Ask the Expert: Mel Henninger on Organic Potatoes

Mel Henninger knows potatoes. Read what he has to say about his experience growing potatoes under organic conditions in an interview by Snyder Farm Intern Kate Brown. Learn about the best NJ varieties, must-have equipment, and cultural practices that produce quality potatoes your customers will love.

Dr. Mel Henninger and Farm Intern Kate Brown

Dr. Mel Henninger and Farm Intern Kate Brown

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Sex and the Single Asparagus

When planting new asparagus fields, the advantages of choosing the newest Rutgers hybrid male varieties far outweigh the disadvantage of increased cost. We asked Steve Garrison, Rutgers Professor Emeritus, to discuss the benefits of these new, expensive varieties that will be increasingly offered by seed companies worldwide since Rutgers NJAES recently both licensed and sold its asparagus-breeding program. Finally, we test your memory of high school biology describing how 45 years of genetics and technologies research made hybrid all-male asparagus production fields possible.

Rutgers Hybrid Male Asparagus Variety Benefits

Asparagus spears emerging in a field of Rutgers NJAES all-male hybrid asparagus

Rutgers Hybrid Male Asparagus

According to Dr. Garrison, the best Rutgers hybrid males out-yield females by 15-25% over time – the differences increasingly apparent after the 2nd and 3rd years. One reason for this is that the male plants do not produce fruits (seeds) which would divert crop energy resources away from future stalk growth. Hybrid male asparagus emerge earlier in spring under colder soil conditions than females. In addition, hybrid male production fields are longer-lived. Compared with females, the hybrid male stalks fetch better prices due to a higher percentage of yield pack out of desirable USDA No.1 Grade diameters of medium and large. In asparagus, the larger diameter spears have superior culinary qualities of tenderness and sweetness. [Read more…]

Farm Calls: Exploring Exotic Mushroom Cultivation

This week Extension Agent Amy Rowe fields a question from a grower interested in getting into the commercial production of mushrooms.

Sustainable ag farms summer tour with NE SARE USDA projects NY State Cornell
“Where can I find information on cultivating shiitake, maitake, and several oyster varieties (blue, white, and pink)?”

 

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Farm Calls: Vegetable "Seed Saving" for Small Farms

This week a training coordinator from the Beginning Farmer Incubator asks,

“Does Rutgers Cooperative Extension have “seed saving” information or recommendations that you can share?”

Seed production involves choosing the right varieties for seed saving as well as possessing detailed information in harvesting, processing, and storage. These are not skills you can learn from a “fact sheet.” There’s a lot that can go wrong, resulting in wasted time and money. I recommend a comprehensive resource guide geared for farmers, gardeners, and agricultural professionals:
The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production
(J. Navazio, 2012)
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