October 28, 2013
This will be the last weekly posting of the update for this season. I will continue to send out relevant information for the next few months regarding many training opportunities that are upcoming. The weekly updates will resume Feb 1.
1. 4 inch soil temp: 38.1 F
2. Growing Degree Days Since April 1,2013 = 3173.5 GDD Average** = 3042.5 GDD
3. Mushrooms in high tunnels at U of I Dixon Springs. The first harvest of wine cap mushrooms grown in a high tunnel at the Dixon Springs Ag Center occurred on October 23, 2013. Our goal at DSAC is to learn if mushrooms can be produced profitably in high tunnels so that they can be used as a fall and winter crop in rotation with tomatoes. In addition to wine caps, oyster, shitake, and lion's mane will also be part of the ongoing studies. We are evaluating different species and cultural methods to determine economic feasibility for small scale producers. (Jeff Kindhart, U of I)
4. University of Illinois Extension's Local Food Systems and Small Farms team has a You Tube Channel!
5. Sign up for these important training opportunities ASAP so they are on your to-do list.
2014 Small farm/Local Foods Webinar Series-a series of 12 sessions on timely topics for small farm producers (Jan-Mar). All sessions can be viewed from your home computer and will be archived for later viewing.
Illinois Specialty Crops Conference- Springfield, IL. Jan 8-10, 2014
Pumpkin Workshop- U of I Extension office, Galesburg, Il. Dec 5, 2013. A primer workshop for the beginning (or experienced)small farm pumpkin grower. Variety selection, soil fertility, pest management and marketing will be discussed.
A quick recap of this growing season. A slow accumulation of growing degree days in the early part of the season was reflected in the maturity dates of many varieties of crops. An April that witnessed rainfall 3 inches above normal transitioned into a July/August in many areas devoid of rainfall for 6 weeks. The value of drip irrigation systems was shown time and again. These tools give the grower the control over a critical input for their crops. 2013 was one of the more productive fruit crop years we have seen. Quality and quantity of apples, pears, cherries, plums etc was good. I have seen more high tunnel and other season extension techniques applied this year than in the past. This is important in terms of providing local produce throughout the year for local clientele.
Talk to you soon.
October 7, 2013
1.4 inch soil temp: 52.6F
2.Growing Degree Days(GDD) since April 1,2013 = 3100.0 GDD Average** = 2992.5 GDD
3.High tunnels + fall crops = a great place for cabbage loopers and imported cabbageworm. Just a reminder ... Bt is not very effective against loopers after the 1st or 2nd instar (stage). Bt works fine against any stage of imported cabbageworm (the fuzzy green ones) but not older loopers. See picture. For more control measures click here. ( Thank you to Dr. Rick Weinzierl, U of I)
4.Saving seed is popular among many growers, especially those of heirloom varieties. In some cases, saving seed yourself is the only way to continue propagation of some lines since larger seed companies do not produce it. If you are a seed saver, please visit this U of I website on proper steps for successful seed saving to minimize seed borne disease transmission.
5.Winter webinar series. Register early. The highly popular small farm winter webinar series will again bring a plethora of speakers and topics on small farm production of fruits, vegetables and livestock. Sign up early and get the dates on your calendar. To register, click here.
September 30, 2013
1.4 inch soil temp: 56.7F
2.Growing Degree Days(GDD) since April 1,:2013 = 2992.0 GDD Average** = 2941.0 GDD
3.Field heat can accelerate the rate of respiration and with it the rate of quality loss of fruits and vegetables. Proper cooling protects quality and extends both the sensory (taste) and nutritional shelf life of produce. The capacity to cool and store produce gives the grower greater market flexibility. Click here for a useful technical bulletin from the University of California on this topic.
4.Rye-a common question that I am asked: Because cereal rye produces several compounds in its plant tissues and releases root exudates that apparently inhibit germination and growth of weed seeds, will it inhibit the germination of subsequent crops? Answer; allelopathic compounds may suppress germination of small-seeded vegetable crops as well if they are planted shortly after the incorporation of cereal rye residue. Large-seeded crops and transplants rarely are affected.
5.Improve your pollinator habitat.Bees eat only pollen and nectar. In the process of gathering these resources, they move pollen from one flower to another, and thus pollinate your crops. Bees rely on an abundance and variety of flowers and need blooming plants throughout the growing season. Native plant species are particularly valuable. - See more here.
September 24, 2013
1.4 inch soil temp:56.7F
2.Growing Degree Days(GDD) Since April 1,2013 = 2913.0 GDD Average** = 2892.0 GDD
3.Annual ryegrass, cereal rye, and crimson clover are some of the most popular cover crops for fall planting, and now is an ideal time to seed all of them. Oats and daikon radishes are also good cover crops, but remember they will winter kill so they need to be planted immediately for the most benefit. (Nathan Johanning, U of I)
4.The shotgun approach to vegetable crop fertilization is not practical or economical. The vegetable grower must know the nutrient status of the soil and then match application rates of lime and fertilizer to crop needs. This is important for cost effectiveness and to achieve optimum yield and quality. Click here for a listing of soil testing laboratories in Illinois.
5.Season extension; what's going on right now?I have been impressed at the degree to which growers in this area are utilizing season extension on their farms. In the last few weeks I have seen low tunnels, high tunnels, cold frames and row covers to name a few. This is very encouraging as the ability to extend the supply of fresh vegetables to your local clientele is a key factor to increasing your profitability. If you are one of few growers with fresh spinach in December, from whom are spinach enthusiasts going to buy?
Don't forget to sign up for the 2014 Illinois Specialty Crops Conference. Click here for details.
September 16, 2013
1.4 inch soil temperature; 66.1 F
2.Growing Degree Days(GDD) Since April 1,2013 = 2800.0 GDD Average** = 2790.5 GDD
3.Seems like many are "switching seasons"right now. The fall crop harvest of pumpkins and apples is looking like it will be a good one. I spoke with one grower this morning that said he is actually still harvesting enough of the warm season crops that consumers are coming to pick up one product and leaving with baskets of others. This is certainly a nice situation to have. In this area, sweet corn harvest is 'officially" over with this last weekend the last sales of most varieties.
4.Another reminder on fall and winter cropping. If you have not done so, fall and winter crops should already be planted. We will start to lose critical growing degree days very soon and the crops need to be near maturity by the time cold weather hits. Seed catalogs report the time to maturity of different vegetable varieties in number of days to maturity. If all vegetables were bred in our region, that could be fairly accurate despite considerable variation in weather from year to year. However, a month in Florida or California provides a lot more degree days than a month in Illinois.
5.There are a number of community partners that are researching interest in a food hub located in this region. They have asked that producers participate by answering some questions in a survey. Your voluntary participation in the survey will help with decision-making. Click here to take the survey.