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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Selecting Summer Cover Crops

It’s tempting to cash crop every season, but eventually – especially on Coastal Plain soils – you’ll run into problems with disease pressure impacting yields. In addition, farming on Coastal Plain soils with their low level of organic matter makes using recommended herbicide label rates tricky; low organic matter results in a narrow window between efficacy and phytotoxicity, negatively affecting yields.

Cover crops can help remedy these problems. Summer cover crops are an option few Northeast growers use because there is only so much time in-season to cash crop, but it’s an option worth serious consideration. Summer cover crops add versatility to your cropping rotation – another chance to address weed and disease pressure plus build organic matter; another chance to boost future yields.

Don’t miss Cover Crop Field Day
Date: December 11, 2014
Location: Now or Never Farm, 37 Welisewitz Road, Ringoes, NJ
Host: USDA NRCS and North Jersey RC&D
Contact: For Information and RSVP (by Dec. 8) call USDA NRCS 908-782-4614×3

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Seven Years of Cover Crops in Rotations

A cover crop rotations study was conducted to determine if Coastal Plains soils could meet the challenge of cash cropping most seasons while also advancing soil organic matter and cation exchange capacity.

The rotations were Sudex-Rye-Soybean-Rye-Corn-Rye-Soybean-Wheat-Corn-Rye-Sudex-WheatAlfalfa. Soil organic matter remained unchanged the first three years but started to rise in year four. By year seven, soil organic matter had increased by 40 percent. Soil cation exchange capacity increased by 50 percent during the study period.

Soil Organic Matter vs CEC

USDA NE-SARE Cover Crop Rotations Study Results

Farm Calls: Tillage Tools for “Breaking Ground”

A young farmer in North Jersey gave a call this season to ask if we could swing by a take a look at some land he wanted to bring into production. We arrived to find a worst-case scenario: an old pasture on heavy silt loam soil with densely rooted sod clumps – the ground had not been tilled or mowed in two decades. In addition, there was no plan for a burndown herbicide application since the grower follows organic practices.

New Jersey Ag Agents often field calls like this from beginning farmers with small acreage and urban ag market gardeners who need to perform primary tillage, i.e., break ground for the first time. Working with a limited budget, they face the daunting task of opening up an old pasture like our farmer’s, or soils that are compacted and abandoned. These sites share a common problem. They are too small to bring in a 25-35hp tractor and tillage implements, yet far too large to dig and turn the soil over by hand – even with plenty of volunteers.

Primary tillage using a walk-behind two-wheeled tractor.

Tillage using a walk-behind two-wheeled tractor.

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