Week of April 25, 2013

From the Center for Regional Food Systems & the Desk of Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])



Education & Conferences 

à Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference: 2014 Workshop Presentations Proposals


PRODUCTIONà Not too late to apply dormant spray on grapes for disease prevention

à Organic soybean varieties tested


à Nitrogen Cycling and Pest Scouting Webinars: April 23, 25
à Michigan Food Hub Network Webinar: Tuesday, April 30
à Michigan Farm Bill Conservation Summit & Citizen Session: Wednesday, May 1

Agriculture News
à NSAC Update

à New Pasture Rules Issued for Organic Dairy Producers

à Get the antibiotics out of organic apples and pears, say experts

à MSUE Vegetable News

à Ceres Trust Organic Research and Outreach

à Extend the Growing Season with SARE’s New Collection of How-To Resources

Grant Opportunitiesà USDA Conservation Funding

à Loans for smaller farms



Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference: 2014 Workshop Proposals
The Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference serves as a vehicle to promote and build a local vibrant agriculture community, to equip the small farm community with the tools to be successful, and to be a forum for the open exchange of ideas within the small farm community. This is accomplished primarily through the annual conference, but is also accomplished through the support of other education opportunities throughout the year.



1. To provide an outstanding educational event that meets the needs of the attendees of the conference.

2. Provide a forum for the open exchange of ideas within the small farm community.

3. Support small farm educational programs throughout the year.

4. Help to build a local network of small farms, community businesses, and


local government for the expressed purpose of building the local food economy. We welcome proposals from a wide range of speakers on a wide range of topics. Due to space limitations we are only able to accept a portion of the workshop proposals submitted. Please answer the following questions as completely and thoughtfully as you are able, and contact Jen Schaap with any questions about the form or the conference: [log in to unmask] or 231-838-8093. The deadline for conference proposals is Monday, June 3rd, 2013.




Dormant fungicide sprays in grapes can help reduce inoculum of Phomopsis, powdery mildew, black rot and anthracnose.


The cold spring has some advantages; for instance, allowing you to finish your pruning activities in grapes and even throw in some dormant sprays before the season starts. The goal of dormant sprays is to eliminate fungal pathogens that overwinter in or on the woody parts of the vine. While it is not possible to eradicate all inoculum, dormant sprays can kill or debilitate the fungus so it produces fewer spores, reducing disease pressure during the growing season.

Dormant sprays are useful for management of Phomopsis, powdery mildew, black rot and anthracnose. In some years, we have seen a reduction in downy mildew as well, but only with copper sprays. Since the downy mildew pathogen overwinters in leaf residue on the soil, it could be affected by copper residues that land on the soil surface.

In most years, we have seen a benefit from dormant sprays when rating diseases at harvest, but the degree has varied from none to 70 percent. As a rule of thumb, a 30 to 50 percent reduction in disease pressure can be expected on average from a single dormant spray. Results may not be as good in rainy springs, which probably lead to washing off of the material before it is able to do its job.

To cover your bases, two dormant sprays may be applied, in early and late spring or fall and spring. Dormant sprays should not be used as a stand-alone disease control measure, but can aid in reducing disease pressure during the season.

Products that can be used as dormant sprays are Lime Sulfur or Sulforix, Cuprofix or any other copper product, Sulfur (liquid form recommended), and JMS Stylet Oil or other dormant oil. Sticky formulations that don’t wash off readily are best. Application during a dry period and not right before a rainstorm can aid efficacy. Sulforix is calcium polysulfide (similar to Lime Sulfur) that has a lower rate of application.

I usually equate 1 gallon of Sulforix to 5 gallons of Lime Sulfur, and 2 gallons of Sulforix to 10 gallons of Lime Sulfur. Both products are corrosive to equipment and care must be taken to protect eyes and skin from exposure. Some growers spray PAM or oil on equipment prior to use of Lime Sulfur or Sulforix to protect against corrosion and facilitate washing off spray residues. Dormant spray that kills Phomopsis as it starts sporulating on old wood is your best mode of control in organic systems.

To get the maximum benefit out of dormant sprays, it is important to ensure thorough coverage of the trunk and canes and to spray every row. Airblast sprayers may not be the best means of application of dormant sprays; tower sprayers or boom sprayers spraying down onto the cordons from above may be better. In any case, closing off nozzles as needed and focusing nozzles on the cordons, lowering air intake, slowing down and spraying at a moderately low volume (e.g., 20 to 30 gpa) will allow better coverage of the canes while keeping the product fairly concentrated. Don’t use a high spray volume as it will dilute the product and result in run-off.

Dr. Schilder’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.



Reminder: Pest Scouting Webinars April 25

There's still time to register for 2 e-Organic webinars in April, so click the links below to register! All the webinars are free and open to the public and advance registration is required; they take place at 2PM Eastern Time (1PM Central, 12PM Mountain, 11AM Pacific Time). You can find all our upcoming and archived webinars at www.extension.org/pages/25242

Thursday, April 25, 2013: Scouting for Vegetable and Fruit Pests on Organic Farms

Michigan Food Hub Network Webinar: Tuesday, April 30, 2:00-3:30 pm

“Financing Farmers and Food Hubs”

Learn more about two exciting financing projects - the Shade Fund (part of the Conservation Fund) and the Northwest Michigan Farm and Food 20/20 Fund. 


To access the webinar, go to: https://connect.msu.edu/richpirog


If you have never attended an Adobe Connect webinar meeting before, please test your connection in advance by going to the link below. You may need to download a small, harmless plug-in and update your version of flash player.



Hope that you can participate! The webinar will be recorded.

Michigan Farm Bill Conservation Summit & Citizen Session

Hosted By: Izaak Walton League of America

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM

MSU Kellogg Center, East Lansing, MI



Leaders and representatives from conservation and agricultural groups, agency representatives, and legislative dignitaries have been invited to participate in summit to discuss the role of conservation compliance in the next Farm Bill and how to move effective conservation policy forward. Please join the conversation!



Enjoy some local selections while you meet with conservation folks from around the state. You can also participate in a public action photo project with Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy.



After a short local food reception at 5:30 pm, we will host a Citizens' Session with an overview of the Farm Bill, panel discussion including farmers and conservationists, and a brief discussion of opportunities for individuals and communities to take action and build grassroots support for policies that protect our soil, air, and water. 


Learn how the Farm Bill impacts Michigan's soil, water, and wildlife, share your thoughts on Michigan's Farm Bill priorities, and discover how you can help shape sustainable food and farm policies. 


This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be provided. 

However, an RSVP via Eventbrite is required.


To see the agenda & learn more: Download PDF of the Flyer

See the Agenda & RSVP for this FREE event at: http://miconservation.eventbrite.com




NSAC Update
Are you a farmer or rancher? Do you know one? If so, you need to know about this opportunity! The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released a 6-page guide for farmers and ranchers interested in signing up for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Download the full guide here - and read on for more information!

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is currently gearing up to announce the cut-off date for farmer applications to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for enrollment in the program for 2013. CSP is a working lands conservation program administered by NRCS and available on a nationwide basis.  CSP offers technical and financial assistance to farmers for adopting and maintaining high standards of resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Assistance is geared to both the active management of existing conservation systems and for implementing new conservation activities on land in agricultural production.


That means farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to implement important practices on their land - like using cover crops to reduce soil erosion or creating habitat for bees and other beneficial insects.

Important: Continuous Sign-Up, but if you Miss the Cut-Off, Wait a Full Year
While CSP is a continuous sign-up program and producers can apply to enroll at any time of the year, NRCS applies a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year.  Once the cut-off date is past, producers may continue to apply for the program, but they will not be considered for entry until the spring of the following year, in this case spring of 2014. We expect that this year's sign up period will begin later this month and will last for 30 days, or until mid-to-late May. 


In the first four enrollment years for CSP (2009-2012), more than 39,000 farmers and ranchers operating over 50 million acres of farm and ranch land that is now under five-year, renewable CSP conservation contracts. For those four enrollment classes, annual CSP payments are currently $680 million a year.

Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, non-industrial private forest lands and agricultural land under tribal jurisdiction. Cropped woodlands, marshes, land being used for livestock production and other private lands on which resource concerns can be addressed are also eligible. Applicants must demonstrate they have effective control over these lands to be eligible, either through ownership or reasonably secure leases.

Questions? Want to learn more! Check out our
Information Alert - and then contact your local NRCS office!

Best of luck to applicants!

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

New Pasture Rules Issued for Organic Dairy Producers
The Department of Agriculture issued new rules on Friday meant to settle a dispute in the organic agriculture industry over how much time cows at organic dairies must spend grazing on pasture.

Read the full New York Times article here:


Get the antibiotics out of organic apples and pears, say experts

It doesn't seem possible, antibiotics in organic apples and pears? This week (April 8) organic food watch dog groups called for organic food regulators, who are meeting in Portland this week, to ban the practice of using tetracycline in organic orchards. Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and the Center for Food Safety are urging the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to ban the use of antibiotics in organic apple and pear production. The groups cite the undermining of the integrity of the organic label and threats to public health and consumer expectations.

Read the full Examiner.com article here: www.examiner.com/list/get-the-antibiotics-out-of-organic-apples-and-pears-say-experts

So, what do you think this will do to organic fruit production in Michigan and the Midwest, with our summer rains?


Michigan State University Extension News: Vegetable Production Digest
Successful nutrient management begins with soil sampling

April 11, 2013 | James DeDecker | Soil analysis and fertilizer recommendations are only as good as the samples you submit.

Which vegetables are covered by new FDA produce safety rules?

April 10, 2013 | Ben Werling | Many Michigan vegetables are cooked before eating or processed prior to sale and are exempt from FDA produce safety rules proposed under the Food Safety and Modernization Act. However, other vegetables will be covered under the rule.


Ceres Research and Trust Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region

This document was prepared by Ceres Trust, a private foundation that promotes and supports organic research in the Midwest. Here you will find lists all of the organic work done by all land grant universities, including and especially Michigan State University.

Note that in 2012, Organic Research and Farming Foundation placed MSU in top position last year, as we offer organic research, organic acreage, profs with organic in scope of work, Organic Student Farm and training program, and many research papers, as you can see, that present results of organic research.


View the report here: http://expeng.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/31/Ceres_OrganicResearch_Report.pdf




Extend the Growing Season with SARE's New Collection of How-To Resources

Description: http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs167/1102273461637/img/82.jpg
Photo courtesy Don Bustos

With consumer interest in locally raised foods steadily growing, vegetable farmers are discovering they can add an important income stream through high tunnels-a cost-effective means to extend production and sales into the traditional off season. One Maryland farmer started using a high tunnel to raise spinach and tomatoes from early spring through late fall, and in the first three years earned an extra $32,000 at the farmers' market.


The farmer was one of 41 in the Mid-Atlantic who built high tunnels from 2004-2007 as part of a SARE-funded project to share knowledge about the structures and promote them as a primary tool of season extension.


Now, in-depth information about high tunnels can be found in SARE's new Season Extension Topic Room - a one-stop collection of dozens of guidebooks, curricula, webinars, bulletins and other how-to materials to help farmers, educators and researchers across the country implement effective season extension strategies.


Bookmark the Season Extension Topic Room now: www.SARE.org/Season-Extension.

Information products in the Season Extension Topic Room derive from SARE-funded research and education projects, and are organized according to key topic areas: Overview; Types and Construction; Variety Trials and Selection; Fertility Management; Pest Management; Water Management; Energy; and Marketing and Economics. While the Season Extension Topic Room includes extensive information on high tunnels (also known as hoop houses), some materials also address greenhouse and nursery production, low tunnels and winter storage.


Examples Season Extension Topic Room features include:

  • High Tunnel Specialty Crop Production in Colorado. This April 2011 webinar, presented by Colorado State University Extension and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), gives an introduction to high tunnels and addresses design considerations, summer and winter production, economics, and future research needs.
  • Greenhouse Energy Conservation Strategies and Alternative Fuels. This series of bulletins, curriculum materials and other resources was developed by the University of Wisconsin, and is intended for Cooperative Extension educators, college instructors and high school vocational agricultural teachers.
  • Organic Control of White Mold in High Tunnels. This Kentucky State University video describes two organic practices for controlling white mold-solarization and biofumigation.
  • Expanding Winter Harvest and Sales for New England Vegetable Crops. This website, hosted by University of Massachusetts Extension, includes information on high tunnels and low tunnels, winter storage, and strategies for marketing produce in the winter. 


Recognizing the role that high tunnels can play in diversifying farmer income while meeting growing consumer demand for local food, NRCS offers grants that help pay for high tunnel construction. In 2010, its first year, the program led to the construction of 2,400 structures in 43 states in 2010.


The Season Extension Topic Room will be updated with new resources as they become available, so check back often!



USDA Announces Second Selection for Conservation Funding
You must register with FSA (Farming Service Agency) at your soil conservation district office. Here is the link to find your county office: 


For upper peninsula: http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?service=page/CountyMap&state=MI2&stateName=Upper%20Michigan&stateCode=26 


For lower peninsula:



You must have a site visit with a soil conservation technician of your farm to see what you are eligible and what would be best for your farm system and they will develop a conservation farm plan. There is no cost for this service, beyond your time and care. These steps must be completed before you can apply for any NRCS cost share programs.

Here is the announcement of the program reopen. Applications must be submitted by May 17.


EAST LANSING, April 10, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering Michigan farmers a second opportunity to compete for conservation financial assistance during 2013. Funding is available through the USDA's Seasonal High Tunnel for Crops, Drought, Organic and Air Quality initiatives to producers who submit an application by May 17, 2013.

“This is a good opportunity for producers who were not selected earlier in the year to apply for financial assistance for conservation activities during 2013. Anyone interested in these initiatives should contact their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office as soon as possible to start the application process,” said State Conservationist Garry Lee.

The Seasonal High Tunnel, Drought and Organic initiatives are available to producers state wide, the Air Quality Initiative is available to producers in 25 Michigan counties. Farmers who submit applications with the greatest environmental benefits will be offered contracts that will pay a portion of the cost for implementing conservation practices. Farmers receive payment after the conservation practice is installed or implemented.


The Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative provides financial assistance to purchase a seasonal high tunnel (hoop house) to extend the growing season for crop production. The drought initiative provides financial assistance for specified conservation activities that can help alleviate drought conditions; some eligible practices include residue and tillage management, cover crops and irrigation water management. Organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production can receive financial assistance for implementing conservation practices consistent with organic production to address a resource concern.

Air Quality Initiative funding is available to producers in 25 Michigan counties identified as having impaired air quality. A list of eligible counties is available online and at local USDA Service Centers. Producers in eligible counties can apply for financial assistance to implement conservation practices that improve air quality.


For more information about these initiatives and how to apply for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service programs, contact a local field office or go online to www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.

Microloans: Flexible Credit for Small Farms

Smaller farms, including those producing in speciality crops and operating community supported agriculture program,s often face limited options.

To better serve the unique financial operating needs for beginning, niche and small farmers, the USDA Farm Service Agencyy (FSA) now offers micro loans up to $35,000.

To make this program more accessible these nontraditional farmers, FSA simplified the application process and broadened the elgibility and security requirements.

Micro loan funds may be used to purchase items such as:

Livestock and feed

Farm Equipment

Fuel, farm chemicals, insurance and other operating costs, including family living expenses.

Farm related debt refinancing (excelling real estate).

Learn more…

Contact a Local FSA Office 

 Visit FSA Online







Have a Great Spring! (if it ever dries out…)

Vicki Morrone
Organic Farming Specialist
Center For Regional Food Systems at MSU
480 Wilson Rd. Room 303
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-353-3542/517-282-3557 (cell)
[log in to unmask]

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