Michigan Organic News Listserv
Center for Regional Food Systems
For question contact Vicki Morrone
[log in to unmask] or 517-282-3557
March 3, 2017
This news is valuable to organic farmers, transitioning farmers and those seeking better understanding of food production and good eating.
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Tomato nutrients linked to pH, phosphorus management
Working with collaborating farms and Extension educators across New York state, the Cornell Vegetable Program is gaining valuable insight into the dynamics of soil and plant nutrient status coupled with on-farm management, said Judson Reid, Cornell Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist.
“Our focus has been on high tunnel tomatoes, due to their high return per square foot,” Reid said. “On these farms we conduct pre-season soil tests then work with farmers to fine- tune amendments both to reduce over application of nutrients, and at the same time maximize yield and return. In season, we take regular foliar tests to help make decisions for optimal nutrient levels in the plant. We have data from over 40 farms across the state reflecting different management approaches, including both certified organic and conventional.”
Reid said a problem common to all types of high tunnel operations has been the escalation of root zone pH and alkalinity.
“As irrigation water is often high in pH and bicarbonate, high tunnel soils generally climb the pH scale without precipitation to leach through the profile,” he said. “The result of is lower nutrient levels in the plant foliage, ultimately decreasing vigor and yield. Manganese (Mn) deficiency is often the first sign of this problem.”
Reid said Mn deficiency often occurs mid-level in the canopy as bright yellow margins leading to marginal necrosis. There is no lack of Mn in the soil, but the pH prevents its uptake. Chelated manganese is available to raise the level in the plant, but this is treating the symptom instead of the underlying cause of pH and alkalinity.
The first step in addressing the pH/ alkalinity is to test irrigation water for both pH and bicarbonates, Reid said. Water pH can be measured with a digital meter, but alkalinity requires a lab test.
“With these two figures we can then use an online calculator from University of New Hampshire to calculate a quantity of acid to inject into our irrigation water,” he said. “The two common acids are phosphoric and sulfuric.”
Reid said organic growers can use citric acid, however there is no tool to calculate the quantity needed. A gradual addition of citric acid to the system while monitoring irrigation water pH is the common approach.
“Another important step is to acidify the soil profile prior to planting with elemental sulfur,” he said. “Sulfur is slow to react so fall applications are advised. Rates will vary based on soil levels of calcium and pH.”
Another trend among Cornell’s research sites has been excessive phosphorus levels, Reid said.
“Spring fertility management for tomatoes often emphasizes phosphorus. This makes sense given the importance of phosphorus in root growth. Cold soils inhibit phosphorus uptake, so many growers increase the ratio and rate of application to get the nutrient in direct contact with the roots. However, phosphorus is banked in the soil when over applied. In our sampling we have found that phosphorus levels are excessively high on many sites, sometimes several orders of magnitude above recommended levels.”
In high pH and phosphorus soils an induced zinc deficiency can occur, Reid said. Zinc is critical in a number of plant functions including flower production. Thus, there will often be a recommendation to apply zinc sulfate.
He said tomatoes only need one-half to 1-pound per acre of zinc, but it simply may not be available in these situations so application rates range from 10 pounds to 20 pounds per acre.
“If making a banded application the rate is reduced to 1-2 pounds per acre,” he said. “Zinc Sulfate is OMRI listed but the products generally carry the stipulation that it may only be used as a plant or soil amendment with a documented zinc deficiency.”
Aside from the addition of zinc there are other management steps to prevent this issue, including:
— Gary Pullano, associate editor
Feb 22, 2017
I receive many calls about what warm weather will do to fruit in the wintertime. Often, I will say there is no need to worry, they have not completed their chilling requirement. When perennial plants go dormant in winter, they track the hours just above freezing (between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid winter cold. This is the chilling requirement. Temperatures below freezing do not matter. During winter dormancy, the trees can acclimate to very cold temperatures. Once the chilling requirement is met, then the plants can grow with warmer weather.
The fruits we grow in Michigan require about 700 to 1,300 hours chill hours to satisfy their dormancy requirement before they will begin growth in spring. Normally, we get over 1,400 hours in Michigan and chilling is not a problem. Chilling can be a big problem in the southern United States with its warmer winters and earlier springs. Different species have different chilling requirements and varieties differ within the species. Peaches require 700 to 1,000 hours (there are lower chill varieties), cherries require 600 to 1,300 hours (most in Michigan 900 to 1,300) and apples require 800 to over 1,500 hours. In Michigan, I assume most peaches need 800 to 1,000 hours, cherries 900 to 1,000 hours, apples about 1,200 to 1,300 hours and blueberries are about the same chilling as apples. Grapes have a relatively short chilling, but need a warmer temperature (above 50) to start growing.
The North Central Climate Center maintains a Chilling Hours Map (above 35 F and below 45 F) using weather data. On this map, it looks like most of Michigan has 800 to over 1,000 hours of chilling. I also have been tracking chilling hours for several Michigan State University automated weather stations on the Enviroweather system. These stations are in southwest Michigan (Benton Harbor, SWMREC), west central Michigan (Clarksville, CHES) and northwest Michigan (Traverse City, NWMHRS). I get results that indicate the southern portion of Lower Michigan has completed chilling for many varieties with a chilling requirement of less than 1,000 hours and many others are close to completing chilling. The central and northern portion of the state will be close to completing their chilling requirements once this current warm ends.
This does not mean Michigan’s fruit crops will be wiped out by cooler temperatures below freezing. It only means they have lost the ability to acclimate to deep winter cold. As fruit plants begin to grow in spring, we use a table of critical bud temperatures to tell us what temperatures will harm the flower buds. This table gives a temperature that can kill 10 percent and 90 percent of the buds. At the earliest stages of growth, the spread for the critical bud temperatures between a 10 percent kill and a 90 percent kill is very wide. For example, at the earliest bud stages in apples, 15 F will kill 10 percent of the flower buds, but it would need to go to 2 F to kill 90 percent. In peaches, 18 F will kill 10 percent, but it would need to go to 1 F to kill 90 percent. For peaches and apples, the trees have many more flowers and can set more fruit than we want to harvest, so growers need to thin their crop after bloom. Other fruit show the same pattern where temperatures need to fall down to around 10 F to cause significant damage.
I do not expect temperatures down to 10 F any time soon and in fact, I consider them very unlikely. Most of the last month has felt like March and I consider the spring warmup has begun. Some people are worried about snow. I would be happy to see snow. This time of year, when it snows the temperatures are just below freezing in the 20s and this would not cause any damage.
Fruit growers remember the early spring of 2012 when two summer-like weeks in March set the Michigan fruit industries up for widespread losses to spring freezes in April. Growers ask me how far ahead of 2012 we are and that makes no sense to me because we are just starting growth in southwest Michigan. There is nothing to compare yet. We are in the middle of several days of warmer weather with daytime highs near 60. In 2012, we had a week of highs in the 80s and nighttime lows in the 60s.
When I want to compare years, I look at the growth stage of the plant (bud break, bloom, harvest) or the growing degree-days (GDD). For tree fruit and blueberries, I look at the GDD base 42. For grapes, I look at GDD base 50. Last week, we were at the same place for growing degrees where we were in 2012, but in 2012 we had a couple of weeks of summer in March. In 2013, we actually had a warmer February than in 2012. However, in 2013 the spring cooled down, plant growth slowed and we did not have any spring freeze damage in most areas, and actually had a huge crop. It all depends on whether we stay warm or if we cool back down in March and April.
In southwest Michigan, we have warm and cold spells in spring. When it is warm, the plants grow a little. When it is cool, the plants slow down or stop growing. I am always happy in spring if the nightly lows are below freezing, because that makes the plants slow down and stop at night. I expect to see some plant growth down in southwest Michigan during this warm spell.
I am concerned, but not worried about a damaging freeze soon. As the buds swell, I am still only concerned. When growth continues and the buds begin to burst or open, then I will be worried. Generally, as buds burst they can be damaged by temperatures around 20, and the difference between light damage (10 percent) and severe damage (90 percent) is much smaller. Freeze events with lows down to 20 are common in March.
Yes, it looks like we are off to an early start this spring in southern Michigan, but it seems unlikely we will suffer any damage in the near future. Colder weather will slow down plant growth. If warmer than normal temperatures return and are the rule this spring, our fruit crops will be more advanced and will probably bloom early. (See the MSU Extension article “2013 Bloom dates for southwest Michigan tree fruit crops.”)
If we are in a vulnerable growth stage before and during bloom, that will increase the chance of damaging spring freezes. All we can do is watch the weather forecasts and hope for cool weather. If you want to compare 2017 to the last five years, you can easily select the “Degree-day comparisons: last 5 years at this station” from the homepage of any weather station on the Enviroweather website.
— Mark Longstroth, Michigan State University
There are two simple things farmers can do that will not cost them any money but Source: Michigan State University Extension
Posted on February 8, 2017 by M. Charles Gould, Michigan State University Extension
There are two ways to save money on energy: Use less and pay less. Utilities and electric co-ops offer two free services to farmers that result in opportunities to use less electricity and pay less for it. These two services are a utility rate analysis and an energy audit.
A rate analysis evaluates at least three years of electric bills to uncover errors, overcharges and different rate options to reduce the cost of electricity purchased by a farm. Dairy farms and farms that use a lot of power for short periods of time for a specific purpose during specific times of the year (i.e. grain dryer, irrigation, etc.) stand to greatly benefit from a rate analysis, but all farms should do it anyway. For example, a dairy farm may discover that changing the milking time to a time that coincides with a cheaper rate may significantly reduce their power bill. A rate analysis is something Consumers Energy is really emphasizing at this time. Farmers in the Consumers Energy service area should contact Sanju Guinn at (517) 395-8172 to schedule a rate analysis. Farms serviced by DTE and electric co-ops should call the customer service number listed on their electric bill.
An energy audit is the study of energy usage, conducted for the purpose of saving energy and money. Consumers Energy, DTE and electric co-ops have individuals who conduct agricultural energy audits on their behalf. The audits they conduct are not the Type 2 audits required for USDA Rural Development REAP or Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP grant funding. Rather, they are basic, simple audits that identify areas where energy consumption can be reduced through more energy efficient technology such as lighting and motors. Auditors use the audits they complete to maximize the amount of rebate dollars coming to a farm to implement the energy efficient technologies recommended by the farm’s audit. The audit they conduct does not cost the farm any money because it is a service provided by the farm’s utility or electric co-op. Going through an audit takes a few hours (depending on farm size), but it is a relatively painless process that can yield tremendous financial benefits. Contact the following individuals for more information about conducting an agricultural energy audit:
Farmers in the Consumers Energy service area
Duane Watson | Agricultural Program Specialist/Energy Advisor II
Cell: 517-749-6668 or [log in to unmask]
Hollie Whitmire | Agricultural Program Specialist
Cell: 810-241-9993 or [log in to unmask]
Farmers in the DTE service area
Sean McCoy | Outreach Account Manager
Cell: 313-400-7863 or [log in to unmask]
Farmers in an electric co-op service area regardless of location around the state
Jim Kunisch | Agricultural Field Outreach Manager | WECC (for the MI Energy Optimization program)
Cell: 810-300-8620 or [log in to unmask]
A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates offered to Consumers Energy customers can be found here starting on page 38. A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates offered to DTE customers can be found at http://dtetradeally.com/. Click on “2017 Applications & Worksheets” and then click on “2017 Agricultural Application” to access the full list. A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates for co-ops can be found at http://www.michigan-energy.org/. Click on the “Farm Programs” button on the right side of the front page.
Finally, more information on using less and paying less for energy will be presented at the Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference on March 9 at the Kellogg Center on campus. Each of the individuals listed above will be speaking at the conference and farmers will have an opportunity to visit with them one-on-one. Conference attendees will also hear from farmers who have gone through the audit process and implemented energy efficiency practices and renewable energy technologies. The conference is designed to be a one-stop shop for farmers wanting more information on how to reduce their energy expenses. The complete conference schedule can be found at https://events.anr.msu.edu/PoweringMIAg17/. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. The registration fee is $40 per person or $75 for two individuals from the same farm. The registration fee gives attendees access to vendors, speakers, educational material and includes lunch. To register for the conference go to https://events.anr.msu.edu/PoweringMIAg17/. Online registration closes March 5. Conference registration and vendor questions can be directed to Betsy Braid at 517-884-7081 or [log in to unmask]. All other questions can be directed to Charles Gould at 616-994-4547 or [log in to unmask].
David Coveyou is speaking at the Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference on March 9
WHEN: Monday, March 6, 2017; 9 AM - 5 PM
WHERE: Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Room 104 A&B
219 S. Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48824
HOW: Advance registration of $30 is required by Wednesday, March 1.
Use the following link to register now:
The South Lansing Community Development Association is looking for enthusiastic, outgoing, and reliable individuals in fields related to sustainable urban agriculture and health sciences for the following internships/volunteer opportunities:
· Assist Americorps Food Access Coordinator with all aspects of organic food production in our passive solar hoop house and community garden plots, from seed starting through harvest.
· May include structural maintenance and repair of the hoop house, as needed.
· Must be physically able to harvest and distribute produce to local food pantries and refugee communities.
· Available March thru October (or any segment therein), 4-20 hours/week, flexible.
· Assist Market Manager with planning, coordinating, and promoting our weekly farmers market (Thursdays 3-7).
· Includes recruiting, scheduling, and tracking vendors, volunteers, entertainers, and featured guests.
· Meticulous attention to detail required for financial transactions (credit card/EBT) and sales reports.
Public Health & Wellness (Ongoing)
· Teach local youth, adults, and families in a variety of settings about basic gardening topics, food & nutrition, healthy recipes, etc.
· Work with staff to secure venues, schedule classes, recruit participants, plan lessons, and conduct workshops.
· Show community members the connection between nutritious foods, physical activity, and health outcomes.
· Adult garden/nutrition classes ongoing, 2 hours/week plus prep, some evenings and weekends, scheduled around instructor availability, flexible.
· Youth garden/nutrition class (K-2 grade) March-May, Wednesdays 1-3 p.m., plus prep.
For more information, contact below.
Kathie Dunbar, Executive Director
South Lansing Community Development Association
Race Director, Hawk Island Triathlon
800 W. Barnes Ave.
Lansing, MI 48910
[log in to unmask]
Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets operates over 50 produce-centered, convenient, and affordable stores in the Midwest. We offer our customers hundreds of produce items every day.
Currently, Fresh Thyme is looking to build a connection between our customers and local farms they wouldn’t normally have the time to visit themselves.
We’d appreciate an overview of seasonality and volumes of your produce, any food safety/GAP/organic certifications you may have, as well as which stores you could deliver to. Our stores can be found on our page: http://freshthyme.com/our-stores/.
Please contact Ben Bush, Produce Buyer - Local, at 331-253-3225 or send an email with any information you’d like to provide to [log in to unmask].
We look forward to working with you!
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market | [log in to unmask]
570 W North Frontage Rd.
Bolingbrook, IL 60440
Office: 331-253-3225 | Mobile: 224-315-7309
Farmers interested in using crowdfunding as a farm financing tool will gain information about various crowdfunding options and models, other farm investment options, and legalities of crowdfunding. This full-day session will include interactive presentations and networking opportunities with Michigan Community Resources (MCR) staff, agricultural attorneys, crowdfunding platform representatives and farmers who have used crowdfunding for their farm businesses. $30 registration is required and will close on March 1st.
EAST LANSING, Feb. 17, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a second selection of conservation financial assistance applications for funding in 2017. Conservation financial assistance is available for implementing a wide variety of practices to reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat, protect water quality and manage private forest land.
Conservation financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Complete applications received by March 17, 2017, will be ranked and considered for fiscal year 2017 funding. Financial assistance is available for implementing designated conservation practices such as windbreaks, nutrient management plans, cover crops, forest management plans, crop residue and tillage management, animal waste storage facilities and many others. Applications are ranked and selected for funding on a competitive basis.
A portion of USDA conservation funding is targeted to state-level conservation priorities. These include funds for farmers seeking Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program verification, high tunnels in Wayne and Genesee counties, honey bee habitat, organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production, and energy conservation.
Conservation activities receiving financial assistance must be part of an agricultural or forest operation’s conservation plan. Producers should work with their local NRCS or conservation district staff to develop a conservation plan before applying for the program. Successful applicants enter into a contract with NRCS to implement conservation activities and are reimbursed for a portion of the cost.
NRCS provides higher levels of financial assistance for beginning farmers and historically underserved producers. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, producers and forest owners are encouraged to submit applications at any time. More information about conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is available at local NRCS offices and online at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.
You are subscribed to MI Press Releases for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.
Crowdfunding for Beginning Farmers Workshop
March 6, 2017
9am – 5pm EST
Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
219 S Harrison Rd, RM # 104 AB
East Lansing, MI 48824
The farmers’ markets of Chelsea, Grass Lake, Manchester, Stockbridge, and Dexter are hosting a CSA fair this Sunday, February 19, 1-3 pm at the Chelsea First United Methodist Church, located at
128 Park St in Chelsea Michigan. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. A CSA is a "subscription" to a farm to receive a weekly box of produce. It's a way to support your local farms and eat healthy all summer. At the fair, potential CSA members will
have the opportunity to browse tables and meet with local farmers and producers. Attendees can ask questions and learn about which CSA options are best for them, based on the food options, pickup times and locations, and price of each farm. Once signed up,
CSA members will have access to weekly boxes of fresh, locally produced food. Many CSAs offer pickup at your local farmers’ market. We will have coffee and prizes too! This event is FREE at the Chelsea First United Methodist Church, 128 Park St, Chelsea MI
If you are a farmer and want to join or register for our CSA directory, sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5Z53GZ6
The Michigan Association of Conservation District (MACD) invites farmers and agricultural landowners from Lenawee, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Monroe, Wayne Counties to join us for a focus group on the evening of March 22, 2017 at the Lenawee Michigan State University Extension office.
As a farmer or agricultural landowner located in the Western Lake Erie region your experiences are extremely valuable in helping us identify our priorities and opportunities.
MACD is holding these focus groups as a service to your local conservation district to help them better understand your needs and how we can best serve you.
All farmers who participate will receive $150 in return for their time.
Stipend: $150 cash
Date: March 22nd
Location: Lenawee Michigan State University Extension office, 1040 S. Winter St. #2020, Adrian, MI 49221
Focus Group Times (You may register for either of two sessions):
· 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
· 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Come hungry! Refreshments will be served.
To register for 6pm bit.ly/macd-6pm
To register for 8pm bit.ly/macd-8pm
If you don’t have computer access, you can call 517-285-7482
Please contact Andrea Stay with any questions you may have about the focus group. Andrea can be reached by email at[log in to unmask] or by phone at 517-285-7482.
Grants and MAEAP Training Liaison
Environmental Stewardship Division
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
NCR-SARE Announces 2017 Graduate Student Grant Call for Proposals
The 2017 North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) Graduate Student Grant Call for Proposals is now available online at http://www.northcentralsare.org/Grants/Our-Grant-Programs/Graduate-Student-Grant-Program
Graduate students enrolled at colleges or universities in the North Central region can submit proposals for up to $12,000 to fund sustainable agriculture projects that will be part of their educational programs. NCR-SARE expects to fund about 15 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.
NCR-SARE will be accepting proposals for the Graduate Student Grant Program using our online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for proposals. Proposals must be completely submitted to the online system by 4 p.m. CDT, April 13, 2017.
Previously funded proposals have contributed to farmer or rancher profitability, environmental quality, and the enhancement of the quality of life of farmers or ranchers, their communities, and society as a whole. NCR-SARE strongly encourages students to involve farmers and ranchers in their Graduate Student Grant projects.
NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Since 1988, the SARE program has helped advance farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program. The program, part of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.
NC SARE Professional Development Grants Available
NCR-SARE’s Professional Development Program (PDP) provides funds for professional development projects that provide sustainable agriculture training to agricultural professionals and educators
Hello I am looking for a program that would be interested in a garden plot with a 80 ft long commercial grade greenhouse. This has been my garden for the past 30 yrs, but I am looking for a few agriculture /students who may be seeking to test their skills. My spouse and I are both from big families and have had 2 exchange students in the past (from Japan and Slovakia) and have provided a room for their studies. But now I am considering contributing an experimental opportunity to help our farm community. What ever plants that are grown would be for the students to choose what they would do with them. (eat-share or sell at a local market - no profit for us).We are approximately 2 hrs from Columbus in Loveland, Ohio.
Contact Julie Butler if interested. [log in to unmask] (513) 575-3861
Begin Farming Program Coordinator
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)
41 Croswell Rd.
Columbus, OH 43214
Phone:(614) 421-2022 x213
Email: [log in to unmask]
Organic Farming Specialist
Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 303
East Lansing, MI 48824