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Thursday, August 28, 2014
If you've not gotten a chance to join us at our late summer field days this summer, you have certainly missed out. We've had two different field days so far this August. We had great turn out at both our IPM/Mixed Vegetable and Hops. Both of these gave new/experienced growers the opportunity to think more about what they are growing and how they are growing their crops especially when it came to designing your own Integrated Pest Management plan. The Hops Field Day was a key piece to our already popular Hops programming. It allowed an interested participant to see what goes into setting up a hop yard and the "pieces" that need to be considered when doing so. I tend to think you can only learn so much from a classroom setting while the field days can help you see how things work in person and in action. It's also advantageous to hear from a grower.
Our first field day was held at Ken Gallenbeck's Funguy Farms in Pecatonica, IL. Ken grows various fall vegetables, summer crops, fruit trees, and Hops. He gave us a great tour of what he is doing, answered questions, and really helped attendees understand what all goes into his operation. At the same time, I was able to introduce some IPM methods and talk about how you could adopt them and what it would look like if you did. This was also the first time I got to use my IPM tools of a beat sheet (left) and net (right). Cheesehead was not used. I worried that I might not catch anything but sure enough it worked fairly well. Insect scouting is a large part of IPM and having the proper tools can ensure that you do or do not have an insect problems which in turn determines whether to spray or not spray.
Our second field day was held at Bier Blume Farms in Lena, IL. This served as a great tool for those who have gone through both of our Hops courses. The storm let up for enough time for participants to see the actual hop yard and ask questions. They certainly asked a lot of questions! Participants came from as far as Iowa, Wisconsin, and various parts of Northern Illinois. Many of these attendees also are just now thinking about growing Hops and for many of them it can be intimidating when it comes to investing/setting up a hop yard. This field day was a great way to see an actual hop yard in person. We're fortunate to have a hops farm in Northern Illinois that can help when it comes to showing prospective growers the challenges and opportunities in growing hops.
Finally, our last late summer (or early fall) field day will occur on Wednesday, September 10 at Dittmar Farms and Orchard in Elizabeth, Illinois from 6:00-7:30PM. We'll be covering pumpkins, apples, and Agritourism. Registration is still open for this field day and can be found on our homepage.
We hope to see you at the next week and thanks to all those who came out so far!