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)

Regional Reports (north-central, southern Illinois)

Fruit and Vegetable Production and Pest Management (Cover Crop Highlight, 2016 Southern Illinois Ornamental Corn Variety Trial)

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   

Regional Reports

From north-central Illinois…With a high of 3 degrees Fahrenheit last Sunday, it is a safe bet to say it is cold outside. I've noted many growers are sold out of their cool season crops like spinach and kale. Hopefully, that's the lack of fresh cool season veggies is from overwhelming need and not due to crop failure or killing cold temperatures. During my most recent visit to a local vegetable farm, it was cold enough that upon seeing a closed barn door and a sign that read "sold out," I didn't stick around to ask questions.

Make sure you have your irrigation lines properly drained and stored. Two years ago, I disconnected my systems and set the backflow preventer and filter on my worktable in the high tunnel. Thinking a vigorous shake and propping the fixtures on end would rid them of water. Come spring I found my filter had a telltale crack where water had remained and frozen. This year my irrigation fixtures were brought inside, and all valves opened to drain the lines.

If you participate in farmers' markets, it is always beneficial to attend meetings of market organizers to retrospect on the year and plan for the next growing season. At a previous meeting, we brainstormed ideas for getting more customers to the market. Next year, our local Extension staff and volunteers will play a role in providing booths with educational activities for the young and old. Should be a fun market year.

Chris Enroth (309-837-3939;

From southern Illinois ... The last month has been a little more "normal" if there is such a thing. Although we have still had a few warm days, we have been at or below average for our temperatures especially in the last week or so.  Here in Murphysboro, the first of this week has been the coldest we have seen so far this season with highs in the mid-20s and Monday morning we were down into the single digits.  Down here we dodged most of the ice and had mainly rain over the weekend, but the St. Louis Metro East area got hit hard with the ice and freezing rain.  This was mainly problematic for traffic and not enough to cause any damage to fruit trees or other perennial crops or structures.   We have had typical precipitation with a couple of systems bringing us some timely rains after what was a dry stretch in late October and early November.  Looking ahead the middle of this week through Christmas shows us warming up above freezing and by Sunday up to around 60. 

Out in the field growers were still working on fall cleanup, pulling up old plasticulture beds and pulling posts from trellised vegetables.  For a while it was almost too dry to do some of these things easily so with some rains in mid-November there was a good chance to work on these things before the ground froze. Most any fall crop that had not been under some form of protection has succumbed to the cold. 

In our high tunnel at the office in Jackson County the carrots and greens are looking fine with the help of the row cover.  The broccoli we have it just starting to form heads and even with the row cover many of the older leaves have been injured by cold; however, the new head and younger leaves still look alright.  Hopefully, with some more moderate winter time weather there is still potential for the broccoli to be productive.

I just wanted to thank all of our readers for their continued support and readership now that Bronwyn and I have completed one year as co-editors of the newsletter.  We hope to continue bringing you just as much information as we can to help you in your operation!  Merry Christmas and hope to see many of you at the Illinois Specialty Crops Conference in Springfield!

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;

Fruit and Vegetable Production and Pest Management

Cover Crop Highlight: What's Going on Out in the Field

By now most of our cover crop have gone dormant or have been terminated by the cold, but what have they done for us by now?  Here are just a few notes and observations I wanted to share what we are seeing out in the field from our cover crops.  It is important to take a little extra time (and maybe a shovel) to scout cover crops and see what is going on.

Above is a picture of an oat/crimson clover mix (as of 12/11/16) seeded in early September with a no-till drill at 25 lbs oats; 8 lbs clover/A.  This variety of crimson clover is 'Kentucky Pride' which is a newer variety which has shown to do well in southern Illinois.  The picture to the right shows the root growth from the last 3 months.  Crimson clover does have a tap root, but also many fine fibrous hair roots which penetrate and loosen the soil.  Also, you can see the start of some small white nodules forming on the roots as the start of nitrogen production for the plant.

The picture below (left) show how much the clover has tillered and branched with its fall growth.  With adequate growth in the fall crimson clover branches similar to branch crowns on strawberries.  These additional tillers will allow for more blooms and foliage growth in the spring. 

In contrast, the picture below (right) shows the root system from the oats.  The roots are very fibrous and extensive.  This gives oats a great potential to reduce erosion and also build the soil.  The oats will winter-kill with multiple days of temperatures below 20, but the fibrous root system will still remain throughout the winter giving additional stability to your soil.  When you compare the root systems of these two cover crops you can see how they can work together very well in the soil.

Below is from a local grower field where sorghum-sudangrass (brown stems in the picture) was planted in the summer and mowed and then cereal rye was drilled directly into the the sorghum-sudangrass in October.  Once we had a freeze the sorghum-sudangrass died, opening up the canopy for this healthy stand of cereal rye to take off.  This is a form of relay planting where one is seeded into another living crop.  Both of these species are very competitive with weeds which was one of the goals behind the selection of these cover crops by the grower.  This field will be no-till planted into summer squash, cucumbers, or green beans next growing season.

All photos: N. Johanning

Here is just a little look at some of the things these cover crops are doing for us even at a time when we aren't spending as much time in the field.

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727;

2016 Southern Illinois Ornamental Corn Variety Trial

An observational ornamental corn variety trial was planted in southern Illinois at the Ewing Demonstration Center, Ewing, IL as a compliment to pumpkin trials featured during the annual Illinois Pumpkin Field Day held August 31, 2016.  The ornamental corn trial consisted of 12 varieties (see Table 1) planted on May 31, 2016.  The plots were planted 1" deep using a no-till planter set on 30" rows at a population rate 20,000 seeds/acre.  Production practices were followed using recommendations from the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification crop profile Ornamental Corn  Due to above average rainfall during much of the 2016 growing season, pesticide applications for weed and insect control were difficult to make, resulting in only one application for corn earworm.  Corn earworm damage along with poor tip fill/pollination had a negative effect on the number of marketable ears harvested from the trial.  The table below provides variety trial results listed in descending order of Marketable Ears.  Photos of each variety with comments are listed below the table. Harvest data collected September, 13, 2016.

We would like to thank the following companies for generously donating seed for this variety trial: Johnny's Selected Seeds, Rispens Seeds, Rupp Seeds, & Seedway.

Photo 1.  Indian Art #104. 
Very consistent, shiny. Good kernel fill. Reds, purples, whites. Consistent stalk height and good strength. 

Photo 2.  Indian Art Cranberry.
Very easy to harvest.  Colors of cranberry, magenta, burgundy.  Shiny, uniform. Consistent stalk height and good strength.  Rupp

Photo 3.  Autumn Splendor.
Range of colors; whites, tans, orange, red.  Consistent ear quality.

Photo 4.  Earth Tones Dent.
Uniform.  Consistent color and pattern, earthy rainbow.  Poor stalk strength.

Photo 5.  Red Stalker Improved.
Yellow, reds, blues, oranges-marbled kernels.
50-60% purple husks

Photo 6.  Shaman's Blue Popcorn.
Consistent height, uniform.  Grape purple in color.

Photo 7.  Oaxacan Green.
Green, yellow, blue, iridescent with purple hints. Shiny.

Photo 8.  Fiesta.
Poor stalk strength. Yellow, reds, marbling kernels.  Shiny.

Photo 9.  Longbow. 
Purples, reds, tan, white.   Poor pollination on ear tips.

Photo 10.  Jerry Petersen Blue. 
Blue.  Yellow tint to inside of husks.

Photo 11.  Autumn Explosion. 
Wide range of colors; yellow, red, purple, orange-tan.
All Photos:  N. Johanning

Nathan Johanning (618-687-1727; and Bronwyn Aly (618-382-2662;

Less Seriously...

Witty and Occasionally Astute Observations
    -by Winston Churchill
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
"He's a modest little person, with much to be modest about."
"We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out"
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
"There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true."
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
"If this is a blessing, it is certainly very well disguised."
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."
"Difficulties mastered are opportunities won"
"To jaw-jaw- is always better than to war-war"
"I never worry about action, but only about inaction"
"There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion."
"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."
"Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have"
"Without courage all virtues lose their meaning."
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things."
"Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room."
"A man is about as big as the things that make him angry"
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
"The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put."
"It is my belief, you cannot deal with the most serious things in the world unless you understand the most amusing"
"The first quality that is needed is audacity."
"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
"By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach."
"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results."
"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else."
"I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place."
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

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