Read more Jersey Vegetable Crops Ag Updates @
Commercial Ag Updates
on the Rutgers Plant & Pest Advisory

Plant & Pest Advisory > Commercial Ag Updates and Farm Food Safety

Plant & Pest Advisory > Vegetable Crops

Contact Information

The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Small and Beginning Farmer Workshop

With modifications, low cost backpack sprayers are an accurate, efficient tool for your small operation.
In this workshop, John Grande, Director Rutgers Snyder Research Farm, teaches more effective ways to use a backpack sprayer: increase sprayer accuracy, successfully apply alternative organic products, create greater farmer/operator ease, make better use of precious time and money, and improve safety.

When: Tuesday, February 7th 2012 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County, 930 Spruce Street Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Topics Included:
  • Backpack sprayer calibration - John Grande,
    Director Rutgers Snyder Research & Extension Farm
  • Hand tools for weed control - Ed Dager,
    Farm Supervisor Rutgers Snyder Farm
  • Surround trial results: apples, potatoes, & eggplant - Win Cowgill,
    Hunterdon Co. Ag Agent  
  • Crop insurance options for small farms -
    Garden State Crop Insurance Education Initiative
For more details and registration visit:

-Meredith Melendez

Monday, December 19, 2011

Upcoming Conferences - North American Direct Marketers and New Mex Chile

For NJ farm marketers, the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association's annual conference expands the programming that used to be available at our old MADMaC show, and again this year, will be hosted in our old territory in Williamsburg, VA, Feb 10-16, 2012. Details about the event and registration materials can be found at

Likewise, if you'd like to learn about all things pepper, check out the 2012 New Mexico Chile Conference to be held Feb 6 & 7 in Las Cruces, NM. Details on their website at

Before that, of course, we'd like to see you in Atlantic City, Jan 17-19, for the combined 2012 Atlantic Coast Agricultural Conference & Trade Show and NJ Ag Convention.

Wishing you the best for the holidays and for a prosperous New Year!

--Rick VanVranken

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rutgers NJAES to Host Agritourism Conferences Throughout NJ in January

Agritourism is sometimes defined as, “Touring agricultural areas to see farms and often to participate in farm activities.” Farmers in New Jersey are finding a demand for local tourism and a desire from the consumer to “buy local”. To assist New Jersey’s agricultural community in these endeavors, a program at Rutgers University has been developed to provide education and outreach to farmers who currently operate on-farm direct marketing businesses, like agritourism ventures, and for those who would like to develop an agritourism business.
- M. Infante-Casella

Monday, December 5, 2011

New SARE Fact Sheet Available on Tomato Grafting

Growers and researchers around the world using tomato grafting demonstrate that grafting can protect plants against a variety of soil-borne diseases in various climates and conditions. SARE has a new fact sheet, Tomato Grafting for Disease Resistance and Increased Productivity that helps farmers and agricultural educators learn how to graft tomatoes to fight disease and improve the health and vigor of tomato crops.

Grafting is particularly useful in High Tunnel culture where crop rotation options are limited. Grafting has been successfully used to battle diseases like Verticillium and Fusarium wilt, corky root rot and bacterial wilt, among others. Along with maintaining high fruit quality, tomato grafting can also help overcome crop stressors such as salinity, excess moisture and soil temperature extremes, and extend the growing season and increasing total marketable yield.
- Wes Kline and Jack Rabin

Fresh Market Green Bean Company Seeking NJ Growers

C&E Farms is a grower packer shipper of fresh market green beans, based on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They partner with over 45 growers in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, covering 3500 acres.

C&E Farms has decided to expand their program in NJ. They are specifically looking for irrigated acres. The requirement of irrigation is to have consistent quality and supply of green beans for sales.

C&E Farms has contacted South Jersey Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension Agricultural Agents to disseminate information to growers about this new opportunity. A meeting with C&E Farms will be held on December 15th at the Woodstown Diner in Salem County.
For more information email: Justin Colson

Posted by Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent

Should you offer price discounts or coupons to increase retail vegetable sales?

Coupons versus offering price discounts at retail; which is likely to be more effective at increasing consumer purchase behavior of fruits and vegetables? The USDA ERS recently asked this marketing question. The answer has implications for Jersey produce grower and retail marketing strategies.
-Jack Rabin

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last Call for FEMA & SBA Hurricane Irene Disaster Assistance

Application deadline: Wednesday, November 30

NJ residents whose homes and properties sustained damages as a result of Hurricane Irene have through tomorrow, November 30, to register for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To register with FEMA, click here   or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY: 800-462-7585, 7 AM to 10 PM daily.

Individuals must register by the deadline or face losing the opportunity to be considered for federal assistance. Though FEMA will not duplicate insurance benefits, expenses not covered by insurance may be eligible for federal grants after an insurance claim has been paid.

The deadline to submit loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also November 30. Completing and returning the SBA application is an essential step in the process. If you are a homeowner or renter and SBA determines you cannot afford a loan, you may be referred for other possible assistance. Additional information is available at or by calling 1-800-659-2955.

--Rick VanVranken

Monday, November 28, 2011

Changes in Third Party Audits in the Future

More audits will be moving to harmonized food safety standards. This hopefully will reduce the need for multiple audits and reduce grower costs. Not all audit firms or retails will necessarily accept the harmonized audit. It is suggested that a grower work with their retailer to implement these standards, but remember who you sell to dictates the audit used.

Wesley Kline

2012 New Mexico Chile Conference

The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University will be hosting the 2012 New Mexico Chile Conference on February 6 & 7, 2012 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The conference will take an intensive look into technological advances, disease and pest management and organics for chile pepper production. For more information call 575-646-3028 or see

Michelle Infante-Casella

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Healthy Is Your Soil?

A simple assessment of your fields on an annual basis can help determine if the soil building practices you are implementing are actually working.  Use the Soil Quality Card, linked below from University of Illinois Extension and NRCS, as a easy annual tool to evaluate progress towards a healthier soil. 

-Meredith Melendez

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mississippi Greenhouse Tomato Shortcourse

The next MS Greenhouse Tomato Short Course will be held at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center, 1500 Raymond Lake Road, Raymond, Mississippi on March 6 and 7, 2012.
More information:

-Rick VanVranken

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Asparagus Production Advisory, Looking to 2012 from 2011 Conditions

Prof. Steve Garrison
Due to widespread foliar diseases on asparagus fern growth this summer, in many field blocks the fern died back BEFORE slowly yellowing and translocating its food stores in the fern to the asparagus storage roots required to support next year’s 2012 crop load.

Our asparagus sage, Professor Emeritus Steve Garrison, gave us his observation and recommendations this week for not over-cutting or over-harvesting affected weak asparagus fields in 2012. Steve recalls the 1970 growing season shared similar conditions to those seen this year. Over-cutting in the subsequent year weakened the beds permanently, and set the stage for years and years of Fusarium asparagus crown and root rot decline in NJ fields.

Steve advises monitoring your asparagus beds very closely during the 1st week of cutting in 2012. If daily bed yields are weak, or spear diameter starts falling off quickly during early harvest, he advises shortening the harvest season dramatically to protect the future investment in life of the production field.
- Jack Rabin, Michelle Infante-Casella
Fleshy storage roots need to receive adequate carbohydrates
from the previous year's fern to support healthy yields.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Farm Credit East Cares Community Fund Deadline Approaches

Grants of up to $500 are available to farm families recovering from Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee. Applications can be done online, emailed, or mailed.
- Michelle Infante-Casella

Applications must be received by November 26, 2011.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Colorado Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

This month in Cultivating Cumberland (November 2011), Dr. Wes Kline goes over lessons NJ growers can learn from the Colorado Listeria outbreak in Cantaloupes. For his full article, click "read more."

1. That a food borne outbreak can happen on any farm. It does not mean just California or Florida. Every grower needs to assess their operation and see where there may be potential problems. Even if you do not need a third party audit do a self assessment.

2. Food safety needs to be a team effort. Everyone in the operation must buy into the need for food safety. Jensen Farms had a third party audit before the recall, but an audit is only as good as the farm wants it to be. Anyone can clean up the packinghouse for the day of the audit then go back to the “old ways”. It is time everyone makes food safety an important part of their culture in the operation!

3. Water was a big factor in this outbreak. Make sure you have your water tested for the packinghouse and that it is potable (drinking standards).

4. Treat the water used in packing on the packing line. The water may be potable from the well, but what if fruit comes in contaminated? The contamination can spread to other fruit during grading and packing.

5. Monitor the disinfectant used during packing. Depending on the disinfectant monitoring times vary. Check to make sure you are using the best way to monitor. If using Chlorine it is important to check pH and concentration on a regular basis (at least every hour).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Retirement Planning for Farm Families

Later Life Farming is our Rutgers NJAES website providing information about retirement planning for farm families that specifically addresses farmers' unique circumstances. The web-based curriculum consists of ten online modules designed to assist farm owners to plan for retirement and includes links to several different resources.
Many farmers don't plan to "retire" in the traditional sense.  Rather, they express a desire to simply scale back their work hours and/or the size of their farm operation.  In addition, many farm families lack traditional retirement savings plans such as a 401(k). Their major asset is their land and farm property, which are typically illiquid assets. The impact of government regulations on farmers' land values is another unique challenge and is discussed in this resource.

While visiting the site, consider participating in our survey which is in progress until December 31, 2011.

Later Life Farming authors, Barbara O'Neill, Stephen Komar, Robin Brumfield, and Robert Mickel, are available should you have further questions on retirement planning for your farm family.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Time to Think About Geese

Information on ways commercial farmers can address geese damage is gathered on the NJAES Snyder Farm Wildlife Damage Guide for Geese, Deer, and other species. Growers can apply for permits from NJ DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife to "addle" eggs and utilize harassment techniques such as propane cannons and pyrotechnics, noisemakers, and visual flagging.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rhizoctonia root rot in strawberries

Rhizoctonia root rot is a common soil-borne pathogen of many vegetable crops. Diagnostic features of Rhizoctonia include the brown 'shoe-string'-like hypha that are visible growing on the surface of the infected root with the naked eye or 10x hand lens.

Up close under a light microscope you can see the brown hypha that grow inbetween infected cells and on the surface of the infected root. Another feature of Rhizoctonia is that it always "branches" at 90 degree angles.

For more information please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations Guide.
- Andy Wyenandt

Friday, September 30, 2011

Final Pesticide Container Collection Day in Hammonton for 2011

From Karen Kritz, Ag Development Specialist with NJ Dept of Agriculture:
Helena Chemical
66 Route 206 (North of the Route 30/206 intersection)
Hammonton, New Jersey
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Friday October 7
For Plastic Pesticide Container Processing Steps & Size Limits: 

Disaster & Food Safety Educational Meeting This Tuesday, Oct 4th at RCE-Gloucester County

Agricultural Disaster and Food Safety
(Fall Meeting of the South Jersey 
Integrated Vegetable Crop Management Twilight Series)
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Gloucester County Office Building (Bldg. A), 1200 N. Delsea Dr. Clayton, NJ
7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
For the full agenda and pesticide recertification credit details:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

NASA's Cross Promotion with Agritourism

Corn maze with Hubble Telescope
theme at Liberty Ridge Farm,
Schaghticoke, NY
Cross Promotion is an effective marketing tool and is actually quite common and useful in the produce business. You've seen it and probably not even thought about it. Buy Brand X cereal and get a coupon to buy Brand Y bananas, or "Don't forget to grab some Brand A dressing to go with this Brand B salad mix!" 

I hadn't thought about it in terms of the cross promotion technique as I was focusing on finding a niche and positioning when I wrote my American Vegetable Grower Marketing Matters column last fall. That story about a south Jersey corn maze operator working with the Philadelphia sports teams is a great example of agritourism cross promotion. Here's an interesting piece from the upstate NY Extension Vegetable program about NASA teaming up with agritourism operators across the country to celebrate (and educate about) space exploration. 

Effective cross promotion? I'd say so, for NASA and the farms involved!
Rick VanVranken

Updated: Microirrigation Pocket Guide

The California Microirrigation Pocket Guide has been updated and although billed as a resource for California Irrigators, contains how-to information in a "take-to-the-field" size for Irrigators in every state.
Part one explains how to manage and maintain a microirrigation system - irrigating at the right times, and with the right amount of water. Part two gives exceedingly detailed recommendations for maintaining pumps, motors, and engines.
Available through the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project: The California Microirrigation Pocket Guide
- Rick VanVranken

Monday, September 26, 2011

Time to get in Cover Crop

To say it's been a tough year for farmers, would be an understatement. The 2011 growing season has been marked by heavy rains, high winds, flooding, and extreme heat. Rob Shortell, former Rutgers grad student and now Assistant Professor at Cal Poly, got it right when he said, farming is about the details… "it's the weather, the timing, the attentiveness to details."

Right now we've got a small window of opportunity to get in cover crops. There are only about 7 NJ fall seeding days for ideal establishment.

At RAREC, we had a perfect day on Thursday, September 22, and planted ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Postharvest Guide from GA

Precooling Fruits and Vegetables in Georgia by Changying "Charlie" Li, Extension Ag Engineer - This new guide from GA Cooperative Extension gives a good introduction and overview of postharvest precooling methods and requirements of common fruits and vegetables.
Rick VanVranken

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Un-composted Leaves Improve Coastal Plains Soils & Save You Money

Yesterday Bob & Leda Muth kindly hosted the Rutgers Sustainable Ag students for a tour of their farm operation and soil practices. Bob’s farm has demonstrated profitable results from applying municipal collected un-composted waste leaves to Coastal Plain soils. The practice dramatically improves soil fertility, soil health, and cuts fertilizer and fungicide expenses.

The Muth Family Farm is recognized as one of the leading regional farms in sustainable agriculture, soil husbandry, community supported agriculture, and organic methods that make money. 
Every visit to the Muth Farm is a learning experience. Check out the updated article on the Sustaining Farming on the Urban Fringe website, outlining his methods.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Clear packaging and light -- not so good for potatoes, but enhances nutrients in spinach

Potatoes turn green when exposed to light, even the artificial light in a supermarket produce department. Clear packaging is usually not the best choice for spuds. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by Lester, Makus and Hodges (2010) shows just the opposite for spinach. Vitamins C, K, E, and folate increased significantly in spinach leaves stored in clear plastic containers for 3 days under continuous light and refrigeration simulating supermarket conditions, while those stored in continuous darkness showed declining or no change in levels of nutrients. After 9 days in the lighted storage, some vitamins levels had doubled, and all had higher levels of bioactive compounds.
Rick VanVranken


Birds Eye on a mission

Birds Eye® Declares "It's Always Vegetable Season™" and Unveils Its "Discover the Wonder of Vegetables™" Campaign

Top Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Cornell Researcher Dr. Brian Wansink and Share Our Strength® Join Birds Eye for Its Vegetable Snow Farm in Union Square to Announce a Donation Commitment of Vegetables for 1 Million Meals to Help Feed Kids Better

By Pinnacle Foods Group LLC
Published: Thursday, Sep. 15, 2011 - 4:08 am

/PRNewswire/ -- Birds Eye®, a portfolio brand of Pinnacle Foods Group, is on a mission to help America "Discover the Wonder of Vegetables™" and announced today the launch of its new campaign with a kick-off event in New York City's Union Square, featuring an unexpected vegetable farm in the snow.

Read the entire story at:

Friday, September 9, 2011

What is the "Perfect" Tomato?

When I hear complaints about not being able to find a "good Jersey tomato" anymore, especially comments like "... years ago! That's when tomatoes had flavor!", I usually break out singing my Ode to the Jersey Tomato to the tune of Billy Joel's Piano Man:
  "Son, can you [grow] me a memory. I'm not really sure how it goes, ... but it's [plump] and it's sweet, and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man's clothes. Oh la, la, la, ditty dah..." 

Well, in response to author Barry Estabrook's book 'Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit', which takes direct aim at the quality of Florida tomatoes, CNN just posted on their Eatocracy blog an interview the Florida Tomato Committee's manager Reggie Brown.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sourcing Pumpkins and other Fall Crops

Eighteen participating states have their
own MarketMaker homepages now.
July's heat followed by the excessive rains through August have farm market operators concerned about having enough pumpkins and other crops for the lucrative Fall season. Pennsylvania, New York and DelMarVa have also been inundated with flooding rains lately, so crops may be tight there too. That's forcing us to search further west, but how does one start making contacts?

Update on Jersey Fresh Sitings

Turns out it was not an anonymous post, but the owner of the Fresh Produce group forwarded a blog post by a pompous New Yorker writing at You can see the original post here.
Rick VanVranken

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jersey Fresh Sitings

A week or so ago, on The Packer's Linked-In Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, some wise guy anonymously posted "Is "Jersey Fresh" Supposed to be a Good Thing?". I couldn't help but think of that post this past weekend when I walked into an Amish Country Farm Market in upstate NY to be greeted by the prominent display in the photo. It must be good for something!

Rick VanVranken

Friday, September 2, 2011

Salvaging Crops After the Hurricane

Wes Kline, Cumberland Co. Ag Agent and Food Safety expert, provides four resource articles and discusses the adverse effects of Hurricane Irene in terms of food safety and produce quality in the Plant & Pest Advisory.
Photo by Bill Gallo Jr,, Damage at Cumberland...
Heavy rains and flooding over the last two weeks have adversely affected many fruits and vegetables.  Standing water after a heavy rain is not an unusual occurrence.  Floodwaters that have come in contact with septic systems, biosolids, treatment facilities, etc. are a concern.  Fruits and vegetables touched by floodwater should not be sold or consumed.  The Food and Drug Administration considers any crop that comes in contact with floodwater to be “adulterated” and cannot be sold for human consumption.  This is especially true for leafy greens close to harvest.  A thirty-foot buffer (area to turn equipment) should be maintained between the crop and flood areas.  To reduce the chances for cross-contamination do not drive through the flooded areas to harvest.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dealing with Flooded Vegetable Fields

Just noticed this in one of my google alert messages (titles linked to full articles):

Local Food
Food Crop Safety After Irene's Floodwaters by Amy Halloran | Sep 01, 2011 on Food Safety News website.

What really caught my eye was this reference to our former Rutgers colleague:
Steve Reiners, associate professor at Cornell University, put together "Dealing with Flooded Vegetable Fields," which deals with plant survival under water and flooding and soil fertility, as well as flooding and food safety.

"There are two types of flooding," wrote Reiners. "The first is more typical and occurs after a heavy downpour when fields become saturated and water pools on the soil surface.  This type of flooding can reduce yields and even kill plants but usually will not result in contamination of produce with human pathogens." 
The second type of flooding, from rising creeks and rising rivers rather than a deluge of rainwater, is affecting many farmers in the aftermath of Irene, although some farms might be dealing with both types of storm water.

"Unless you are absolutely sure that flooding is not from streams and surface water, do not use fruits and vegetables that were at or near harvest at the time of flooding," he writes.
Can't emphasize that last comment enough! Have seen several fields at near harvest stage that were under standing or running water since Sunday's rains ended. They're likely not safe for consumption!
Rick VanVranken

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reporting Losses Due to Irene

Wes Kline and I just participated in a conference call initiated by Secretary Fisher with NJ State Board of Agriculture members, USDA representatives and NJ Farm Bureau Executive Director Pete Fury to get a preliminary assessment of damage caused by Hurricane Irene as it passed over the state. By all accounts, it could have been a lot worse, and certainly the flooding in the northern counties is still posing significant threats to people and businesses. The hurricane was one more blow in what has already been a challenging season weather-wise, and some crops will still not show damage for several weeks. However, the consensus was that there are important steps to take in its aftermath.
  • First, farmers with crop, livestock or building damage from the hurricane should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to report it. DO NOT DESTROY damaged crops until local reps can assess and document the damage. To locate your local FSA office, see
  • Anything covered by crop insurance should be reported to your insurance agent.
  • Crops that have been damaged by wind or excessive rains likely need some protective fungicide treatments to avoid disease spread.
  • Make note of any areas of crop fields that are flooded as water from overflowing ponds or streams, or even from field run-off, may contaminate produce with pathogens and create a food safety hazard. Avoid harvesting from these areas if possible, or be ready to take extra precautions to wash/treat this produce to reduce potential contamination.
Rick VanVranken

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New FDA Blog Post on Food Safety Modernization Act: "I hope you'll read and post your comments!"

New Blog Post -- FDA Tells Farmers: We need to learn from you
Last week, farmers from across the North and South forks of Suffolk county Long Island showed a group of us from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets the incredible diversity of their farms and the challenges FDA faces in writing a “produce safety” rule.
For more information on FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act, visit

Richard W. VanVranken
Agricultural Agent
County Extension Department Head
Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County

6260 Old Harding Hwy.

Mays Landing, NJ 08330-1553 
p. 609-625-0056
f.  609-625-3646

Disaster Log Phone App for Hurricane Recovery

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director at the University of North Dakota, offered this new tool to help deal with the potential. North Dakota has suffered from numerous floods, so they developed a Disaster Recovery Log app for Android smartphones. (Sorry, but iPhone app will be coming soon.) People who are affected by any disaster can download the app, then take photos of damage and record information about the damage by writing it into the phone or audio recording it. Then they can click on information on how to (if possible) clean the item from water damage. That's a direct link to appropriate Extension resources and a record of your damage for your insurance agent or FEMA.

You can learn more through:

Rick VanVranken

Monday, August 22, 2011

Speaking of Preparedness, Allergies are Nothing to Sneeze At!

Last week, a trip to the emergency room was a not-so-gentle reminder that besides ragweed pollen, bees and wasps are also quite active in the heat of August. Know where hives or food sources may be attracting these insects into close proximity (farm markets, picnic areas, packing sheds, lawns) and creating a potential threat, and know if any of your family, employees or visitors to your farms are allergic to bee stings.

Unfortunately, once you've been sensitized, you are always allergic and a sting can quickly become life-threatening! The typical swelling, redness and itching around the sting can progress in twenty minutes or so to severe itching of the eyes or face, hives, and lowered blood pressure in a severe allergic reaction. If not treated immediately, it can be fatal, especially if the swelling progresses to the throat and blocks the air passages making breathing and swallowing difficult. It is critical for someone exhibiting symptoms of anaphylaxis to be given emergency medical attention immediately.

Are you Prepared for Anaphylaxis?

According to the article on anaphylaxis, "If you are allergic to bee stings or any other substances that cause anaphylaxis, you should always be prepared. Ask your doctor to prescribe an epinephrine injection kit [an Epi-Pen] and carry it with you at all times. It is also a good idea to wear a MedicAlert bracelet or pendant, or carry a card that identifies your allergy. In cases of emergency, it could save your life."

For more information on bees, hornets and wasps, Rutgers Fact Sheet FS1134 'Bees and Wasps' describes their life cycles, nesting habits and control options.

Time for me to go get that prescription filled!

Rick VanVranken

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

September is National Preparedness Month - Are you Ready Ag?

Fire, flood, feed contamination, foot-and-mouth disease. Farm and ranch disasters can come without warning. Is your crop, livestock or poultry operation secure? Is it biosecure?

A team of Extension professionals from across the US came together to develop an educational tool to assist farm and ranch managers become better prepared for any disaster The tool is called ReadyAG—Disaster and Defense Preparedness for Production Agriculture.

Vegetable & Herb Disease Control Research at RAREC

- For Full Program click Read More -

Sept. 7, 2011; 5:00-7:00 p.m.:  A chance for growers to view the various research plots at the Rutgers Agricultural Research & Extension Center, 121 Northville Road, Bridgeton, NJ (RAREC) and to ask questions.  Shuttles leave every 15 minutes from the parking lot at RAREC for viewing of the following research sites:  Pepper variety Phytophthora screen, Red Bell Pepper variety evaluation, Downy mildew control on vine crops and basil, Parsley disease control and several others.  Dr. Andy Wyenandt will be available to answer questions.

Wesley Kline

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crop Disaster Reporting

With this past week's heavy rains and flooding in some parts of NJ, farmers with crop damage from weather should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to help them make a more accurate assessment of damage. Once a certain level of damage is reported in an area, a disaster declaration can be sought so that funding may possibly be made available in the future. Producers should also consider crop insurance and it is sometimes required to be eligible for some FSA programs. To locate the local FSA office covering counties in your area see

Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vegetable Alert: Cucurbit downy mildew widespread in NJ

Pest: Cucurbit downy mildew widespread in New Jersey
Found: Cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed on pumpkin in northern New Jersey and is now considered a significant threat to all cucurbit crops in the state and region.
Crop(s) at risk: all cucurbit crops in New Jersey.
Potential impact: Significant losses will occur if not controlled properly

What growers should do:

  • Control of downy mildew begins with regular scouting, recognizing symptoms and weekly preventative fungicide applications. Now that cucurbit downy mildew has been detected in a cucurbit crop other than cucumber, all cucurbit growers in the region should be scouting on a daily basis and applying downy mildew specific fungicides in their weekly maintenance programs.
  • All abandoned cucumber and summer squash fields should be sprayed with gramoxone or disced under immediately after last harvest to kill the foliage! Abandoned fields left unattended after use will only serve as a source of inoculum for other fields once downy mildew makes its way into our area.
  • Please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations Guide for specific fungicide recommendations
  • To track the progress of cucurbit downy mildew in the eastern US and to keep up with reports of Downy mildew from other states please visit North Carolina State University’s Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecasting Center at cucurbit/.
  • If you suspect downy mildew on your farm, please contact your county agent or Andy Wyenandt (856) 455- 3100 ext 4144.

Alert Author: Andy Wyenandt 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Extreme Heat on Fall Greens Plantings

An excerpt from Plant & Pest Advisory
- Rick VanVranken
Lettuces, greens, and herbs (cilantro, parsley, dill) planted for the Fall season in the greater Vineland area have gone through a week of 100 degree weather. If they managed to germinate and not get cooked by that heat (watering 3x per day didn't help, maybe hurt, as soil temps remained in the 90s even after watering), they've now potentially had scattered heavy rains saturating fields every 2-4 days since then potentially washing away fertilizers and herbicides. At this point, the  best recommendations to make sure surviving plants will make it to harvest include additional sidedressings of fertilizer (especially N) and application of Ridomil Gold or Quadris to try to stave off the spread of Pythium that is present in some plants.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forage Radish Cover Crop

There has been new interest in using Forage Radish (Raphanus savitvus var. longipinnatus) also being called "tillage radish" as a fall/winter cover crop in our region. Planting should take place in Mid-August and no later than early September to get maximum growth. Plantings can also be established as early as July if fields are ready. The cleaner the seed bed, the better stands and the deeper roots will form. Claimed benefits from this crop are: help improve soil structure and reduction of soil compaction, weed suppression, building organic matter, fertility recycling, reduced nitrate leaching, erosion control and increasing water percolation in soil. Seeding rates for drilling seed are 8-10 lbs/acre with broadcast rates 12-14 lbs/acre. Aerial seeding has been successful with rates of 14-16 lbs/acre. Plants do winter kill at temperatures in the low 20s. Plant tissue will decompose rapidly from the freeze-thaw winter conditions with little residue left by March. Research is being conducted in NJ starting this summer to look at planting dates for forage radish.

Michelle Infante-Casella
Agricultural Agent

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Downy mildew found on sweet basil in southern New Jersey

Downy mildew has been confirmed on sweet basil near Vineland, NJ in Atlantic and Cumberland Counties. These are the first confirmed reports of basil downy mildew in New Jersey this year.

Crop(s) at risk: all basil in New Jersey and surrounding region.

Potential impact: Significant losses will occur if not controlled properly

What growers should do:

Control of downy mildew begins with regular scouting, recognizing symptoms and weekly protectant fungicide applications. Now that Downy mildew has been detected in NJ all basil growers should be scouting on a daily basis and should add a labeled downy mildew specific fungicide to their weekly fungicide program. Phosphite fungicides (FRAC code 33) have shown the best efficacy in trials at RAREC. Both ProPhyt and K-Phite have downy mildew labels under herbs. Actinovate (OMRI- approved) is also labeled for downy mildew control.

Please remember, all abandoned basil fields should be sprayed with gramoxone or disced under immediately after last harvest to kill the remaining foliage! Abandoned fields left unattended after use will only serve as a source of inoculum for other fields.

If you suspect basil downy mildew on your farm, please contact your county agent or Andy Wyenandt (856) 455-3100 ext 4144.

Cucurbit downy mildew found on canteloupe in southern New Jersey

Found: Cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed on cucumber and canteloupe in southern New Jersey.

Crop(s) at risk: all cucurbit crops in New Jersey.

Potential impact: Significant losses will occur if not controlled properly

What growers should do:

Control of downy mildew begins with regular scouting, recognizing symptoms and weekly preventative fungicide applications. Now that cucurbit downy mildew has been detected in a cucurbit crop other than cucumber, all cucurbit growers in the region should be scouting on a daily basis and applying downy mildew specific fungicides in their weekly maintenance programs.

All abandoned cucumber and summer squash fields should be sprayed with gramoxone or disced under immediately after last harvest to kill the foliage! Abandoned fields left unattended after use will only serve as a source of inoculum for other fields once downy mildew makes its way into our area.

Please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations Guide for specific fungicide recommendations

To track the progress of cucurbit downy mildew in the eastern US and to keep up with reports of Downy mildew from other states please visit North Carolina State University’s Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecasting Center at cucurbit/.

If you suspect downy mildew on your farm, please contact your county agent or Andy Wyenandt (856) 455-3100 ext 4144.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pythium in Tomato and Pepper

Yesterday I was in tomato and pepper fields looking at problems in both these crops. Tomato showed magnesium deficiency (interveinal chlorosis in older leaves). Some plants showed wilting, some dramatic, some wilting slightly. At first glance of inspecting roots they looked fine. When tugging on the outer covering of the roots they slid off incidicating Pythium root rot. Cutting open the stem at the base showed slight browning of the vascular system. The same root and stem symptoms were found in pepper. Growers admit with the heat and heavy crop loads this time of year they have been pushing water to keep plants going and to prevent blossom end rot. However, high amounts of soil moisture has made for favorable conditions for disease infection. Be sure to not over water crops. The use of soil moisture monitoring devices is so important to accurately irrigate fields. Nutrient deficiencies can also be induced from not having a healthy root system to uptake nutrients like Calcium and Magnesium and others.
Michelle Infante-Casella
Agricultural Agent
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension, Gloucester Co.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug hatching now

Growers are reporting seeing newly hatched nymphs and egg masses of stink bugs in peppers. If the antennae have a white/yellow band, they are likely Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Consult the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations for control options. RCE Vegetable Entomologist Gerry Ghidiu indicates most of what's labeled is listed in the production manual though Orthene and a couple of others have added BMSB to their labels. Now is the time to control them. They're most susceptible when you see egg masses and newly hatched nymphs that can't fly yet.

Also consult our new BMSB page to monitor the insect's spread in NJ:

Cucurbit Downy Mildew and Alternaria in Atlantic County

Cucurbit downy mildew was observed yesterday on cucumber on a small farm near Mays Landing, NJ. Andy's last recommendation called for all commercial cucurbit growers to include a downy mildew specific fungicide(s) in their weekly fungicide program. For more information on controlling cucurbit downy mildew please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations.

On an adjacent planting of muskmelons, similar chlorotic spots progressed to necrotic bull's eye lesions and turned out to be alternaria. Equally devastating to cucurbits, preventative applications of products containing chlorothalonil or mancozeb (be aware of sensitive varieties) are the same as for Downy Mildew, but rotation to alternate FRAC groups is slightly different. Consult the Commercial Vegetable Recommendations for alternatives.

Rick VanVranken

About nuturing the Jersey tomato

Words to the wise from blogging co-conspirator and "Rutgers expert on sustainable agriculture", Jack Rabin, on growing Jersey tomatoes:
“If you are not doing this intelligently, it’s a path to misery.”

Full story and nice article on a Jersey tomato value-added success story here.
Rick VanVranken

National US Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee needs your input

Don't let California set all the rules! From the Imperial Valley News (July 11, 2011),
California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross is encouraging members of the California agricultural community to nominate representatives of the state’s fruit and vegetable industry to serve on the nation’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee for the 2011-2013 term.

Monday, July 11, 2011

pepper weevil found at farm in Hammonton area

A single adult pepper weevil was found on a pheromone trap at a Hammonton area farm on Friday, July 8th.  This is a reminder to all pepper growers to be vigilant for pepper weevil.  Pepper weevil is an occasional pest in New Jersey that has caused severe yield reduction in peppers.  In 2005, one farm suffered severe loss and since 2007 at least one farm per summer has been infested in southern New Jersey.

Pepper weevil is not a migratory pest nor can it over-winter in New Jersey.  The weevil is incapable of diapausing (non-feeding, quiescent period) so it needs a constant food supply.  The weevils have to be transported into the state from other locations.  It is still not clear how these infestations occur so frequently in the Hammonton area.

The weevils can be monitored using pheromone traps or scouted for by looking for aborted blossoms and small fruit.  Adult females lay one or more eggs in the flowers or developing fruit which the plant aborts.  These flowers and fruit can be cut open to determine whether weevil grubs are inside.  Egg scars are visible on developing fruit as small dimples with a dark center.

The earlier in the growing season the weevils are found, the greater the potential loss will be and should be aggressively managed.  Late season infestations may cause little marketable yield loss and there may be less need for insecticide applications.

Joe Ingerson-Mahar

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cucurbit downy mildew reported in PA.

Cucurbit downy mildew has been reported on cucumber in Wyoming Co., PA. Wyoming County is located near the northeast corner of the state. All cucurbit growers in NJ (and the region) should include downy mildew specific fungicides to their weekly fungicide programs.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pepper anthracnose has been reported in pepper in South Jersey. Pepper anthracnose is an extremely destructive disease if left uncontrolled. All developing fruit are susceptible. Daily scouting and preventative fungicide applications are needed, especially in fields with a history of the pathogen. For more information please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Production Guide. 

Downy mildew on cukes in Ohio

Downy Mildew Found in Ohio Cucumbers, July 6, 2011
Sally Miller, Melanie Lewis Ivey and Fulya Baysal-Gurel, The Ohio State University Dept of Plant Pathology

Downy mildew was confirmed on cucumber samples from Wayne and Ashland counties in Ohio on July 6. This follows closely on the July 5 report of downy mildew in cucumbers Chatham-Kent, Ontario, where initial symptoms were observed as early as June 30 (see The spread of downy mildew in Ohio is dependent on the weather - bright sunny days are detrimental to spore survival and transport, while overcast days promote spore survival and rainfall results in spore deposition.

--Rick VanVranken              For Ohio's management recommendations...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2nd case of cucurbit downy mildew reported in cucumber in NJ.

Cucurbit downy mildew has been reported in cucumber near Bridgeton, NJ. This is the second case of cucurbit downy mildew reported in the state. All commercial cucurbit growers should include a downy mildew specific fungicide(s) in their weekly fungicide program. For more information on controlling cucurbit downy mildew please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations.

Homeowners who have cucurbits (pumpkin, squash, melon, cucumber, watermelon, gourd) in their garden and suspect cucurbit downy mildew (see photo from 6/24) should apply a fungicide that contains the active ingredient, chlorothalonil, on a weekly basis and as long as symptoms appear. Thorough coverage of the underside of leaves is critical for controlling downy mildew.

Friday, July 1, 2011

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Update

The Food and Drug Administration is moving rapidly with the new food safety act. There are public hearings almost each month on different aspects. If you want to keep up-to-date on all webinars, due dates for public comment, etc. check out FSMA. This site covers all parts of the FSMA including seafood, meat, fresh and processing fruits and vegetables.
Keep abreast of how FSMA impacts you as a Grower with these resources: Food Safety and FSMA.
-Wesley Kline, Ag Agent, Cumberland County

USDA Proposed National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement

-Wesley Kline [From Cultivating Cumberland, July 2011]
The USDA is moving forward with rule-making for the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). The agreement was proposed in 2009 by produce industry representatives. USDA held 7 hearings across the country during 2009 and received over 5000 pages of testimony.
The full proposal text was published in the Federal Register on April 29. Go to for a copy. There is a 90 day comment period where anyone can comment anonymously if desired. All comments must be received by July 28, 2011. Read the document and make your feelings known. This will be critical for the leafy green industry in New Jersey.
They have made changes to the proposal after the first comment period among those are:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pesticide Container Recycling July 1, Hammonton still on.

Karen Kritz, Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with the Division of Marketing & Development, NJ Dept of Agriculture, wants all to know that despite the State budget situation and possibility of a shut-down, that the pesticide container recycling event will still be held tomorrow, Friday July 1, 2011 at Helena Chemical on Route 206 in Hammonton from 9:00am to 3:00 pm.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Cover Crops

There is still time to plant some summer cover crops for soil improvement on rested fields and as a rotation for vegetable crops ending from spring harvest. For more information on planting and managing Sorghum Sudangrass as a summer cover crop (can plant up to July 15) see Rutgers NJAES Fact sheet FS994 authored by Bamka and Infante-Casella.
-Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent

Late blight found on potato in VA and DE and on potato and tomato on Long Island

All potato and tomato growers should consider adding Late blight specific fungicides into their weekly fungicide maintenance programs. To date, no Late blight has been reported in New Jersey. Weather conditions the past few days have been favorable for Late blight development. For more information on controlling Late blight please see the 2011 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations book.

For Homeowners, if Late blight is present or a threat, apply a product that contains the active ingredient, chlorothalonil, on a regular basis to help protect the plant. Always follow the instructions on the product label! The label is the law! All infected plants should be removed, put in plastic bags, and thrown out. Infected tomato and potato plants left in the home garden will act as a source of inoculum and help further spread the disease!
-Andy Wyenandt

Cucurbit downy mildew found on cucumber in New Jersey

Cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed on cucumber in New Jersey near Vineland. This is the first report of cucurbit downy mildew in New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region this year. All cucurbit growers should add a downy mildew specific fungicide to their weekly maintenance programs.
-Andy Wyenandt

Friday, June 24, 2011

Watch for Phytophtora Blight

Phytophtora Blight in pepper.
Phytophtora blight of pepper, eggplant, and cucurbit crops is favored by warm, wet weather; poorly-drained soils and poor crop rotations. Once established in a field the pathogen can survive for many growing seasons. Look for blackish-brown stems on wilted plants.
-Andy Wyenandt

Cucumber Downy Mildew Seen in North Carolina

Cucumber Downy Mildew Infected Leaf
Cucurbit downy mildew has been found as far north a North Carolina this summer. It is no immediate threat to our region to date.
-Andy Wyenandt

Track cucurbit downy mildew on-line!

Vegetable growers and cucurbit enthusiasts can track the progress of cucurbit downy mildew development in the U.S. by visiting the cucurbit downy mildew forecasting website hosted by North Carolina State University. Individuals can keep track recent outbreaks and see what the potential threat is to New Jersey and mid-Atlantic region. Please check out the following link!
-Andy Wyenandt

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mandatory E-Verify bill proposed in Congress

Mandatory E-Verify bill gives agriculture businesses extra time to comply, find legal workers
By Associated Press, Tuesday, June 14, 2011
WASHINGTON — A bill that would require U.S. businesses to use a government database to verify that new workers are in the country legally is giving the agriculture industry a slight break.

The Legal Workforce Act [sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas] would give the agriculture industry, where labor, industry and government officials say the vast majority of workers are illegal, three years to screen all new hires to make sure they are eligible to work in the U.S. The remaining employers would have two years to comply.
The rest of the article can be read here: 

Rick VanVranken

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reducing Potential for Plastic Burn

Though not as susceptible
as peppers, tomatoes,
eggplant and squash trans-
plants can suffer plastic
burn on bright sunny, high
temperature days.
If you are using plastic mulch for weed suppression and water management, and less so for earliness because you're planting later in May and on into the summer months, black is probably not the best option in southern NJ, especially if the weather predictions indicate higher than normal heat patterns. Actually, it only takes a day of bright sun and high temperatures soon after transplanting to cause plastic burn.
--Rick VanVranken

Pest Alert: European Corn Borer (ECB) in Sweet Corn

For more than a decade, a general decline in ECB adult moth populations and larval infestation rates have been seen in most crops. Generally entomologists in the eastern US are attributing this long decline in ECB to increased production of BT field corn which would be a dead end host for the pest. An adult moth population bucking this trend is widely observed this spring 2011. The reasons are unclear but it is a fact. Growers are advised to scout all whorl and pre-tassel fields.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two New Sources of Information about BMSB

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is expected to inflict serious crop damage again this year. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has a very wide host range including many horticultural crops and ornamentals. Two new sources providing timely information about this pest can be found on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug page, Rutgers NJAES Snyder Research & Extension Farm Website.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vegetable Disease of the Week

White mold on lettuce. Notice the black (sclerotia) fungal bodies developing in the white fungal mass at the base of the plant. Sclerotia can survive in the soil for many years.          -Andy Wyenandt

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar

Contributors: Holding a Twilight Meeting or running a Workshop? Post it yourself on the NJAES Selected Ag Programs Calendar and let other Ag Agents, Specialists, and Ag Professionals know about it. See an event you don't want to forget? Download it to your own calendar. Can't recall the date of your last group meeting? Scroll back through to find it. Keep abreast of what's happening at Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
For details email Jack Rabin.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vegetable Diseases of the Week

Sunscald injury on stems of newly transplanted pepper seedlings caused by stems laying against edges of black plastic mulch on hot, sunny days.

Note: Secondary pathogens such as Alternaria can infest the bleached out areas of the stem over time.
-Andy Wyenandt

Vegetable Diseases - Photos of the Week

Phytophthora crown rot of summer squash causing plant to collapse. Base of stems will turn soft, black with greasy, white  sporangia (spores) developing on infected stem tissue.
-Andy Wyenandt

Lettuce Tipburn

From Rutgers Plant & Pest Advisory <Subscribe>

Weather conditions over the past couple of weeks support CA research conclusions linking lettuce tipburn to environmental conditions

Severe cases of lettuce tipburn have occurred this past week in southern NJ resulting in 75+ percent incidence in some fields rendering it physically and economically impossible to salvage those plantings. This comes at a time when those fields are just ready to harvest.

--Rick VanVranken
--Andy Wyenandt

NEWA New Jersey Specific Disease & Pest Forecasting

The Vegetable Working Group teams up with Cornell University's Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) to bring disease and insect forecasting to vegetable growers throughout New Jersey. [Note left sidebar link]
-Andy Wyenandt

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Local" the hot trend in the restaurant industry

Though there's no official definition of "local" in the food industry, and there's plenty of discussion about the real and/or perceived benefits of "buying local", if restaurant chefs are any indicator, consumers want local. The results of National Restaurant Association's annual What's Hot Survey indicate locally sourced meats and seafoods, and locally sourced produce are ranked #1 and #2 in the top 20 industry menu trends, as reported in The Packer today. Indeed, I have a stack of calls from restaurant owners and chefs wanting to find "local" farmers to work with this season. So, as we know in marketing that the buyer is always right, if consumers want local, give them your best Jersey Fresh local!  -- Rick VanVranken

Friday, May 20, 2011

For Diversified Growers a NE Floriculture Greenhouse Update

"Due to cloudy, overcast weather and in some cases - downpours, Botrytis is everywhere. Downy mildew has been also observed this week on basil."
Read about these observations and more from Floriculture Greenhouse Update.
-Jenny Carleo