Organic Crop Management for Market Retail

brgcuviOctober 2, 2013

Hello All!

I'm wondering if anyone might share their pest/fungal prevention and/or treatment methods. We are transitioning to organic and would love to hear how some of you manage your crops. Nothing less appealing than mixed salad greens with rust spots or bug holes : )

Anna

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myfamilysfarm

I tried to plant with companions, beans and potatoes have worked for us.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Anna,
Light weight row covers are my preferred method of excluding most flying pests. I use BT for cabbage moth, and pyrethrin in the worst case scenarios. Snap traps and cats for the voles.
For fungal, I use Actinovate (an organically approved biological fungicide) and compost tea.

-Mark

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 1:48AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I use row covers, sticky traps, encourage beneficial insects by rarely spraying any insecticides (and when we do it is spot application under row covers). We do a lot of soil improvement (including soil testing annually) by adding compost, OMRI approved fertilizers, rock powders, etc. This year we tried out OxiDate for fungal control and it worked very well.

Most importantly we see the farm as a living organism and treat it as such and the goal is to keep things in balance.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 4:56AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

And then you have the weeds that get into the spring mix as well. I would never sell as ready to eat. I do wash with vinegar and salt and inspect as drying time heavily. Some days I get lost in picking through baby lettuce and realize how much time just went by.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 10:02AM
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hillbillymick

.....and build your soil. You will be amazed at how much difference, that will make! 50% of your time, should be spent on the soil

Some pests will best be handled by hand picking, usually early morning. Chickens or guineas can be very helpful.

Weeds can be just a big of a problem. Undersow with cover crops to help eliminate weeds and build soil.

I highly recommend, "the new organic gardener" by Elliot Coleman, and "organic pest management" from rodale

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 8:45AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

for weeds hoe early and often. We got a wheel hoe years ago and it is one of the most used tools on our farm. We also make use of landscape fabric for mulching things like tomatoes, peppers, melons, etc.. That is a real time saver.

This post was edited by boulderbelt on Sat, Oct 5, 13 at 5:29

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 6:54PM
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brgcuvi

Thankyou all for sharing! A few questions after reading your responses:

Chickens / Guineas - do you have problems with them eating veggies in addition to bugs & weeds? Would love to free range my chickens but always assumed they would eat all of the produce.

Fungicide - Had a very wet year and lost everything to late blight. I was able to nurse them along for a bit with Copper fungicide but we had what seemed to be a "perfect storm" with the back to back rain storms / unseasonably cool weather. Any tips to try preventing?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 8:23PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

You cannot run poultry in an area that is growing, they will eat the produce, make bathing pits and poop on everything making it unsellable. Run the poultry after things are done for the season and keep them fenced and away from the market garden at all other times.

As I mentioned in my post above, I use Oxidate for a fungicide. Copper is allowed under Organic regs but it is highly regulated and quite toxic. Oxidate dealt with a huge array of issues for us this season and we were very very wet most of the summer and without the stuff we would have had terrible losses, I fear. With it we had bumper crops of many things such as winter squash and melons.

But also know that tomatoes hate wet weather and will succumb to blights in such weather. But for me Oxidate kept the maters going a good 8 weeks longer than they should have lived and we are still harvesting about 2/3 of the plants (the rest have been taken out so we can erect a high tunnel)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:15AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Has anyone tried the product Messenger?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:13PM
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randy41_1

i farm in a very late blight susceptible area. i use copper (nordox)which is very effective if the application is timed properly based on weather forecasts. wet cool weather promotes late blight. the problem with nordox (toxicity is not one the problem)is if you spray it on the fruit you then will have to wash and sometimes wipe off the copper residue. this adds a lot of time to the harvest.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 5:48AM
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kelise_m

Just a note on the chicken issue: The National Organic Plan prohibits manure application for 90 to 120 days before harvest, depending on the crop. This includes having any poultry in the growing areas. It's a good food safety rule, although like any rule it would be better if we could just use common sense instead! You'll have to follow it, however, if you are going to say your produce is organic.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 11:41AM
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brgcuvi

Kelise, I'm glad you brought up use of chicken manure / litter. I have access to a large amount of chicken litter (lots of chicken farms around here). Anyone using this in their beds? We've always used it on our Raspberry patch, they seem to love it. However, I was apprehensive to apply to the gardens because it's so "hot" (high N). Wondering if I put some in the winter and till a few times before planting if it would have long enough to compost down.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:13PM
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hillbillymick

I use chicken manure, but mainly from my own coop, and not that large of an amount.Keep in mind, that nitrogen can burn both ways, and use large amount of nutrients from your soil. I would compost it, if I had a large amount. Windrows, and normal turning, should make it break down fairly quick.

Here in Kansas, we do not have a lot of trouble with most fungus, but before getting soil in good shape, blight can be a problem on tomatoes during damp periods. Once soil is right, that problem is gone. Good soil, fixes many problems.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:56AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I use a different manure and compost for each crop and many times put it down or pile it up in fall. I will not use factory farm manure. I use pure horse manure for onions, cucurbits, garlic, brassicas. I use compost for leafy greens, potatoes, and root veggies. I use stall cleanings with shavings for sweet potatoes, nightshades, etc because I can get it easily but I don't prefer it. The stuff I have been getting has goat and horse manure/urine with shavings. That does best left for a season to age. I plan everything out by what will be there next season.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:49PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Know if you are not certified Organic and gross more than $5000 a year in sales from your farm you cannot use the O word in your marketing, i.e. you cannot call your farm nor anything you sell Organic. I used to get certified but gave it up in 2002 and now use the term sustainable instead.

If you do use the term Organic illegally you can be subject to a $10K fine for every offense if caught (and they do enforce this rule)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 2:47AM
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randy41_1

most customers don't care how you grow your stuff. i grow organically but not certified. those that ask get the full story and what would make my stuff not qualify for certified organic (strawberries grown from not certified organic plants for example) if that's the case.
my daughter got me a tshirt that says Organically Awesome on it that i wear at the market sometimes. nothing illegal about that and customers see the shirt and i assume they think my stuff is certified organic.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 5:32AM
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hillbillymick

Yep, i use biologically grown, with no pestacides or herbacides.

Organic has a bad name with some customers, because of the inferior supermarket crap.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:38AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I find where I am Organic is still a great selling point, though most people have no idea what it means and think it means that Organic growers avoid a lot of stuff and do not realize that it's all about the soil and that soil management is the big difference between conventional and Organic. But than, most people find soil talk to be incredibly boring.

And of course, if you realize that your soil is teeming with life and it is that life that keeps your plants happy and healthy you cannot use synthetics on that soil without doing great harm and setting progress back months, if not years

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 8:04PM
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