Friday, September 26, 2014

Cabbage Harvest at Muscatine

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

We harvested our cabbage trial this year in late July at the Muscatine Island Research Farm, Fruitland, IA. Treatments included three rates of biochar (2.5, 5, or 10 T/A) and a control (0T/A) that was incorporated and tilled into the soil (6-8" depth). Cabbage cultivar grown was 'Bronco'. We had a great season; cabbage grew well, and we had It has a nice rounded head that is protected by waxy leaves. Check out some pictures from the plot. Also attached are some blooper snaps of lab having fun ! 













Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Folks, please see the news release from EPA about the release of a new nematicide for use in vegetable production. 


EPA Registers New Nematicide Alternative to Restricted-Use Soil Fumigants, Including Methyl Bromide
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is registering a new active ingredient, fluensulfone, a non-fumigant nematicide that provides lower-risk chemical control of nematodes than methyl bromide and other Restricted Use soil fumigants. Under the Montreal Protocol, EPA has phased out methyl bromide because its use depletes the ozone layer.  

Nematodes are difficult to control and can cause significant economic damage by reducing crop yield and quality.  Fluensulfone is a nematicide for pre-plant, bare-soil application on fruiting vegetables and cucurbits – cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, okra, eggplant and peppers. 

Of the seven main alternatives to fluensulfone used in the last five years, six (including methyl bromide) are soil fumigants and the seventh is a carbamate. All seven are Restricted Use Pesticides, which may pose a greater risk to human health than fluensulfone.  

Restricted Use Pesticides require special applicator training and certification, reporting and record-keeping and additional restrictive labeling to protect against human exposure. Soil fumigants can be labor intensive, requiring tarping and posting of fields.   

With its evaluation, EPA confirms that when used in accordance with the newly approved label, fluensulfone meets the safety requirements in the law. 

The EPA’s final regulatory decision document will be available in EPA docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2012-0629 at www.regulations.gov  by Sept. 19, 2014.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Correct stage to harvest melons

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Hurray......summer time is melon time ! (not too much left). These sweet and juicy fruits are common at farmer's markets, farm stands, and local grocery chains. As a grower picking melons at the right time is paramount to ensure the best quality. It is sometime not easy to judge the correct harvest stage based on harvest acronyms - full slip, half-slip, etc.  For maximum flavor, muskmelons should be picked when at "full-slip" or when the stem easily separates from the fruit. Though shelf life is shorter, full slip may be preferable in direct market situations. If the melons are going to be shipped, it is better to pick at "half-slip" stage (you have to pull a bit to separate the melon). To make things easy, please watch the video below. We hope it will help you become a better melon picker !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL_u8_-xpHs&list=UUIA9YIr9jAxHGSluiBpTedg


Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2014 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day at the Horticulture Research Station on 11th August, 2014. Everyone had a great time ! The Field Day featured research-based information on a variety of topics in fruit and vegetable production and the opportunity for real-time assessment of ongoing research.


The Bee Research Lab enlightened the audience about the life cycle of Paper Wasp and how they build their hives. You would be surprised to know that paper wasps are particular about the type of paper and also the color of the paper. The sustainable vegetable production lab showcased various ongoing research projects on cover crops, high tunnel production, organic broccoli production, potato, sweet potato, and asparagus production. Apple root stock evaluation trials and grape cultivar trials were also thoroughly enjoyed by the participants. Thank you to Nick Howell, Farm Superintendent, and his crew who did an excellent job in grilling those juicy pork burgers  for dinner. The final blow came in the form of Homemade Ice cream that was prepared by ISU Research and Demonstration Farm staff ! Muchas gracias ! Enjoy some pictures from the Field Day.











Thursday, August 21, 2014

Differentiate between crabgrass and witchgrass

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Wonder how many times you have been out in your plot/field/garden and scratched your head looking at grassy weeds especially crabgrass and all other grass weeds that look exactly the same. Let us help you out a bit. Check this video by Ray Kruse, graduate student in my lab, explaining the difference between crabgrass and witchgrass. Click the link below:

http://youtu.be/WSQdfNHmwv0

Have a great growing season
Best,
Ajay Nair

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New and unique cabbage cultivar

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Last fall our lab experimented with a new and unique cabbage cultivar called 'Caraflex'. Results from the study show promise for this cultivar as a potential crop for Iowa and the Midwest. This cabbage has small heads with good wrapper leaves for insect and sun protection. Leaves are tender, crunchy, and have mild cabbage flavor. This cabbage seems to more like a blend of two vegetables- cabbage + lettuce. Average yield were in the range of 3,000-4,000 lbs/A


































Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet potato harvest

Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University

Our sweet potato harvest took place on October 17th, 2013, three weeks later than 2012. Overall the crop grew well. Slips were planted on June 7, 2013 on black plastic mulch. The mulch helps increase soil temperature and suppress weeds. Weeding was minimal, only two times, until the canopy closure. The crop was affected by Japanese beetles but the plants came out of it gradually.

The harvest team
It is picking time !

The undercutter; used to lift potatoes
Undercutter in action


We conducted two experiments this year, one identifying suitable cultivars for Iowa growing conditions and the other investigating appropriate spacing of sweet potatoes. Data will be soon analyzed and made available through ISU Research Farm Progress Reports and at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/vegetablelab/content/publications-and-reports