Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cucumber Beetles: What are the Options?

Organic management of hard-to-control insects such as cucumber beetles in cucurbit crops will entail a combination of sequential tactics. Below are four management options that can be integrated. Use of resistant varieties and cultural practices such as crop rotation and sanitation are very important but they are not discussed below.

TRANSPLANTS: If possible, use three-week-old transplants, set out in the field at the same time as a direct-seeded crop instead of direct seeding. This provides various advantages: (1) good germination (germination of untreated seeds in cool soils can be spotty), (2) transplants provide a jump on the weeds, (3) plants are bigger when cucumber beetles arrive so that they are less vulnerable to both feeding damage and to wilt, (4) planting dates are more flexible (plants can be held inside to avoid late frost or growers can wait until fields are dry (or wet) enough to plant. This approach can produce not only earlier but also higher yields (summer and winter squash).

DELAYED-REMOVAL ROW COVERS: If the planted area is not too large, research conducted by Iowa State University researchers in muskmelon indicates that spunbond polypropylene row covers can significantly suppress bacterial wilt throughout the growing season and enhance yield if removal of covers is delayed for 10 days. Two treatments were proven effective at preventing cucumber beetles from attacking the transplants resulting in suppression of bacterial wilt when compared with plots having, either no row covers or row covers removed at the time of bloom (standard practice): (1) row cover ends were opened at anthesis to enable pollinator access, then covers were removed 10 days later and (2) after a bumble bee hive was inserted under one end of the row cover at anthesis, the row cover was re-sealed and then removed 10 days later.

APPLICATION OF KAOLIN CLAY: At the moment of transplanting, treat seedlings with Surround WP (kaolin clay). Kaolin clay acts as a repellent, mechanical barrier and irritant. It also disrupts the insect’s host-finding abilities. Research at Lincoln University of Missouri has been shown that weekly applications of Surround can significantly reduce (up to 82% reduction) numbers of spotted and striped cucumber beetles present on Surround-treated cucumber plants compared to untreated plants. Cucumber beetles deterred from treated plants have to go somewhere; thus, this approach would work best when used in combination with TRAP CROPS (see below).

Concerning the picture in today's blog: "Surround can significantly reduce (up to 82% reduction) numbers of spotted and striped cucumber beetles present on Surround-treated cucumber plants compared to untreated plants"). Surround is an OMRI-approved material that acts as a repellent, mechanical barrier and irritant. Because treated plants get covered with a white dust, insects are also less likely to find them. Research that Dr. Pinero did last year at LU's Carver Farm has shown that Surround can significantly reduce the number of cucumber beetles present in treated cucumber plants. It also reduces the number of flea beetles present in eggplant compared to untreated plants."

TRAP CROPS: Use of trap crops has proven effective in other systems but almost no research has been conducted in organic systems. A trap crop can be planted early around the perimeter of the cash crop. It is important for trap crop plants to be larger than the main crop plants. For 2-6 acre fields, planting of 2 rows of a highly attractive cultivar such as Blue Hubbard squash (which is not susceptible to bacterial wilt) along the perimeter can lure cucumber beetles to those plants. Monitor for cucumber beetle activity in the trap crops as well as in the cash crop. Apply insecticides to the trap crop only based on the results of scouting. At low beetle populations, sprays may not be needed. The OMRI-listed insecticides PyGanic EC 5.0 (Pyrethrins) and Entrust (spinosad) only show moderate efficacy. After spraying, scout again to determine if repeat sprays are needed in the border. Several sprays may be needed as beetles continue to colonize.

Other management options of this and other insect pests and diseases can be found in the 2011 Production Guide for Organic Cucumbers and Squash published by Cornell University.
(by Jaime C. Piñero, State IPM Specialist Lincoln University)

For a translation of this article into Estonia by by Anna Galovich go to (http://blog.1800flowers.com/international/beginning-farming-es/)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Started in Organic Farming Workshop

Missouri Beginning Farmer Program Presents:

A Workshop on Getting Started in Organic Farming
June 22-23, 2011 Starts at 11:00 am on 6/22 and ends at 3:00 pm on 6/23
Bradford Research & Extension Center
Columbia, MO

Sponsored by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer Program.

Have you considered farming organically but want to know how to manage fertility, control weeds and insects, comply with regulations? Come to this workshop to learn:

 How to manage insects, weeds and diseases in organic production
 Basics of managing soil fertility organically
 The latest on organic regulations, including how to keep good records
 Where to find organic certifiers
 What federal and state resources are available for organic growers

Plus, you’ll get to tour successful organic farms!

Workshop Registration: Contact Kristi Perry at 573-882-0085.
Cost of the workshop is $25 for those who preregister by June 15th which includes educational materials and food. Registration is limited to 30 participants. Walk-ins accepted but cost $30 with no food guaranteed. To find the registration form, click here.

(photos from Chert Hollow Farm)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Using Trap Crops to Minimize Insect Pest Damage to Vegetables

The Integrated Pest Management Program at Lincoln University aims at developing and promoting affordable alternative insect pest management strategies to combat insect pests of vegetable crops in Missouri. Emphasis is being made to provide under-represented, low-income farmers with research-based information on effective and environmentally friendly IPM tactics. One such method is called trap cropping.

What are trap crops? Trap crops are plants that are planted next to a higher value crop so as to attract pest as either a food source or oviposition site, thus preventing or making less likely the arrival of the pest to the main crop (= cash crop). Insects congregated in trap crops can be more easily attacked by natural enemies and/or killed by insecticides or by other physical means. In other words, trap cropping functions by concentrating and/or killing the pest in the border area, while reducing pest numbers on the unsprayed cash crop. Plant species or cultivar used needs to be more attractive to pest than crop is.

Advantages: By using trap crops farmers can: (1) lessen pesticide use and decrease costs, (2) preserve indigenous natural enemies, (3) improve crop’s quality, and (4) help conserve the soil and environment.

Tips for successful trap cropping: (1) learn to know and identify the pests and their natural enemies, (2) make a farm plan to guide you on where and when the trap crops will be planted, (3) monitor your plants regularly, (4) immediately control the pests that are found in your trap crop, otherwise they will serve as a breeding ground, (5) if needed, be ready to sacrifice your trap crop as an early crop and destroy them as soon as the pest infestation gets too high, and (6) Always keep farm records. What trap crops worked best and against which insect pests?

Examples: (1) In Massachusetts, 6 butternut growers planted a Blue Hubbard border around butternut squash fields that ranged in size from 2 to 6 acres. These 6 fields were compared to conventional butternut fields where beetles were controlled with full-field insecticide sprays. Fields were scouted twice weekly until first leaves, then weekly until flowering. Borders were sprayed at the first arrival of the beetles. Cucumber beetles were only found in the trap crop and insecticides were only applied to the perimeter trap crop. As a result, 85% less insecticide was applied. (2) In Missouri, a farmer in St. Peters was able to prevent cucumber beetles from eating his indoor cucumber transplants by using Blue Hubbard planted in pots and placed outside of his high tunnel. Four potted plants congregated hundreds of beetles while none was found inside the high tunnel. Research led by Dr. Piñero is being conducted in this area for the benefit of Missouri vegetable farmers.

Other examples of specific trap crops include the following:

Cucumber beetles use Blue Hubbard squash – plant Blue Hubbard two weeks before main cucurbit crop, can apply systemic insecticide to kill arriving beetles
Colorado potato beetles use potato variety Superior (grows well in cool weather) – plan the trap crop between last year’s and this year’s fields (near overwintering sites)

Squash bugs use squash – Main crops: zucchini, watermelon. Can treat the trap crop with an insecticide to control an infestation

Flea beetles use Chinese Southern Giant Mustard (Brassica juncea var. crispifolia) – Main crops: cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower. Reseeding of the trap crop may be necessary.

Diamondback moth use yellow rocket – Main crops: cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Attracts moths, inhibits larval development. Insecticides may not be needed as natural enemies may control the pest population.

European corn borer and fruitworm use corn (sweet or field) – Main crop: pepper (for Europena corn borer) and tomato (for fruitworm).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

High Tunnel Open House

At the Misouri State University's State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove
Thursday, June 16, 2011
1:00 – 4:00 pm

State Fruit Experiment Station and Simpson’s Family Farm

Program begins at Missouri State, Mountain Grove, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Missouri 65711

1:00 – 1:15 Welcome and Introduction – Pavilion in the Horticulture Garden

1:15 – 1:30 drive from pavilion to high tunnel

1:30 – 2:45 Mountain Grove High Tunnel

  • Morgan County High Tunnel Construction and Installation of the Automated Side Curtain Solar Powered Venting System – Joe Wright and available Field and Maintenance Supervisors
  • Temperature Management in High Tunnel – Marilyn Odneal and Joe Wright
  • High Tunnel Irrigation and Water Management – Craig Pisarkiewicz of MPR Supply and FES faculty and staff
  • Vegetable Crops in High Tunnel – Dr. Martin Kaps and Susanne Howard
  • Peonies and Raspberries in High Tunnel – Marilyn Odneal and John Avery
2:45 – 3:00 Travel north to Simpson’s Family Farm

3:00 – 4:00 Simpson’s Family Farm High Tunnel

  • Farm Tech High Tunnel Construction on a Gentle Slope – Wayne Simpson
  • First Year Experience with Vegetable Crops in the High Tunnel – Production and Marketing (tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, onions and cabbage) – Wayne Simpson and Deb French
  • Thoughts on Strawberry Production in High Tunnels – Wayne Simpson
This program is free and open to the public.  Contact information at: http://mtngrv.missouristate.edu/commercial/HighTunnelOpenHouse.htm

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bobwhite Quail and Native Plant Field Day

June 16th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the MU Bradford Research and Extension Center, Columbia, Missouri
Designed for landowners, students, quail & native plant enthusiasts; Meet the experts and see Exhibits; No fee and No Reservations Required for Field Day. Drinks and Hamburgers.

Bobwhite Quail Summit (Registration Required): 1:00 - 4:00 PM
Surrogator Research, Managing for Brood Habitat, Weather Patterns and Quail, Private Land Quail Restoration Successes, Developing a Quail Management Plan, Quail Hunting Tips

Field Day and Tour (No Registration): 4:00 - 8:00 pm
Workshops: 4:00 – 7:00 pm
Six All New One Hour Wagon Tours Include:

 Landscaping and Enhancing Wildlife on Small Acreage with Native Plants
 Plant Diversity and Pollinators for Birds and Insects
 Better Habitat by Managing Native Grasses and Tall Fescue Renovation
 Giving Quail the Edge-Ideas for Field and Waterway Management
 Managing a Field Border For Wildlife and Profit
 Implementing Wildlife Practices and Pond Management on Your Farm
Sponsored by: University of Missouri College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, MU Extension, Lincoln University, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Soybean Association, USDA NRCS
Directions: From the junction of US 63 and Hwy AC on the south edge of Columbia, go 5.5 miles east on New Haven Rd, turn right (south) on Rangeline Rd. and go just over a mile to the Bradford Farm entrance on the right.

For More Information Contact:  Tim Reinbott: 573-884-7945 or Bob Pierce: 573-882-4337

Monday, May 23, 2011

Produce and Greenhouse Tour

University of Missouri Extension is planning a tour of two farms in Northwest Missouri, to be held on Thursday, June 2, 2011. The tour will be held in Atchison County and will feature a mixed vegetable farm and a greenhouse.

The tour will begin with registration at 10 AM. We will meet at the Atchison County Extension Center, 201 Highway 136 East, Rock Port, Missouri.

Our first stop will be at the farm of Terry and Cathy Lesher. The Leshers have a very diversified farm which includes vegetables, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and also a cow herd.

For vegetables, the Lesher Family Farm specializes in growing tomatoes, sweet corn, asparagus as well as a variety of other crops. They make use of high tunnels to lengthen the growing season. One of their high tunnel crops is strawberries, which gives them several weeks to almost a month of advanced berry picking compared to outdoor strawberries.

Fall is a busy time for the Leshers, with their Pumpkin Patch and related activities. In addition to U-pick pumpkins, they have a corn maze and a children's barnyard.

Our second stop will be at Hurst Greenery, a farm featuring greenhouses near Westboro, MO. The Hurst family started this operation in 1982. Today, they have over 2 acres under greenhouses, and produce annual flowers, vegetables, potted plants, baskets, and perennials.

Some of the greenhouses are fairly large, including a multiple-bay, gutter-connected range. They employ up to 15 people, depending on the season. With a business this large, they have developed a customer base over a four state area, with their own truck fleet.

After touring these farms, we will return to the Atchison County Extension Center for lunch. In the afternoon, we will have a short educational meeting, featuring presentations from specialists such as Dr. Sanjun Gu, Missouri State Extension Vegetable Specialist.

Registrations may be made by calling the Atchison County Extension Center at (660) 744-6231. Further information and registrations may also be made by calling Tom Fowler at (816) 279-1691, or Tim Baker at (660) 663-3232.

(by Tim Baker, Northwest Regional Horticulture Specialist)

Friday, May 20, 2011

High Tunnel Installation and Production Workshop

Production Workshop - Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9 from 6:00-9:00 pm
Installation Workshop - Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11 from 8:30 am-4:30 pm
Come join university regional extension specialists and growers like you for discussion, farm tours and a hands‐on experience on how to take advantage of the ultimate season extension tool—a high tunnel!  Two tracks, over the course of 4 days, will be offered to include information on successful production and management within a high tunnel (track 1) and the proper installation of a high tunnel structure (track 2).
Track 1—High Tunnel Production ($25)
Day 1—Wednesday, June 8th, 6:00‐9:00 pm

In class presentations at the Greene County Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic, Springfield, and discussion from regional horticulture specialists and area high tunnel producers focusing on successful and sustainable means of producing in high tunnels.

Day 2—Thursday, June 9th, 6:00‐9:00 pm
Meet at the Botanical Center and then go tour three area farms successfully growing in various types of high tunnels and under different growing conditions. Also, get the latest update from a local NRCS agent on how to take advantage of their EQIP High Tunnel Initiative Program and how to meet their requirements.

Track 2—High Tunnel Installation ($25) 
Days 3 &4—Friday & Saturday, June 10‐11th
Gain the knowledge and experience you need to install your own high tunnel!  Track 2 will take place at Sunshine Valley Farm and will be led by:
  • Patrick Byers, University, of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist
  • Sarah Becker, Lincoln University 2501 Program Educator, Horticulture Specialist
for a hands‐on practical experience of what it takes to build or install a high tunnel. High tunnels are gaining in
momentum as more and more producers understand their unmatched value in season extension.
Class size will be limited to 25 for track 2, so register early to guarantee a spot in class. The registration fee for each track will be $25 for each and should be submitted along with your check made out to the University of Missouri and mailed to Sabrina Brown at 2400 S. Scenic, Springfield, MO 65807 no later than Monday, June 6, 2011.  Please direct questions to Sarah Becker at 417-597-4412.

This workshop made possible by funding from the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Grant.  For more information about how the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program can help you, visit http://beginningfarmers.missouri.edu/.
Equipment funded in part by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Specialty Crop Grant received by The Webb City Farmers Market.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Missouri farmers must deal with a number of questions as they seek to diversify their farm businesses. I often get asked by people seeking agricultural information, “What can I do to make money from my land?  How can I diversify my farm and make more profits?  What can I produce to sustain or improve profits on my farm?”

Beginning farmers are often seeking a miracle crop or livestock enterprise that will bring immediate prosperity. The search for “what” to produce has led many farmers to experiment with new and different crop and livestock opportunities with varying degrees of success. Success or failure often depends on how well issues beyond the “what” are dealt with. Perhaps the major emphasis should not be on “What to produce?” but on “How to select the right enterprise for my farm.”

New or expanded enterprises are likely to have a different set of financial, marketing, management, and policy options than growers have experienced with traditional enterprises. Focusing on “How to select the right enterprise” instead of the “What to produce” will allow you to thoroughly evaluate a wide range of options instead of concentrating on a few “pie in the sky” alternatives that might work for a few producers and fail for many.

Years ago school aged children learned with primers.  If we take the letters PRIMER we can use them to represent the basic factors to consider when making a decision about new or expanded enterprises for the farm. P stands for profitability, R stands for resources, I represents information, M represents marketing, E stands for enthusiasm, and R stands for risk.

These six factors: profitability, resources, information, marketing, enthusiasm, and risk are the basic elements which should drive any decision to adopt a new enterprise on the farm.

More to come....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Accessing Government Programs

As a farmer, whether you are just starting out or have many years of experience, there come times when you need to borrow money. Think about the following questions:

• Do you want to rent, lease, or buy a farm?
• Do you need to buy things like a tractor, irrigation pipes, or a greenhouse for your farm business?
• Do you already own or rent farmland and want to expand your farm business?
• Has a natural disaster such as drought, flooding, or a bad storm ruined your crops or damaged your farm buildings or your equipment?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be able to apply for a loan from the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

What is the Farm Service Agency?
The FSA is part of the United States government. It is an agency that lends money to farmers to help them start up and stay in business. The FSA also backs up or “guarantees” loans made by banks to farmers. If you get a loan from the FSA or a bank, you must pay the money back over time. In addition to the amount you borrow, you also must pay interest back to the FSA or the bank. A loan can help you by giving you a large amount of money up front when you need it for major expenses like buying or renting land, machines, equipment, or farm supplies.
For beginning farmers, trying to access government agencies for assistance can be confusing.  Fortunately, there is a publication called "A Plain Language Guide to Applying for a FArm Service Agency (FSA) Loan" from Tufts University that can help beginning farmers.  Also be on the lookout this coming August 18-19 for the "Accessing Government Programs" workshop that will be held in Columbia MO.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Soils Webinar May 16th

Remember the next webinar is Monday! Hope you can join us.

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will continue its monthly webinars in May with a presentation by Joel Gruver of Western Illinois University, “Soils.” Joel is a agriculture professor and researcher at Allison Organic Research and Demonstration Farm at Western Illinois University. Joel is well known in the organic community for his research and has spoken at the MO Organic Association’s Annual Conference and the Upper Midwest Organic Conference for the past several years.

Meeting Name: Soils Basics Q’s & A’s Part 2

When: Monday 16 May, 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM Central Time

To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r39075834/

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beekeeping Can Benefit Crops and Farm's Bottom Line

Nearly one-third of America's food supply is dependent on honeybee pollination. In fact, the overall success of most farm crops (not counting grass or corn) is dependent on bees.

For example, soybeans derive a five to 10 percent increase from bee pollination. Cucumbers, melons, berries, apples and most fruit crops are totally dependent on bee pollination.

Honeybees even pollinate 50 percent of our alfalfa seed crop. Since dairy cows eat alfalfa hay in large quantities, it means our milk supply is partly dependent on honeybee pollination.

"We grow many fruits and vegetables for which the honey bee is a native pollinator," said Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Unfortunately, the number of bee colonies, and the number of beekeepers, has dropped during the past several years. As a result, the price of renting bee colonies for pollination has doubled.

"There is a shortage of bees and beekeepers throughout the United States. We can import honey, but we cannot import pollination," said Byers.

Getting started in beekeeping is fairly easy. In most of the state, a person can keep about 25 colonies of bees in one location. A single colony will produce 100 pounds of honey per year, which sells for $1.50 per pound wholesale.

Many hobby beekeepers can keep 40 hives in two locations (must be at least 1.5 miles apart), or 100 hives in four locations and make extra money.

Residents inside the city of Springfield are reminded that the city has an agricultural ordinance that requires residents have at least 10 acres of land to be able to have bees.

“That same ordinance was recently changed to allow the raising of some backyard chickens,” said Byers. “It would not be practical to keep bees unless you had at least 10 acres. You would never get enough honey to make it worthwhile if live in an urban area.”

Contact the nearest MU Extension center and ask for guide sheets G7600, “Beekeeping Tips for Beginners” and G7601, "Seasonal Apiary Management” for more information.
(by David Burton, MU Civic Communication Specialist)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Entrepreneurship Project

The Entrepreneurship Project is designed to help beginning farmers develop an entrepreneurial approach to their farming operation. The intensive program includes 4 modules with site visits to innovative farm businesses in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and the State of Vermont. It also includes classroom sessions on identifying business opportunities, developing a business plan, marketing and financing creative farm ventures.

Participants need to be beginning farmers (farming for less than 10 years) or interested in getting started farming. Young people who grew up on farms and are looking for ways to return to farming are welcome to apply—working on their family’s farm when growing up does not exclude them from the program. Couples and farm partners are also welcome to apply, but each person who wishes to participate must complete the application materials. The application process is simple, and includes responding to the questions below.

You can find additional information on the project’s blog at  or on a YouTube video at (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwCyEnxpy8s&feature=related). Questions should be directed to Jill Lucht at 573-884-3185.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Workshops

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program will be hosting numerous workshops this coming summer and fall. Listed below are the time frames for the workshops.

May 12 - Cover Crops: Managing Healthy Soils Workshop
Location: Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, MO.
Time: 8:30 am to 1pm
Registration: Free. RSVP by May 5th, Catherine Bohnert or call 573-449-3518
Learn about the dynamic soil environment and how cover crops can improve soil health. Then tour fields at Bradford Farm and Jefferson Farm & Gardens where cover crops are incorporated into planting rotations for field crops and vegetables. Topics to be covered include soil microbiology, soil and water conservation, cover crop use in vegetable rotations and cover crop use in field crop production.

June 9-11 - High Tunnel Production and Installation Workshop
Location: Springfield, MO
Registration: $25 for production part of workshop to be held in the evenings (limited to 50 people) and $50 for installation part of workshop to be held during the day (limited to 25 people). RSVP by June 6th, byerspl@missouri.edu or 417-881-8909.

June 22-23 - Beginning Organic Production Systems Workshop
Location: Bradford Research and Extension Center, 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, MO.
More info to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

July mid-month - Berry Options and Production Workshop
Location: Kansas City, MO (TBD)
More info to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

August 3 - Direct Marketing Options Workshop
Location: St. Louis, MO (TBD)
More information to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

August 18-19 - Accessing Federal Programs and Conservation Practices Workshop
Location: Columbia, MO (TBD)
More info to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

Oct early in the month - Blueberry Production Workshop
Location: Springfield, MO (TBD)
More info to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

Oct late in the month - Beginning Organic Production Systems Workshop
Location: south of St. Louis, MO (TBD)
More info to come in the June Ag Opportunities newsletter and as an upcoming post on this blog.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Soils Webinar Tonight

Don’t forget the soils webinar this evening with Joel Gruver. Come prepared with your soil questions!

Meeting Name: Soils Basics Q’s & A’s Part 1
When: Monday May 9, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Central Time
To join the meeting: http://univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/r19424801/

Ag Opportunities

Many of you may be aware of a free e-newsletter called Ag Opportunities but if not you should become familiar with it.  This e-newseltter began in March 1990 where it was a bimonthly newsletter.  In July 2005 it became a monthly newsletter.  Ag Opportunities contains gobs of great resources on all sorts of alterative agricultural information.  The newsletter generally contains a main story or two relating to an alterantive enterprise, information on any upcoming grants that are applicable for farmers along with resources for financial assistance, anything considered "in the news" or new resources online or in print and a listing of upcoming events that may be of interest to you.  There are several groups such as the Green Hills Farm Project, Growing Growers and Grazing Schools that have their own workshops or meetings that are also listed as their own calendar of events.  The May 2012 issue topics are listed below.  If you find the newsletter of interest, be sure to subscribe.  It's free.

May Webinar - Getting Started in Organic Farming

Missouri Beginning Farmers Program's Archived and Future Monthly Webinars, Workshops and Forums

Missouri Beginning Farmers Program Workshops

Market Farming in Upstate New York: a Tale of Two Farmers

Grants and Assistance

2011 Growing Growers Workshops

2011 Green Hills Farm Project Farm Walks

Regional Grazing Schools for 2011



Past Issues


Subscribe to Ag Opportunities

Friday, May 6, 2011

IPM Tips for Tomato Disease Prevention and Management

The following tips can help minimize disease development in tomatoes grown in your garden, field or in high tunnels:

1. Use disease-resistant varieties. Mountain Magic and Plum Regal (plum tomato), available from Johnny's Seeds, are the first varieties released with resistance to late blight. They also have resistance to early blight and Septoria leaf spot (Septoria blight).

2. Maintain optimum crop growth by providing adequate nutrients and soil moisture. Plants will grow healthy and are less prone to suffer from disease and insects. Avoid periods of little or too much water. One technique to monitor soil moisture is to use a tensiometer. A tensiometer measures soil moisture tension in centibars (cb). The drier the soil becomes the higher the centibar reading from the tensiometer. 
Generally, for tomatoes, the soil moisture tension should be maintained between 10-20 centibars. When soil moisture tension exceeds 20 centibars, irrigation should occur.

3. Use raised beds covered with plastic mulch and drip irrigation tape buried beneath each bed. This increases soil temperature providing earlier crop maturity, higher yields, increased quality, improved disease and insect resistance, and more efficient water and fertilizer use.

4. If possible, use wider plant spacing and remove suckers to increase air circulation. All of the foliar fungal diseases are favored by high relative humidity (> 85%) in the tomato canopy. Thus, the length of time above 90 percent relative humidity should be limited.

5. Choose a sunny location for your tomatoes. Leaf disease problems are less likely in a sunny location rather than in a semi-shady one.

6. Control weeds, particularly horse nettle and other species in the Solanum genus, in and around the edge of the garden, field or high tunnel.

7. Do not over fertilize. Vegetative growth can occur at the expense of fruit production or quality. Over-fertilization may result in higher incidence of certain diseases (e.g., early blight), increases in pests (e.g., two-spotted spider mites, aphids, thrips), pressure and with excessive salt buildup in the soil, over time.

8. Practicing good sanitation is critical. Always remove diseased tomato plants or plant parts, sterilize plant stakes prior to re-use, and clean tools and implements frequently to prevent transporting problems between fields.

Keep in mind that some diseases are difficult to manage once they become established. However, if diseases are identified early in the epidemic and all of the appropriate cultural tactics have been employed, fungicides or bactericides can be applied to reduce disease spread. Always apply a product according to label directions at the first sign of disease. For bacterial spot/speck, fixed copper sprays can be used. For early blight and Septoria leaf spot (Septoria blight) several chlorothalonil (e.g., Bravo, Echo, Equus), mancozeb (e.g., Dithane, Mancozeb, Penncozeb) and maneb (e.g., Maneb, Manex) formulations are labeled for use at various rates. Quadris, a reduced-risk fungicide, is another option. For organic producers, fixed copper formulations (e.g., Cueva, Champ WG) can be used to suppress both fungal and bacterial infections.
(by Jaime Pinero, State IPM Specialist, Lincoln University)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making and Using Rain Barrels

Just in the past three years I have incorporated three gardening practices into my yard and garden-raised beds, compost bins, and a rain barrel. I absolutely love all three and encourage you to do the same. People are now encouraged more than ever to use rain barrels as a way to protect our lakes and rivers while saving money on water bills. So, what is a rain barrel? A rain barrel is a container used to catch rainwater. It is placed at the end of a home’s guttering downspouts to catch and store rainfall from the roof. Using rain barrels is not a new practice. People have been using containers and barrels for hundreds of years to catch rainwater, only now days they are a little fancier than they were back then. Instead of letting the water flow down your driveway and into a storm drain, you can collect it. Just a small amount of rain of less than half an inch can easily fill up a 55 gallon rain barrel.

There are several benefits to using rain barrels. You can use the water collected to water your gar-den or container plants. It is estimated that nearly 40 per-cent of household water is used for lawn and garden maintenance. Rain barrels can be used in areas where you may not have a convenient spigot. Rain barrels can be a very effective tool against basement water problems, and they can prevent run-off from potentially washing harmful chemicals and pesticides into local streams and rivers.

Clean your barrel before using it. It is best to use a food-grade barrel. Plastic is best be-cause it will not rust. Do not use a barrel that has been used to hold petroleum products or chemicals! They may leach toxins into the water. Water collected from rain barrels should not be used for drinking, cooking or bathing. The lid should be secure so children or animals do not fall into the barrel. You should disconnect the barrel during the winter and attach it in the early spring to fill it for use. You will need to elevate your rain barrel slightly to make access to the spigot easier. The screened louver vent will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your barrel. Consider joining multiple barrels for additional capacity. You can add goldfish to your barrel.

Rain barrels are easy to make and it’s much cheaper than buying one. All you really need is a 55 gallon barrel, a spigot, overflow valve and a drill and bit. If you are from the northeast region of Missouri, you can find 55 gallon barrels at the flea market in Rutledge for $10. You can get the spigot and over-flow valve at any hardware store. Make sure the valve has pipe threads on one end and hose threads on the other end. You want to be able to attach your water hose to the overflow valve and the spigot. But, you need pipe threads to insert them into the barrel. You will probably want to drill a hole with a 15/16 inch bit. If you drill your hole this size, you will want to purchase a ¾ spigot and valve. You basically drill a hole about 3 inches from the bottom of the barrel and put in your spigot, and drill a hole about 3-4 inches from the top of the barrel for your overflow valve. You can go on the internet to find plans on how to make one. I love having a rain barrel. It is located about 20 feet away from my garden and since I do not have a spigot on that end of the house, I use the water in the rain barrel to water my garden. I also use the water from the barrel to water my container plants and plants in my raised beds. If you don’t already have one, try making one this summer. You are sure to love having one too!
(by Jennifer Schutter, Regional Horticulture Specialist, Adair County)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Small Organic Operations Can Receive Funding Without Certification

Missourians who produce and sell organic products with annual sales of less than $5,000 may be eligible for federal financial and technical assistance even if their operations are not certified organic. But they must apply for assistance by May 20.

J.R. Flores, state conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), says this is a good time for small-scale, certification-exempt organic producers, as well certified and transitional producers, to take advantage of a program that pays up to $80,000 over six years to help them plan and implement conservation practices for their organic farms or gardens.

"You don't have to be a large-scale farmer who has gone through the organic certification process to benefit from this program," Flores says. "This organic funding is designed to assist anyone involved in organic food production."

Flores said the funding is available through NRCS' Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). In addition to small-scale producers, those certified through USDA's National Organic Program and those transitioning to certified organic production are eligible.

EQIP promotes resource conservation and environmental quality. Through EQIP, NRCS helps producers install structural conservation practices and to implement management systems that promote conservation. Practices could include planting cover crops, establishing integrated pest management plans, constructing seasonal high tunnels, or implementing nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.

"I encourage anyone who produces organic foods to contact their local NRCS offices right away to see how they might benefit from this program," Flores says. "We don't know when or if there will be another sign up, so the best time to act is right now."

To apply for EQIP or to get more information about EQIP and other NRCS programs, contact the NRCS office serving your county by accessing this website.  Contact Charlie Rahm, (573) 876-9359 for more information.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Growing Green Awards Winner

Congratulations go out to Molly Rockamann, Founding Director of EarthDance, who is the recipient of one of The Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2011 Growing Green Awards. The awards honor farmers, business leaders and promoters of sustainable food. The four winners were selected from hundreds of nominees by an independent panel of sustainable food experts.

Rockamann, of Ferguson, MO, is the winner in the category of Young Food Leader. She was recognized for her efforts to cultivate a new generation of sustainable farming stewards in the Midwest. Through EarthDance, Molly’s unique apprenticeship program, urban St. Louis residents—with ages spanning five decades—learn the complete cycle of organic farming from seed to market. Now in its third year, 42 apprentices have completed the 9-month training program. Encouraged by Molly's leadership and vision, EarthDance apprentices have gone on to establish their own farms, initiate farm-to-table summer camps, start school and community gardens, and run Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.

“I created EarthDance to preserve a small farm in my hometown of St. Louis, and consequently have watched it grow into a community of learners, growers, consumers and activists who are changing the foodscape of our region,” said Rockamann. “I am humbled and honored to be recognized as the first Growing Green Young Food Leader by NRDC, and I accept the award on behalf of everyone who has contributed to the making of EarthDance. Preserving healthy, bountiful farms takes many hands.”

The 2011 Growing Green Awards panel of judges included Michael Pollan, New York Times best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO of Rodale Inc., Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York, and Dr. Tom Tomich, Director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the University of California, Davis.

Other award winners include Jim Cochran, a California strawberry farmer who manages the only 100% unionized organic farm in the country; Chef Ann Cooper, founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation, which helps schools transition away from over-processed meals; and Pam Marrone, the CEO and founder of Marrone Bio Innovations, a developer of environmentally-responsible biopesticides.

Along with her award, Molly is the recipient of a $5,000 prize. She will use some of prize money to take Nancy Schnell, the EarthDance graduate who nominated Rockamann for the award, to San Francisco to accompany her to the awards ceremony. The Growing Green Awards gala, “Food for a New Generation,” will take place at Yoshi’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in San Francisco on April 28.

To watch the video that the NRDC filmed of Molly and EarthDance in action, read her blog post on OnEarth's website, and learn more about the Growing Green Awards, click here and scroll down to 2011 YOUNG FOOD LEADER — Winner.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Native Pollinators Workshop

Saturday, May 21, 2011
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
University of Missouri Southwest Research Center, 14548 Highway H; Mount Vernon, MO 65712
Topics to be included:

•Importance and biology of native bees and other pollinators in urban, rural and natural areas
•Creating habitat for native pollinators
•Native plants that attract pollinators
•State and Federal Conservation Programs

Also, visit a reconstructed prairie at the MU Center and the Woods’ Prairie Preserve, a 40‐acre virgin prairie restored by the Ozarks Regional Land Trust (ORLT) with more than 200 native species.

Who should attend: This workshop is open to everyone including producers, farmers, extension and research specialists, educators, master naturalists, master gardeners, conservationists, and anyone interested in learning about native pollinators.

Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an option of a prairie tour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Indoor and outdoor training and exhibits will be included.

Registration: $15.00 per person which includes lunch, refreshments, native seed and educational materials. Special publications will be available at discounted prices.

Please send check made payable to University of Missouri, by Wednesday, May 18, 2011, to: Pollinators Workshop, c/o Sarah Becker, 14548 Highway H, Mt. Vernon, MO 65712.

For more information and to register contact Sarah Becker by phone at (417) 597‐4412.