D. Conner, A. Rangarajan. 2008. Organic vegetable farms in New England: three case studies [Online]. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 1021. Available at: http://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1021.pdf (verified 4 March 2010).

This article introduces three NEON Project farms that are more fully described in the source bulletin. This article also provides links to farm photo galleries and a more detailed case study of New Leaf Farm (see below).

Kestrel Farm, Tom Harlow, Westminster VT

Tom Harlow produces sweet corn, lettuce, and winter storage vegetables, primarily for wholesale markets on his 50 cultivated acres. He identifies his crop mix, particularly the emphasis on winter storage crops, as critical to Kestrel Farm’s success. His crop mix allows him to spread labor, marketing, and cash flow over the year, and to reach out to wholesale markets over a large area. Another key feature has been his ability to recruit and keep skilled labor over several years in a difficult labor market. The labor supply is a concern for the long-term future, as is true for many farmers. His network of family, neighboring farmers, markets, and truckers is another critical factor, and the nearly ideal combination of deep, level, fertile, well-drained soils and abundant water for irrigation supports the production capacity of the farm. Focal Crops studied: lettuce, parsnips, butternut squash.  Image gallery of Kestrel Farm by the NEON Project.

farmer Tom Harlow

Farmer Tom Harlow. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Parsnip field at Kestrel Farm after cultivation between the beds

Parsnip field at Kestrel Farm after cultivation between the beds. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Upper Forty Farm; Kathy, Ben, and Andy Caruso; Cromwell CT

Kathy Caruso’s dedication to finding, growing and marketing a huge diversity of the most flavorful and interesting vegetable varieties at upscale farmers’ markets in Connecticut is critical to the economic success of this farm, despite some production problems related to poor soil drainage. The Caruso family produces 99 varieties of tomatoes, 35 varieties of hot peppers, 18 varieties of potatoes, and successive crops of specialty snap beans, early season fava beans and, later in the year, edamame (edible soybeans) on only 3.5 cultivated acres. Focal Crops: snap beans, tomatoes, butternut squash.  Image gallery for the Upper Forty Farm by the NEON Project.

Farmer Kathy Caruso with a friend working at a farmer's market

Farmer Kathy Caruso with a friend working at a farmer's market. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

Ben Caruso harvesting beans

Ben Caruso harvesting beans. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

New Leaf Farm, Dave and Christine Colson, Durham, ME

The Colsons grow vegetables on only 1/4 to 1/3 of their 9.5 acres of cultivated land in any given year. The rest of the land is in a cover crop rotation, which is central to their strategy of building soil and managing weeds. The small area producing vegetable crops is intensively managed to produce high quality, high value crops, particularly salad greens, through a long season, from May to Thanksgiving. They market their produce locally to restaurants, natural food stores, and a CSA, and see their close relationship to their customers and community as critical to their success. They are also deeply committed to education about organic agriculture at all levels, including their local Waldorf school, their apprentices, the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association, and farmers throughout the Northeast. Focal crops: Brassica greens for salad mix, tomatoes, butternut squash.  New Leaf Farm Case Study by the NEON Project.

Farmers Dave and Christine Colson

Farmers Dave and Christine Colson. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

New Leaf Farm with row cover in foreground and a cover crop trial in background

New Leaf Farm with row cover in foreground and a cover crop trial in background. Photo credit: Kim Stoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Further Reading

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 3182

Organic Farm System: Biodesign Farm

lun, 2016/09/12 - 14:23

eOrganic authors:

Helen Atthowe, Biodesign Farm

Alex Stone, Oregon State University

Biodesign farmOrganic Farm System: Biodesign Farm
  • System Overview
  • Soil Management System
  • Insect Pest Management System
  • Disease Management System
System Overview About Biodesign Farm

Farmer: Helen Atthowe

Location: Stevensville, in western Montana (Fig. 1: Area Map)

Crops: Mixed vegetables. Main crops are tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and winter squash.

Markets: Regional farmers markets (75%) and wholesale to organic supermarkets and restaurants (25%)

Years in organic management: Biodesign began in 1993 and was certified organic with the Montana Department of Agriculture Organic Certification Program until 2008, when the farm joined with other small, local organic producers to form the Western Montana Sustainable Grower's Union. The farm was sold in 2010.

Total farm acreage: 30 acres

Cropped acreage: 8 acres

Landscape design: Two fields—one 6 acres and the other 2 acres. Fields were surrounded by native grassland–sagebrush steppe habitat, several pasture-based cattle operations, and some large-scale potato and small grain producers (Fig. 2: Farm Fields Map). "Old field" (2 acres) was cultivated from 1994 through 2005. In 2006, production moved to "New field" (6 acres).

Regional agricultural production: Ravalli County's 2012 gross agricultural production was $34,725,000, with 70% from livestock production and 30% from crops, mostly grains.

Climate and soils: Semiarid (13 to 16 inches of annual precipitation) with a frost-free growing season of 100 to 115 days. Average last frost is 30 May, and average first frost is 10 September. Spring is the wettest period of the year, with about 25% of annual precipitation falling in May and June. Summer temperatures reach the high 90s, and winter lows are regularly below zero. Soils are classified as capability class VI by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and rated as "poor" for agricultural use (Fig. 2: Farm Fields Map).

Awards: Alternative Energy Resource Organization Sustainable Farm Award, 2000

Farm Philosophy

Rather than treating specific crops, problems, or pests, Biodesign focused on supporting natural nutrient and biological control cycles and on managing ecological relationships.

Key Farm Design and Soil and Habitat Building Strategies
  • Small crop fields embedded in native grass/pasture forest habitat
  • Reduced tillage
  • Perennial and annual living mulch to keep soil covered year-round and to provide winter shelter and interspersed season-long bloom for natural enemies
  • Selective mowing of the living mulch to provide
    • Regular addition of organic residues to the soil/soil microbial community
    • Shade and cooling for crops and beneficial enemies during hot, dry spells. During cool, wet periods, the living mulch was mowed short to enhance drying and increase ambient air temperatures. Following planting, it was left unmowed to provide a windbreak for seedlings and transplants.
  • Compost addition in the early years
  • Gravity-flow irrigation management:
    • Drip irrigation to avoid fruit and foliage wetting (for disease management)
    • Sprinkler irrigation to suppress specific pests such as flea beetles
Soil Management System: Build Soil to Support Natural Nutrient Cycles and Grow High-Yielding, High-Quality, Flavorful Crops

Biodesign's goals were to optimize soil organic matter, reduce tillage, support a diverse soil microbial community, and provide year-round soil cover for natural enemies. The soil management system (Soil Table 1) included:

  • Reduced tillage
  • Perennial and annual living mulches to provide year-round soil cover, with above- and below-ground plant diversity
  • Regular addition of mowed clover/weed soil amendments
  • Annual compost addition most years (1993–2002 on Old field and 2006–2007 on New field)
  • Alfalfa meal addition to crop rows in years when no compost was applied (Disease Table 2 and Table 3).
  • In Old field, soil organic matter (SOM) content climbed from 3.5% in 1993 to 5.7% in 2006, while cation exchange capacity (CEC) increased from 10.2 to 16.8 meq/100g (Soil Fig. 1).
  • In New field, SOM increased from 3.3% in 1993 (when New field was in permanent grass pasture) to an average of  5.2% in 2010 (after New field was cultivated for vegetable production, beginning in 2006). CEC increased from 9.8 to 11.7 meq/100g as SOM increased (Soil Fig. 2).
  • Macronutrients increased while the farm was in production. While some reached excessive levels during the 1990s, almost all eventually reached target levels.

The reduced tillage/living mulch system resulted in good yields of high-quality, flavorful crops and high levels of soil organic matter and soil nutrients. Soil health indicators generally showed positive trends (Soil Table 2).

Read more about the Biodesign soil management system here.

Insect Pest Management System: Maximize Ecological Function and Minimize Off-Farm Inputs

Biodesign's goal was to build and manage habitat for biological control organisms (e.g., insect predators and parasites, birds, bats, soil and foliar microorganisms) and to apply insecticides only when a pest was not sufficiently controlled by the system. Pests were sprayed only when absolutely necessary. The insect pest management system included both systemic practices (Insect Table 1) and pest-specific strategies (Insect Table 2):

  • Landscape-level diversity provided by small crop fields bordered on four sides by native grassland/pasture
  • Reduced tillage
  • Perennial and annual living mulch groundcover in row middles to provide in-field interspersed plant diversity; season-long pollen, nectar, and seed food sources; and winter cover
  • Selective mowing of the perennial living mulch to avoid disturbance of natural enemies at key pest pressure times
  • Irrigation management to discourage certain pests
  • Organic soil amendments to maintain balanced crop growth, thus suppressing insect pests
  • Three-year crop rotation by crop family (Solanaceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae)
  • Pesticides were applied only when necessary (Insect Table 2)  and applications ceased in 2000; up to 10% pest damage was tolerated in some crops to maintain a food source for natural enemies.

Crop yield and quality losses to insects decreased from 1993 through 2010, according to Helen. This observation is supported by reduced insecticide use (Insect Fig. 1), crop monitoring records (1993–2010), and on-farm research (2006). Farm records document good yields, less than 3% average crop damage across all crops (Insect Fig. 2 and Insect Fig. 5), and high predator/parasite populations (Insect Fig. 3 and Insect Fig. 4). Aphids on peppers and cabbageworms on brassicas were the main insect pests at Biodesign.

Read more about the Biodesign insect pest management system here.

Disease Management System: Create Conditions Unfavorable for Pathogen Growth

Biodesign's goal was to prevent disease incidence by managing for balanced crop growth and healthy soil, while utilizing good cultural practices such as rotation and irrigation management. The disease management system included both systemic practices (Disease Table 1) and disease-specific strategies (Disease Table 4):

  • Organic soil amendments to maintain balanced crop growth
  • Selective mowing of the between-row living mulch to maximize air flow and leaf and fruit drying
  • Drip irrigation and management to avoid foliar and fruit wetting
  • Three-year crop rotation by crop family (Solanaceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae).

Diseases, primarily bacterial speck of tomato (Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato) and cucumber mosaic virus of pepper (Bromoviridae:Cucumovirus) were never highly damaging due in part to the dry climate. However, losses did occur. Over time, losses declined, especially those caused by bacterial speck as documented by crop quality monitoring records (1993–2010), possibly due to Biodesign Farm's design and soil- and habitat-building practices. Cucumber mosaic virus was observed at low levels on peppers in the early 2000s, but did not become more severe over time or affect crop yield.

Read more about the Biodesign disease management system here.

This article is part of the Biodesign Farm Organic Systems Description.

Table of Contents:

  • System Overview, Map 1, Map 2
  • Soil Management System, Soil Tables, Soil Figures
  • Insect Pest Management System, Insect Tables, Insect Figures
  • Disease Management System, Disease Tables

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 15582

CalCORE Research: Improving Biological Control of Lygus Bug and Cabbage Aphid

jeu, 2016/08/25 - 11:42

Video Transcript:

Carol Shennan: We try and address issues of pests and diseases and nutrients all in the same rotation systems, and that’s really what CalCORE—the core of CalCORE—is. And then we are also interested in the biological control of important pests, and most of that work focuses on either strawberry pests or pests of broccoli.

Chapter 1.1: Lygus Bug in Strawberry

Diego Nieto: Lygus bug is one of the two sort of key pests of strawberry in this region. If you look at the organic acreage in Santa Cruz County, it is worth about $23 million for strawberry. A conservative, very conservative, estimate for losses with respect to lygus damage is about 5%. That means annually there is over a million dollars of yield that is lost due to this particular pest just in organic strawberries in this county.

Tim Campion: The lygus bug feeds on the flower, and you can't visually see that the flower has been damaged until it starts developing into fruit and it will result in a fruit that they call cat-faced. It is kind of gnarled and unmarketable.

Jaime Lopez: The way we control our lygus bug and from the Extension’s outreach, is the best management practice right now is using vacuums, aspirators, that will come into the field and suck up the bugs and just grind them to pieces.

Chapter 1.2: Alfalfa Trap Crop: A Prevention, Scouting, & Management Tool

Diego Nieto: So lygus bug is a generalist feeding pest, which is to say that it doesn’t become problematic in strawberry because it loves strawberry, but rather because it is sort of available when the hillsides and all of the native plants have become dry as spring turns to summer. If we can utilize that polyphagous feeding behavior and take advantage of it by providing a plant host that is in fact preferred, then you can prevent pest establishment in a strawberry field. And of course with organic agriculture, prevention is steps 1, 2, and 3 in a good pest management program. So what we have done is implement alfalfa trap crops to attract lygus bugs.

In addition to the preventative component, alfalfa trap-cropping also provides a very efficient and effective means of scouting and management. So rather than scouting a very large strawberry field, with alfalfa trap crops you know exactly where to look. With respect to management, again there is lots of efficiency built into the system. The lygus bug pest pressure tends to be concentrated in this little three-row universe, which is one alfalfa trap crop and then the immediately adjacent strawberry row on either side. So these tractor-mounted vacuums can go through the three-row area and get the majority of lygus bugs and you can in that way conserve the beneficial insects, the predators, and the parasitoids that are in those strawberries.

Chapter 1.3: Identifying Lygus Bug Predators

Diego Nieto: Part of the aim here was to distinguish, identify, and characterize how predators operated in this trap crop system. So we were able to collect predators in commercial strawberry and look at their gut contents to see which ones had actually consumed lygus bug. We were able to identify 14 different predator groups that we found evidence of lygus predation. This included 8 different types of spiders, 3 true bugs, and 2 beetles. So there is a very big predator community that is in strawberry that is consuming lygus bug.

Chapter 1.4: Increased Predation Rates in Alfalfa Trap Crops

Diego Nieto: We were able to collect a significant amount of evidence that predation increases with increased prey abundance in alfalfa relative to strawberry.

Ultimately, when you look at yield in strawberry that are adjacent or associated with alfalfa trap crops compared to strawberry by themselves, what's exciting is you do get a yield improvement. So there is definitely an economic benefit to alfalfa trap crops.

Chapter 2.1: Cabbage Aphid in Brassicas: Improving Knowledge of the Beneficial Syrphid Community

Steve Pedersen: As far as brassicas are concerned, the cabbage aphid is by far the number one problem.

Diego Nieto: If you unofficially survey growers who deal with this pest on a routine basis, it sounds like there is about 15% yield loss in the form of contamination where these aphids get into the florets or the heads of a particular brassica.

More often than not the syrphid community will come in in a timely fashion and will effectively manage these cabbage aphid communities. But there is inconsistency and unpredictability with how these syrphids move in in terms of the quantity or the timeliness of their establishment. So the timing of when syrphids come in and establish in a field ends up being incredibly important and influential to the ultimate yield outcome of a particular organic brassica crop.

Some of our goals with respect to cabbage aphid and the syrphid community that is found in cole crops on the Central Coast involves distinguishing and characterizing the species in that syrphid community, determining how they interact with the timing of a broccoli growing season, particular aphid densities, how they complement possibly one another with those dynamics, and then to try and illustrate, communicate how those species operate—making sure people understand the differences between one species versus another and especially those species versus caterpillars so that no one is confusing a beneficial insect with a pest.

I think the management implications might be tailoring beneficial insectary habitats that have the most utility for these particular species. Some of these species they vary from smaller flies to larger flies and correspondingly from smaller larvae to larger larvae and so it is important to figure out which flowers—the flower types, the flower shapes, how accessible the nectar and pollen is—how that corresponds to particular syrphid species to make sure that we are getting the full benefit out of these insectary habitats.

Steve Pedersen: Identifying the roles of specific predators in organic systems is very exciting and that’s a really neat component of the CalCORE project.

 

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 15425

Targeted Sheep Grazing in Organic Dryland Systems

mar, 2016/08/23 - 16:51

Join eOrganic for a webinar on targeted sheep grazing in organic dryland systems, presented by Fabian Menalled, Patrick Hatfield and Perry Miller of Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. 

Register now at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7793261828690587906

About the Webinar

Organic production has become a major agricultural, economic, and cultural force, but heavy reliance on tillage hinders the long-term sustainability of such systems, particularly in a dryland environment. This limitation has prompted interest in developing reduced tillage practices that can be used successfully on organic farms. One approach is to develop integrated crop-livestock production systems that seek to replace tillage with targeted grazing to manage weeds and terminate cover crops. The presenters combined experimental plot studies with on-farm research to increase their knowledge on the environmental, management, and economic challenges facing integrated crop-sheep organic systems in Montana.

In this webinar, they will summarize their experience regarding agronomic and economic performance, weed management challenges, and animal husbandry of integrated crop-sheep organic system. While successful in reducing tillage intensity, perennial weed pressure continues to challenge the ability of organic farmers to adopt these systems. They will discuss alternative approaches to foster a successful adoption of conservation-tillage practices by organic farmers in dryland environments.  

System Requirements

View detailed system requirements here. Please connect to the webinar 10 minutes in advance, as the webinar program will require you to download software. To test your connection in advance, go here. You can either listen via your computer speakers or call in by phone (toll call). Java needs to be installed and working on your computer to join the webinar.  If you are running Mac OSU with Safari, please test your Java at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jspprior to joining the webinar, and if it isn't working, try Firefox or Chrome.

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 20198

CalCORE Research: Controlling Soilborne Diseases in California's Strawberry Industry with Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD)

mar, 2016/08/16 - 12:02

Chapter 1: The Threat of Soilborne Disease to California's Strawberry Industry

Mark Bolda: I think in many ways the soilborne diseases are probably the most constraining of the diseases and pests that we face in strawberries. Watsonville is a community that is supported by the strawberry industry. If as an industry we start to lose farms because we can't handle these soilborne diseases, that would be a tragedy.

Joji Muramoto: In this area, thanks to the climate, strawberry harvest usually starts in late March and continues until October or even November. But if plants have soilborne diseases, harvest can finish in June or July—so that is very big damage for growers. There are three major soilborne diseases of strawberries in California: Verticillium dahliae, the pathogen that causes Verticillium wilt; Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum; and charcoal root rot caused by Macrophomina phaseolina.

 

Steve Pederson: Verticillium is probably the number one most problematic soilborne disease. The problem with being a diversified organic grower is that we grow lots of vegetables that are potential hosts.

Chapter 2: Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD): Principles and Mechanics

Joji Muramoto: Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation, known as ASD, is a biological process that can control a range of soilborne pathogens using the principle of acid fermentation. There are three steps to doing ASD. The first step is to apply a readily decomposable carbon source to the soil, which increases the microbial activity in a very short period of time. Then we cover the soil with plastic. Then we use drip tape to saturate the pore space with water, which starts the anaerobic digestion of the carbon source we incorporated. We usually leave it for three weeks, during which anaerobic decomposition, like a fermentation process, takes place.

Carol Shennan: These fermentation processes are the key to a lot of the disease suppression that we get with ASD. When there is no oxygen in the soil, bacteria have to use other pathways than the normal respiration pathways to break down the carbon. And there are various byproducts produced—organic acids, volatiles—that are toxic to certain pathogens and pests. Different microbes flourish under that new environment. Not only is it different, but there are actually more bacteria and more fungi than we started with. So it’s not sterilizing the soil in any way—in fact we’re creating more biological activity in it—it’s just a different kind of community. One of the interesting things about that, is that it seems like that may confer some ability of the soil to resist future disease. It’s great to be able to control something immediately, but it’s even better if you can make a soil that’s more resistant to reinfection down the road. 

Chapter 3: ASD: A Biological Process

Carol Shennan: With ASD, we are relying on the soil microbial community to do the work for us and they require particular conditions. We have to be careful about the soil temperatures when we do ASD. For certain pathogens like Verticillium, soil temperatures of around 70-75 degrees F are fine, but for other pathogens like Fusarium wilt, you need to have much higher soil temperatures for ASD to effectively control it. We have even found that the carbon source may be important—some carbon sources are better able to control a particular pathogen than another. How to manage the water to get good anaerobic conditions is going to be different if you have a heavy soil than if you have a more sandy soil.

That’s where we are with the ASD work at this point—we know that it can work for some things in some places, and now we are trying to work out how to optimize it for particular locations and particular pathogens.

Chapter 4: ASD: Growth & Challenges

Carol Shennan: Four or five years ago we had maybe 1 or 2 acres being tested. In the fall of 2014 we had 1,000 acres—which is a huge growth rate—and that wouldn’t have been possible without the partnership that we built from the beginning with a local company called Farm Fuel who imports all the carbon material, and they also provide technical assistance to the growers on how to do ASD. That has been really important—having that capacity to scale up.

Tim Campion: The potential of ASD that we have seen is favorable results with increase in yields in the plants, and overall health of the plants. It is pretty obvious just looking out in the field—comparing the ASD plants with the rows right next to it—the vigor of the plants and the health, and the stronger plants, better pest-resistance and disease-resistance. One concern is the cost with the increased labor and materials.

Jaime Lopez: Our first year doing ASD was only a 5-acre test plot and each year it has doubled. Right now we are at about 120 acres and we are about to add more acres in our other districts. The hurdles that we have when applying ASD is that we have a very scarce labor force. So trying to have a turnaround time of one week incorporating the ASD into the soil—putting the mulch, putting the drip tape, irrigating within a week’s time—I think is one of the biggest issues that we have.

Carol Shennan: The most successful growers with ASD start off doing it on a small area, working out the kinks and then scaling it up. Because it is a lot, you need to be able to have a way to get the carbon into the soil, get the beds made, and get the plastic on and apply the water as quickly as possible. Otherwise, that carbon is broken down aerobically, which won’t have the benefits.

There are a lot of mechanics to work out. We really recommend that growers talk to other farmers who are doing it, about how they have been able to get it to work, and then try it in a small area first.

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 15424

August 2016

lun, 2016/08/15 - 17:26
In this issue New  Webinars on Seed Production, Cucurbit Diseases and Conservation

August 16, 2016: Organic Seed Production Six Webinar Series Part 3: Pests and Diseases

Tomorrow (August 16th) is the third webinar in our monthly Organic Seed Production Six Webinar Series, organized by the Organic Seed Alliance and MESA. You're welcome to attend even if you missed the first two presentations, which are archived on the eOrganic YouTube channel. One registration allows you attend any or all of the webinars in the series. This month's session, by Jared Zystro of the Organic Seed Alliance and Shannon Carmody of Washington State University, focuses on the management of pests and diseases in organic seed production. Find the full description and register here

October 5, 2016: How to Implement and Verify Biodiversity Conservation Activities in Organic Production

Organic operations must follow the National Organic Program’s (NOP) regulations. The NOP Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance, which interprets these regulations, helps organic producers and their certification personnel determine which conservation practices are appropriate. Biodiversity conservation in organic agriculture varies in a continuum from simple to complex stewardship practices. Opportunities for USDA NRCS to support producers with putting in many of these conservation practices will be discussed. Examples from Wild Farm Alliance that suggest compliance, and minor and major issues related to the Guidance, will be shared. This webinar will also feature presenter, Assistant Professor John Quinn, who will discuss components and issues around biodiversity. Organic producers will learn how to implement conservation practices, and certification personnel will become skilled on how to observe and verify organic operation’s biodiversity conservation practices. Register here

October 19, 2016: Viral Diseases in Cucurbits: Identification and Management Strategies

Presented by Dr. John Murphy of Auburn University, this presentation will focus on four commonly occurring aphid-borne viruses that infect cucurbits. We will describe these viruses, how they spread in the field and why they are particularly difficult to manage. We will discuss approaches to diagnose their occurrence in cucurbits and various approaches used to reduce losses caused by these viruses, for example genetic resistance and integration of various production practices such as use of UV-reflective plastic mulch and inter-row living ground covers. This webinar, as well as the following one, is being organized by the NIFA-OREI funded Eastern Sustainable Cucurbit Project, which is a collaboration of growers, researchers and extension agents working to find solutions for the many challenges facing organic cucurbit producers. Register here

December 6, 2016: Managing Cucurbit Downy Mildew in Organic Systems in the Northeast

Downy mildew of cucumber, pumpkin and other cucurbits occurs annually in the Northeastern US causing severe losses in yield.  This presentation will discuss when the pathogen first arrives in and area and how the pathogen spreads.  Additionally, methods for controlling cucurbit downy mildew will be discussed including resistant varieties and cultural controls. Results from studies on the use and effectiveness of organically approved commercially available products for controlling downy mildew will also be presented. Register here

We'll be adding more webinars as fall approaches, and you can find them all along with links to our archive at http://articles.extension.org/pages/25242. All webinars are free and open to the public, and unless otherwise specified, they take place at 2PM Eastern Time (1 Central, 12 Mountain, 11 Pacific).

Spotted Wing Drosophila Research Project Updates

The multi-state Organic Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila research project, funded by NIFA OREI, has been posting updates about their research activities this summer, which highlight some of the many challenges researchers face in conducting experiments with the goal of finding solutions to this troublesome pest, including hailstorms and unexpected predators! Learn about ongoing experiments in mulching, exclusion, and pruning and their effects on Spotted Wing Drosophila, as well as the overall objectives of this project at http://eorganic.info/node/12848.

New Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Publications

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Organic Systems research project, also funded by the NIFA OREI, recently published several new journal articles and other resources on their findings and listed them on their website, with links to the journal article abstracts. Find them here: http://eorganic.info/brown-marmorated-stink-bug-organic/resources

New Video: CalCORE Research: Controlling Soilborne Diseases in California's Strawberry Industry with Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD)

The NIFA OREI funded CalCORE Research project has produced a new short video about their work using Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) to control diseases in organic strawberry production, which is available here on the eOrganic YouTube channel. To learn more about ASD in greater depth, view the archived webinars they have presented on this technique:

New Fact Sheet on Integrated Pest Management and Organic Production

Organic agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) systems and proponents share many of the same goals to address environmental and human health concerns. However, key commonalities and differences between these systems are not always clearly understood. The Organic and IPM Working Group developed a fact sheet summarizing these two systems, including ways to tell if products were produced using organic and/or IPM practices. You can find and download the fact sheet on the working group’s website (organicipmwg.wordpress.com) or by clicking here. The Organic and IPM Working Group is comprised of over 60 industry professionals, practitioners, researchers, Extension agents, educators and policy makers working together to synergize these two communities. Their work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, North Central IPM Center. This summary was submitted to eOrganic by Jaime Pinero, Assistant Professor and IPM Specialist at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium 2017 Call for Abstracts

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in partnership with the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University invite the submission of research abstracts for presentation at the 2017 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS), taking place on January 25-26, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky, immediately preceding the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference (SAWG). The symposium will feature researchers from all disciplines related to organic farming and food systems, and other systems of sustainable agriculture that employ techniques compatible with organic standards.The intent of the symposium is to provide current information to farmers, ranchers, extensionists, educators, agricultural professionals and others interested in organic agriculture.

Based on the results of the 2015 OFRF survey with organic farmers in the Southern region, we especially encourage conference participation related to the following priority topic areas. (For additional topic areas and more information, click here)

• Biological and cultural practices to manage insects, diseases and weeds
• Market entry and transition to organic production systems
• Adaptations to climate change in the Southern region.

Presentations will be selected based on their innovative excellence, relevance to the research needs and priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, soundness of the methodology used, and the overall scientific quality.

The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2016. Abstracts should be sent to Dr. Joanna Ory at joanna@ofrf.org.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Seeks Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin seeks a new Executive Director. Read detailed information on the requirements and responsibilities of this position as well as contact information on their website at http://michaelfields.org/executive-director-michael-fields-agricultural-institute/. The Michael Fields Institute is a public, nonprofit organization dedicate to sustainable agriculture education, research and policy. 

National Organic Program News: Roundtable on Consumer Perception of "Organic" Claims for Non-Agricultural Products

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will co-host a roundtable in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2016, to help the agencies better understand how consumers perceive “organic” claims for non-agricultural products, such as personal care products.

At the roundtable, invited panelists, including consumer advocates, industry representatives, and academics, will discuss the following topics:

  • Consumers’ interpretations of “organic” claims for products and services that generally fall outside the scope of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program
  • A recent FTC-USDA study on organic claims, including its methods, limitations and conclusions
  • Approaches to address potential deception, including consumer education. 

The roundtable is open to the public, and the FTC welcomes written comments, including further evidence of consumer perception. Interested parties may file a comment electronically. Paper comments may be mailed to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580, or they may be delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024.

Commenters should write "Green Guides--Organic Roundtable, Project No. P954501" on their submission. The public comment period will remain open until Dec 1, 2016. Comments will be posted on the roundtable's public webpage.

The roundtable is free and open to the public. It will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Building, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20024. The Commission will publish a detailed agenda at a later date. 

eOrganic Mission

eOrganic is a web community where organic agriculture farmers, researchers, and educators network; exchange objective, research- and experience-based information; learn together; and communicate regionally, nationally, and internationally. If you have expertise in organic agriculture and would like to develop U.S. certified organic agriculture information, join us at http://eorganic.info

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 20093

Managing Cucurbit Downy Mildew in Organic Systems in the Northeast

ven, 2016/08/12 - 15:05

Join eOrganic for a webinar on managing downy mildew in cucumber, pumpkin and other cucurbits! The webinar takes place on December 6, 2016 at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific). The webinar is free and is open to the general public. Advanced registration is required.

Register now at:https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7554546858939226370

About the Webinar

Downy mildew of cucumber, pumpkin and other cucurbits occurs annually in the Northeastern US causing severe losses in yield.  This presentation will discuss when the pathogen first arrives in and area and how the pathogen spreads.  Additionally, methods for controlling cucurbit downy mildew will be discussed including resistant varieties and cultural controls. Results from studies on the use and effectiveness of organically approved commercially available products for controlling downy mildew will also be presented.

About the Presenter

Christine Smart of the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University studies primarily bacterial and water mold pathogens of vegetables, working with growers to combine cultural practices and resistant varieties for disease control. She has been working at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva since 2003.

System Requirements

View detailed system requirements here. Please connect to the webinar 10 minutes in advance, as the webinar program will require you to download software. To test your connection in advance, go here. You can either listen via your computer speakers or call in by phone (toll call). Java needs to be installed and working on your computer to join the webinar.  If you are running Mac OSU with Safari, please test your Java at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp prior to joining the webinar, and if it isn't working, try Firefox or Chrome.

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 20057

How to Implement and Verify Biodiversity Conservation Activities in Organic Agricultural Systems

ven, 2016/08/12 - 14:44

Join eOrganic for a webinar on biodiversity conservation on organic farms, which takes place on October 5, 2016 at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time). The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required.

Register now at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8538594372635618564

About the Webinar

Organic operations must follow the National Organic Program’s (NOP) regulations. The NOP Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance, which interprets these regulations, helps organic producers and their certification personnel determine which conservation practices are appropriate. Biodiversity conservation in organic agriculture varies in a continuum from simple to complex stewardship practices. Opportunities for USDA NRCS to support producers with putting in many of these conservation practices will be discussed. Examples from Wild Farm Alliance that suggest compliance, and minor and major issues related to the Guidance, will be shared. This webinar will also feature presenter, Assistant Professor John Quinn, who will discuss components and issues around biodiversity. Organic producers will learn how to implement conservation practices, and certification personnel will become skilled on how to observe and verify organic operation’s biodiversity conservation practices.

About the Presenters

Jo Ann Baumgartner is the Executive Director of Wild Farm Alliance in Watsonville, California. A major focus of her work is on conservation education and advocacy in organic agriculture.

Ben Bowell, Organic Conservation Specialist, USDA NRCS West National Technology Support Center and Oregon Tilth, Portland, Oregon. Through his joint position, Ben provides technical assistance, trainings, and develops resources for use by NRCS staff, agricultural professionals, and producers in order to better support conservation on organic farms.

John Quinn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. John's work focus on biodiversity conservation opportunities and benefits of these actions in agricultural ecosystems; focusing on organic and agroforestry systems.

System Requirements

View detailed system requirements here. Please connect to the webinar 10 minutes in advance, as the webinar program will require you to download software. To test your connection in advance, go here. You can either listen via your computer speakers or call in by phone (toll call). Java needs to be installed and working on your computer to join the webinar.  If you are running Mac OSU with Safari, please test your Java at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp prior to joining the webinar, and if it isn't working, try Firefox or Chrome.

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 20056

Viral Diseases in Cucurbits: Identification and Management Strategies

ven, 2016/08/12 - 13:09

Join eOrganic for a webinar about viral diseases in cucurbits and organic management strategies, on October 19, 2016 at 11AM Pacific Time (12PM Mountain, 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern). The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required.

Register now at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7585247422608083970

About the Webinar

Presented by Dr. John Murphy of Auburn University, this presentation will focus on four commonly occurring aphid-borne viruses that infect cucurbits. We will describe these viruses, how they spread in the field and why they are particularly difficult to manage. We will discuss approaches to diagnose their occurrence in cucurbits and various approaches used to reduce losses caused by these viruses, for example genetic resistance and integration of various production practices such as use of UV-reflective plastic mulch and inter-row living ground covers.

This webinar was organized by members of the NIFA-OREI funded Eastern Sustainable Cucurbit Project, which is a collaboration of growers, researchers and extension agents working to find solutions for the many challenges facing organic cucurbit producers.

System Requirements

View detailed system requirements here. Please connect to the webinar 10 minutes in advance, as the webinar program will require you to download software. To test your connection in advance, go here. You can either listen via your computer speakers or call in by phone (toll call). Java needs to be installed and working on your computer to join the webinar.  If you are running Mac OSU with Safari, please test your Java at http://java.com/en/download/testjava.jsp prior to joining the webinar, and if it isn't working, try Firefox or Chrome.

 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 20055

Greenhouse Gases and Agriculture: Where does Organic Farming Fit Webinar

mer, 2016/08/10 - 13:06

About the Webinar:
This webinar was recorded on November 15, 2010.

Agriculture can be both a source and a sink for greenhouse gases. In this webinar, we will discuss these roles of agriculture, how management affects them, and ways in which organic farming systems in particular may influence greenhouse gases.

Lynne Carpenter-Boggs is the BIOAg Research Leader for the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. She conducts, organizes, and encourages research, teaching, and extension activities in Biologically-Intensive and Organic Agriculture.

David Granatstein works as sustainable agriculture specialist at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University, Wenatchee, WA, where he develops research and extension programs on organic systems, Climate Friendly Farming, and orchard floor management.

Dave Huggins is a Soil Scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Pullman, WA. His current research is assesses interactive effects of terrain, soil properties, C and N cycling, crop diversity and tillage on agroecosystem performance.

About eOrganic

eOrganic is the Organic Agriculture Community of Practice at eXtension.org. Our website  at http:www.extension.org/organic_production contains articles, videos, and webinars for farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, certifiers, researchers and educators seeking reliable information on organic agriculture, published research results, farmer experiences, and certification. The content is collaboratively authored and reviewed by our community of University researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural professionals, farmers, and certifiers with experience and expertise in organic agriculture.

Find all eOrganic upcoming and archived webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 5617

Selecting "Modern" Heirloom Dry Beans

jeu, 2016/07/21 - 12:04

This webinar was recorded on July 13, 2016.

About the Webinar

Hawk-eyed gardeners may notice plant-to-plant differences after sowing saved seed.  What can they do to isolate the best of these variants and establish their own varieties?  In this webinar the presenters describe the procedures they followed as part of an OREI organic dry bean breeding project to identify and select plants within four heirloom dry bean varieties, and to generate new varieties with improved adaptation to upper Midwest growing conditions.  These approaches can be applied to CSA, market garden and backyard garden-scale situations by aspiring freelance plant breeders who wish to take on the challenge of fine tuning adaptation to local conditions or maintaining unique types discovered in naturally self-pollinating food plants. This webinar is the result of research funded by NIFA OREI and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and is suitable for organic farmers and gardeners who are interested in seed breeding and saving.

About the Presenter

Thomas Michaels is a Professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota and coordinator of the undergraduate major in Food Systems.

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 19326

Biology and Management of Squash Vine Borer in Organic Farming Systems

ven, 2016/07/08 - 17:01

eOrganic author:

Abby Seaman, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University

Introduction

Squash vine borer (Melittia satyriniformis syn. Melittia cucurbitae) is mainly a pest of squash (summer and winter), pumpkins, and gourds. It occurs east of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to South America. The larval stage burrows in the plant stem or crown, disrupting the transport of water and nutrients, which results in wilting of affected plants or stems. Squash vine borer is primarily a problem on smaller-acreage diversified farms; for unknown reasons, it is rarely a problem in large-acreage fields.

Identification and Biology

The adult squash vine borer is a distinctive clear-winged moth with a wingspan of 1–1 ½ inches and a black body with feathery orange scales on the legs and abdomen (Fig. 1). Unlike many moths, it is a daytime flyer and can sometimes be seen hovering in front of flowers feeding on nectar, or around cucurbit plants and vines where they lay their eggs.

Squash vine borer adult
Figure 1. Squash vine borer adult. Figure credit: Brian Caldwell, Cornell University.

Squash vine borers overwinter as mature larvae or pupae in the soil. Adults emerge in May in the South and in late June–July in the northern states. Because insect development is driven by ambient temperatures, degree–days are often used to forecast insect activity. For more information on using degree–days to predict insect development see Predicting Insect Development Using Degree Days. In Wisconsin, base-50 degree–days (DD50) are used to predict adult squash vine borer emergence, which is estimated to be around the time when 1000 (DD50) degree–days have accumulated (Delahut, 2005). Using information collected in a life history study in South Carolina (Canhilal et al., 2006), the duration of the pupal stage of squash vine borer was calculated to require 745 DD50 in rearing rooms maintained at 77°F. Depending on how much development an individual has to complete in the spring, first generation adult emergence can be expected between approximately 750 and 1000 accumulated DD50. Base 50 degree–days are also known as growing degree–days (GDD) and seasonal GDD accumulations may be available through your state Cooperative Extension system.

Female squash vine borers lay small (1/25 inch) disk-shaped, reddish-brown eggs at the base of plants or vines. Eggs take 9–11 days (~245–300 DD50) to hatch (Canhilal et al., 2006), and larvae burrow into stems within hours of hatching (Welty, 2009). Larvae are wrinkled, whitish worms with a brown head capsule (Fig. 2).

Squash vine borer larva
Figure 2. Squash vine borer larva. Figure credit: Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org.

Two overlapping generations of squash vine borer occur in the south, and one—and possibly a partial second—generation occurs in the north, depending on the accumulated degree days during the growing season. Larvae feed for approximately 25–27 days (~660 DD50) (Canhilal et al., 2006) and when fully developed (about 1 inch long), leave the plant to pupate 1-6 inches deep in the soil. New adults emerge 22–52 days later in areas where enough heat units accumulate (~745 DD50) (Canhilal et al., 2006). A second generation of adults could be expected to emerge around 2430–2680 accumulated DD50. In the north a second generation would be less damaging in the field because it occurs so late in the season, when crops are nearly mature, but could be damaging in late plantings in the south or in season-extension structures in the north.

Diagnosis

Wilting of the entire plant, in the case of bush type squash, or one or more vines, in the case of vining type cucurbits, is the most noticeable sign of infestation. Diseases such as bacterial wilt or Fusarium wilt can cause similar symptoms. The primary feature for distinguishing squash vine borer from the two diseases is frass (insect excrement), which resembles wet sawdust, accumulating at the entrance to the larval tunnel (Fig. 3).

Squash vine borer larval tunnel with frass.
Figure 3. Squash vine borer larval tunnel, with accumulated frass. Figure credit: Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.

Examine the base of wilted plants or vines for frass or cut the stem on the diagonal to find larvae, tunneling damage, and frass accumulations (Fig. 4). If Fusarium wilt is to blame, the vascular tissue in the cut stem may appear reddish or brownish. For more information on Fusarium wilt see: Fusarium Diseases of Cucurbits. For more information on distinguishing squash vine borer damage from bacterial wilt see: How to Distinguish Between Symptoms of Squash Vine Borer and Bacterial Wilt.

squash vine borer at the base of damaged squash plant
Figure 4. Squash vine borer at base of damaged squash plant. If damaged plants are split open, the white, grub-like caterpillar can be found. These caterpillars show distinct external segmentation. Figure credit: Alton N. Sparks, Jr., University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.

Management Cultural practices

Disrupting mature larvae or pupae in the plants or soil by tilling in crop debris soon after harvest is the primary cultural practice for preventing a buildup of squash vine borer. This can be particularly important for crops such as zucchini or summer squash where growers often make succession plantings, and abandoned plantings may be left standing because of busy summer harvest schedules. Making the effort to till under abandoned plantings will help prevent buildup of damaging populations. This practice can also help moderate powdery mildew epidemics by eliminating sporulating tissue, and providing a window for a weed-smothering mid-summer cover crop. For more information on cover cropping see the eXtension articles on cover crops.

Varietal preference

Most commercial varieties of cucurbits are one of three different species; Cucurbita pepo, which includes most summer squash, most pumpkin, and many long-keeping winter squash varieties; C. moschata, which includes butternut squash and some pumpkin varieties; and C. maxima, which includes Hubbard, Buttercup, Kabocha, and Jarrahdale types. The University of Illinois rated the attractiveness of 12 varieties of cucurbits and found that those that were C. maxima were most susceptible. C. pepo were intermediate, and C. moschata were least susceptible to damage from squash vine borer (Grupp, n.d.)

Table 1. Attractiveness of cucurbit cultivars to egg-laying by squash vine borer (5 = most attractive, 1 = least attractive). Variety or Type Rating Scientific Name Blue Hubbard (Hubbard Type) 5 C. maxima Boston Marrow (Hubbard Type) 4 C. maxima Golden Delicious (Hubbard Type) 4 C. maxima Connecticut Field pumpkin 4 C. pepo Small Sugar pumpkin 4 C. pepo White Bush Scallop 3 C. pepo Acorn 3 C. pepo Summer Crookneck 2 C. pepo Dickinson Pumpkin 2 C. moschata Green striped cushaw 1 C.mixta Butternut 1 C. moschata

While susceptibility to squash vine borer will not be the determining factor in your variety selection, knowing a variety's relative susceptibility can help you target your management efforts to the varieties at highest risk of infestation.

Perimeter Trap Cropping

If your main crop is a less-preferred variety, you can use the difference in varietal susceptibility to attract the bulk of egg-laying onto a more attractive crop planted around the perimeter of the field. Research at the University of Connecticut has shown squash vine borer reductions of 88% in main crops of zucchini or summer squash when a perimeter trap crop of Blue Hubbard squash is used (Boucher and Durgy, 2003). The trap crop can be either treated with an effective insecticide (see chemical control below) to prevent borer infestation, or destroyed after the peak egg-laying period is over to kill borers in the trap crop. For more information on perimeter trap cropping, see: Perimeter Trap Cropping for Yellow and Green Summer Squash.

Mechanical control

These techniques are only suitable for very small plantings. Examine stems during peak egg-laying and crush or remove eggs before hatching. If infestations are caught early in vining type plants, larvae may be removed by slitting the stem longitudinally near the entrance hole with a fine blade and covering the wounded stem with soil to promote new root growth (Welty, 2009).

Biological Control

The stage most susceptible to natural enemies is the egg stage, which is attacked by parasitic wasps. Larval and adult ground beetles can attack larvae of squash vine borer, but do not appear to cause significant mortality (Welty, 2009). Several species and strains of entomopathogenic nematodes have been tested against squash vine borer in South Carolina (Canhilal and Carner, 2006). Nematodes were either applied to the plant stem and adjacent soil with a backpack sprayer, or injected into the main stem. Results were variable, but in some trials Steinernema carpocapsae or S. feltiae applied to the stem and soil provided control similar to a conventional insecticide. The injection method was generally less effective than the spray application. For more information about using entomopathogenic nematodes see: Insect-Parasitic Nematodes for the Management of Soil-Dwelling Insect Pests

Chemical control

Before applying any pest control product, make sure to include what you might want to use and how you intend to use it in your organic system plan and get your certifier's approval. (Caution: the use of an unapproved material can result in the loss of certification.) Always check with your certifier before purchasing or using a new product or material to ensure that it is permitted for use in your organic farming system. For more information, read the related article, Can I Use This Input On My Organic Farm?.

Spray timing is critical for effective chemical control of squash vine borer because the larvae begin to tunnel into the stem within hours of hatching from eggs (Welty, 2009), and once inside are protected from the application. Insecticide residues must be present at egg hatch so larvae contact or feed on residues as they enter the stem. Moth flights (and egg-laying) may be predicted by degree-day accumulations as described above or monitored by using pheromone traps. Small wire cone traps, nylon mesh Heliothis traps, and Unitrap bucket traps have been found to be most successful for monitoring squash vine borer (Jackson et al., 2005). Traps and lures may be purchased from Great Lakes IPM or Gemplers.

Several insecticidal active ingredients approved for organic production are labeled for use against squash vine borer, including azadirachtin (neem), neem oil, kaolin clay, geraniol, thyme oil, pyrethrins, and spinosad. Of these, efficacy information is currently available only for spinosad, and the formulation used in the trial was not the one approved for organic production. This trial, conducted in Connecticut, showed that four weekly applications of spinosad applied during the moth flight resulted in control levels similar to a conventional pyrethroid insecticide. Reductions in average number of squash vine borer per plant ranged between 67% for a 0.5 oz/A a.i. (active ingredient) rate and 87% for a 1 oz/A a.i. rate (Boucher and Durgy, 2002).

Stem injections of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are frequently recommended for squash vine borer management, especially for organic gardeners. Trials in South Carolina compared spray application and stem injection of commercial formulations of Bt with a conventional insecticide and an untreated control (Canhilal and Carner, 2007). The injection and spray application methods produced similar results, and the Bt treatments provided control similar to that of the conventional insecticide. Note that Bt does not appear on the list of active ingredients currently EPA-labeled for use against squash vine borer.

Summary

Because squash vine borer is only a sporadic pest in large-scale conventional production, it has received relatively little research attention. Attention to post-harvest crop destruction will help prevent economically damaging levels from building up. Application of approved insecticides to the base of plants can be effective for current-season control while employing cultural practices to reduce economically damaging populations. Efficacy trials are needed for most of the labeled products approved for organic production.

References and Citations: Additional Resources

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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