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 ((2019 Illinois Specialty Crops Agritourism & Organics Conference, Pre-conference Sneak Peak: Financing Your Specialty Farm))

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

Less Seriously...

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

2019 Illinois Specialty Crops Agritourism & Organics Conference


The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference (ISCAOC) will be held January 9- 11, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The conference, which features nearly 100 speakers and 60 trade show exhibitors, will again host four concurrent preconference workshops, general sessions, and breakout sessions aimed at helping Illinois specialty growers cultivate their operations.

Wednesday, January 9, participants may attend one of the pre-conference workshops, including: Specialty Farming and Financing, Cut Flowers, Beginning Berries and Beyond, and Sweet Corn. A special opportunity for farmers is scheduled for Wednesday, January 9, begins at 8:00 a.m. as The University of Illinois Extension will conduct a full Food Safety Training Workshop. This workshop will satisfy the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule requirement stating, “At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration”. Farms selling over $500,000 in average annual produce sales must be in compliance by January 26, 2018. This year only, you will receive the manual and certificate for only $45. This is a $75 saving. Deadline for registration for this event is December 20, 2018.

Thursday, January 10, the convention’s keynote speaker, Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell, Dean of ACES, University of Illinois will provide insight into the future of University of Illinois and Extension. Participants also are invited to attend breakout sessions on Thursday, January 11 and Friday, January 12 featuring:

Following Thursday’s breakout sessions, the annual banquet will include a keynote speech titled, “Tanner’s Expansion: A Bold Leap” by Craig Tanner, Tanner Orchard, Speer, Illinois. They are the fourth generation of fruit growers. It has been 70 years now for Tanners Orchard at this location. The Tanners have grown together through the years, spanning the generations, across the country and an ocean.

The 30th annual Apple Cider Contest and 17th annual Hard Cider Contest will again be held in conjunction with the conference, with winners being announced during Thursday evening’s banquet.

Conference registration will be offered online. For more information on conference registration, pre-conference workshops, agenda, or cider contest information go the Illinois Specialty Growers Association’s 2019 Conference & Trade Show page. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at a rate of $101 per night. Please call the hotel directly at 217-529-7777 and ask for the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference room block to make reservations at the conference rate.

Pre-conference Sneak Peak: Financing Your Specialty Farm

Whether you are a new farmer or an established grower looking to expand their operation, financing is an important part of your business. At the 2019 Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism & Organic Conference, we are offering a pre-conference workshop titled, “Financing Your Specialty Farm” on Wednesday, January 9.

The morning session will focus on a panel discussion of federal and state government financing opportunities. Shannon Allen will discuss programs available through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. State Treasurer, Mike Frerichs, will discuss the Illinois’ Ag Invest programs available for farmers and agriculture professionals. John Gehrke will talk about the loan programs available from the USDA Farm Services Agency. Participants will have time to ask questions about how these various loan and financing programs might fit their needs.

In the afternoon, three lending officers from banks that specialize in specialty farms will discuss: The Loan Decision Process; The Importance of Financial Statements; and Your Lender as Part of Your Team. The session will end with a panel discussion of “Getting Your Loan”.

Doug Gucker (217-877-6042;

Regional Reports

From west central Illinois… Following our blizzard, which I covered in my previous regional report, McDonough County saw some severe weather, even a tornado on December 1. Since then the weather has been fairly quiet. A few light spots of rain and cool weather. The forecast shows a mild week, with highs in the 50s and lows above freezing. They predict cold weather to return by late December. Snow on Christmas is the hope for at least three little ones in my house. (And I’ll admit, snow on Christmas is the best!)

The snow has since melted and my low tunnel, which was left devoid of plastic after the blizzard, is back up working as well as ever. I figured I had lost my turnips and beets to the cold. I was worried about the carrots too. The spinach, I knew was fine. Turns out the only crop I lost was my mixed leaf lettuce, which after four cuts was due to be finished. While writing this report, I’m snacking on a couple carrots I pulled from the low tunnel. There is nothing better than a winter carrot!

One thing I did notice on the turnips was some frass. Come to find there are some lingering cabbage loopers out there. If you have crops under plastic this winter, scouting is still an important task.

Happy holidays to all the growers and backyard producers out there. I hope you all get a little respite on these long nights and return from winter’s slumber refreshed and ready to do what you do best, feed our communities and the world.

Turnips survived being exposed to frigid temperatures. Likely it is the snow cover that protected everything. Note the damage to the leaves. I found a few stray cabbage loopers that also survived the late November winter storm. Shown here are Hakurei. Photo: C. Enroth

They may look a bit rough, but the carrots are doing great in the low tunnel. The snow flattened the top-growth, but the carrots underground taste delicious. This variety is Musico. Photo: C. Enroth


Left: The spinach has a bit of cold damage, but nothing threatening. This will be part of our Christmas meal. If you haven’t eaten spinach on Christmas, try it once. After that I bet you’ll all be setting up low or high tunnels for spinach next year. Pictured here the left row is the variety Space. The row to the right is Corvair, and further right not in the picture is Carmel. Photo: C. Enroth


Chris Enroth (309-837-3939; )

From southern Illinois… We finally have moderated to around “average” December temperatures with highs in 40s to low 50s and lows in the 30s. We have had our fair share of rain with over 3 inches falling the end of last week across much of the area. Local creeks and rivers are out of their banks and fields are just flat out wet. We have had many cloudy days which hasn’t done much to push and winter high tunnel growth; however, we at least haven’t had as many sub-freezing nights to drive high tunnel soil temperatures as cold as we had in November. Our forecast has us staying mainly in the 40s for highs through the Christmas holiday and hopefully we will get some sunny days in there as well.

I hope to see many of you at Springfield at the Illinois Specialty Crops Conference. We are looking forward to a great program!

Merry Christmas!

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;

From Dixon Springs Ag Center…I am including the link to the survey posted last week for growers utilizing high tunnels for fall/winter vegetable production. 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”. Thank you in advance for your time and I hope everyone enjoys a happy holiday season!

I look forward to seeing everyone in Springfield for the Illinois Specialty Crops Agritourism & Organics Conference. I strongly recommend growers make time to attend and capitalize on three days of production and marketing programming, time with industry representatives and vendors, and networking with other growers. Conferences seem to spark excitement for the upcoming season so don’t miss your chance to catch the 2019 bug!

Bronwyn Aly (618-382-2662;

Less Seriously...


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