Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production Field Day

On March 21, I will be at this field day to talk about fruit varieties and site selection for fruit crops.  To get more info, read below and download the pdf at the link.  Once the field day is over I will post my presentation on this blog.

The Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production is hosting a field day on Friday, March 21, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at their demonstration farm near Goodman, MS in Holmes County.  This field day will feature topics on plastic mulching laying and irrigation and construction and production in high tunnels.

Please see the attached flyer for more information and a list of remaining field days for 2014. These monthly “field days” are designed to provide hands-on/on-farm learning opportunities.  The basic idea is to cover issues and topics that you should be dealing with at that particular time. The cost for this event is free, but everyone is asked to pre-register; to RSVP for the March 21st workshop please contact Keith Benson at 601-988-4999 or keithmdp@yahoo.com.

Alliance for Sustainable Ag Field Day

Fruit Crops for North Mississippi

Last week I was in Verona and gave a talk on Fruit Crops for North Mississippi at the Northern Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association annual conference.  The weather was cold, but the crowd inside was good.  Lots of interest and excitement about all kinds of fruit and vegetable related topics.  Below is a photo of Dr. Blake Layton, MSU Extension Entomologist, addressing the crowd.

Dr. Layton at the NMSFVGA meeting in Verona

Dr. Layton at the NMSFVGA meeting in Verona

Although I didn’t get a photo with me speaking (should I have done a selfie?) my presentation is available for download at the link below as a PDF.

Fruit Crops for Northern MS 2014

UPDATE:  After posting this I was chastised by Dr. John Clark at the University of Arkansas for not listing the UA peach and nectarine varieties.  My reply was that they were untested in N. MS so I didn’t know for sure how they would perform.  He thought they would do well in that area.  So, this link: http://www.aragriculture.org/horticulture/fruits_nuts/nectarine_peach/default.htm will describe them and offer nurseries where to obtain them.

Center for Crop Diversification

This past weekend I was at the Southern Region – American Society for Horticultural Science meeting in Dallas.  At the meeting there were lots of great presentations.  One poster I saw was about the Center for Crop Diversification at the University of Kentucky.  They describe themselves as:

“The Center for Crop Diversification (formerly Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center) offers printed and electronic resources on a variety of crops and marketing channels. Funding from The Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund will allow for expansion of the Center’s Web-based marketing and production resources. Funds will be used to develop online podcasts, webinars, video training, expanded price reports and new publications to meet the high demand for crop diversification information.

The Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center (CDBREC) coordinated multi-disciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students to research and set guidelines for producing and marketing selected crops at a profit. The Center was funded by a Special Research Grant from the USDA from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2013.”

There is a ton of information on this site (http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CCD/welcome.html) about all kinds of crops.  They also have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CenterforCropDiversification).

I especially like the Crop Resources section (http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CCD/othercrops.html) and the Crop Profiles section (http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CCD/intro.html).

Take a look and see if you can find a new crop to grow.  One of the beauties of agriculture is diversity and this site helps find a (perhaps unusual) crop that speaks directly to you.

Fruit Problems Reported in Mississippi 2013

Each year the MSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic compiles a list of diseases/insects/disorders they see during the year.  Below are those that were seen in 2013.  You can access the entire list here:

http://msucares.com/lab/2013list.pdf

The general format of the list shows the common name for the disease, followed by the scientific name of the pathogen, followed by a number in parentheses that indicates the number of times this problem was diagnosed in the lab.

Apple (Malus x domestica)
• Abiotic (1)
• Abiotic (Captan Injury Suspected) (1)

Blackberry (Rubus sp.)
• Canker (Coniothyrium sp.) (1) on ‘Arapaho’
• Yellow Vein Virus Disease Complex (1)

Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.)
• Abiotic (Pot Bound) (1)
• Abiotic (Iron Deficiency) (1) • Abiotic (Potassium Deficiency Suspected) (1)
• Anthracnose (Gloeosporium sp.) (1)
• Leaf Rust (Naohidemyces vaccinii formerly Pucciniastrum vaccinii) (1)
• Powdery Mildew (1)
• Insects (2)
• Sooty Mold (1)

Citrus (Citrus sp.)
• Insect Injury Suspected (1)
• Magnesium Deficiency Suspected (1)

Fig, Common (Ficus carica)
• Aerial Blight (Rhizoctonia solani) (2)
• Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) (2)
• Fig Mosaic Virus (1)
• Pink Limb Rot (Corticum salmonicolor) (1)
• Root-knot Nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) (1)

Hickory (Carya sp.)
• Gnomonia Leaf Spot (Gnomonia caryae) (1)
• Sooty Mold (1)

Jujube (Ziziphus jujube)
• Leaf Spot (Cercospora sp.) (3)

Lemon (Citrus limon)
• Inadequate Sample (1)
• Insects (Scale) (1)

Mayhaw (Crataegus aestivalis)
• Quince Rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes) (1)

Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia)
• Abiotic (Magnesium Deficiency Suspected) (1)
• Jelly Fungus Suspected (Tremallales sp. ) (1)

Nectarine (Prunus persica)
• Abiotic (Excessive Water) (1)

Peach (Prunus persica)
• Abiotic (Excessive Soil Moisture) (1)
• Bacterial Shot Hole (Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni) (4)
• Brown Rot (Monilinia fructicola) (1)
• Canker (Botryosphaeria sp.) (1)
• Root Rot (Armillaria sp.) (1)

Pear (Pyrus sp.)
• Leaf Spot (Cercospora sp.) (1)
• Fabrae Leaf Spot (Entomosporium sp.) (1)
• Quince Rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes) (1)

Pear (Pyrus communis)
• Abiotic (Magnesium deficiency suspected) (1)

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
• Abiotic (Kernel Fuzz) (1)
• Conk (Fomes fomentarius) (1)
• Insect (Pecan phylloxera) (1)
• Pecan Scab (Fusicladium effusum) (2)

Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
• Abiotic (unknown) (1)

Satsuma (Citrus reticulata)
• Abiotic (Fruit Puffing)
• Abiotic (Magnesium deficiency suspected) (1)
• Insect Injury Suspected (possibly leaf footed bug) (1)
• Melanose suspected (Diaporthe citri) (1)

Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)
• Abiotic (Glyphosate Injury) (1)
• Angular Leaf Spot (Xanthomonas fragariae) (1)
• Crown Rot (Phytophthora sp.) (1)

 

MS Farm to School Trainings 2014

Just a reminder about the upcoming Farm to School Trainings; the first one will be this Friday, January 10 in Jackson, MS.  Growers and School Nutrition Directors are invited to attend!

 

Mississippi Market Ready

Mississippi Market Ready Training is back with a Farm-to-School training. These new trainings will be half-day trainings for producers and nutritionists. This half-day training teaches producers how to sell to schools and teaches schools how to buy from producers. Mississippi Market Ready: Farm-to-School includes an explanation of school programs, GAP and insurance requirements, supply of fresh products, and delivery specifications. Training will conclude with a step-by-step How to Buy Guide and a question and answer panel.

Workshops will begin at 9, but doors will open one hour early for registration and refreshments. Lunch and training materials will be provided. Please register one week in advance to ensure lunch and training materials.Download the flyer.

Training Dates

  • January 10: Jackson, MS Ag & Forestry Museum, Ethnic Building
  • January 24: Hattiesburg, Extension Conference Center
  • February 7: Verona, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center
  • February 21: Cleveland, Bolivar County Extension Conference Center

Presenters

  • Ken Hood, Mississippi State University: Extension Service
  • Paige Manning, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce
  • Priscilla Ammerman, Mississippi Department of Education: Office of Healthy Schools
  • Kevin Riggin, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce

Agenda:

Time

Activity

Speaker

8:30 am   Doors Open for Registration and Refreshments
9:00-9:15 am   Introduction Ken Hood
9:15-9:45 am   School Programs (DoD & Local) Paige Manning & Priscilla Ammerman
9:45-10:15 am   GAP/Quality/Insurance Kevin Riggin
10:15-10:30 am   Break
10:30-11:00 am   Supply/Production/Delivery Ken Hood
11:00-11:30 am   Step-by-Step How to Buy Guide Priscilla Ammerman
11:30-12:00 pm   Lunch
12:00-12:15 pm   Follow-up Ken Hood
12:15-12:45 pm   Question and Answer Panel All Presenters
12:45 pm   Adjourn

 

 

Politics and Agriculture

What do politics and agriculture have to do with each other?  A lot.  And unfortunately not all farmers/growers/producers realize this.  Agriculture is a complex web of connected parts — there are growers, suppliers, researchers, educators, consumers, consultants, etc. that all depend on agriculture.  I’ve met many a grower who just wants to put his/her head down and work hard on their own farm.  I understand that.  Most growers are hard workers who spend a lot of time in their fields, on their tractors, and other tasks that consume a lot of time.  They are probably from farm families that have done the same thing for decades.

But…

The world is different now than it was decades ago.  Agricultural lobbying is very powerful, but not all crops are equally represented.  Plus, powerful commodities in one state may be underrepresented in another.  Thus, the onus really falls on individual growers and state-based grower organizations to make their voice heard in politics.  They must know who the political power players are and get to know them.  They must be vocal about their needs and concerns.  So, how can this help?

I speak from the university side of things, but I have seen the effects of becoming politically active.  Once upon a time (when I worked in Oklahoma) the grape growers organization was a fledgling group without any political influence.  But, in six years time, they went from being an afterthought to gaining legislature to fund research, they met with and made wine for the Governor, and they have raised the reputation of their product (along with many other good works).  Their political savvy helped the OSU program through obtaining more grant funding.  No longer did funders say, “The industry is small and we don’t know how much interest there is in this work”, but rather, “Grapes are an important part of our funding expenditures”.

I see similar things here in Mississippi.  When I first arrived I applied for 2 specialty crop block grants through the MDAC, one for blueberries and one for grapes.  Both were declined.  One comments from the review committee on the blueberry grant said, “…there were concerns that adequate information is currently available for Mississippi blueberry growers”.  Really?  A comment on the grape proposal review said, “…the committee did not know how many growers were interested in grape production.”  Now, of course, there are limited funds to go around, but I believe these proposals would have faired much better if blueberry and grape growers made their needs known to political entities that direct these funds.

The power of a collective voice is substantial.  So, I encourage everyone who is concerned with their business and their industry to become more politically savvy.  Certainly the research, extension, and education done on many crops depends on it.

Food-Safety Workshops

Fruit and vegetable growers can learn techniques to make their produce safer for the consumer during one of four upcoming Mississippi State University workshops. Specialists with the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will conduct four separate workshops across the state on developing and implementing good agricultural practices and good handling practices. The workshops are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Jan. 13 at the Forrest County Extension office, 952 Sullivan Dr., Hattiesburg;
  • Feb. 10 at the Frank T. (Butch) Withers Jr. Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, 1320 Seven Springs Rd., Raymond;
  • Feb. 17 at MSU’s Bost Auditorium, 190 Bost, Starkville campus; and
  • March 11 at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, 1815 Popps Ferry Rd., Biloxi.

The voluntary guidelines, referred to as GAPs and GHPs, were issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 to help growers eliminate food safety hazards that can occur during growing, harvesting, cleaning, washing, sorting, packing and transporting unprocessed foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables. Topics include site selection and soil; agricultural water; fertilizer and pesticide use; animal exclusion; worker health and hygiene; produce cleaning and water treatment; packing and storage; traceability; harvesting; cooling; transportation; and U.S. Department of Agriculture audit verification checklist.
Registration is free and open to all Mississippi fruit and vegetable growers who sell to the fresh market. Seating at each location is limited to the first 25 participants to preregister. A pre- and post-test will be given. Those completing the course will receive a certificate of completion. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. To pre-register or for more information, contact Dr. Mahmoud at 228-762-7783, ext. 301, or bmahmoud@ext.msstate.edu.
The workshop is funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Southern Risk Management Education Center. Instructors are MSU Extension and research professors Mahmoud, Christine Coker, Eric Stafne and Gary Bachman, and Alcorn State University food safety specialist Nicole Bell.
Please see the following press release from MSU for more information: http://msucares.com/news/releases/13/nr20131125_gapscertification.html

Site Selection Considerations for Orchards and Vineyards

Yesterday I was in Choctaw, Mississippi giving talk at the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association annual conference.  The topic I delivered was “Site Selection Consideration for Orchards and Vineyards”.  As I promised, I have put the entire presentation at the link below that can be downloaded as a PDF.

MSFVG 2013 Site Selection Considerations

Suggestions for Getting Better Information in Online Searches

In January I will be giving a talk about online resources that are available for muscadines at the SE Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference in Savannah, GA.  My presentation will be on where the best, most useful information about muscadines is on the web and how to find it.  Now, typically I use Google as my search engine of choice.  In the past I’ve used Yahoo, Excite, Bing, Internet Explorer, and others, but I found that Google best suits my needs.  One thing I don’t care for about search engines is that the top returns are usually not the best option.  Don’t get “most popular” confused with “best”.  Let’s look at an example:

I googled the word “muscadine”.  The top three returns were from, 1) Wikipedia, 2) Southern Living, and 3) University of Florida Extension.  The Wikipedia page is a thin description of the plant and some of its more notable health-related properties.  There is no discussion on how to grow muscadines at all.  So, if someone was interested in just discovering that muscadines exist then this page kind of fills that requirement, but there are far better web pages out there that do that.  The Southern Living page is labeled as “The Complete Guide to Muscadine” which is laughable and entirely misleading; although the author does refer readers to local County Extension offices to get more information.  This page is designed for the homeowner who has a vine or two and doesn’t desire to spend much time or energy on maintaining it.  The third page from the University of Florida Extension is undoubtedly the best.  This is a page anyone who is even remotely serious about muscadines should read.  But why is it only the third return instead of number one?

I don’t pretend to know how Google and SEO work.  For some reason, Google loves Wikipedia.  Unfortunately, the entries in Wikipedia are often incomplete or sometimes wrong or outdated.  The only time I use Wikipedia if it is on a subject that I don’t know a lot about and I find better links and references within the article to read.  So, what is a better way to search and find credible information?  Since I am in Extension and work with Fruit Crops and growers, my searches are mainly for information that has been scientifically tested and rigorously reviewed.  One way to find this information in Google is to put your search term in the search box (i.e. “Muscadine”) and then add “site”, a semicolon, and “edu” after it (for example, “muscadine” site:edu).  Although the search is not perfect (it misses some other good muscadine info on other trusted domains like gov and org) it does give one better options than just a general search.   You can also perform this type of search under the “Advanced Search” options in Google.  Another of my favorite tools is Google Scholar.  This also has some limitations but can help with finding actual journal articles on certain topics.  This can be found at scholar.google.com.

They key to using a search engine is trusting your own keen eye for poor returns.  The more one uses a search engine the more is understood about what kind of returns will show up and how to best filter them.  Sometimes a general search does exactly what you need, but other times it is a quagmire of junk that requires time and effort.  There are times I spend a monumental amount of time finding what I need because of the returns I get, but by using a couple tips like those I mention above, online searches can be more productive and less time consuming.

More Upcoming Fruit-Related Educational Events in 2013

In case the Muscadine Field Day wasn’t enough for you, there are other events to help you learn about muscadines (and other fruit crops).

First up is another Muscadine Field Day, this one in Arkansas (http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/7849.htm) :

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture will be hosting a Muscadine Workshop and Field Day at the Fruit Research Station at Clarksville on Thursday, September 12th. We have invited two prominent speakers to this workshop to give you updates on muscadine production and postharvest issues. In addition, we will have a display of muscadine cultivars and selections grown at this facility and a tour that will emphasize our muscadine breeding program. Whether you are thinking about expanding your existing planting, changing to newer cultivars, planting a new vineyard, or looking for marketing opportunities, this is a great opportunity!
This workshop is partially funded by the Arkansas Agriculture Department Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Agenda
2:30-3:00 pm Registration
3:00-3:15 pm Welcome by Dr. John Clark and Dr. Renee Threlfall, University of Arkansas
3:15-4:00 pm Issues in Muscadine Production, Sara Spayd, Professor, North Carolina State University
4:00-4:45 pm Postharvest Issues with Muscadine and Selection and Cultivar Differences, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Professor, North Carolina State University
4:45-5:00 pm Update on Muscadine Postharvest Research Project, Derek Barchenger, Graduate Assistant, University of Arkansas
5:00-5:30 pm Arkansas Muscadine Breeding Program Progress, John Clark, University Professor, University of Arkansas
5:30-6:30 pm Catered Dinner
6:30-7:30 pm Vineyard Tour of the University of Arkansas Muscadine Breeding Program

Registration:
The registration fee for this workshop is $25.00. Registration and payment deadline is Thursday, August 29, 2013. For online registration and payment with check or credit card visit
http://uark.edu/ua/afls1234/webforms/muscadine_workshop.php.

For other registration information contact Katie Hanshaw (Phone 479-754-2406, Fax: 479-754-7529, E-mail: khanshaw@uark.edu)

Second is the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association annual field day and trade show on October 10, 2013. I will be posting more information on this event in the coming days.

This will be an excellent Field Day and Trade Show. The major players in blueberry harvesting, grading and farm equipment will be on hand to exhibit their latest, most advanced equipment. Suppliers, harvesting and packaging materials, wind machines, pneumatic pruners and a number of other items used in the blueberry industry, will on exhibit. Blue River Farm will conduct tours of their farm and show us techniques that have contributed to their success.

We will begin with a short program to discuss Blue River Farm and highlight practices and products that contribute to their success. We will then take time to visit the exhibitors and look at the products and equipment. After lunch, farm tours will be conducted and equipment will be demonstrated. There is a lot packed into the program and you don’t want to miss any of it.

Directions to Blue River Farm – The farm is located between Mount Olive and Hot Coffee, MS on Highway 532. The address is 1876 Highway 532, Mount Olive, MS 39119

From U.S. Highway 49 at Mount Olive, turn East on Highway 35, cross the railroad track and bridge, take a right on Highway 532, travel 9.3 miles, Blue River Farm is on the Right.

From Laurel, turn West on Highway 84 and travel 16.6 miles, turn North on Highway 532 just past Leaf River bridge, Blue River Farm is 6.5 miles on the Left.

From Collins – turn East on Highway 84 and travel 10.4 miles, turn North on Highway 532, Blue River Farm is 6.5 Miles on the left.

The phone number at Blue River Farm is 601-797-3896, if you have trouble finding it.

If you have questions about the Blueberry Growers Field Day and Trade Show contact John Braswell at 601-795-5558 or gulfsouthblueberry@gmail.com

Third is the Fall Flower & Garden Fest, October 18 & 19 in Crystal Springs.  Details on this event, such as the program, have not been released yet.  Get more information at this link: http://msucares.com/fallfest/

The 2013 Fall Flower & Garden Fest will be held Friday and Saturday, October 18 & 19, at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Crystal Springs is about 25 miles south of Jackson. Hours are from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. both days and food vendors will have food and drinks available.

This is the largest home gardening show in the Southeast. Average attendance is 6,000 people over the two-day event. Admission and parking are free. The garden, grounds, seminars, and one of the tour wagons are handicapped accessible.

Fourth is the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference (http://www.msfruitandveg.com/):

We are excited to announce that our 2013 Conference and Trade Show will be held in beautiful Choctaw, Mississippi at Pearl River Resort’s Silver Star Conference Center.  This year’s conference will be a three day event beginning November 13th with golf at the Dancing Rabbit Golf Course.  We will begin bright and early Thursday morning with informative sessions all day long ending the evening with our Magnolia Fresh Farm to Plate hour including drinks and hor d’oeuvres  prepared from food provided by our very own Mississippi growers! We will have several more exciting sessions Friday morning with lunch provided by the Silver Star chefs followed by an opportunity to tour the Choctaw Nation’s recent farm expansion.  Don’t miss this wonderful chance to expand your growing possibilities!