"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." --Aristotle

Address any questions or comments regarding this newsletter to the individual authors listed after each article or to its editor, Rick Weinzierl, 217-333-6651, weinzier@illinois.edu. To receive e-mail notification of new postings of this newsletter, call or write the same number or address.

In This Issue:

Upcoming Programs (listings for beginning and established growers)

Regional Reports (from southern and western Illinois)

Fruit Production and Pest Management (tree fruit and small fruit spray guides)

Vegetable Production and Pest Management (sanitizing plug and transplant trays; preparing for corn earworm in 2015)

University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists in fruit and vegetable production and pest management

Upcoming Programs

Check the Illinois SARE calendar for a full list of programs and links for registration.
http://illinoissare.org/ and http://illinoissare.org/calendar.php
Also see the University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Team's web site at:
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/smallfarm/ and their calendar of events at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/units/calendar.cfm?UnitID=629.

University of Illinois Small Farm Webinar Series: A weekly educational series for the small farm community on important topics to advance local food production in Illinois. This series is aimed at providing small farm producers with a look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing enable operations to improve profitability and sustainability.  Webinars air live each Thursday at 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. and include a question and answer session.  If you cannot attend, a link to the recorded webinars will be available to view at your convenience for all those who register.  To register, see http://go.illinois.edu/2015winterwebinars or contact:  Miki White, University of Illinois Extension, Small Farms/Local Foods Program Coordinator, Knox County; 309-342-5108 or miki7047@illinois.eduRemaining webinars include ...



Feb. 19, 2015

Understanding Insecticides

Feb. 26, 2015

Blueberry Production

Mar.  5, 2015


Mar. 12, 2015

Effective Farmers Market Displays

Mar. 19, 2015

Veggie Compass Record-Keeping Software

Mar. 26, 2015

Variety Selection & Rootstocks for Establishing Apple Orchards

Kyle Cecil (309-342-5108; cecil@illinois.edu)

High Tunnel Webinar Series from University of Kentucky.  Covers season extension in high tunnel production systems; 6 webinars, each 75 minutes long, in February and March of 2015.  For more information and to register, contact Miranda at 859-218-4384 or miranda.hileman@uky.edu.  All webinars will be broadcast from 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. CDT.

Topics ...
• February 17 -- Season Extension Opportunities & EQIP Funding
• February 24 -- Structure Options, Construction, Ventilation & Temperature Control
• March 3 -- Organic Certification & Marketing High Tunnel Crops
• March 10 -- Crop, Irrigation & Equipment Options
• March 17 -- Insect, Weed & Disease Control
• March 24 -- Producer Views & Series Wrap-up

Regional Reports

From southern Illinois ...  Just as we are thinking that spring might be coming soon we have some rather cold weather on the way reminding us it is still indeed winter.  Local orchards are working on pruning apples and some peaches.  Some looking for early production already have tomato transplants started for high tunnel and greenhouse production.

Despite the cold temperatures things are still looking good in our demonstration high tunnel at the Jackson County Extension Office.  The coldest temperatures we experienced were on January 8 where outside we reached 2°F and inside 4°F, with a couple of nights in the teens since then. Throughout all of those temperatures all of our crops (lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, carrots) survived with no injury under a row cover in the tunnel.  Additionally, we continue to selectively harvest the greens almost on a weekly basis.  In another month there should be carrots ready to harvest as well.  A fair number of sunny days have really pushed growth, and on one of our coldest very sunny days I had recorded a +45° temperature difference between inside and out of the tunnel – 25°outside and 70°inside (11:00 a.m., 2/5/15).

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727; njohann@illinois.edu)

From western Illinois ... The good news is that winter is over half way completed. In about a month (March 20) spring will be here. I'm not sure what your feelings are, but it seemed like this winter has been exceptionally dreary.  Did the sun shine more than 7 days in all of January?  Can you tell that I'm eagerly awaiting those 60 degree temperatures and the smell of freshly worked dirt!

Seed catalogues arrived, orders have been placed and seed has arrived.  Many high tunnel growers have started (or will soon start) transplants of tomatoes and other main crops. We're in the final stages of winter educational programs, so it's been a good time to catch up with individuals that we only see once or perhaps twice a year.

Hopefully you're trying some new varieties of fruits or vegetables this year. You've all heard the phrase "the only thing constant is change."  We're in an industry that is constantly changing, yet also has its set of tradition.  What I mean is that we all grow mostly traditional crops, but we're always trying to find one or two that somehow stand out and give us some niche or edge.  When I think of the sweet corn hybrids or pumpkin varieties that were planted just 10 years ago and compare them to the ones grown today, there are no duplicates!  We try to find those products that consumers will want this year; trying to be first can be a challenge though.

Aphids can be found in most high tunnel winter crops.  Cold weather does not control aphids, only slows down their development.  However, a few sunny 30 degree days really bring up the temperatures inside a tunnel, and the aphids will respond.  It's always much easier to deal with a slight aphid population as opposed to one that has gone unchecked for weeks before control strategies are considered.  Several options exist. If populations are small and only a few plants are affected, simply removing those plants can help.  However, in most cases, it's likely that those populations are somewhat widespread before the problem is noticed.  In that case, use of insecticides may be warranted if the product you're harvesting requires it be clean.  There are a number of insecticides registered for use in leafy greens.  In addition insecticidal soaps can be used, and there are organic insecticides registered.  One of the problems noted in attempting to control aphids is coverage.  If the product is a contact rather than a systemic, you must apply directly on the insect or to the bit of foliage it will crawl on to achieve control.  Many leafy vegetables have irregular surfaces and can be low growing.  Since aphids are found on the underside of the leaf, it can make contact challenging.  For listings of insecticides labeled on specific crops, see the 2015 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide at http://www.btny.purdue.edu/Pubs/ID/ID-56/.

How often do you soil-test your field or tunnel?  A soil test should be completed at least every 3-4 years.  It's the only way you can determine if your soil is providing the necessary nutrients that will allow your crop to achieve maximum potential.  And it's not a hard process at all.  Use a soil probe or dig a 7" hole and take a slice of soil the entire length and place in a bucket. Do that 4-5 times per sample area (3-5 acres) and combine into one sample.  Costs to analyze samples and provide reports range from less than $10.00 to around $30.00, and the results will guide your fertility application for the next 3-4 years.  If you need help interpreting the results, contact your local Extension office.

Mike Roegge (217-223-8380; roeggem@illinois.edu)

Fruit Production and Pest Management

Small Fruit and Tree Fruit Spray Guides

The 2015 Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide is now available online at ...

The 2015 Midwest Tree Fruit Spray Guide is now available at ...

Printed copies of both of these publications are available for order from Publications Plus at the University of Illinois.  See http://www.PublicationsPlus.uiuc.edu, call 1-800-345-6087, or write to 1917 South Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Rick Weinzierl (217-244-2126; weinzier@illinois.edu)

Vegetable Production and Pest Management

Sanitizing Transplant Trays with Chlorine Bleach

Most growers reuse transplant trays and containers for economic and environmental reasons.  Trays and containers should be cleaned with sanitizing solutions after each use to prevent the spread of diseases.  Sanitizing product labels need to be followed precisely depending on purpose and mode of use.

Chlorine bleach works best when trays are washed with soapy water, then dipped several times into a clean 10-percent solution. This step should be followed by covering the trays with a tarp to keep them wet overnight with the bleaching solution.  Afterwards, the bleach solution should be washed from the trays with clean water followed by aeration to eliminate the chlorine and salts of chlorine. It is critical that the bleach solution remain below a pH of 6.8 and that a new solution be made up every 2 hours, or whenever it becomes dirty, whichever comes first.  Organic matter deactivates bleach quickly.

Kyle Cecil (309-342-5108; cecil@illinois.edu)

Preparing for Corn Earworm, 2015

Corn earworms are often the most damaging insects in sweet corn in the Midwest.  They overwinter in the pupal stage in the soil, but their survival rate is very low in most of the region.  This winter has not been as cold as last winter, but local survival of corn earworms is not likely to be the cause of heavy moth flights in most parts of the state or region.   Corn earworm manages to be a severe pest every year anyway because it migrates in from southern states on weather fronts every summer.  In much of the region the period of first activity (and the first need to control them) can vary from June through August, depending on the time of their migration and the availability of sweet corn that is silking.  Although control may be necessary in one portion of the region at a particular time, it may be unnecessary in many other locations.  Consequently, it really is essential to establish a monitoring program to determine spray needs.  Unfortunately, scouting for foliar damage or larvae on the surface of plants is not an option.  Corn earworm moths lay their eggs singly on silks, and larvae move down the silk channel immediately after they hatch from the eggs (and hatching can occur in as little as 2 ½ days during hot weather).  On corn, larvae do not feed on any exposed parts of the plant (leaves, husks, etc.), so the only practical way to kill them (short of having planted BT sweet corn, which does not provide 100 percent control) is with a contact insecticide applied to the silks.  Larvae crawl across the residues on the silks, and the insecticide is taken up through the cuticle.

Left: Corn earworm larva. Right: Hartstack trap.

Corn earworm moth(Kansas Department of Agriculture).

Effective monitoring programs depend on the use of pheromone-baited traps that catch male corn earworm moths and are used as indicators that adults of both genders are present and eggs are being laid.  Previously we have recommended using either a wire Hartstack trap (pictured above) or a nylon version of the same general design marketed by Scentry and several regional distributors.  We've long known that paper sticky traps are ineffective at monitoring corn earworm moths, and about a decade ago research indicated that the Scentry nylon cone traps may not work well enough.  Results from monitoring work done in 2006 showed that the nylon traps also may fail to detect light but still significant flights when the wire Hartstack traps do catch moths.  Consequently, I now recommend that all sweet corn and seed corn producers use the wire Hartstack trap.  (Data to support this recommendation came from a regional monitoring effort coordinated by Bill Hutchison of the University of Minnesota and conducted by several entomologists and horticulturists who participate in the Great Lakes Vegetable Workers Group.)  Traps should be baited with Hercon "zealures," and the lures need to be replaced every 2 weeks.  Earworm control is necessary when moth flight is ongoing and fresh silks are present.  If traps are catching more than a few moths (3 to 10 per trap per night) when silking begins, sprays should be applied within 2 days after first silk – insecticide residues must be on the silks to kill larvae immediately after they hatch from eggs and before they enter the silk channel.  If the only silking corn in your area is your field, the threshold for treating should be revised down to 1 moth per trap per night ... in your traps or those operated by your neighbors.

A Midwest supplier of the Hartstack trap for earworms is Bob Poppe, Route 1, Box 33, Lexington, IL, 61753 (309-723-3201).  I suggest that you buy an extra top cylinder for each trap to make handling more efficient.  Lures are available from Great Lakes IPM (10220 Church Road NE, Vestaburg, MI  48891; 989-268-5693; 989-268-5911; 800-235-0285; FAX: 989-268-5311).  The wire Hartstack trap is not cheap ... think in the $300 range plus shipping, and think higher numbers if the traps must be shipped a long way.  But before you let the price tag make you baulk, consider ...

Insecticide and "trait" choices for corn earworm control

First, insecticides ...

What about Bt sweet corn varieties? 

Rick Weinzierl (217-244-2126; weinzier@illinois.edu)

University of Illinois Extension Specialists in Fruit and Vegetable Production & Pest Management

Extension Educators – Local Food Systems and Small Farms

Bronwyn Aly, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Pope, Saline, and White counties



Stephen Ayers, Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties



Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, Logan, Menard and Sangamon counties



Kyle Cecil, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren counties



Bill Davison, Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties



Connie Echaiz, Lake and McHenry counties



Laurie George, Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, & Washington counties



Doug Gucker, DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties



Nathan Johanning, Franklin, Jackson, Perry, Randolph, & Williamson counties



Andy Larson, Boone, DeKalb, & Ogle counties



Grant McCarty, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties



Mike Roegge, Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike and Schuyler counties



David Shiley, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties



James Theuri, Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties



Jamie Washburn, Effingham, Jasper, Clay, Fayette, Clark, Crawford and Edgar counties



Extension Educators – Horticulture

Richard Hentschel, DuPage, Kane, and Kendall counties



Andrew Holsinger, Christian, Jersey, Macoupin, & Montgomery counties



Sonja Lallemand, Franklin, Jackson, Perry, Randolph, & Williamson counties



Elizabeth Wahle, Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, Madison, Monroe, St Clair, and Washington counties



Horticulture Research-Extension Specialists at our Research Stations

Jeff Kindhart, Dixon Springs Agricultural Center

618-638-7799 (cell)


Shelby Henning, St. Charles Horticulture Research Center



Campus-based  Extension Specialists

Mohammad Babadoost, Plant Pathology



Mosbah Kushad, Fruit & Vegetable Production



John Masiunas, Weed Science



Chuck Voigt, Vegetable Production (& herbs)



Rick Weinzierl, Entomology