Garlic harvest!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wrapper leaves snug around cloves.
Garlic harvest is upon us, and if you haven't already started harvesting your garlic, now would be the time to start planning it.  Different varieties will mature at different times, so it's always good to check on bulb development of few bulbs of each variety.  One way to determine harvest-readiness is by looking at the number of green leaves.  Each leaf corresponds to a wrapper leaf around the bulbs.  Wrapper leaves protect the cloves from light, moisture, heat, etc.  For best storability, it is suggested to harvest with five to six green leaves.  That way, if a wrapper leaf or three is lost in harvesting and cleaning, there will still be two to three wrapper leaves around the bulb to protect it from storage rots, desiccation, etc.

Stem and bulb nematode damage
Green leaves should be used as a guideline, but not a rule.  Sometimes on a particularly healthy plant, the leaves can remain green despite harvest-readiness.  Alternatively, if there is heavy thrip damage, high stem and bulb nematode populations, etc. the leaves can brown prematurely.  It is always best to pull a few bulbs and check to see how the cloves are filling the wrapper leaves.  Give the bulb a squeeze, and if there is any give, then the garlic isn't quite ready yet.  You should also cut the bulbs in half perpendicularly to the stem.  Each clove should be tight in the wrapper leaves.  If the wrapper leaves seem a little loose around the cloves, then wait a little longer to harvest.  The cloves in harvest-ready garlic will also start to pull slightly away from the stem, especially in hardneck varieties. 

Cloves starting to pull away from stem.
Hardneck varieties (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) produce scapes.  Hardneck types, as a general rule of thumb, produce larger cloves, but have a shorter storage life, which can be greatly influenced by harvest timing.  If you leave harvest for too long, the wrapper leaves will start to decay, and the cloves will continue to grow and pull away from the stem and the bulb will split open, rendering the bulb unmarketable.  Softneck varieties (A. sativum var. sativum) do not produce a scape, and typically have a longer storage life.

Garlic harvested too early might not have fully developed its yield potential or flavour profile, and will tend to shrivel when cured.  Late-harvested garlic is more likely to have poor storability, particularly the hardneck varieties, as the wrapper leaves start to deteriorate, exposing cloves.  It is often better to harvest a little early than a little late.

Target harvest for early in the morning on a dry day for best results.  Do not leave garlic in the sun for long as it can scald, and the cloves will quickly deteriorate.  Handle garlic gently as it is sensitive to bruising.  The higher the moisture or relative humidity when you are drying your garlic, the slower the garlic will dry down and cure, resulting in high disease potential.

Post-harvest handling can dramatically affect garlic quality and storability.  Recent research from Cornell University suggests that root trimming does not have any impact on bulb quality, weight, or disease incidence.  Washing garlic post-harvest, while resulting in good looking bulbs initially, ultimately resulted in more discolouration after drying and curing.  For more details about post-harvest handling of garlic, check out Cornell's Garlic Post-Harvest Study.

Sprayer Efficacy Workshop - Location

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Sprayer Efficacy Workshop will take place on Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm.  The approximate street address is 9780 NS-201, Wilmot, NS.  Keep your eyes peeled for Perennia signs!

If you contact Gail Walsh 1-877-710-5210 (toll-free) she will email you a map.

Perennia IPM Specialist Peter Burgess and Vegetable Specialist Rosalie Madden will discuss nozzle selection, canopy penetration, and the importance of water volume!  Pesticide points available.

Downy mildew in lettuce

Friday, July 14, 2017

Downy mildew was found in a lettuce field in the Valley this week by Erika Bent (APM Agricultural Pest Monitoring Cons. Ltd.).  We don't always see lettuce downy mildew (Bremia lactucae Regel), but it can be very destructive. Spores are spread via splashing water or wind.  Air currents can carry spores several kilometers.  Cool temperatures (between 15' and 21' Celsius) are conducive to disease development, especially under wet conditions.  This includes heavy dew set in the mornings and overhead irrigation. 

Infection usually starts in the older leaves and travels inward.  Pale green or yellow areas will become apparent on the upper surface of the leaves, often having an angular appearance, with sporulation occurring on the underside.  This infection can spread very quickly, especially under favourable growth conditions, so be sure to check your fields often!

Fields that have been recently harvested are ideal locations for disease buildup to get out of hand, so be sure to plow down lettuce residue.

There are numerous fungicide options, which can be found on the Perennia Lettuce Management Schedule. Downy mildew can build up resistance to pesticide group modes of action very quickly, so be sure to rotate between pesticide groups at every application. While there are varieties that have been bred to be resistant to downy mildew, due to the quickly evolving nature of this disease, varieties may not be resistant to all strains of downy mildew.

Sprayer Efficacy Workshop

Monday, July 10, 2017

Please join Perennia Integrated Pest Management Specialist Peter Burgess and Vegetable Specialist Rosalie Madden for a discussion about sprayer efficacy.

We will discuss nozzle selection, canopy penetration, and the importance of water volume!  Pesticide points available.

Please contact Gail Walsh 1-877-710-5210 (toll-free) or to register by July 17, 2017.

Be sure to give Gail your e-mail address as we will send out a map of the field locations the day before the workshop.


Cucumber beetles are here

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Stripped cucumber beetle, illustration by Jessica MacDonald
Striped cucumber beetles have made their annual debut in the Annapolis Valley.  These pests are problematic in many ways.  Feeding damage can stunt plants, and when flowers are predated, it can reduce fruit set and yield.  Cucumber beetles also vector bacterial wilt.  Scarring on fruit by adult beetles reduce the marketability of the crop. 

Newly emerging cucurbit plants are particularly susceptible to stunting and bacterial wilt, while older plants can withstand up to 25% defoliation.  Early season control is essential with this pest, and it is important to scout your fields regularly. 

For more information on cucumber beetle biology, beneficial insects, and organic management, check out Managing Cucumber Beetles in Organic Farming Systems on eXtension.
Please click here for Perennia's Pest Management Guides for Cucumbers and for Melons.  For Perennia's Pest Management Guides for Pumpkin and Squash, please click here.  Insect netting can also be an effective control option for this pest, but netting must be removed at flowering for pollination to occur.

Wireworms in Nova Scotia

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wireworms in transplants
For those of you who missed Dr. Christine Noronha's presentation on wireworms last week, you can find her presentation here

While many areas in Nova Scotia thankfully do not report wireworm problems, there are definitely high populations in some fields.  Last spring, we set traps in a few fields around the province.  Below is a graph from a vegetable field in Colchester County, showing high numbers of Agriotes sputator, one of the more voracious click beetle (adult wireworm) species.  Click beetle flight happens earlier in the warmer parts of the province such as the Valley.

Click beetle catch in Colchester County, 2016.

Perennia has set out some click beetle pheromone traps again this year, and we just collected our first sample.  Below is a photo of our first "haul" from Annapolis County.  On the left is A. obscurus, the middle is A. sputator, and on the right is A. lineatus.  Pheromone traps only attract males, so do not reduce the click beetle/wireworm population, but do give us a good idea of pest levels.  

May 23, 2017 click beetle catch from Annapolis County.

Pruning cherry tomatoes

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Northern NY Agricultural Development Program did a trial on pruning efficiencies in cherry tomato production.  There were three treatments:
  1.     Single Leader (one leader, all suckers removed), spaced at 12 inches
  2.     Double Leader Treatment, spaced at 18”
  3.     Four Leader Treatment, spaced at 18”
The results were surprising:  Single Leader actually resulted in the least labour over the season, in part because of efficiencies gained during harvest.  The Single Leader allowed for more cherry tomato grams harvested per minute.  The Four Leader treatment actually resulted in the most labour, as picking was slowed by the tangled growth, almost twice the amount of labour (training and harvesting) went into Four Leader production compared to Single Leader production.

Yields were comparable between the Four Leader and the Double Leader treatment, with the Single Leader treatment slightly lower.  However, Single Leader production resulted in higher yields earlier in the season when prices are the highest. 

If labour efficiency is paramount on your farm, or if you want to capitalized on early season prices, you might want to consider Single Leader pruning in your cherry tomatoes.  If you are looking for a balance between yield and labour, consider choosing Double Leader option.  You can read the full 2015-2016 Northern NY Agricultural Development Program Report here, and also take a closer look at the data here