Cabbage Maggot & Pest Control Efficacy

Last month we met with a group of farmers who urged Rutgers to provide expanded information on organic pest control recommendations.

What are my organic treatment options and how well do they work? As an organic grower, I sometimes accept less control, and more costly treatment than conventional farmers, but the information on efficacy is unclear. If Rutgers isn’t doing efficacy trials, can you sift through the literature to tell me what others have found that definitely works?

Control of cabbage root maggot (CRM) is a timely example that illustrates the ‘struggle for relative efficacy’ in making organic recommendations when compared with conventional options. Forsythia in bloom–any day now–occurs at about the same time that farmers can expect CRM to damage their transplanted cole crops. Even light CRM infestations can kill small seedlings and transplants, delay crop development, and render root crops unsaleable. Higher populations can kill older plants or reduce yield.

This article discusses:

  • monitoring and control of CRM in cole crops.
  • the use of online weather station degree-day (DD) data to predict CRM activity and timing of treatment – instead of relying on phenology.
  • how the lack of field research capacity makes recommendations difficult for organic pest controls in comparison with conventional controls.
  • why talent scouting (sifting through the literature) is an adjunct to research capacity, not a replacement.

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Farm Market Products: Brussels Sprouts on the Stalk

While the draw of agritourism is the on-farm experience, it’s just as important to provide both the expected (sweet corn!) and unique quality produce. Unique experiences and products set your operation apart in the minds of your customers.

Sometimes unique means going back to the ways things used to be done – take Brussels sprouts. Growing up on the Infante family farm, we would top the plants and sell them “on the stalk”. Since the young leaves of Brussels sprouts taste similar to collards, we would market the topped leaf cluster separately as greens to be prepared like you would collards.

“What is the best time to top Brussels sprouts so that the ‘buttons’ size uniformly? What are the pros and cons of topping?”

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