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Ben Lyons  |  Lockewood Acres  |  Vacaville, CA

Subject: Cucumber Beetles

I have a beautiful patch of pumpkins and i am noticing lots! of cucumber beetles. Should i be concerned about damage to the blossoms that would result in less fruit. If so what is out there that an organic farmer can use. I have not had to use anything to date and have noticed scaring on fruit but that was not an issue last year. thanks

ben

In Topics Pest & Disease Management

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Comment 0
08/29/17
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Paul Underhill  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA

Subject: Solarization

I'm wondering if anyone out there has tried or is successfully doing soil solarization for weed control?

I did a few small fields this year and am hoping to compare notes on challenges and strategies. As usual, the resources available from UC extension are very academic in their focus and offer very little practical information and zero problemsolving details.

Thanks!

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Comments 12
08/01/17

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  |  Heavy Dirt CSA  |  Davis, CA commented

I got used plastic so can't tell you the exact specs since I didn't buy it new. My understanding is that it was made specifically for solarizing, and the farmer I got it from (UCD student farm) got it second hand from a wildlands reclamation program where it was used to control invasive weeds / clear house before planting natives. It is substantially thinner than greenhouse plastic, but sinilarly UV stabilized. Because it was used and had a few holes, we doubled it over, and after soaking the area, covered up the THICK stand of Bermuda for 2-3 months of summer heat. Once or twice, I threaded a hose into the patch under the plastic and soaked it again. When I pulled it back in October or so it was truly a miracle! A thick mat of dead Bermuda mulch and not a rhizome to be found.

A couple of things of note: we have EXTREMELY heavy clay soil, which I've heard keeps Bermuda rhizomes quite shallow, helping

... Read More
08/05/17 9:55 PM

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Brandon Sanders  |  RobinSong Farms  |  Templeton, CA

Subject: SLCV in C. moschata

I have, I believe, a form of Squash Leaf Curl Virus (upward curl) in a distinct area of my winter squash field. It seems to only be infecting C. moschata varieties, particularly Kikuza. At first, online research made it seem that I am not in a region where the virus exists, but I started to see more talk of it in CA. I am wondering:

1) How should I be preventing this in the future?

2) Should I be removing the infected plants? I do not see any whitefly currently.

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Comments 3
06/13/17

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  |  Terra Firma Farm  |  Winters, CA commented

If you have a virus on your cucurbits it is either transmitted by flying and sucking insects (you mentioned whitefly but leafhoppers and aphids would be just as likely culprits) or it came in with the seed. If it's just on one variety right now, the latter is more likely.

Either way it's too late for you to do anything for the infected plants. Actinovate is not effective against viruses, nor is any other certified organic material.

The worst case scenario is that the virus is seed-borne and gets passed from the infected variety to the rest of your field via insects. The safe strategy would be to destroy the infected variety, especially if it's not a big part of your planting.

You should also let the seed company that supplied the seed know about the virus, although they will likely deny that it came from them. But if they get reports from other farmers who grew it, they will have

... Read More
06/14/17 7:47 AM

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Jacob Roberson  |  Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF)  |  Fresno, CA

Subject: Food Safety Regional Lead for Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties

Good Morning Ya'll,

My name is Jacob Roberson and I am the Food Safety Regional Lead for Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties for a non-profit organization called Community Alliance with Family Farmers (new to Fresno area). CAFF is well established all over California except for the Central Valley which is where I am based out of (Fresno to be exact). I wanted to use this post as a source to contact farmers who are struggling with food safety and cannot afford to hire an outside consultant to come to their farm, perform assessments, help with documentation, and get their farm ready for a 3rd party audit. I perform the same duties as an outside consultant but my service is no cost to the farmer. CAFF is a non-profit organization looking to better food safety standards and procedures practiced on small farms / farms at a disadvantage (financial hardships, language barriers, new farmers, etc.).

Food

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In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Pest & Disease Management, Water & Irrigation, Harvesting, Washing, Packing & Packaging, Waste Management, Food Safety, Trucks, Delivery & Logistics, Certifications, Wildlife Management, Beginning Farmers & Ranchers, Anything Goes

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Comment 0
06/09/17
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Eric Brennan  |  USDA-ARS  |  Salinas, CA

Subject: Two Vidoes on Sustainability Challenges in Organic Agriculture

Hi Folks,

Below are links to two 5 minute, thought-provoking videos that I made and presented at a symposium titled "Sustainability Challenges in Organic Agriculture" that I co-organize for the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy in Phoenix, AZ, last month. The first video is focused on NITROGEN FERTILIZERS and SOIL FERTILITY MANAGEMENT in high-input, organic vegetable systems like those that are common in the Central Coast of California. The second video, with two coauthors who work at the USDA-ARS in Beltsville, MD, is focused on PEST MANAGEMENT challenges especially with PERENNIAL WEEDS.

Sustainability Problems with Repackaged Synthetic Nitrogen in Organic Agriculture. (Brennan)

What Our Organic Gardens Taught Us About the Challenges of Organic Regulations. (Cavigelli, Tomecek, & Brennan)

All 11 presentations in this symposium were by 5 minute videos and followed by equal time for

... Read More

In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Pest & Disease Management, Certifications

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Comments 2
12/09/16

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  |  Nico Orgo USA Inc  |  Fresno, CA commented

Hello Eric, Great research thanks for keeping us informed.

05/18/17 11:01 AM

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Sara Bernal  |  CLBL  |  Winters, CA

Subject: Jack Rabbit proof Gates

I am fencing off some land to start a veggie farm and I understand how to install the actual perimeter fencing however; does anyone have a gate design or idea that would keep the Jack Rabbits out.

I need a gate that I can drive my truck through and let tractors in and out that would be used daily.

The gate seems like a giant weak spot.

I am considering pouring a small concrete pad to keep them from burrowing and then bringing the wire down to the ground and weighing it down with stones or bricks.....

The Jack Rabbit pressure is pretty intense at this site.

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Comment 0
02/16/17
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Laura Patterson  |  UC Davis  |  Davis, CA

Subject: ORGANIC PRODUCE FARMS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH STUDY

We are looking for California certified organic growers to participate in a multi-regional study to assess current management practices affecting soil health and the survival of pathogens, related to adding raw/aged/untreated manure to crop production fields.

The goal of our study is to provide organic farmers with science-based effective strategies that limit food safety risks when using raw manure based soil amendments.

University of California-Davis researchers will visit enrolled farms 8 times per growing season (in 2017 & 2018). We will collect water, produce, soil and manure samples. All samples will be tested for bacterial indicators such as nonpathogenic E. coli & pathogens. Farmers will be asked to complete a short survey. The study is voluntary and all locations and names will be kept confidential.

How you can participate:

We are looking to enroll farms that fit these criteria:... Read More

In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Pest & Disease Management, Food Safety, Livestock, News & Events

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Comment 1
01/11/17
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  |  P.J. Dunn Working Redworms  |  Galt, CA commented

Sounds like a very important study for pastured land producing crops for human consumption. I like to remind farmers if they do have access to large quantities of raw manures and spread them on their fields that processing through the gut of the composting worm adds incredible benefit to the finished product. Getting started is easy if you want to know more you can contact Michael Dunn at PJ Dunn Working Red Worms in Galt

01/16/17 12:08 PM

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Brandon Sanders  |  RobinSong Farms  |  Templeton, CA

Subject: mice and voles

I'm curious what others do to control small rodents in crops, particularly in cucurbits. We already trap for gophers and squirrels, but we also have mice and voles spending a lot of time in our squash and melon fields. At the moment, I don't have much preference between deterrent or kill methods, but I'd like to hear examples of either. Long-term, we would like to focus on deterrents, but we would like to get a handle on them. Mowing the open areas does not seem to be increasing the amount of raptor kills by much (at least not noticeably in the rodent populations), so it is time to be more proactive... I'm interested in hearing any sort of suggestions...

In Topics Pest & Disease Management, Wildlife Management

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Comments 11
07/24/16

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  |  Wood Prairie Farm  |  Bridgewater, ME commented

We have friends with an organic farm and on-farm grain milling operation. They have two Jack Russell Terriers (a sister and a brother). Their hyper-active capability is pretty amazing and they control rodents including good-sized rats.

09/03/16 5:00 AM

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Susan Cousineau  |  Self-employed  |  Camarillo, CA

Subject: Looking for tree crop growers interested in on-farm research

Hi all

There is much buzz about carbon farming, soil health and regenerative agriculture this year, and many farmers (and researchers) are interested in developing on-farm soil carbon and soil health monitoring.

I'm interested in finding someone interested in developing regenerative agricultural practices on their existing orchard (focusing on citrus, avocado or almond but open to others) in order to set up some medium term (2-5+ year) monitoring projects modelling soil-building practices. These might include compost application (as per the Marin Carbon Project: http://marincarbonproject.org); intensively managed/short-rotation grazing; intercropping, covercropping and alley cropping; alternative irrigation practices; or other methods depending on the goals of landowner and research potential of the site.

A bit about me: my background is in evolutionary ecology (BSc., MSc.), but I grew up farming and

... Read More

In Topics Soil Fertility Management, Trees, Vines & Planting, Pest & Disease Management, Water & Irrigation, Funding Opportunities, Weather & Climate Change, Anything Goes

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Comment 1
04/16/16
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  |  P.J. Dunn Working Redworms  |  Galt, CA commented

This sounds like a very good starting point for a lot of contemporary 'aggies'. Some terms are new, but the sound of regenerative suggests a 'sustainable' tone to it. I would love to open up interest in worm castings as part of that process. I've been a small scale worm farmer for 18 years now and haven't seen enough commitment to the principles that Elaine Ingham has framed in her studies about soil health and fertility. If you have the desire to follow the health of the soil below the surface, please get in touch with me at PJ Dunn Working Red Worms in Galt, CA.

I'm sure that the process that occurs in the transformation of compost to castings involves carbon AND regeneration. We sell castings and worms and can provide education to get anyone started in turning their farm waste into mother nature's best and most well balanced fertilizer! Alternative is no longer a 'dirty' word, it is just

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04/17/16 2:09 PM

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Anson Biller  |  Full Fork Farm  |  China, ME

Subject: IMP/Organic Control for Tarnished Plant Bug?

I'm located in Mid-Coast Maine in the China Lakes Region. What recommendations can you offer about working with tarnished plant bug? There's a farmer producing hay next in the same field as I'm going to produce veggies/strawberries, and I want to be ready about potential challenges from tarnished plant bug when he cuts his field.

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Comment 0
03/07/16
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