In This Issue
Local Food Marketing, Ag Labor Reform, Black Rot, Downy Mildew, Soil Pathogens, Hayride Safety, Food Inflation, Berry Pollination, Foliar Fertilization, Converting Poultry Houses for Growing and more.
USDA Releases Local Food Marketing Practices Data
Over 147,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food locally through direct marketing practices, resulting in $9.0 billion in revenue in 2020, according to the Local Food Marketing Practices data released April 28 by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The data covers both fresh and value-added foods, such as meat and cheese.
The more than 40,000 farms that sold food directly to institutions and intermediates brought in the most revenue at $4.1 billion; this was followed by operations with direct-to-consumer sales, such as on-farm stores and farmers’ markets, at $2.9 billion. Sales directly to retailers accounted for $1.9 billion from more than 24,000 operations nationwide. The top five states by value of total direct food sales were:
- California, $1.4 billion
- Pennsylvania, $600 million
- New York, $584 million
- Michigan, $555 million
- Maine, $342 million
Action Urged on Ag Labor Reform Measure by Washington State’s Newhouse
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, hosted a press conference on April 27 with community leaders and advocacy organizations to urge action on his legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
The groups tacking part included the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry’s (NCCHM) Raíces y Alas Congress, Americans for Prosperity, AmericanHort, National Immigration Forum, Raíces, The LIBRE Initiative, and several other members of the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus. See more here.
Note: The American Farm Bureau Federation and PVGA had not supported Rep. Newhouse's bill that had passed the House last year. Both groups strongly support ag labor reform but had concerns about some provisions of the bill.
Field Scouting Guide: Black Rot of Brassicas
We reached out to leading plant pathologists to learn how to spot and treat Xanthomonas campestris (black rot of brassicas). This month, our contributors: are Steven T. Koike, University of California Cooperative Extension; Joe Nunez, UC Cooperative Extension; Anthony P. (Tony) Keinath, Ph.D., Clemson University Coastal Research & Education Center; Lindsey J. du Toit, Ph.D., Washington State University Mount Vernon NWREC; and Margaret Tuttle McGrath, Cornell University. See more here.
Harmful Bacteria in Ubiquitous Weed Detected for First Time
Scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have recorded the first North American case of a harmful phytoplasma disease known for its threat to fruit, vegetable and ornamental crops in South America and the Middle East.
To make matters worse, scientists confirmed the host for the disease to be one of the most noxious and rapidly spreading weeds commonly found in a wide range of environments throughout the United States and into Canada.
Findings of the “First report of ‘Cadidatus Phytoplasma brasiliense’ in North America and in a new host, yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)” were just published in the journal “Plant Health Progress.” See more here.
Survival Strategies of Persistent Soil Pathogens
All persistent soilborne pathogens form durable structures that allow them to survive in soil for extended periods. For example, Rhizoctonia species form dense, compact mats of mycelium that retard drying out.
Verticillium and Macrophomina pathogens produce thick-walled, black cells that adhere together in clusters called microsclerotia. The thick walls reduce drying and crushing of the cells, while the black pigment provides protection against damaging UV radiation. Some soilborne fungi make more elaborate structures. The southern blight fungus (Sclerotium rolfsii), white rot pathogen of garlic and onion (Sclerotium cepivorum), and the white mold fungus (Sclerotinia species) all produce a survival structure with a darkened outer rind or case, which internally is packed with fungal mycelium. See more here.
Newly Discovered Protein in Fungus Bypasses Plant Defenses
A protein that allows the fungus that causes white mold stem rot in more than 600 plant species to overcome plant defenses has been identified by a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and Washington State University scientists.
Knowledge of this protein, called SsPINE1, could help researchers develop new, more precise system of control measures for the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum fungus, which attacks potatoes, soybeans, sunflowers, peas, lentils, canola, and many other broad leaf crops. The damage can add up to billions of dollars in a year of bad outbreaks. See more here.
USDA 2022 Food Price Inflation Forecasts Already at 14-Year High, Expected to Rise Even More
USDA forecasts for consumer food price inflation were increased again this month, with all food prices now seen rising 5% to 6% (4.5% to 5.5% in March) and grocery store prices expected to rise 5% to 6% (4.5% to 5.5% in March) while the forecast increase in restaurant prices was held at 5.5% to 6.5%.
Taking the midpoint of USDA’s forecast ranges, all food price inflation would be the highest since it was 5.5% in 2008 with food at home (grocery store) inflation also the highest since 2008 when it was up 6.5% from the prior year. The 20-year average for food price increases at 2.4% for all food, 2.9% for restaurant prices and 2.0% for grocery store prices means the current outlooks are for costs that are at least double those averages. See more here.
Field Scouting Guide: Cucurbit Downy Mildew
Cucurbit downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis) — or DM — poses a threat to Michigan’s cucurbit crops. Since Michigan in No. 1 in the U.S. for pickling cucumbers, it’s an economic threat that needs to be managed before it gets out of hand.
DM is well-known for causing catastrophic losses in a brief period of time. It spreads to surrounding fields on air currents via tiny, microscopic spores that act as seeds of the pathogen. Cool (~ 60°F), wet, and cloudy conditions create an ideal environment for DM spores to survive outside the host. When the conditions are favorable, unprotected foliage can become completely blighted within 14 days of the initial infection, resulting in catastrophic yield losses. See more here.
New Hayride Safety Standards
Our research has found that hayride accidents in the U.S. since 2000 have resulted in at least 202 injuries and 24 deaths, 14 of which were children, one as recently as last year. See the details here.
The American Society for Testing and Materials, known as ASTM, has developed a Standard Practice for Hayride Attractions (F3168). It applies to hayrides at amusement, entertainment, recreational, or agritourism businesses, including but not limited to family entertainment centers (FECs), camps, shopping centers, seasonal attractions, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, farms, fairs, and municipal parks. The Standard also incorporates by reference ASTM F770, Standard Practice for Ownership, Operation, Maintenance, and Inspection of Amusement Rides and Devices, with appropriate noted modifications. See more here.
Strawberry and Blueberry Pollination
Strawberries are aggregate fruits. They have multiple ovules per receptacle where the fruit is formed. The strawberry receptacle may have up to 500 ovules per berry. You will see these as “seeds” on the outside of the strawberry fruit which are called achenes. To have the largest berry possible, you need as many of these ovules to be successfully pollinated as possible. To avoid misshapen fruits the achenes need to be pollinated evenly and fully. With pollination, the receptacle tissue around the achenes will develop to form the strawberry fruit. See more here.
Boosting the Nutritional Bounty of Carrots and Onions
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are looking to beef up your salad—not with complementary slices of tender chicken, steak or other meat but rather new, improved varieties of carrot and onion.
Philipp Simon, research leader of the ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wisconsin, is coordinating the effort to fortify these popular salad items and fresh-market favorites with increased levels of beta carotene, anthocyanin and other phytonutrients.
His team is leveraging the latest genomics tools and techniques to identify the specific gene or gene regions for these health-promoting compounds in germplasm collections of onion and carrot so that they can be passed into elite commercial varieties, benefiting farmers in the field and consumers at the dinner table. See more here.
Converting Poultry Houses into Indoor Growing Facilities
With many poultry houses being retired or unused, there has been an interest in converting these houses into indoor growing facilities, such as lighted hydroponics. Throughout the US, unused facilities such as warehouses are being converted for growing vegetables and herbs (such as leafy greens and basil). This has been made possible by the decrease in lighting cost with LED grow lights. The Cannabis industry has also adopted indoor lighted growing for production of medical marijuana. Other possibilities are bag culture of many specialty crops with lighting, and tank culture of blue-green algae (Spirulina) with lighting. There is also the potential to use facilities to produce mushrooms without supplemental lighting. See more here.
Foliar Fertilization for Vegetable Crops
It is recommended that growers apply most (>90%) of their plant nutrients for vegetable crops as soil applications (preplant, sidedressed, fertigated) based on soil tests and crop nitrogen needs.
To monitor vegetable nutrient status during the growing season, tissue testing is recommended just prior to critical growth stages. Growers can then add fertilizers to maintain adequate nutrient levels during the growing season or correct nutrient levels that are deficient or dropping.
Foliar fertilization is one tool to maintain or enhance plant nutritional status during the growing season. Often quick effects are seen and deficiencies can be corrected before yield or quality losses occur. Foliar fertilization also allows for multiple application timings post planting. In addition, there is reduced concern for nutrient loss, tie up, or fixation when compared to soil applications. See more here.
Is Listeria a Risk on Straw Mulch for Strawberries?
This question came in an email I recently received, is new to me. Outbreaks attributed to Listeria monocytogenes have been in the news over the past several weeks, and this smaller, regional grower had attended one of the Listeria workshops sponsored by United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association, now the International Fresh Produce Association. He began asking what I consider a hypothetical but thoughtful risk-potential question. See more here.
Using the NEWA Degree Day Calculator
Growing Degree Days (GDDs) are a useful tool for timing plantings of certain crops like sweet corn and peas to achieve a continuous harvest. Closer to harvest, degree days can also be used to predict when a crop will mature. Degree days are calculated based on the daily high and low temperatures. The simplest method for calculating daily degree days uses this formula:
The base temperature is crop dependent and is the approximate threshold temperature for growth. For peas the base temperature typically used is 40°F, for corn the base temperature is 50°F. See more here.
When Times Get Tough, Farmers Need to Focus On Consumers
We are all ready for the chaos we’re living through to be over. A worldwide pandemic has killed more than 6 million people and infected more than 500 million. Interrupted in international trade created bottlenecks, driving up prices from everything from cars to fertilizer. Then Vladimir Putin decided invading Ukraine would be a good idea, unleashing worldwide instability, not only political but also agricultural.
As a whole, the produce industry has weathered all of this surprisingly well. Yes, there have been undeniable hardships, from input costs to operations deciding to shut down. But growers are reporting strong sales, higher prices, and developing new customer bases. See more here.
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Reminders and Coming Events
Reminder: PVGA Scholarship Applications Extended to May 15
PVGA is pleased to be able offer several annual scholarships in the amount of $1,000 to $2,000 in memory of Rudolph Grob of Millersville who served the Association for 50 years as a Director, 20 years as Secretary-Treasurer and for over 20 years as manager of the Association’s Farm Show Booth. Mr. Grob was a horticulture graduate of Penn State University who was employed for many years at Funk’s Farm Market in Millersville. See details on the scholarships and the application form here.
Next Berry Growers Info Exchange is May 9th
PVGA is continuing to host a monthly get-together for berry growers on the second Monday night of the month at 8:00 p.m. Meetings are designed to give growers a chance to get time-sensitive updates on current issues from state and regional extension personnel, exchange info with other growers, get answers to their questions, or just listen in or bounce thoughts off of others. Kathy Demchak is the host.
Calls are open to PVGA members and non-members to maximize information exchange, so spread the word and invite your friends and neighbors to join.
The call-in numbers are (be aware that this is not a toll-free call):
+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC).
The meeting ID is 830 7702 1881
If you have questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-694-3596.
Retail Farm Market School
Retail Farm Market School events for farmers and food businesses:
Farmers Market Manager Forum 2022
The Farmers Market Manager Forum will hold its monthly meeting of 2022 on May 25 at 3pm. Make sure you register so you can receive the Zoom link! See here to register. To view the recording from the March 30 meeting click here.
The Farmers Market Manager Forum is a meeting in which managers can discuss issues and share best practices with one another for improving their markets. Attendees are encouraged to bring their questions and to participate in open discussion This forum is held on the last Wednesday of every month. Support for this program comes from the Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant from the Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA.
Young Grower Alliance Spring Tour
Thursday, May 12, 2022 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bloomfield Nursery, Roaring Spring
The Young Growers Alliance Spring Tour will visit two tree fruit operations in Blair and Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Tour participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the orchards, farm markets, and other parts of the operations during the visits. See more here.
Employment Law Seminar on Friday, May 13
Friday, May 13, 2022 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Spooky Nook Sports, 75 Champ Blvd. Manheim, PA 17545
Please join us for our 39th Annual Employment Law Seminar on Friday, May 13. Our Employment Practice Group will present on the latest employment law developments facing businesses.
Early Bird Rate (until April 14): $35.00 fee per person
Regular Rate (after April 14): $55.00 fee per person
Breakfast and lunch will be served. To register, see here.
Weekly Pest Management Teleconference Starts April 20
On Wednesday, April 20 at 12:30 pm EST, Steve Bogash of Marrone Bio Innovations will be starting the third season of weekly pest management education teleconferences. These calls are for growers, retailers and crop consultants. The calls will last 30 minutes and will begin at 12:30 PM EST. The first 15 minutes will be reports on seasonal and active pest management challenges in vegetables and small fruit. Then, we will open the call to discussion and Q & A. The calls will be recorded and accessible thru the playback number below. Guest experts will often be on the calls with a schedule to follow soon. See more here.
Wholesale Buying and Selling Through Produce Auctions
Wholesale produce auctions are advantageous for wholesale buyers and growers alike. Participating can seem daunting to a first-timer, but we will show you how to successfully buy and sell at the auction. During Wholesale Buying and Selling Through Produce Auctions, join us for a tour of the auction facility; an informational session on the nuts and bolts of buying and selling at the auction; and a live demonstration led by an auctioneer.
Penn State Extension will be offering these tours on the following dates from 8:30 t0 10:00 a.m.:
June 7 – Leola Produce Auction
June 14 – Oxford Produce Auction
June 30 – Juniata Produce Auction
July 5 – Kutztown Produce Auction