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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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Owners of Storm Damaged Properties Urged to Apply For Tax Assessment Reductions

I hope this finds you safe and sound from the devastation of "Sandy". If your farm has suffered any crop, equipment or building damages, in addition to reporting those losses to the USDA Farm Service Agency, FEMA, and your insurance company, here are a couple other programs that you might find helpful. Note that there are strict deadlines to follow.

  • All property owners whose dwellings have been destroyed or made significantly less valuable as a result of Superstorm Sandy are urged to notify their local tax assessor in writing before January 10, 2013 to see if they qualify for a reduction in their property's assessed value for tax year 2013 under New Jersey Law (NJ S. 54:4-35.1).
  • The New Jersey Division of Taxation has extended the tax filing deadline for businesses struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy. The deadline for all tax filings and payments that were/are due in the period beginning October 30, 2012 and ending November 26, 2012 has been extended to November 26, 2012.

--Rick VanVranken

Ag Convention/Veg Meetings move to February 5-7 for 2013

As we come to the end of 2012, we look forward to a new year and to upcoming winter meetings. There has been a significant change on the winter meeting schedule, so please take note. After a successful first run this year, the Vegetable Growers Association of NJ and Rutgers Cooperative Extension will once again combine their winter educational conference and trade show with the NJ Ag Convention in 2013, but the traditional dates have changed. It will not be held in January, so Please MARK THE DATE! This coming year, the NJ Ag Convention (including the NJ Vegetable Conference and Trade Show) will be held February 5, 6, 7, 2013 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Be on the lookout for registration materials that will be mailed in mid-December. If you don't receive a mailing, you may find the program and registration forms on the VGANJ's website.

Happy Holidays and all the best for the coming New Year!

-- Rick VanVranken, for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Vegetable Working Group

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who needs Extension, anyway?

Submitted by Dr. Andy Wyenandt
From Gene McAvoy, South Florida Vegetable Pest and Disease Hotline.

"Very relevant as we celebrate 100 years of Extension."
Seaman Knapp: the Father of Extension 
So, how did this all start? How was it that this nation, rich in natural resources and vast in land, came to design a system that reached to each corner of its territory with access to education and service? ? The name behind this extraordinary accomplishment -- the name of the man whose work inspired a distinctive trait of land-grant universities and whose hands-on outreach is now replicated around the globe --is Seaman A. Knapp. During his life, Seaman Knapp was recognized for innovations that changed the course of history in America. His story is well known, especially to many in this room, yet it deserves to be told one more time.

Mid-Atlantic Pumpkin School

Mid-Atlantic Pumpkin School
to Be Held in January
The 2013 Mid-Atlantic Pumpkin School will be held at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office in Burlington County office in Westampton, NJ on January 18, 2013.

The location is easy to find, just off Exit 5 of the NJ Turnpike.

Experts from Rutgers, Penn State University and the University of Maryland will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice to pumpkin growers. Topics that often come up include which varieties of pumpkin grow best in what type of soil, the importance of identifying insect pests before spraying insecticide, agritourism, and the latest news about diseases that could affect the pumpkin crop in the coming year.

To obtain a copy of the registration materials see the Rutgers NJAES events website at
Go to the January 18th date and choose the event.
If you have any questions please contact Michelle Infante-Casella at 856-307-6450 ext. 1 or email at

Friday, November 2, 2012

Reducing Storm Damage to Greenhouses

There is a lot of information in this article that I did not know about protecting greenhouses. It is certainly worth taking a look at:
-Jenny Carleo

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Contact Your Local FSA Office and FEMA to Report Storm Damage

Crops insured by federal crop insurance or by the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) are covered when floodwaters have rendered them valueless. USDA encourages all farmers and ranchers to contact their crop insurance companies and local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Centers, as applicable, to report damages to crops or livestock loss. More information about federal crop insurance may be found at Additional resources to help farmers and ranchers deal with flooding and other damage may be found at

To find the USDA Service Center nearest you, please visit :

Additionally, sometimes farmers may not think of contacting FEMA. However, FEMA often offers assistance to small business owners after a disaster. Farms are included in that category. FEMA is not only for homeowners. Check with your local county government to find out where the temporary FEMA office will be located in your area.

Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent

Friday, October 26, 2012

Residents and Businesses Urged to Be Prepared for Potential 'Frankenstorm'

Emergency management officials throughout the Mid-Atlantic continue to track and monitor the progress of Hurricane Sandy and an associated hybrid storm system. Though the storm’s track remains uncertain at this time it threatens to mix with a winter storm in the West and arctic air from the North to bring heavy rainfall, strong damaging winds and coastal and inland flooding to our area early next week.

At this time residents are encouraged to stay informed and to discuss emergency plans with family members, including preparations for pets. Farmers should also do a self-audit risk assessment to make sure your business is prepared.
--Rick VanVranken 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Soil Testing

- Dan Kluchinski
Fall is a good time of year to evaluate the past season’s successes and failures and plan strategies for the season ahead. 

Give special consideration to determining soil nutrient levels and examining weed problems and infestations. Through proper record keeping, planning, and evaluation, you can better handle some of the effects of the previous growing season. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Evening Farm Tour and Workshop for NJ Fruit Producers

NJ farmers are invited to attend a farm tour and workshop on October 22, 2012 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Evergreen Farm in Yardville, NJ.  The evening will begin with a farm tour, followed by an introduction to useful conservation practices and programs offering technical and financial assistance from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  USDA-NRCS technical experts will be on hand to answer questions.  Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension specialists will speak about on key orchard pests, including the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug and IPM strategies.
This free workshop is sponsored by USDA-NRCS, Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension, and the Mercer County Soil Conservation District.  The host is Evergreen Farm where the Kim family produces specialty fruit including Asian pear, jujube, white peach, Korean grape and a variety of vegetables.  Light refreshments will be provided including samples of the recent harvest

Registration is required.  Please register by October 17, 2012 by using the form linked below or by calling the Mercer County Soil Conservation District at (609) 586 9603.

- Meredith Melendez

Farm Food Safety: Packinghouse Facility Activities

Part 11 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan
- Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

Part 11 of your farm food safety plan addresses your packinghouse activities.  This includes transportation of the product from the field to the packinghouse, product storage once it has been delivered to the packing house, the washing/packing line, ice, worker health and hygiene and packinghouse general housekeeping.  Keep in mind that not all areas of the audit will apply to your farm based on your production practices.  Those areas not applicable would be marked not applicable by the auditor.   Areas that do apply but you are deficient in would result in a reduction of audit points.  A minimum of 80% must be achieved in each section to pass the final audit.  Conducting a mock audit is the best way to determine deficiencies and changes that will need to be made to your farm infrastructure and/or production practices.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vegetable IPM Update 9-26-2012

-Kris Holmstrom
  • Sweet Corn
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes - Late Blight Active in New Jersey
  • Pumpkin & Winter Squash - Downy Mildew Present
  • Cole Crops
Download pdf

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Derecho Disaster Recovery Loans Available

Disaster Loan Outreach Center to Open September 25 in Mays Landing

Home and business disaster recovery loans are available from the US Small Business Administration for damages from the June 30, 2012 derecho. SBA provides low interest disaster loans to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

To further assist residents, a disaster loan outreach center has been established at the Hamilton Township municipal building, 6101 Thirteenth Street, Mays Landing. The center will open on Tuesday, September 25 and remain open through Thursday, October 4. Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM; Saturday, 10 AM - 2 PM; closed Sunday.

Applications are available online at or through the county web sites at and For further information residents may contact SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service at 800-659-2955.
- Linda Gilmore

Thursday, September 6, 2012

N.C. State creates mobile ‘Pack ‘N Cool’ produce trailer

"KANNAPOLIS, NC (8/21/2012) – N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) has developed a new mobile cooling unit for farmers. The five-by-eight-feet refrigerated trailer – called the “Pack ‘N Cool” – is designed to keep fruits and vegetables at ideal temperatures during transport to and from farmers markets or as they’re harvested in farm fields."

While the test unit will barely handle a pallet of fresh produce cartons, this trailer conversion should be ideal for a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables heading to a farmers' market. If you don't already have a dedicated refrigerated delivery truck, or could use a smaller unit but don't want to tie up your pick-up, this might be an option for you. Besides, the equipment and construction doesn't need to be limited. You can convert any size trailer (or cold box) using their directions. The full story about the unit with lots of pictures can be found here, and a complete set of construction plans can be downloaded here.

--Rick VanVranken

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pepper Weevil Advisory

-Joe Ingerson-Mahar

We have now three, widely separated farms in south Jersey that have infestations of pepper weevil. And, at least two additional farms are probably infested. Pepper weevil is not a migratory pest but has to be transported into New Jersey, and as yet we do not know how the weevil gets here.
Pepper weevil adult
Be vigilant with peppers and look for signs of this pest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The kudzu bug may be headed our way

The kudzu bug is another invasive insect from Asia that has the potential to become a serious crop pest.  It was first found in the Atlanta, GA, area in 2009, and has now spread into six states: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.  It is not a stinkbug but is related to them and looks similar to our native stinkbugs but bulkier.  The hind end of the bug is squared off giving it a boxy appearance.

The kudzu bug does feed on kudzu and its feeding appears to have an ill effect on kudzu, making it a beneficial insect.  However, it does feed on other legumes such as wisteria, soybeans and potentially other leguminous crops.  It has been shown to reduce soybean yields as much as 47% in Georgia by sucking plant sap from the leaf veins with its beak.  There is a close association of the bug with kudzu, but it can reproduce on wisteria as well.  The question is how much of a problem will the kudzu bug be without the presence of kudzu.  New Jersey does have a few sites infested with kudzu, but the state has a lot of wisteria.

One thing is certain, the kudzu bug population can spread rapidly.  The adults are strong fliers and are attracted to white objects, including homes and vehicles.  According to a fact sheet from North Carolina the kudzu bug can hitch-hike on vehicles, probably enhancing its ability to move about.  Given its range expansion so far, it is likely that we’ll be finding our first bugs in another year or two.   Like the brown marmorated stinkbug, the kudzu bug also overwinters in homes.

Most likely we will be having more information to share in another year.  For more detailed information on this potential pest go to

Joe Ingerson-Mahar

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This week in the Plant & Pest Advisory:

Plant & Pest Advisory - Vegetable Crops Edition (printable pdf):

  • Vegetable Crops IPM Update
Kristian Holmstrom
  • Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan: Harmonized Audit SOP & SSOP
Meredith Melendez & Wes Kline
  • Weekly Weather Summary
Keith Arnesen
Subscription information for the Plant & Pest Advisory 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tomato pinworm in New Jersey

Tomato pinworm is an unusual pest of tomatoes and eggplant for New Jersey as it is typically found in the southwestern states. It can be transported on transplants but is probably capable of spreading to new locations with weather fronts. Tomato pinworm was found in Somerset and Morris Counties in fields and high tunnels. This week an infestation was found in a field in Cumberland County. This would suggest that we have a state-wide infestation. Undoubtedly these infestations are in part due to the unusually warm winter and spring we experienced. Pinworm cannot overwinter in New Jersey.

The pinworm moth is a small, greyish-white with small dark, insect that lays it eggs singly on the underside of leaves of the tomato. When the eggs hatch the caterpillars begin feeding within the leaves creating a blotch leafmine. This will be a papery appearing section of the leaf where the caterpillar has eaten the tissue between the upper and lower leaf cuticles. As the caterpillars grow they leave the leafmine and invade fruit, attacking the calyx and stem area but also borrowing into the rind anywhere. The tunnels are short and occur almost entirely in the rind. The holes appear similar to tomato fruitworm (corn earworm) damage, but the pinworm holes are much smaller. Mature caterpillars may create a mine under the cuticle of the fruit. The caterpillars will drop to the soil and make loose cocoons to complete their development to the adult stage. There are multiple generations a year.
Pictured is a medium sized pinworm caterpillar, about 1/4 inch long. Mature caterpillars are white or yellow with purple markings and are about 3/8 inch long.

In areas where tomato pinworm is a common threat, mating disruption and biological control methods can be used to help minimize damage. In New Jersey, insecticides are the only reliable means of control. The 2012 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations includes several materials that should provide control. For more information on tomato pinworm go to:, and,

Joe Ingerson-Mahar

Farm Food Safety: Field Harvest and Field Packing Activities

Part 10 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan

- Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

Part 10 of your farm food safety plan addresses field harvest and field packing activities. Your plan should document your actives and your pre-harvest assessment log. Field harvest assessment should be made the day prior to starting to harvest to ensure everything is in place to reduce the chance for product contamination. We covered the specifics of the pre-harvest assessment log in article number 6 of this series. If a field is harvested over several days each morning the assessment is repeated.

Friday, August 10, 2012

June 30 Derecho disaster assistance follow-up

Residents and Businesses Are Encouraged to Report June 30 Storm Damages at as Atlantic County Seeks to Appeal FEMA Denial for Individual Assistance

Atlantic County residents and businesses that suffered damages to their properties and incurred losses as a result of the June 30 super derecho are strongly encouraged to submit that information to county or municipal emergency management officials who are seeking financial assistance and reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Cucurbit Downy Mildew Alert!

Rutgers Cooperative Extension at the New Jersey Experiment Station
Plant & Pest Advisory
Vegetable Alert!
Date: 8/10/2012
Alert Authors: Holmstrom/Mahar/Wyenandt
Pest: Cucurbit downy mildew
Found: Cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed on pumpkins in Middlesex County. This is the first report on pumpkin this growing season.
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 protectant fungicide applications. The following are the most effective materials:  Vegetable alert - Cucurbit downy mildew 8-10-2012
Once Downy mildew has been detected in the state or region, basic fungicide maintenance programs for cucurbit crops should be adjusted to include fungicides for downy mildew control.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Farm Food Safety: Farm Irrigation Waters, Animals, Previous Land Use

Part 9 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan

- Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

This is the ninth article in a series dedicated to preparing a farm food safety plan. Remember you may not need a third party audit; it depends on who is purchasing your produce.  However, everyone should have a food safety plan.

The farm review is an overview of how you minimize the chance of contamination through irrigation waters, wild animals and past land use.  This can be as simple as three paragraphs, one focusing on irrigation waters, the next on wild animal activity on the farm and the last on the previous use of the land.  The following items should be included:

Irrigation waters

-          What is the source(s) of irrigation water used on the farm?

-          How do you irrigate your crops with these waters?

-          How often, when and what, do you test irrigation waters for to determine possible contaminants?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Beet armyworm increase in pheromone trap

We have seen a sharp, 8-fold increase in the number of beet armyworm moths (Spodoptera exigua) caught in the Hammonton area in the past couple of days.  Moth counts in other areas remain low, but this demonstrates how patchy insect populations may be and this patchiness is probably enhanced by the storm cells moving across the state.  Beet armyworm is a migratory pest and is brought in on weather fronts, especially from those coming in from the south and west.

Beet armyworm is a general plant feeder but seems to prefer solanaceous crops, especially peppers.  With a past history of insecticide resistance/tolerance, farmers must be vigilant not to let the populations build up in the field.

Joe Ingerson-Mahar