Sunday, March 28, 2010

eOrganic Webinars

Did you know that the University of IL and other large universities have an extension website that offers free webinars on topics of interest to farmers and educators?

I listened/viewed the Planning your Organic Farm for Profit presentation by Richard Wiswall of Cate Farm in VA. Richard writes regularly for Growing for Market and has a new book The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook that comes with a CD of excel budget and cash flow templates. For anyone that is serious about growing food for profit, I highly recommend the monthly journal Growing for Market. I learn new things with every issue.

You can also listen at your convenience to past webinars. Several past and future sessions that are of interest to me are High Tunnel Production, Organic Blueberry Production, Increasing Plat & Soil Biodiversity on Organic Farmscapes and Cover Crop Selection.

Check out the website:

Monday, March 8, 2010

One of my 2010 Goals - Check!

Spent hours on the laptop this weekend and succeeded in getting all of our finances on QuickBooks. I set up two companies - one for us personally, which includes the rental endeavors and the farm, as well as personal expenses and tracking the farmhouse rehab. The other is Bill's LLC - that one, in fact, I recreated 2009 so I can take reports to the accountant.

I knew it would take a good long while to get it up and going - and I'm glad to have spent the time now during the dreariness of March.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blight Resistant Tomatoes

I attended a session at the MOSES conference on tomato blight.

Tomato blight is caused by a fungal-like organism called Phytophthora investans which is a water borne organism. 26 Wisconsin counties experienced tomato blight outbreaks in the growing year 2009 specifically on the Solanaceae family of plants (tomato, potato, pepper, eggplants). This particular strain is unable to overwinter in soil, but since this also affects potatoes the danger is that any potatoes that were missed during harvest can still be harboring the pathogen in the soil and exposing tomato and potato plants anew in the 2010 season.

Essentially the fungus is airborne and water events cause it to spread. In layman's terms, the organism is floating around in the air and wind and when it rains or is humid, those conditions allow the activation of the organism. Morning irrigation and good airflow are helpful to slow the spread of the organism, but once it is in your fields, you need to aggressively cull infected plants immediately to stop the spread. Do NOT compost the infected plants. Most compost piles do not reach the temperature heights to kill the organism, and conversely don't get cold enough in the winter to likewise kill the organism. Burning or bagging and throwing away are the recommended means for disposing of infected plants.

Organic growers can use copper products which have some positive results in combating the organism, however every leaf on both side must be treated to appropriately protect the plant.

Some varieties that are allegedly blight resistant. (Although a member of the audience shared that he had many of these varieties in his production last year and he lost all of his crop). I haven't listed the entire hand-out, only those sources that I am familiar with.

Organization claiming resistance (i.e. who did the research)
Fruit Type

1. Legend
Jungs, Territorial
Cornell, Oregon State, Jungs
Excellent late blight resistance
Determinate, large round red fruits, early bearing, self-fertile, large fruit

2. Matt's Wild Cherry
Johnny's, Seeds of Change
Ingliss et al 2000
Good late blight tolerance (and frost tolerant)
Indeterminate, rampant vines, many fruits per plant, fruit clusters, red cherry, 1/2" size, sweet flavor

3. Juliet
Cornell, Dillon et al 2000
Some resistance to late blight in NY trials, crack resistant fruit
Indeterminate, red grape tomato

4. Golden Sweet
Some resistance to late blight, crack resistant fruit
Indeterminate, yellow grape

5. Pruden's Purple
Johnny's, Seeds of Change, many others
Inglis et all 2000
Good resistance to late blight, tomato vining
Indeterminate, brandywine type, color is purple to b lack

6. Green Zebra
lots of suppliers
WI field observations 2009
Some resistance to late blight seen during 2009 outbreak, no other disease resistance claims
Indeterminate, 2" round, gold with green stripes, green flesh, lemon-lime flavor

7. Roma
lots of suppliers
WI Field observations 2009
Some resistance to late blight seen during 2009 outbreak, also resistant to Verticillium wilt,
Fusarium wilt 1, and Altarnaria stem canker
Determinate, pear shaped, red plum fruit, open pollinated, few seeds in meaty fruit, good for canning and sauces

8. Aunt Ruby's German Green
Seed Savers and others
Moderate resistance to late blight
1 lb fruit, pale greenish color, with a slightly flattish shape

9. Black Plum
High resistance to late blight
Indeterminate, sweet, meaty, oval shaped fruit

10. Brandywine
Moderate resistance to late blight
Large, meaty, 1 lb fruit, pink to reddish color

Two potato varieties that showed some resistance to late blight

1. Defender
Russett -type

2. Jacquelyn Lee
Yellow variety

And the forecast for 2010? No way to tell. I guess we will know soon enough.

Happy planting!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back up your computer!

My laptop crashed and I had to have it rebuilt. Guess what I forgot to do before that?!?! - Back up my documents.

This is a fairly new laptop so I didn't have much - but what I did have - sigh.... my 14 page 3 Flat Acres business plan and my draft farm budget excel spreadsheets. I have been working on these documents since October. I have a dated version of the business plan (from January) on my jumpdrive but Bill and I have literally have put in hours on this document and all of that is gone.

Just a warning to all of my blogging friends - get a backup schedule and system and stick to it.

This is such a drag. I can't even fathom starting over tonight so I think I'll go sit on the couch with the cat and read a book. This is a mistake I will only make once.