February 12, 2017

Greenhouse IPM Update 2.12.17

How did it get to be February?!  And almost Valentine’s Day?  A great excuse to buy flowers and plants….maybe tomatoes?  They are ‘love apples’ after all.

Instead of thinking ‘babe magnets’ how about pest magnets – those plants that always get an insect pest first.  The best thing about them?  They are great places to scout to find out who’s bugging you early before populations rise.  Michigan State has a handy list of insect magnets.

Ball Hort has a large collection of upcoming and recorded webinars on pest management topics, among other things.  Root rot, mites, nematodes, weeds – what’s not to love?  And several are aimed at nursery operations, too.

Want a home grown webinar series?  We (Brian’s in there, and John and Neil and Jud Reid and more) are putting on webinars aimed at training Extension Educators (those folks who help you get questions answered) in greenhouse and high tunnel vegetable crop IPM.  They will be archived shortly after they are completed.  Here are the topics to come:
Feb 16: In-ground fertility/water management – Judson Reid
Feb 23: Production factors for greenhouses and high tunnels that relate to IPM – Amy Ivy
Mar 2: Disease management in greenhouses and high tunnels – Brian Eshenaur/Amy Ivy
Mar 9: Insect management in greenhouses and high tunnels – John Sanderson
Mar 16: Weed management in greenhouses and high tunnels – Betsy Lamb
Mar 23: How to write/use an IPM plan – Betsy Lamb

A note from an MSU newsletter that is worth keeping an eye out for:
With respect to disease, there has been documentation of strains of Pythium found in Michigan greenhouses that are resistant to mefenoxam (Subdue MAXX). Growers should be documenting rates and timing of pesticide applications and be making notes on efficacy.

Sierra Biologicals – a producer of beneficial nematodes –  is moving to the Buffalo NY area.  Cool!  We’ll keep an eye out for them and their products.

Some nutrition basics videos: Part 1 and Part 2 – good for a cold damp night like tonight!

Sneaky orchids? Okay, I’m a bug and plant geek, and think this is cool from the plant’s point of view, but don’t get me one of these for Valentine’s Day, please!

Enough for today! Stay warm and have a great week!

January 30, 2017

Christmas tree IPM update 1.30.17

Not exactly IPM but if we can breed in resistance to pests, it counts!  A webinar series on Christmas tree genetics and tree improvement starts THIS WEDNESDAY – Feb 1, 1:00-2:30.

Someone asked me for the economics of producing Christmas trees.  I found these references that you might find interesting.  Of course none are from NYS.

Economics of Producing an Acre of White Pine Christmas Trees
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/420/420-081/420-081.html

Ag Alternatives – Christmas Tree Production
http://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-alternatives/forestry/christmas-tree-production/extension_publication_file

Christmas Tree Economics:
Establishing and Producing Douglas-Fir Christmas Trees in Western Oregon
http://arec.oregonstate.edu/oaeb/files/pdf/AEB0001.pdf

Noble Fir
http://arec.oregonstate.edu/oaeb/files/pdf/AEB0002.pdf

KENTUCKY CHRISTMAS TREE PRODUCTION WORKBOOK:
ECONOMICS AND BUDGETING
http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/for/for36/for36.htm

December 19, 2016

Christmas Tree IPM Update 12.19.16

Ah, the end is near – of selling trees, and the year 2016 – and for me, of the days getting shorter!  As the sun sinks below the buildings outside my window at 4:15….
I’ve heard the selling has been good and I hope that is true for all.

And to get ready for one of the presentations at the CTFANY Annual Winter meeting – or just to help you think of warmer days – an article from MSU on attracting pollinators.

It’s hard to compact frozen soil but once things start to melt, it’s easy (not that I think we should have spring quite yet).  MSU also has information on protecting tree roots from compaction – although it is aimed at a landscape audience it has good information.

A short one this time, but long enough for the season.  Perhaps I will actually get my tree set up this evening! Pretty early for me!

 

Another article from Paul Hetzler – this one on the Yule Log tradition!

Yule Logs

Paul Hetzler

Apparently, the ceremonial burning of a large chunk of wood on or near the winter solstice (Yule to the old Germanic peoples) may have begun as a Nordic custom in the 6th century, possibly earlier. Known as a Yule clog, Yule block, Christmas log and other variants, the Yule log was purported to bring good luck in the new year if it burned all day long without being fully consumed. A remnant was always saved, and used to light the following year’s log. Though the tradition is much less common today, it has not been completely extinguished.

Given the climate there, it is no surprise that the hardy folks in northern Europe thought the best way to observe a winter holiday was to light a tree trunk on fire and gather round it. That’s probably what I would have done, too. The French, on the other hand, put a whole new twist on the thing, inventing a delicious Yule log cake that they never burn, at least not intentionally. It took them a dozen or so centuries to come up with the recipe, but let’s not complain. You don’t have to go to France to taste the bûche de Noël—in Quebec you can find Yule logs that are works of art in addition to being delectable.

Popularly depicted as a birch log, to have a Yule log burn all day and still get leftovers, you might want another kind of wood. While birch is picturesque, it doesn’t compare with many other hardwoods in terms of the heat it gives off and how long it burns. All people are created with equal value, but with logs, not so much.

Heat value, whether it’s from coal, oil or wood, is measured in BTUs, or British thermal units. One BTU represents the energy required to heat a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. And even though the U.S. is the only country on the planet not on the metric system, many other nations still use our BTU scale.

Firewood is usually hardwood, though that’s kind of a misnomer. Some “hardwoods” are softer than many types of softwood. Basswood and cottonwood, for example, have a BTU per (dry) cord rating of around 12 million, lower than that of white pine (16 million) or balsam (20 million).

As those who heat with wood know, hard (sugar) maple is the gold standard for firewood, at least in northern New England, releasing a whopping 30 million BTUs per cord. You’d have to burn twice as much butternut or aspen to get the same heat value. Hickory, beech, black locust, white oak and ironwood (hop hornbeam) come in just behind hard maple. The iconic paper birch has about 20 million BTUs per cord, respectable but not a premium fuel. Especially if you are banking a year’s wort of luck on having it last all day.

Of course there are other considerations besides BTU value in choosing firewood. Even though balsam heats better than butternut, it makes more creosote and throws a lot of sparks. Wood moisture content is also critical. When you burn wet wood, much of the wood’s heat value goes into boiling off the water. Fresh-cut elm is 70 percent water by weight; you’d get very little heat from that, assuming you could even keep it lit. Outdoor furnaces, because they have a blower, are capable of burning green wood. This might be seen as a convenience, but if you burn unseasoned wood in an outdoor furnace you’re spending twice as much time, doing twice the work compared to burning dry wood—how’s your back these days, anyway?

In the Balkans and parts of southern Europe the Yule log tradition lives on. If you’re one of the few Americans who will be burning an actual Yule log in an open hearth this year, you probably have a good chunk of dry hard maple or hickory set aside, plus a remnant of last year’s log with which to help light it.

But if that’s not your tradition, you can join millions of Americans who tune into the televised Yule Log Program on Christmas, now on the Web of course. That log apparently not only burns all day, but has done so since the program’s inception way back in 1967. I’m sure the Department of Energy is working to find what species of tree it’s from, because with just a few of those trees we could solve a lot of our energy problems.

May your holiday season be healthy and happy, and may your Yule log burn only if that is your plan.

June 21, 2016

Greenhouse IPM Update 6.20.16

Happy summer solstice!  I was picking strawberries at 9:00 last night to celebrate (or just because that’s finally when I got around to it!)

Hot enough for you?  Thrips biocontrol agents are also affected by temperature.  Michigan State notes that the predatory mite Neoseiulus cucumeris isn’t as tolerant of temperatures over 75 F as is Amblyseius swirskii.  And Steinernema nematodes should be applied later in the evening as they prefer median temperatures between 50 and 80 F.  Orius, however, likes it hot!

New and used – well, previous.  Ball Publishing’s webinar series.  New – June 21 on Mites in the Nursery. Archived – Root rot management for annual and perennial crops http://www.ballpublishing.com/BallPub/_Webinars.aspx

Are you hungry?  How about your plants?  A Nutrient Deficiency Refresher from Chevonne Carlow at OMAFRA   Hmmm, I think I’ll eat lunch!

It just looks like dirt and water.  It is really a whole series of methods for testing your growing media from Premier Tech. http://www.floraldaily.com/article/5506/How-to-test-growing-media  And since you just learned about nutrient deficiencies, you should try it now!

Need new toys?  Insect-dropping ‘eco-drones’ for dispersing biocontrols

How about new crops?  Michigan State is holding a tour of fruit production under high tunnels on July 5, 2016. Cornell has raspberries in high tunnels but cherries?

Stay cool and have a great week!

April 21, 2016

Christmas tree IPM update 4.21.16

What’s happening to the Christmas trees?  Trees that looked terrific 2 weeks ago are now partially or completely covered with orange or grey needles.  I have heard mostly about firs and white spruce, but other species may also be affected.  In some cases it is worse on the SW sides of trees but not always.

Calls are coming in to me, CCE and the diagnostic lab so this is quite widespread.

Our best answer, based on the rapidity with which symptoms showed up, the range of species and locations hit, and the wide area covered is that this is not a disease but desiccation – a form of winter injury.  Winter injury with the harsh winters we’ve had recently makes more sense, but even in milder winters, trees that are losing water with no way of taking  in more, or that went in to the winter water stressed, will show needle loss.

The first response is…wait.  Wait to see if the new buds were affected or if the new growth looks good.  The benefit of new needles may vary based on the size of the tree and the potential to get enough growth before harvest but waiting a few weeks will tell you what you have so you can decide what to do.

Find more information from Cornell and MSU.

Feel free to call or email if you have questions, or send pictures if you wish.

April 5, 2016

Christmas tree IPM update 4.4.16

Snow? Of course.  But it is supposed to leave more quickly and then not come back.  Must have forgotten to put in my order for spring weather.  Does it give you a break or goof up your planting plans?

It must be spring!  The first issue of Branching Out is out. Want to know how to get NY based scouting help for your trees (and nursery crops, too)?  Here you go!   A few things this issue covers – Weir’s cushion rust and elongate hemlock scale.

The question we have been asking about blue spruce – Is it needle cast disease or something else? From the Ontario nursery crops blog.

And do you know what eriophyid mite damage looks like?  Another reason needles might be falling off of a variety of conifers. They like it cool so scout now (once the snow is off the needles) – but remember they are VERY small. (Already reported in the 3/24 PA Christmas Tree Scouting report)

Not so sweet if it is in your fields.  Honeysuckle breaks bud early which can help identify it for control.

What’s in your crystal ball?  MD has a new pest prediction calendar.  The Tree and Shrub guidelines have more species, but this has phenology information for some weeds and wildflowers, which might be right there on your farm.

Coming soon?  Depending on our weather of course.  Balsam twig aphids nymphs.  Do a tap test of twigs near those affected last year to find the nymphs that will crawl to breaking buds and produce lots more aphids.