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, or Bronwyn Aly 618-382-2662, The Illinois Fruit and Vegetable News is available on the web at: To receive email notification of new postings of this newsletter, contact Nathan Johanning at the phone number or email address above.

In This Issue:

Upcoming Programs ((listings for beginning and established growers))

News & Announcements (Illiana Vegetable Grower Symposium, 40 Under 40 Awardees, Condolences)

Regional Reports (west central Illinois, southern Illinois, Dixon Springs)

Fruit & Vegetable Production & Pest Management (Cover Crop Update, Managing Spotted Wing Drosophila with Exclusion Netting)

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. and Also see the University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Team’s website at: and the calendar of events at

News & Announcements

Illiana Vegetable Growers 2019 Symposium— Registration is Open!

Valparaiso, Ind. –The Illiana Vegetable Growers Symposium will be held Tuesday, January 8, 2019, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central Time, at Teibel's Restaurant, 1775 U.S. 41, Schererville, Indiana. This symposium, sponsored by Purdue Extension and University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, offers commercial vegetable growers and market farmers’ opportunities to learn more about pest management, production practices, variety selection, and marketing; visit with vendors; and network with other growers.

The program is a collaboration of Purdue and the University of Illinois Extension services. Presenters will include several Extension specialists from both universities. Presentation highlights include cucurbit diseases and management, worker protection standards, blossom end rot management, and pumpkin management effects on yield, pollinators, and natural enemies. The symposium also includes breakout sessions which will allow participants to focus on either organic production or pumpkin management.

Indiana private applicator recertification credits are available for a $10 fee at the door. Indiana commercial pesticide applicator continuing certification hours and certified crop adviser continuing education units also are available.

Early registration costs $35 and should be postmarked by Dec. 14, 2018 or completed online by Jan. 2, 2019. Online registration is available at Participants also can register at the door for $40, but they will not be guaranteed lunch.

Sponsors include Austgen Farms, Kankakee County Farm Bureau, Lake County Farm Bureau, and La Porte County Farm Bureau.

For more information, contact Nikky Witkowski at or 219-465-3555. Information about registration and more details about the program content will be available online at

Nikky Witkowski
Illiana Vegetable Growers Symposium Program Chair
ANR Extension Educator, Porter County


Debuting in 2018, the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Awards honored 40 outstanding individuals making their marks in the industry. These 40 young professionals represent the best in the industry. The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 was honored at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO on Tuesday, December 5, 2018 during an evening reception and awards ceremony. Illinois was well represented, with two of our own receiving this well-deserved honor. Congratulations to Rachel Coventry, co-owner in Curtis Orchards, and our own IFVN Co-editor, Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension!!! They both work hard to promote and improve the specialty crop industry in Illinois. Thank you!

Nathan Johanning and Rachel Coventry, Illinois recipients of the 2018 Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 award.


We were saddened to learn of the passing of Irene Doll, loving and loyal wife to Chris Doll, retired University of Illinois Extension Educator. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Chris, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren during this time. We have included a portion of the obituary with service arrangements and the following link to the guest book if you would like to leave the Doll Family a note:

Also, if you wish to send a card or note to Chris his address is
200 Wyndemere Circle
Wheaton, IL 60187

Irene and Chris were both from farming families and met when she worked for Chris's family apple orchard. They raised their family in Iowa and Southern Illinois and were very happily married for 67 years. Irene was a role model for her many friends and her fellow church members at St. Boniface Catholic Church, in Edwardsville, Illinois where she and Chris lived for 47 years. She loved to read, quilt, watch Jeopardy and bake (while whistling and humming) the best pies in the world. Irene and Chris moved to Wheaton, Illinois to be closer to family and Irene made new friends at Wyndemere retirement community where they have lived the past five years.

Irene was a no-nonsense, salt of the earth, hardworking and God-fearing woman, who passed these qualities on to her family and to all that knew her. She was honest, intelligent and pragmatic. In her later years, as she faced devastating Alzheimer's Disease, she did so with courage, dignity and a healthy sense of humor. She leaves a legacy of a devoted family who will keep her memory alive for many more generations.

A memorial mass will be offered on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at St. John's Catholic Church, Winfield, Illinois at 11:30 a.m. A gathering to celebrate Irene's life will take place in the school hall immediately following the mass.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: ( or Northwestern Medicine Hospice: (

Regional Reports

From west central Illinois… Wow! A real blizzard showed up in November. Fifty plus mile per hour winds and nearly a foot of snow fell in Macomb. The drifts were knee deep as I waded over to the high tunnel and garden the day after to check the damage. The high tunnel stood unscathed. Over the years, I thought the Illinois wind would one day topple my high tunnel, but now my money is on the tunnel. Unfortunately, the low tunnels did not fare as well, and they are also where most of my active crops are (were?) growing.

The low tunnel hoops stood naked in the frigid sun. Snow blanketed everything around me, but no poly plastic in sight. Inspecting the snow-laden beds I noticed my inner layer of row cover remained over the crops on their wireframes, but the wind had torn the fabric to shreds. Digging through the snow, I found a corner of poly plastic. Hooray! It had not blown away! I dug out the plastic and found that it had remained secured along the long western edge of the low tunnel, the prevailing wind side. The night of the blizzard, the wind shifted coming out of due north. What likely happened is the wind was able to get in under the north end of my low tunnel and whipped the plastic off the weakly held east side. I know my greens, beets, and turnips are lost. Maybe there is some salvaging of the carrots and kale. The spinach is fine. Fortunately, many vegetables were harvested for Thanksgiving, including all the salad mixed greens. I still had my moment of glory serving up fresh salad greens and roasted root veggies at the Thanksgiving table. Therefore, I’m not too disappointed.

I covered the low tunnel hoops, secured the plastic with concrete block, and sealed the edges under a layer of snow. On the next sunny day, I’ll open it up to see what remains.

In a previous windstorm this fall, a grower lost their high tunnel poly plastic. The poly tore right down the center. Not on a seam, but directly along the top ridgepole also called the purlin when the poly rested. Though their tunnel went up this past summer, the high tunnel material supplier determined the poly was not covered under the warranty. Always read the fine print!

Chris Enroth (309-837-3939; )

From southern Illinois… It has been a chilly start to December, continuing the colder than normal temperatures we have had. Other than a few days with highs in the 50s or 60s, we have been mainly around 30-40˚F for highs and low to mid 20s for lows. Fortunately, most all of southern Illinois dodged the winter storm that hit just to the south in Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas. We are forecasted to get into the upper 40s or close to 50 which will be nice, although that also comes with rain chances.

Things have slowed down out in the field, but we still have cover crops taking off from late plantings (see my “Cover Crop Update” later in this issue). Some pruning is going on and odds and ends of clean up. We got the last of our black plastic pulled up that we had here at the office; however, the asparagus still needs to be mowed off. It is fully dormant, but the ground conditions haven’t been dry enough for me to take the mower across it for fear of compacting the soil as we have been fairly wet. If nothing else, I will try to catch a morning when the ground is frozen (and hopefully the mower will start ) to get across it without any major issues. In a perennial crop like asparagus, it is always good to consider the soil impacts of entering the field, especially in this crop where the soil is bare with little ground cover to help support equipment. This is where turf and cover crops can make a big difference on helping the soil to support traffic in other crops. I like to try and get the asparagus mowed off in late fall/early winter versus the spring because we have had issues with voles and having all that extra cover only makes them worse. Also, ground conditions are often even wetter and harder to navigate in the spring so this way it is done and ready for spring.

In the high tunnel, the row covers have been pulled quite a bit, but greens carrots and broccoli are still thriving although grow has slowed some but with some sunny days things will keep plugging along!

Broccoli in the High Tunnel at the Jackson County Extension office. Photo: N. Johanning


Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;


From Dixon Springs Ag Center…In the last newsletter, I mentioned posting a survey for those utilizing high tunnels for fall/winter vegetable production. Well for those that have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to participate, here is the link: Survey of Winter High Tunnel Production of Carrot Lettuce Spinach & Kale I would greatly appreciate the help of those growing carrots, lettuce, spinach, and kale for fall/winter markets in high tunnels to take 5 minutes to complete this survey. Responses will be a helpful guide for the start of next season’s Specialty Crop Block Grant research project, “Utilizing High Tunnels to Maximize Winter Vegetable Production”.

Attended the 2018 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo this past week. This conference is always a great learning opportunity, with the greatest challenge deciding which sessions to attend and wondering if you could clone yourself to be in two sessions at the same time. The exhibit hall never disappoints, with vendors from all across the country showcasing equipment, products, and services beneficial to the specialty crop industry, and all in one place.

Bronwyn Aly (618-382-2662;

Fruit & Vegetable Production & Pest Management

Cover Crop Update

For all of us the cover crop planting season has pretty well come to an end. We have already seeded cereal rye in early December in southern Illinois but given the temperatures and ground conditions this season that’s probably not practical any more. I did some scouting on some cover crops planted in the plots here at the Jackson County office and here is what I found…

Cereal Rye taking off even after a month of cold temperatures (left). Some cereal rye is just germinating, but will still take off and be successful!. Photos: N. Johanning

We surface broadcast Cereal Rye at 120 lbs/A on some popcorn stubble on 11/7/2018. Now just over a month later, with good moisture, but colder than normal temperatures we have a nice stand of cereal rye germinating and starting to show. Note that the growth stage varies depending on where the seed landed and how quick it germinated but some is as much as 2-3” tall while some just is starting to send out a shoot that is only a ¼” long. Cereal rye is very hardy and once it has gotten to this point, it will continue to take off and capitalize on any sunshine and above freezing days we might have with a great deal of benefits it will be able to provide even though its small now.

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;

Managing Spotted Wing Drosophila with Exclusion Netting

Spotted Wing Drosophila is a major pest of small fruits. Ohio State University Extension has been doing some research on alternative controls including exclusion netting. If you are interested in exclusion netting for this purpose they have some great information at including a video ( describing more of how this can work in your production system. Check out these great resources and thanks to our colleagues in Ohio for sharing this research!

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;

Less Seriously...

Here are lots of Christmas themed jokes to share with the young ones (and young at heart).

What happens to elves when they behave naughty? Santa gives them the sack.

What kind of music do elves listen to? Wrap.

What is a snowmans favorite breakfast? Ice Crispies.

Why didn't the skeleton go to the Christmas party? He had no-body to go with.

Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A Mince Spy!

What says 'Oh Oh Oh'? Santa walking backwards!

What do you call a greedy elf? Elfish.

What do zombies eat with their Christmas dinner? Grave-y.

Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas? Santa Jaws!

What did one snowman say to the other snowman? Can you smell carrot?

Whats the best Christmas Present? A broken drum - you can't beat it.

Which of Santa's reindeer has bad manners? Rude-alph!

Why did Santa put a clock in his sleigh? He wanted to see time fly!

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney? Claustrophobia!

Why does Santa have three gardens? So he can ho, ho, ho.

What do you get if you combine Santa and a duck? A Christmas Quacker!

What do snowmen eat for lunch? Iceburgers!

Why are Christmas trees so bad at sewing? They always drop their needles!

What happened to the thief who stole a Christmas Advent Calendar? He got 25 days!

What is a skunks favorite Christmas song? Jingle smells!

What is Santa's dogs name? Santa Paws!

What falls at the North Pole but never gets hurt? Snow.

What never eats at Christmas dinner? The turkey – it’s stuffed.

Where does Santa stay when he is on holiday? At a Ho-ho-ho-tel.

What do you call Frosty the Snowman in May? A puddle!

Did you know that Rudolph the Reindeer never went to school? He was elf taught.

What did Adam say the day before Christmas? It's Christmas, Eve!

What do snowmen usually wear on their heads? Ice caps!

Where do you find chilli beans? At the north pole!

What is a librarians favorite Christmas song? Silent Night

What do you call a frozen elf hanging from the ceiling? An elfcicle!

What kind of motorcycle does Santa ride? Holly Davidson.

Why does Santa go down the chimney on Christmas Eve? Because it 'soots' him!

How do you know Santa is good at karate? He has a black belt!

What do you call an old snowman? Water.

What do Santa's little helpers learn at school? The elf-abet.

How much did Santa pay for his sleigh? Nothing - it was on the house!

What does Santa say at the start of a race? Ready, set, Ho! Ho! Ho!

Where do snowmen keep money? In a snow bank.

What type of cars do elves drive? Toy-otas.

Why does everybody like Frosty the Snowman? Because he is so cool!

What do you call a cat on Christmas Eve? Sandy Claws.

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


Bill Davison, Livingston, McLean, and Woodford counties


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


Zachary Grant, Cook County


Doug Gucker, DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties


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


Grant McCarty, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties


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


James Theuri, Grundy, Kankakee, and Will counties


Extension Educators – Horticulture

Chris Enroth, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, and Warren counties


Richard Hentschel, DuPage, Kane, and Kendall counties


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


Extension Educators - Commercial Agriculture

Elizabeth Wahle, Fruit & Vegetable Production


Campus-based  Extension Specialists

Mohammad Babadoost, Plant Pathology


Mosbah Kushad, Fruit & Vegetable Production