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Out Croppings: Important crop news from the field!

Be on the lookout for Powdery Mildew

Posted: June 18th, 2018 by outcropn

Be on the lookout! Keep an eye on your cucurbits for powdery mildew!  

Powdery mildew is a very common disease on
cucurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, squash, melons). Powdery mildew is likely to
first appear within a month and continue throughout the season. This video
shows the identification, life cycle, and scouting technique, and describes
biofungicide options for powdery mildew on cucurbits – https://youtube.com/watch?v=00mAyMRwuKE&t=24s 

The 2016 research report Evaluating the Efficacy of Organic Approved Fungicides for the Control of Powdery Milldew in Squash can be found here: https://bit.ly/2tjRyQO 

Image: Powdery mildew on squash leaf, Alburgh, Vermont, 2016.


On the Lookout for Smut!

Posted: June 5th, 2018 by outcropn

This season the NWCS team is interested in collecting smut infected grain heads with a goal of identifying all smut disease that are present in the Northeast. We are looking for farmers to notify us if they spot smut in their small grain fields. Smuts are one of the easiest grain diseases to spot in the field (Image 1. Loose smut infected wheat head, Burlington, VT).

As winter and spring grains begin to head out and flower, you can start to see the visual signs of smut. There are several types of the smut pathogen found in the Northeast: Loose smut (Wheat = Ustilago tritici / Barley = U. nuda), False loose smut (Barley = U. nigra / Oats = U. avenae), and Covered smut (Barley = U. hordei).

Loose smut: During spike or head emergence, diseased heads emerge slightly earlier than healthy ones and appear as a mass of dark brown spores covered with paper-like membrane. This membrane tears easily as healthy plants begin to flower, and windblown spores infect the embryos of developing seed. After the fungus invades the grain seed embryo, it remains dormant until the seed is planted and germinates. Infected plants appear to be normal, but develop smutted heads.

Covered smut: Infected plants are often stunted and heads may not completely emerge. During spike or head emergence, diseased heads emerge at the same time, or slightly later than healthy ones and appear as mass of dark brown spores covered with paper-like membrane. This membrane ruptures at plant maturity or during threshing, and the spores infect healthy seed and soil. Covered smut spores are not typically wind-dispersed. The fungal spores remain dormant on seed coat until the seed is planted and germinates. Infected plants appear to be normal, but develop smutted heads.

Planting contaminated seed, especially in organic systems, can exponentially increase grain infection rates, resulting in yield reductions; 100% of the smutted heads are lost. Eating smut infected grain poses no harmful health effects and doesn’t appear to impact baking quality.


  • If you find smutted heads in your fields, do not save the seed.
  • Plant certified or otherwise high-quality, disease-free seed.
  • Plant resistant varieties.
  • Infected seed can be treated with various fungicides in conventional systems.

**If you find smutted heads in your fields, please contact Erica Cummings, erica.cummings@uvm.edu, phone: (802) 656-5392.

Supporting our Industrial Hemp Research

Posted: May 8th, 2018 by outcropn

We began our industrial hemp research program in 2016 with the help of program donations – thank you!  Interest in the crop and research-based guidance has continued to grow, and we need your help to keep this research project going.  Please view our Industrial Hemp web page – http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/hemp to see the research and current information.

Our goal is to raise $25,000 specific for our Industrial Hemp Research Project to keep the research going and help our farmers succeed!  Please help support our Hemp Research and visit our crowdfunding page today – http://go.uvm.edu/givenwcs

Industrial Hemp updates

Posted: April 23rd, 2018 by outcropn


Industrial hemp, Alburgh, VT

Here are some quick Industrial Hemp updates –


Visit our Industrial Hemp web page to view the 2017 research reports as well as related articles – http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/hemp

 We also have the presentation on Hemp production and processing that was given during our 2018 Grain Growers Conference – Growing and Processing Hemp (PDF) with Marc Bercier and Hannah Windatt from Eastern Ontario.


USDA Risk Management Agency information

Posted: February 14th, 2018 by outcropn

February 13, 2018

REMINDER: Upcoming Sales Closing Dates

RMA wants to remind producers about upcoming Sales Closing Dates for crop insurance coverage.  Sales closing dates vary by crop, state, and county, but in Vermont, most spring-planted crops have a sales closing date of March 15, 2018. The deadline for growers of nursery crops is May 1.

Federal crop insurance is critical to the farm safety net. It helps to mitigate the inherent risks farmers and ranchers face, from natural disasters to market related challenges. In order for producers to obtain coverage, they must to apply for coverage by the Sales Closing Date for the production year. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent soon to discuss dates and new options available. 

For more information, visit the USDA Risk Management Agency web site at:


Jake Jacobs

UVM Ag Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education program

Morrill Hall, University of Vermont


Upcoming meetings and conferences

Posted: February 12th, 2018 by outcropn

We have some great opportunities coming up that we wanted to share with everyone.  Please see below.  If you have any questions, please contact Susan Brouillette at 802-524-6501 or susan.brouillette@uvm.edu.

2018 Nutrient Management for Vegetable Farmers – is an informative, fun, and free workshop for all vegetable growers to insure you are compliant with Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs).  Offered in 5 locations on 5 separate dates in February and March 2018.  View flyer for details and registration information.

2018 Winter Farmers Meeting – scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Champlain Valley Equipment in St. Albans.  Free event.  Online registration – wintermeeting.eventbrite.com. 4 Water quality training and 4 Custom manure applicator credits are available.

2018 No-Till Cover Crop Symposium – scheduled for Thursday, March 1, 2018 at DoubleTree Hilton, formerly known as The Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center.  View go.uvm.edu/ntcc for more details and to register.

2018 8th Annual Organic Dairy Producers Conference – scheduled for Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Vermont Technical College.  2018 Organic Dairy Producers Conference Sponsor and Exhibitor opportunities are available (click for further information). Registration, flyer and details to follow.

Registration Open for 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day, 7/27

Posted: July 13th, 2017 by outcropn

Birds’ eye view of the 2016 Annual Crops and Soils Field Day.

Our 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day is just 2 weeks away and you are invited!

All farmers, Extension educators, ag service providers, and other interested folk are welcome to attend our annual event on Thursday July 27, 2017 at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, Vermont.

This day-long event provides an opportunity to check out the latest in equipment, ideas and research of the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program, host for the day. In keeping with the field day’s theme, “A Decade of Innovation–Germination–Application,” the day’s activities will show how the program is tackling challenges faced by farmers through researching new crops and new approaches to farming in the Northeast. Tours will be offered of research trials and sessions ranging from pasture management and precision agriculture to commercial production of new crops with tastings of end-products from crop research.

Registrations will be accepted through July 21 online at www.regonline.com/2017cropsfieldday or by phone. Contact Susan Brouillette (ext. 432) or Heather Darby (ext. 437) at (800) 639-2130 (toll-free within Vermont) or (802) 524-6501. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to attend is asked to call no later than July 13. A catered lunch is included in the fee, which is $10 for farmers, $25 for non-farmers. Certified Crop Adviser credits are available.

On-site check-in gets underway at 9:15 a.m. with a guided tour starting at 10 a.m. Participants will tour the more than 3,000 plots of research trials–led by UVM Extension agronomy and soils specialist Heather Darby–focusing on cereal grain and soybean varieties; reduced tillage in silage corn; innovative crops such as hemp, dry beans, hops and milkweed; and cover crops and other soil health trials for forages and perennial grasses, vegetable and field crops.

Afternoon sessions will focus on perennial forages and pasture management; flame weeding technology for vegetables and hops; a look at hemp for fiber arts and CBD (Cannabidiol) oil; new no-till and cover crop equipment; milkweed floss production; and hop yard pest management. Learn more at: www.regonline.com/2017cropsfieldday.

Crops Stressed by Rains

Posted: July 7th, 2017 by outcropn

With last week’s deluge of rain in many parts of the state and this weekend’s forecast, we have dug up a couple of past blog posts that may be of interest:

Recent Rain Creates Stress on Crops addresses flooding, ponding, and soil saturation of corn, pasture and and hay fields.

Rain Putting a Damper on Your Forages? Options Available provides information on late season forage plantings.

It’s been a challenging growing season thus far but there’s still time to produce high quality, high producing forages.

Rain Putting a Damper on Your Forages? Options Available

Posted: June 28th, 2017 by outcropn

Cow munching on Japanese millet.

Rain, rain, go away, we haven’t been able to harvest our hay…or plant our forages! If you’ve been singing this song, you are not alone. With this wet weather, farmers across the region have seen poor corn germination, challenging hay harvest windows, and field conditions making planting difficult.

While it has been tough going so far, the best part of the growing season is yet to come. There is still time to produce high quality and yielding forages this season! Your options include short season corn; warm season annual grasses like millet, sorghum, sudangrass, etc.; small grains like oats, triticale, etc.; and perennial hay and pasture — all have the potential to produce high quality forage for the winter months.

Our fact sheet on late season forage plantings describes some of the options available.

If you’re thinking about summer annuals, Heather and University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Rick Kersbergen discussed strategies for planting, harvesting, and feeding these forages during an eOrganic webinar.

In addition, our livestock forages page contains factsheets and research reports on short season corn performance trials, summer annuals, and more!

Armyworm Alert

Posted: June 14th, 2017 by outcropn

Armyworms. Photo by Sid Bosworth, UVM Extension. Click on image to enlarge.

Armyworms were spotted in Addison County Vermont on June 12, 2017. Please don’t panic but do scout your corn and grass fields for armyworm caterpillars.

True Armyworm, Pseudaletia unipuncta, are typically spotted each year on some acreage in Vermont — crops most affected are grasses including field corn, grass hay and pasture crops. It is important for farmers and consultants to monitor fields. At high populations, armyworms can create significant damage very quickly.

Scout for caterpillars. When mature, they can be almost 1.5 inches long. The caterpillars are usually greenish or brownish, but can be almost black. The sides and back of the caterpillar have light colored stripes running along the body. They normally feed at night and can cause much damage before they mature.

Their preferred foods are grasses including corn, grains, and timothy but they will feed on other plants if grasses are unavailable. Feeding will start on the lower leaves and move upwards. A large population of armyworm caterpillars can strip an entire field in just a few days. When the field is eaten they “march” to adjacent fields. Please note: Corn fields that are reduced or no-tilled or fields infested with grass weeds are most susceptible.

For more information on armyworm, see “When Armyworms Come to Town” and/or True Armyworm resources on the Vermont Crops & Soils webpages. For additional scouting and control options, please contact the following agronomists.
Northwest VT: Heather Darby at (802) 524-6501 or heather.darby@uvm.edu.
Champlain Valley: Jeff Carter at (802) 388-4969 or jeff.carter@uvm.edu.
All other locations: Sid Bosworth at (802) 656-0478 or sid.bosworth@uvm.edu.

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