Through its offices located throughout Connecticut, UConn Extension connects the power of UConn research to local issues by creating practical, science-based answers to complex problems. Extension provides scientific knowledge and expertise to the public in areas such as: economic viability, business and industry, community development, agriculture and natural resources. This post, written by Mary Concklin explores how UConn Extension programs impact an agricultural business.
Integrated pest management (IPM) takes many forms at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford. Dr. Jude Boucher, UConn Vegetable Production & IPM extension specialist, has been working with Bishop’s in season long vegetable IPM training aimed at increasing the production of high quality produce while avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications. Boucher has worked with Bishop’s field manager, Michaele Williams, scouting tomatoes on a weekly basis and teaching how to install preventative practices that help lower the incidence of disease and raise the yield and quality of their tomatoes. Preventative practices include plastic and living mulches for weed control, which also serve as a mechanical barrier for spores that might otherwise splash up from the soil. Timely irrigations through trickle lines under the plastic, trellis systems, plant pruning, and proper site selection help keep the plants healthy and growing, lift the plants off the ground, thin the leaf canopy and allow the leaves to dry quicker so that they are less prone to diseases problems. Fungicides can be used only when needed and applied when computer models call for an application or when a disease is actually found during weekly scouting. Insects on tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, onions and other crops are controlled with microbial insecticides that are not toxic to humans and spare natural enemies to help prevent future pest outbreaks. Working with Extension also helps Michaele learn to recognize pests and natural enemies and design management systems on a host of new crops that the farm is now growing, from squash blossoms to beets.
Mary Concklin, UConn Fruit Production & IPM extension specialist, works with Bishop’s Orchards with fruit crop IPM. Bishop’s Orchard has been the site of in-field workshops conducted by Concklin for the fruit industry including blueberry pruning and apple tree grafting. Blueberry pruning is important for maintaining plant health, improving berry production, and reducing pest problems, while grafting is an important tool used to top work fruit trees to varieties that are more productive, more marketable or resistant to particular diseases. Through a USDA Specialty Crop grant, Concklin installed a solar powered weather station whose data feeds directly into the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) at Cornell University. The data, run through pest models and accessible at www.newa.cornell.edu, is used by growers to help with pest management, irrigation and fruit thinning decisions. Concklin, in cooperation with Bishop’s Orchards and the USDA, has also been using pheromone traps to monitor for the presence of the new invasive insect pest, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. In addition she has monitored the bramble crops for the presence of the Spotted Wing Drosophila, another new invasive insect pest. Information garnered from these activities has been useful to the Bishop’s in determining management strategies.
UConn Extension Fruit Production and IPM Extension Educator Mary Concklin encourages growers to do some online learning this winter:
The winter months provide many learning opportunities for fruit growers with the CT Pomological Society educational program and the New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference in December, the UConn Vegetable and Small Fruit Conference in January as well as many out-of-state and out-of-region conferences well worth attending.
There are also ways to learn on-line that do not take up a great deal of your time. UMass Extension has developed tree fruit pruning videos available free. They are
UMaine Extension has produced apple, berry and grape training videos that are available on-line, all at http://umaine.edu/highmoor/videos/ . Scroll down the lengthy list and you are bound to find some that you will find very helpful.
These are just a few of ways to learn something new as well as to refresh your memory, many while staying warm in the comfort of your favorite reclining chair.
Proper planting of strawberries should include making sure the root system is not curled or ‘J’ planted. A study conducted in California showed an 18.5% reduction in fresh fruit yield with ‘J’ planted strawberries versus those planted correctly. In the diagram (from OSU Extension), plant A is correct with the crown at the soil line. Plant D is a ‘J’ planted or root curled plant. If the root system is too long, you can trim it slightly, but better yet, dig the holes deeper.
Nutrients are important inplants for growth and physiological processes. When one nutrient becomes excessive, it can impact the availability of one or more othernutrients to the plant. With that in mind, remember that the recommended amounts on a soil test are based on research. If a little will do the job, excess amounts can be detrimental. For example, the macro-nutrients potassium, calcium and magnesium are cations and are needed in large quantities by berry plants. The uptake of one of those three is negatively affected by a high level of one or both of the others. If the soil magnesium level is too high (based on a soil test), potassium may not be taken up in the amount needed and the plant will appear to be deficient in potassium. Based on visual symptoms and/or a foliar analysis, you may decide to apply additional potassium to the soil to try to alleviate the deficiency, when the problem isn’t that there is a lack of potassium in the soil, it is that there is too much magnesium. A balance in the soil of these cations (potassium, magnesium and calcium) is needed to avoid one element from making the other appear deficient. Soil tests are one tool to use to make sure the plants have available what is needed while the foliar/tissue analysis is important to indicate what the plant is taking up.
UConn’s IPM website has been under construction for awhile and is now up and running. You will find factsheets, pest messages, news, upcoming events and more. The URL is http://ipm.uconn.edu.
If you carried over liquid pesticides (organic and non-organic) from last year, it is wise to check their efficacy BEFORE you need to use them. Any pesticides that may have frozen should be shaken (or rolled if the container is too heavy to shake) to re-mix the ingredients. It would be smart to wear PPE when doing this in case of a leak. Then use this very simple test: mix a couple of tablespoons in a quart jar filled 2/3 to 3/4 full of water. Shake thoroughly and allow the jar to sit for about an hour. If the material has separated out in the jar (distinct layers formed) it has probably lost some of its efficacy. If it remains milky, it is OK.