Address any questions or comments regarding this newsletter to the individual authors listed after each article or to its editors, Nathan Johanning, 618-687-1727, njohann@illinois.edu or Bronwyn Aly 618-382-2662, baly@illinois.edu. The Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News is available on the web at: http://ipm.illinois.edu/ifvn/. To receive email notification of new postings of this newsletter, contact Nathan Johanning at the phone number or email address above.


In This Issue:

Welcome by New IFVN Editors

Upcoming Programs (listings for beginning and established growers)

Regional Reports (from northern, western, and southern Illinois)

Highlights from the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism & Organic Conference, Springfield, IL (Award & Recognitions, 2016 Illinois Sweet & Hard Cider Contests)

Vegetable Production and Pest Management (vole management, high tunnel tomato & hot pepper variety trial)

Small Fruit Production and Pest Management (winter injury in brambles)

Food Safety Updates (Produce Safety Rule, article 1 of 7)

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


Welcome by New IFVN Editors

As you all have probably heard Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning are taking over as the new editors of the Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News starting with this first issue (22:1) of 2016.  We are both Local Food Systems and Small Farms Extension Educators, located in southern Illinois (Nathan - southwestern; Bronwyn - southeastern).  We each have many years of experience in the field as both growers and researchers of specialty crops in southern Illinois and hope to continually use that knowledge and experience to enhance this newsletter.

We would like to thank to Rick Weinzierl for his many years of dedicated service to the IFVN as editor.  What most readers never see is the diligence Rick has shown in keeping all of the contributors in line, which is always a challenge.  Again, thank you Rick, and we hope that we can continue to provide a newsletter of such high quality and caliber for the growers of Illinois and the Midwest.

Bronwyn & Nathan


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 website at:
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/smallfarm/ and the calendar of events at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/units/calendar.cfm?UnitID=629.


Regional Reports

From northern Illinois... In Northern Illinois, it's cold weather as usual this time of year. While we haven't seen very cold temperatures as we saw the last two years, we are staying around the average air temperature and snowfall for the month. Yesterday was one of the first days with wind chill factor dipping into the negatives. There is snow on the ground in some places, but overall, precipitation has been light for the month.  In 2015, one of the largest snowfalls occurred around the first week of February so we aren't in the clear just yet.

Growers I've spoken to are spending these winter months getting updates on disease and insect pests, and new production practices. For the most part, folks are taking a break from production. With the proximity to Wisconsin and Iowa, it's common for some northern Illinois growers to visit trade shows and conferences in these two states along with those in Illinois. In our office, we're offering a new course on berry production for those just getting started with growing berries and brambles. Towards the end of winter, we'll be offering a pruning course for berries, brambles, and fruit trees.

Grant McCarty (815-235-4125; gmccarty@illinois.edu)

From western Illinois ... We're still harvesting lettuce and spinach from our tunnel. The low over this past weekend (neg 3 degrees) was the coldest of the year thus far, but utilizing several layers of 1.0 ounce covers protected the head lettuce. The spinach and radish were left uncovered. Kale left outside survived all winter until now. Our previous low was 16 degrees which occurred in December.

It was great to see so many in attendance at the IL Specialty Crop, Agritourism and Organic Conference in Springfield. Diane Handley, who helps organize the conference, stated that attendance at the preconference workshops was the highest on record. It was great to catch up with everyone you don't get to see during the year and learn from the many great speakers. I was visiting at a booth when I bumped into Chris Doll. Many will remember Chris as the long time Horticulture Educator from Edwardsville. As we were talking I was trying to remember when Chris retired. When he told me it was 1994, I could hardly believe it. Chris really didn't look much different than he did back then. 


Current conditions of plasticulture strawberries in west central IL.

The day after Christmas we had the help and the opportunity to cover our plasticulture strawberries. This was the latest we've ever covered them, but we really didn't have the cold weather necessary to provide protection. The plants looked great. They are Chandler, which is kind of hard to determine branch crowns at this time of year. Just a little bit of desiccation could be found, but nothing serious. The open and warm fall and early winter sure didn't hurt to advance maturity and hopefully increase branch crowns.

Now is the time when many are pouring through the catalogues to determine varieties for this year and talking to the salesmen about what's new. The Illinois Specialty Crops Conference was a great opportunity for that. Taking the time to make notes during the growing season sure makes variety selection much easier. It seems like there isn't much time during the growing season to make notes on how different varieties: yield; disease resistance; size/appearance; time to maturity; grew most rapidly, etc., but those notes sure come in handy when ordering new seed.

It's just amazing to me all the variety choices available to growers today. There are literally pages and pages of some crop varieties to choose from. 10-15 years ago there was just a fraction of what we have available. Each year we can get more selections from which to choose from, which means we all need to be experimenting with new varieties each year to see how they fit into the mix. Talk to your friends and neighbors and consult with University trials. The Midwest Vegetable Variety Trial reports are available at: https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/fruitveg/Pages/MVVTRB.aspx.

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

From southern Illinois ... We have finally reached some more winter-like conditions, and temperatures have been below freezing since Saturday evening.  Monday morning I had 6 degrees here in Murphysboro.  We have at least somewhat drained off and "dried out" since the massive amount of precipitation we had in the days following Christmas.  Locally, we had 5 to 6" of rain in those two to three days; however, I have heard reports of as much as 9 or more inches.  Since then, we have had about an inch of rain the first week of January, and now snow predicted for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning so we will see what this system brings us.

Temperatures in the teens and most recently single digits have put the end to most winter-killed cover crops and most unprotected vegetable crops, like my fall broccoli.  We still picked the last of the broccoli side shoots the first weekend in January and I certainly cannot complain about that.

Apple pruning has begun in many of the larger orchards.  For strawberries, the big question had been to cover or not to cover.  Before Christmas, many growers had not pulled, or had taken back row covers due to warm temperatures.  By shortly after that, most had pulled the covers and left them on with the onset of colder temperatures. 

In our high tunnel at the office we are still harvesting lettuce, spinach and kale.  We have just taken out a specialty lettuce variety trial and hopefully I can share the information in the next issue.  With the little heat built up before our very cold Monday morning, temperatures were the same both inside and outside the tunnel.  We have had row covers over all of the beds any time temperatures have been predicted much below the upper 20s and have had good protection thus far.  Row covers are crucial to help gain that edge on protection in these temperatures.

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


Highlights from the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism & Organic Conference, Springfield, IL

The 2016 Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism & Organic Conference was a great event again this year, (January 6-8, 2016).  This year boasted the largest attendance on record with almost 700 participants and 71 tradeshow booths.  Many thanks to all that made this program a success especially, Diane Handley and Charlene Blary from the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, and Rick Weinzierl, who coordinates the educational tracts with the help of many other Extension staff.  To review the program or for more information visit: http://www.specialtygrowers.org/iscaoc-conference.html.  The presentations from the 2016 conference are not online yet but will also be posted online in the near future.  Save the date now!  The 2017 Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism & Organic Conference will be held January 11-13, 2017.

Awards & Recognitions

At the Thursday evening banquet various members of the fruit and vegetable industry were acknowledged with recognition for their outstanding work and contributions.  We congratulate them on their well-deserved awards!

Illinois Vegetable Growers Association Member Achievement Award

Illinois State Horticulture Society Hall of Fame Award andChris Doll Industry Recognition Award

Illinois Specialty Growers Association Award of Excellence

Also... Best Wishes go out to Diane Handley, who will be retiring from the Illinois Specialty Growers Association in May of this year.  We appreciate all of her work and support of ISGA and fruit and vegetable production in Illinois!

Photos and information courtesy of Diane Handley.

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

2016 Illinois Sweet & Hard Cider Contests

The Illinois State Horticulture Society sponsored its 27th annual Illinois and National Sweet Cider Contests and the 14th annual National Hard Cider Contest, held in conjunction with the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference on January 7th in Springfield, Illinois.

Judges evaluated the cider entries using a 25- point rating scale for cider quality characteristics. The judges conducted "blind" evaluations where only a randomly chosen sample number identified each cider entry.  The sweet cider contest presents awards in three different categories: National, Illinois and Midwest Cider of Merit.  National awards are open to all US producers, and Illinois awards are open to all Illinois producers.  The Midwest Cider of Merit awards are open to Illinois producers, plus producers from other adjoining states that do not place in the National or Illinois categories.  Hard cider entries were each individually awarded points based on characteristics like clarity, color, bouquet, balance of alcohol, acidity, sweetness, sugar/acid balance, body, flavor, astringency and bitterness, any off-flavors, and the overall quality.

The ISHS gratefully acknowledges the dedication and hard work of our judging team.  Thank you!  Most importantly, thanks are extended to all who entered the contest this year.  Start planning now for the next contest in 2017.

Congratulations to all of the winners listed below!

 

Firm

Address

Cultivar Blend

National Awards

First Place

Tom Schwartz Orchard

Centralia, IL

Jonathan and Fuji,

Second Place

Joe Ringhausen Orchards

Fieldon, IL

Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Firm Gold

Third Place

Tuttle Orchards

Greenfield, IN

Golden Delicious, Cameo, Red Delicious, Enterprise, GoldRush, Jonathan and Idared

Illinois Awards

First Place

Tom Schwartz Orchard

Centralia, IL

see above

Second Place

Joe Ringhausen Orchards

Fieldon, IL

see above

Third Place

Grissom's Lost Creek Orchard

Greenup, IL

Gala, Golden Delicious, Melrose, Jonathan, Idared and Jonagold

Midwest Cider of Merit

First Runner-up

Valley Orchard

Winnebago, IL

Cameo, SunCrisp, Jonathan, Braeburn, Golden Delicious and Winesap

Second Runner-up

Curran's Orchard

Rockford, IL

Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, Northern Spy and Honeycrisp

Third Runner-up

Tanners Orchard

Speer, IL

Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Jonathan and Corail

Hard Cider

Champion

Grissom's Lost Creek Orchard

Greenup, IL

GoldRush, Golden Delicious, Gala and Jonagold

Elizabeth Wahle, Cider Contest Coordinator (618-344-4230; wahle@illinois.edu)


Vegetable Production and Pest Management

Winter Vole Management

It has been a relatively mild winter so far with little snowfall, but there is a lot of winter yet to come.  When a layer of snow covers vegetation, voles often times turn to woody plants as a source of food.  Apple and peach trees are susceptible to bark removal and even girdling, resulting in the death of trees.  So, now is the time to monitor for voles in your orchard and under mulch in vegetable production areas on your farm.  It is important to know what species of vole is on the farm, so that the most effective rodenticide can be used in bait stations to reduce populations.  Set 15 to 20 traps in each orchard near active runs or trails.  Voles with tails shorter than the hind leg are likely pine voles, and tails about the length of the hind foot are meadow or prairie voles.  Research has shown that zinc phosphide can be more effective against meadow and prairie vole, while Chlorophacinone and Diphacinone have been shown to be more effective against pine vole.  For more detailed information, visit the U of I Extension "Living with Wildlife in Illinois" website, go to the fact sheet on voles and follow the "control of voles in Illinois' commercial apple orchards" link to the publication.

Dave Shiley (217-543-3755; dshiley@illinois.edu)

2015 High-Tunnel Heirloom Tomato and Specialty Hot Pepper Trial Results from the St. Charles Horticulture Research Center

In 2015, twenty-two tomato and specialty hot pepper cultivars were evaluated for high-tunnel yield performance at the University of Illinois St. Charles Horticulture Research Center (SCHRC).

Tomatoes were grown from seed that was started on March 18 and were potted into 4-inch peat pots filled with Pro Mix on April 9. Hot peppers were grown from seed that was started on February 2 and were potted into 4-inch peat pots filled with Pro Mix on March 30. Both tomato and bell pepper transplants were planted randomly into single-layer black plastic beds 3 feet on center in the high tunnel on May 9. Tomatoes were set at a spacing of 18 inches. Determinate cultivars were grown using a trellis weave system and pruned up to but not including the first sucker below the first cluster. No additional thinning or pruning was done on the determinate cultivars. Indeterminate cultivars were pruned to a single leader and affixed to a single polyethylene twine suspended from a permanent overhead trellis made from treated lumber and high tensile fence wire. Peppers were set in single rows, 18 in. apart.

The planting was monitored for pest problems and treated as required. Insects that presented significant problems were limited to tomato hornworm.

Yield data are given in Tables 1 and 2. The data represent the mean of 8 and 3 plants for tomato and hot pepper, respectively. Unless noted, tomato varieties are indeterminate.

This research and the resulting report was accomplished with the assistance of Guanying (Bianca) Xu and Jaqueline Nadolny. For more information on these results, contact Shelby Henning at (630) 584-7254 or shenning@illinois.edu

Table 1. Total season (7/30-9/9) harvest results from SCHRC high-tunnel tomato cultivar evaluation.

Variety

No. of Fruit*

Weight (Oz.)

1's

2's

U.M.

Avg. wt. (Oz.)

Percent Marketable

Amish gold slicer

154

1238.9

127

17

10

8.5

93.5

Arkansas Traveler

214

1077.3

176

31

7

5.0

96.7

Aunt Ruby's German green

103

1259.1

68

19

16

14.0

84.5

Big beef

238

2066.4

214

22

2

9.8

99.2

Black krim

112

1361.5

69

28

15

12.0

86.6

Brandywine

90

928.2

52

25

13

13.5

85.6

Cherokee purple

106

1032.8

57

30

19

10.3

82.1

Favorita

1191

771.2

1186

4

1

0.6

99.9

German Pink

100

1582.8

74

16

10

16.3

90.0

Gold Medal

82

1299.6

57

18

7

18.1

91.5

Green Zebra

122

2438.0

99

14

9

2.9

92.6

Health Kick (determinate)

1087

3100.1

1075

5

7

2.8

99.4

Hillbilly Potato Leaf

103

1349.1

48

31

24

15.7

76.7

Japanese black trifele

226

1255.6

205

17

4

5.6

98.2

Kellog's Breakfast

103

1691.5

64

24

15

18.0

85.4

Mortgage Lifter

111

1218.9

78

20

13

15.0

88.3

Nyagous

276

1258.6

238

27

11

4.6

96.0

Pareso

1144

739.7

1119

2

23

0.6

98.0

Ponderosa Red

126

1249.6

70

30

26

10.4

79.4

Sakura

1156

877.8

1152

4

0

0.7

100.0

Stupice

570

764.9

554

6

10

1.2

98.2

Tasti-Lee (determinate)

465

1954.1

453

3

9

5.4

98.1

* = Data shown are for 8 replications

 

Table 2. Total season (8/7-9/9) harvest results from SCHRC high-tunnel hot pepper cultivar evaluation.

Name

#*

WEIGHT (Oz.)

AVERAGE FRUIT WEIGHT (Oz.)

7 pot

57

16.7

0.3

Brain strain

125

52.8

0.4

Carolina reaper

138

40.9

0.3

Chocolate habanero

431

160.4

0.4

Fatali

516

148.5

0.3

Garden bird

836

47.9

0.1

Giant ghost

30

10.1

0.3

Giant jalapeno

169

252.9

1.5

Mayan habanero

533

138.1

0.3

Mustard habanero

91

307.4

3.4

Naga viper

369

128.4

0.3

Orange habanero

150

49.3

0.3

Peach habanero

203

111.7

0.5

Red habanero

200

78.7

0.4

Red moruga scorpion

176

54.2

0.3

Starfish

279

91.6

0.3

Tasmanian habanero

292

113.3

0.4

Tobago

488

119.8

0.2

Trinidad scorpion

42

13.8

0.3

White habanero

121

8.6

0.1

Yatusufa

892

76.2

0.1

*   =    Data shown are for three replications

Shelby Henning (630-584-7254; shenning@illinois.edu)


Small Fruit Production and Pest Management

Monitoring for Winter Injury in Brambles

Typically, winter injury in brambles occurs in mid to late winter thru early spring as fluctuating temperatures cause the plants to begin to de-acclimate and become less cold hardy.  In general, brambles have reached their chilling requirement and are the most cold tolerant or least susceptible to winter injury by the end of December to the first of January.  Keep in mind that this past December has been relatively mild and we are just now feeling some of the colder temperatures of the season.  Within bramble crops, summer-bearing red raspberries and purple raspberries tend to be the most cold-hardy while blackberries tend to be the least cold hardy.  Winter injury on brambles is seen as tip dieback or bud-kill in the spring.

One way for growers to assess winter injury is to take some cane cuttings in mid to late January (after chilling requirement has been met) and monitor how many buds develop into shoots.  Canes should be cut at the base and placed in water in warm conditions (room temperature) and change the water every couple of days to keep bacterial growth from starting.  After two weeks, buds should begin to grow and those that develop into shoots would likely have produced fruit while those that don't grow are dead.  Growers can then estimate the percentage of bud loss due to winter injury.  It is important to remember that cane cuttings should not be taken too early in the winter, before the chilling requirement has been reached, as plants would be in the "rest" phase of dormancy and could give growers an inaccurate winter injury estimate.  Growers should keep in mind that cold hardiness differs between varieties and locations, so each variety may need to be sampled depending on location and circumstances.  By monitoring the amount of winter injury on a crop, growers may decide to delay pruning and/or leave a few extra canes.

Bronwyn Aly (618-382-2662; baly@illinois.edu)


Food Safety Updates

Produce Safety Rule: Farm Definitions -- Article 1 of 7

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on January 2, 2011, and is intended to allow FDA to better protect public health by helping to ensure the safety and security of the food supply.  FSMA focuses more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur.  The Produce Safety Rule comes into effect on January 26, 2016 and is one of seven proposed foundational rules developed by FDA that provides a framework for food safety.  The key provisions of the Produce Safety Rule that will be discussed will cover: "Farm" definitions, basic and qualified exemptions, agricultural water quality, agricultural water testing, biological soil amendments, domesticated and wild animals, worker training and health & hygiene, equipment, tools and buildings, growing, harvesting, packing, and holding activities, sprout production, and compliance dates.  The Produce Safety Rule distinguishes between Primary Production Farms and Secondary Activities Farms.

Primary Production Farm - "an operation under one management in one general (but not necessarily contiguous) physical location devoted to the growing of crops, harvesting of crops, raising of animals (including seafood), or any combination of these activities".  These production farms can include cooperatives, on-farm packing houses, food hubs, management of multiple farms, etc.  These operations may also pack or hold raw agricultural commodities (RACs), so long as all such food is consumed on that farm or another farm under the same management
OR
The manufacturing/processing falls into limited categories such as:
-drying/dehydrating RACs to create a distinct commodity (ie: drying grapes to produce raisins)
-treatment to manipulate the ripening of RACs (ie: treating produce with ethylene gas)
-packaging and labeling RACs

Secondary Activities Farm - "an operation, not located on a primary production farm, devoted to harvesting, packing, and/or holding RACs".  The primary production farm(s) that grow, harvest, and/or raise the majority of those RACs must own or jointly own a majority interest in the secondary activities farm.  This addition to the definition of a farm enables farmers in some packing operations that were formerly considered "off-farm" to benefit from inclusion in the farm definition and may gain exemption from some of the FSMA rules.  The definition of a secondary activities farm also allows certain, limited additional manufacturing/processing, packing, and holding, so long as all such food is consumed on that farm or another farm under the same management
OR
     The manufacturing/processing falls into limited categories such as:
-drying/dehydrating RACs to create a distinct commodity (ie: drying grapes to produce raisins)
-treatment to manipulate the ripening of RACs (ie: treating produce with ethylene gas)
-packaging and labeling RACs
Activities that do not fall under the farm definition – and may be subject to the FDA Final Rule for  Preventative Controls for Human Food:
Manufacturing/processing that goes beyond activities as discussed above.  Examples can include (but are not limited to): 
Pitting dried plums, chopping herbs; Making snack chips from legumes; Roasting peanuts or tree nuts

As you read through the information on the Produce Safety Rule, you may have questions/concerns on issues that affect your specific farm.  Please contact your local Extension Educator or the FDA FSMA Food Safety Technical Assistance Network http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm459719.htm

Laurie George (618-548-1446; ljgeorge@illinois.edu)


Less Seriously ...

A spry, elderly asparagus/small fruit grower went to the local nursing home to visit his cousin.  Upon arriving in the common area, he ran into an old friend, who was also a resident.  He gave his friend a big hug and a warm smile and asked how she was doing.  His friend said she was doing great but he could tell she didn't quite remember him.  The grower asked his friend, "Do you know who I am?"  She smiled and said, "No, honey, but if you go ask that nice lady over at the nurses station, she can tell you what your name is."




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

618-382-2662

baly@illinois.edu

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

217-333-7672

srayers@illinois.edu

Bill Davison, Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties

309-663-8306

wdavison@illinois.edu

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

618-548-1446

ljgeorge@illinois.edu

Zackhary Grant, Cook County

708-679-6889

zgrant2@illinois.edu

Doug Gucker, DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties

217-877-6042

dgucker@illinois.edu

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

618-687-1727

njohann@illinois.edu

Andy Larson, Boone, DeKalb, & Ogle counties

815-732-2191

andylars@illinois.edu

Grant McCarty, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties

815-235-4125

gmccarty@illinois.edu

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

217-223-8380

roeggem@illinois.edu

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

217-543-3755

dshiley@illinois.edu

James Theuri, Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties

815-933-8337

jtheu50@illinois.edu

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

217-374-7773

jlwshbrn@illinois.edu

Extension Educators – Horticulture

Richard Hentschel, DuPage, Kane, and Kendall counties

630-584-6166

hentschel@illinois.edu

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

217-532-3941

aholsing@illinois.edu

Elizabeth Wahle, Madison, Monroe, and St Clair, and counties

618-344-4230

wahle@illinois.edu

Horticulture Research-Extension Specialists at our Research Stations

Jeff Kindhart, Dixon Springs Agricultural Center

618-695-2770
618-638-7799 (cell)

jkindhar@illinois.edu

Shelby Henning, St. Charles Horticulture Research Center

630-584-7254

shenning@illinois.edu

Campus-based  Extension Specialists

Mohammad Babadoost, Plant Pathology

217-333-1523

babadoos@illinois.edu

Mosbah Kushad, Fruit & Vegetable Production

217-244-5691

kushad@illinois.edu

Rick Weinzierl, Entomology

217-244-2126

weinzier@illinois.edu