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Question of the Week

Answer:The good news is that only the leaves are infected. Unfortunately, this disease progresses quite rapidly, and can reduce crop yield. Because there is less leaf protection, sun scald on the pumpkin can become a problem. Symptoms appear four to 12…...

Answer: The biggest variable in whether this endeavor will be successful is the duration of cold. For example, three fig growers in northwest Arkansas have had the same experience the last three years. They all achieved whole-plant survival and fruit in…...

Answer: Adult fungus gnats don't damage plants or bite people; their presence is primarily considered a nuisance. Larvae, however, when present in large numbers, can damage roots and stunt plant growth, particularly in seedlings and young plants.…...

Answer: Frothy bloat refers to a condition when a ruminant consumes forages that produce a frothy gas in the rumen and the animal cannot pass the gas. The rumen gets so full of gas that it eventually presses against the heart or lungs and the animal…...

Answer: There are several things you can do to reduce the need for deworming. Providing your cows with excellent nutrition, practicing rotational grazing, and breeding for parasite resistance can reduce your dependence on deworming medications. All…...

Answer: Wild onion is a difficult weed to control because the hollow leaves are very waxy and repel spray materials very well. A combination of strategies may work best to help manage wild onion on your land.Hand pulling is an option if there are only…...

Answer: A bio-heated greenhouse most often refers to the practice of generating heat in a greenhouse from animals, but it can also refer to using compost. The following information focuses on the use of animals in a greenhouse as a heat source. For…...

Answer: The ATTRA publication Organic Asparagus Production addresses some of the research that has been done in this area. From the following information excerpted from that publication, however, doing so appears to be quite management-intensive.Cover…...

Answer: It depends on the species of grass, but always leave a minimum of 4 to 5 inches. If you have 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of grass per acre that you are grazing, I would suggest leaving about 8 to 10 inches. You do not want to graze the grass down to…...

Answer: The blooms of all orchids are considered safe for consumption, but some species can irritate the stomach. The vanilla bean or pod is considered the world's only edible fruit-bearing orchid. The genus Dendrobia is also commonly used as a food…...

Answer: As with almost any lease situation, there are rarely any guarantees and both parties must keep their end of the agreement. Despite the best planning and efforts on both sides, unforeseen circumstances can arise that will have to be dealt with as…...

Answer: The University of Wisconsin has written about this in the publication Planning and Establishing a Commercial Apple Orchard in Wisconsin. That publication states: "The exposure of the slope is also important. South-facing slopes experience more…...

Answer: There are several non-chemical options available. Commercial formulations of Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis (also known as "Bti") are available in pellet or powder form that can be applied to rice paddy water. The Bti product is made up…...

Answer: All the answers you are looking for are contained in the ATTRA publication Peaches: Organic and Low-Spray Production, available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=6. This publication covers all major (and most of the…...

Answer: Farm hydropower projects have existed for many years, from waterwheels used for grinding grain and forging to modern hydroelectric turbines designed to run compressors and motors. Micro-hydro systems ? those that produce less than 100 kilowatts…...

Answer: The type of tomato plant that you are producing can dictate the need for pruning. Determinate varieties often are early and have a short but concentrated production season. These plants are staked or caged but are not adapted to trellising.…...

Answer: There is no simple answer for your correct stocking rate. The number of animals your land can support depends on many factors, including forage type and density, climate (temperature, rainfall), soils, grazing management, livestock species, and…...

Answer: These insects, sometimes called "children of the earth" because their oversized, round head with two, bead-like black eyes gives them a fancied resemblance to a miniature child. They are pale yellow to brown in color. These crickets are wingless…...

Answer: Drip irrigation, often referred to as micro or trickle irrigation, slowly and precisely delivers water (and sometimes nutrients) directly to a plant's root zone, making it a very efficient method of irrigation. With a drip system, water moves…...

The buffer requirements in section 205.202 of the National Organic Standards are vague. The exact wording is as follows: "Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited…...

Answer: The presence of weeds in an established forage crop or pasture is usually a sign of a management problem. Fertility, proper planting procedure, and harvest management are the most effective ways to maintain dense, productive pastures. Ensure…...

Answer: Materials that are used to produce and handle organic crops under the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) must be selected for compliance and used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. For more information,…...

Answer: There are at least two baking soda products that are registered with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) as "certified organic"?Milstop? and Green Light?. Milstop is aptly named because it is used primarily for mildew control in…...

Answer: The answer to this question depends on whether you are asking about seeds in general or about different seed varieties of the same fruit.Regarding seeds in general, there is much literature about the fact that plants with larger seeds emerge…...

Answer: Grain that has sprouted (if free of mold and other microorganisms) can be fed to cattle with no negative consequence. But in terms of delivering energy and nutrients to livestock, it is generally not advantageous to sprout grains before feeding.…...

Answer: The National Organic Standards Board [NOSB; the advisory board to the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP)] and the NOP two years ago published a document addressing this question. Entitled Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in…...

Answer: There are two species of chestnut weevil--the 'lesser' and the 'greater,' and though the life cycles are slightly different, the control methods are the same. Only one pesticide (see below) is labeled for treatment of chestnut weevil, so the…...

Answer: First, you'll need to understand the inherent value of your product. What sets you apart from the wholesale buyer the restaurant typically gets its product from? Is your product local, organic, grass-fed or antibiotic-free, or a specialty item?…...

Answer: Developing a new market and/or milk products will take some time and work. You will have to consider what available markets are near you, what prices the market will bear, the potential extra labor for new products, etc. In Kansas, you can…...

Answer: There are many factors that can affect the quality and tenderness of beef. Some of them are caused by production, some by processing, and some by cooking. The list below identifies several resources can help you address these various factors.…...

Answer: There are many agriculture-related funding opportunities, some of which are specifically for beginning farmers. Most funders have specific funding cycles, so it's a good idea to get familiar with various funders and their funding cycle?and with…...

Answer: The following provides a brief overview of composting systems. Keep in mind that if your operation is certified organic, you must meet the requirements for composting set by the USDA National Organic Program so as to not jeopardize your organic…...

Answer: Peach leaf curl, caused by the fungal organism Taphrina deformans, is a common disorder in peach and nectarine orchards, especially during wet springs. Infected leaves become misshapen, deformed, and necrotic, resulting in premature defoliation…...

Answer: Washing biodiesel is easy to do and requires only water and time. Washing removes impurities, including unfiltered particulates, methanol, and glycerin. Unwashed biodiesel will not meet ASTM, formerly known as the American Society of…...

Answer: Organic farming requires any pest-management materials used be in compliance with USDA's National Organic Program regulations and must be used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. The Organic Materials…...

Answer: The establishment of a pecan orchard by planting trees in rows is how most new growers enter the pecan industry. Trees can be purchased with the cultivar already budded to the top, or planted as a seedling and grafted in the field. (To be "true…...

Answer: There are several things to consider in your search for farmland. A thoughtful and thorough search and planning process will increase your odds of finding the right property for your unique goals. Some important questions to ask yourself that…...

Answer: Blossom drop is typically associated with various stresses to the tomato plants. Wide fluctuations in temperatures?extreme highs and lows? are often the culprit. Lack of pollination can be another factor. Growth regulators (such as Bonide…...

Answer: Agritourism combines agricultural sales with on-farm entertainment or activities that involve the customers. These can include hayrides, mazes, pumpkin patches, farm tours, a bed and breakfast, or other endeavors. "Pick-your-own" or "you-pick"…...

Answer: With severe drought an all-too-common occurrence, some farmers turn to irrigation for a solution. Irrigation may not be feasible or even desirable. Fortunately, there are management options that can increase the soil's ability to store water for…...

Answer: Cover crops could be considered the backbone of any annual cropping system that seeks to be sustainable. There are several ways to use cover crops, each delivering specific benefits for your crops or soil.A cover crop is any crop grown to…...

Answer: The soil, the environment, and farm condition benefit when the soil's natural productivity is managed in a sustainable way. Reliance on purchased inputs declines year by year, while land value and income potential increase. Some of the things we…...

Answer: Apples, Malus sp., are among the most difficult crops to grow organically. They are prone to attack by more pests than perhaps any other crop. Without effective management, the worst of these pests can be devastating?to the fruit, to the…...

Answer: There are several ways to save energy on your farm depending on what type of infrastructure and operation you have. The first step to reducing farm energy costs is determining where you use energy in your operation. One way to gauge energy use…...

Answer: The term plasticulture refers to the practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications, most often as a plastic plant or soil covering. Organic and conventional growers in California and Florida, where most of the nation's…...

Answer: Working with bees requires a gentle touch and calm disposition. It also requires a basic understanding of the honey bees' behavior during the various seasons and during handling and moving. It is usually wise to start small, learn efficient…...

Answer: There are a tremendous number of resources to help beginning farmers and ranchers with planning, securing land, and making a success of their operations. As the premier source of sustainable agriculture information, ATTRA offers important…...

Answer: You have spent months working in the fields, and you now have a bountiful harvest of beautiful fruits and vegetables. You want to ensure that your customers will also enjoy this healthy harvest. How can you best maintain the quality and safety…...

The USDA defines Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing…...

Answer: Hoop houses generally have no heating or cooling systems other than natural solar heating and natural ventilation. As a result, hoop houses provide less control of environmental conditions than full greenhouses. However, there are design…...

Answer: The ATTRA website offers several databases, including a directory of organic seed suppliers.This database identifies organic seed sources for both agronomic and horticultural crops. Some national, mail-order suppliers of untreated seed are…...

Answer: Living fences are fences made of live trees and shrubs. Their installation and use is common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia. While historically used in the United States as livestock fencing, living hedges are…...

The nutritional concern for ruminants centers around energy (i.e., carbohydrates), protein, minerals, vitamins, and water. Energy (carbohydrates) is responsible for maintenance and growth functions of the animal, and for the generation of heat. Protein…...

Answer: Adding compost?nature's own fertilizer?is one of the best ways to make the soil in your garden richer and more productive. And you can easily make it yourself, while cutting back on yard and kitchen waste. Compost is simply a product of…...

Answer: Poultry manure is considered one of the richest animal manures and contains high levels of the macronutrients N-P-K. Fowls do not excrete excrete urine separately; therefore, the droppings need to be composted before use or they will burn the…...

Answer: Spider mites on tomatoes can be either web-spinning spider mites, which can be seen with the naked eye, or tomato russet mites, which are invisible to the naked eye but leave plants with a "bronzed" appearance. It would be best to confirm the…...

Answer: Fiddleneck (Amsinckia spp.) is a native annual herb in the borage family. Fiddleneck is known to be toxic to horses both in its fresh form as well as in hay (Weed Board, 2010), and this toxicity is likely caused by alkaloids in the plant…...

Answer: Gooseberry and currants are closely related (both are Ribes spp. ) and have relatively the same management requirements. Currants have three different distinct varieties--black, red, and white. Gooseberry varieties range from greenish-white to…...

Answer: A great resource for organic treatments of common health problems of poultry flocks is Karma Glos's Remedies for Health Problems of the Organic Laying Flock, available at http://www.kingbirdfarm.com/Layerhealthcompendium.pdf. This compendium…...