Organic Farm Calls: White Rot on Garlic, Leek, & Onion

This week a central Jersey grower of organic produce calls to report problems in a field of overwinter garlic.

white rot on garlic

What might be the cause of this problem?

The grower reports there is no history of previous allium crop production in the field. Two different varieties are being grown. On inspection, one variety shows yellow, stunted and wilting plants in small patches in the field; the other variety is vigorous and symptom free.

What might be the cause of this problem? What steps do you take to find the definitive answer? What can our organic grower do to avoid further crop loss?
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Farm Calls: A Grower Questions Why Hydroponics are Excluded from Organic Certification Labeling

This Farm Call comes from Rutgers SEBS Dean, Robert Goodman – yes, even Deans get calls from growers.
A New Jersey grower, who raises crops hydroponically, asks,

“Why can’t I get my greens and herbs labeled Certified Organic?
It seems there is a hang up with the issue.”

hydroponicsThe answer to his question reveals serious dysfunction in the governing bodies that dictate farming practices and how pop culture molds public opinion through fear.

  • Why would a farmer seek a Certified Organic label?
  • Flawed Definitions & Illogical Policy
  • Why Hydroponics Won’t be Deemed Certified Organic by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)
  • What can Growers Do?

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Farm Calls: Contemplating Hops

Northeast SARE USDA summer farm tour in Rhode IslandForestry Specialist Mark Vodak was recently “talking shop” with a friend who happens to be a berry farmer. His friend is contemplating a new venture this season – growing hops.

Hop, Humulus lupulus L., is an essential ingredient contributing to beer aroma & flavor and, is of interest in biomedical research.
Their conversation brings up some common questions about growing an alternative crop like hops in New Jersey:

  • Who do I talk to about growing hops?
  • What’s going on with hops in the region?
  • What do I need to know starting out when growing hops in New Jersey?

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Farm Calls: Advising Beginning Farmers Who Set Their Sights on Jersey Soil

Theresa Viggiano and Patrick Leger of First Field

Theresa Viggiano and Patrick Leger
of First Field

Hunterdon County farmer Susan Blew gets a kick out of telling young people who want to get into farming: “The only path into farming successfully in New Jersey is the womb, groom, or the tomb.” It’s funny but too true at the same time – the cost of land is a huge barrier to entry for those starting out in our state.

Despite this hurdle, entrepreneurs still choose to give Jersey farming a shot. Advising them is what makes extension work rewarding. For example, Theresa Viggiano and Patrick Leger, owners of First Field, are beginning farmers who have turned their sweat equity into an enterprise to be proud of – their Jersey Ketchup and Jersey Relish products are sold  in NJ, NY, and Connecticut.

Recently, I was contacted by a father whose son is returning to New Jersey to farm with his fiance. They have experience working for the past 4 years on a large organic farm CSA in the West that grew from a 35 customer base to over 300. It’s encouraging to see family willingness to help with a grubstake; invest in the young couples’ venture. The father is a professional and “has some capital and can’t think of a more rewarding investment” than his son’s dream.

Their questions revolve around how a beginning farmer gets started in New Jersey.
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