- Vegetables: greens (leafy), turnips
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
- Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, cultural control, integrated pest management
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Many Northeast vegetable growers are looking for ways to extend their season and provide fresh, locally grown produce to winter CSAs and winter farmers markets. High tunnels are proving to be an excellent way to produce ‘off-season’ greens crops with little-to-no fossil fuel based heat, contributing to environmental sustainability. These production systems also contribute to the economic and social sustainability of the farmers by creating year-round income and maintaining customer relations during the traditional off-season. However, unique winter pest infestations, particularly aphids, are restricting farmers’ economic potential. Biological control methods, specifically parasitoids, become inactive during the cooler months. Furthermore where the parasitoids have been successful, the aphid ‘mummies’ left on the salad greens decreases the marketability of the crop. Our project seeks to enhance farm sustainability by researching which greens varieties are more attractive to aphids; promoting early fall releases of parasitoids, combined with late fall and winter applications of biorational pesticides, specifically Beauvaria bassiana, a naturally occurring fungal pathogen of aphids (OMRI approved). A farmer-developed technique of mixing diatomaceous earth with the spray, as well as neem oil, will also be evaluated. On-farm demonstrations, winter meetings and newsletters will promote these techniques across the state. Judson Reid, project leader has successfully implemented numerous projects on biological control and high tunnels. A project technician will survey grower adoption of biological/biorational control by growers contacted during the project.
Performance targets from proposal:
20 high tunnel growers will adopt biological or biorational control methods to manage pests of cool season greens gaining $2000 of marketable product per season.