Garlic harvesting time

Friday, July 30, 2021

Hard neck garlic harvest in Nova Scotia typically happens the first week of August, although with how hot this summer has been (Table 1), some varieties are a bit ahead of schedule.

Table 1. Degree day accumulations as of July 26, 2021.  All data are taken from the Kentville weather station, based on a start date of March 1, and calculated using the single sine method.

Fig. 1. This garlic from mid-July, isn't quite ready to
harvest. Note how the wrapper leaves aren't yet snug
around the cloves.
I have blogged about garlic harvest timing in the past, and if you haven't come across it before, I strongly recommend giving it a read!  The number of green leaves left is a good tell, but if your garlic is super healthy, or super sick, it might not be the best barometer (Fig. 1).  You can find the blog post by typing "garlic" into the search bar on the right of the NS Vegetable Blog, or for direct access, click here.  

By mid-August my car usually smells of garlic from all the samples of unhappy garlic I've collected from growers.  This is often the result of poor post-harvest management.  August in Nova Scotia, when growers are trying to cure their garlic, is often a muggy month, providing poor drying conditions. 

Fig. 2. Relative humidity and temperature.
You NEED good air circulation and ideally low relative humidity (less than 70%) in your curing space otherwise you run the risk of disease running rampant.  If your garlic is taking more than three weeks to cure, it is likely your relative humidity is too high.  There are cheap sensors available from Canadian Tire or Amazon to measure relative humidity and temperature.  If you are serious about growing garlic, I strongly recommend you get one.  Some of the nicer sensors even upload it to a web portal (Fig. 2) so you can check on it from the comfort of the couch. Move the sensor around your drying space to see if you can find any "dead" space with low air movement and higher relative humidity.  Those are the areas where disease is most likely to rear its ugly head.  It is best to try and move some fans to around to get rid of this dead space.

Fig. 3. Unhappy garlic - Penicillium (blue) and
Rhizopus stolonifer (white and black fungus). 

Did you know you could submit samples to 
Perennia's Plant Health Lab?  This service
is often free for registered farms.  Reach out to
 Rosalie Gillis-Madden, 
if you have a vegetable
sample you want to submit to the Plant Health Lab.

It shouldn't need to be said that diseased garlic should not be used for seed.  Advanced growers with smaller plantings sometimes earmark particularly healthy plants in the field before harvest as candidates for seed stock.    To read more about garlic storage, post-harvest diseases, and planting stock considerations, check out Perennia's factsheet.

Fig. 4. Garlic storage, post-harvest
diseases, and planting stock considerations
fact sheet.

Agriculture Weather Station Assistance Program Launched for Nova Scotia

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Perennia have launched the Weather Station Assistance Program.   

The objective of the Farm Weather Station Program is two-fold: to encourage producers to install weather stations and adopt new technology tools; and fully utilize the data to make proactive management decisions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adverse weather conditions. 

Funding is open to eligible applicants at 30-70 percent subsidy levels. 

DEADLINES: This program is open until July 30, 2021 



This program is administered by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and is funded under the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership Program. 

Perennia will be working with applied applicants to implement the program, including providing the weather station and coordinating the installation. As of the launch of the program, Perennia is completing the competitive bidding process to select the weather station supported under the Program. 

As soon as the model is selected, information will be shared at and via other channels. 


Romance in the pumpkin patch

Monday, July 5, 2021

We are well ahead of the average with our growing degree days, so pests are showing up earlier than you would typically expect them.  

Degree day accumulations as of July 5, 2021.  All data are taken from the Kentville weather station, based on a start date of March 1, and calculated using the single sine method.

If you haven't already, start checking your Cucurbits for squash bug!  The recent rains have speckled the adults with soil, making them extra hard to see, so be vigilant.  A female squash bug can lay up to 250 eggs in a season, so controlling this pest early is key.  The adults aren't affected by pesticides, and the youngest instars are the most susceptible, so it's best to flag a few egg clusters and check back regularly to time your sprays.  Be careful of pollinators, only spray when bees aren't active. 
Consenting adult squash bugs having fun in the sun.

These crafty fellows like to hide.

The bronze coloured eggs can usually (but not always), be found in the crux of leaf veins, and will typically be in groups of 10-20, although I've seen as few as four in a cluster.  With smaller plantings, you can remove leaves with eggs on them, or wrap a piece of duct tape around your fingers and blot the eggs off.
This female laid two sets of eggs on this leaf.

If you have multiple types of squash in a field, squash bugs seem to prefer pumpkins, blue hubbard, buttercup and kabocha types, so be sure to scout those extra carefully.  I have yet to see squash bug in watermelons or cucumbers, but it's always good to be thorough.  Have you noticed varietal preferences in your field?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  

Did you catch Perennia's Virtual Field Days last summer?  Acting Vegetable Specialist Caitlin Congdon and Suzanne Blatt from AAFC discussed using blue hubbard squash as a trap crop and nasturtiums as a push crop in butternut and buttercup plantings with interesting results.  Skip to 10:20 for details on the trial, and stay tuned until 45:30 for the question period.  

For more information about squash bug life cycle and control measures, check out Perennia's Squash Bug Fact Sheet.

Do you know about Perennia's Pest Management Guides?  Every year we update pest management options for the major crops in Nova Scotia.  A complete listing can be found here (click on Vegetable Crops for the drop down menu).

Greenhouse Canada's Virtual Grower Day Returns!

Monday, June 21, 2021

As you may have heard, Greenhouse Canada's virtual Grower Day returns on Tuesday, June 22 at 2pm ADT!

Free for attendees, the programme features live panels, speakers and on-demand content for the greenhouse vegetable and floriculture sectors. Topics include: 

  • Greenhouse energy discussion 
  • Effects of greenhouse lighting on pest management
  • Managing onion thrips
  • Clean growing
  • Gaps in business profit margins
  • Greenhouse automation and innovation panel
  • How-to IPM resources: Assessing quality of biocontrol agents; monitoring for pests and pepper weevil; release methods for predators and parasitoids; cutting dips to start clean

Plus, we'll be celebrating this year's Top 4 Under 40 and Grower of the Year award winners.

Networking breaks will allow participants to interact with each other, presenters and exhibitors, as well as explore what's new on the virtual tradeshow floor.

More info and registration can be found here:

Invitation to Perennia's Annual General Meeting

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Join us Thursday, June 24th at 2:00 PM (AST) for Perennia’s 2020/2021 Virtual Annual General Meeting. Click  here to register!

Creating a Balance : Vegetative vs Generative Growth

Monday, June 14, 2021

Part 2 - It's All in Your Water

There are many factors that play a role in managing vegetative and generative growth, and it is important to consider a well-rounded approach when attempting to swing the scales. Keeping a balanced growing environment is important for a highly productive plant and changing one thing and nothing else will end up causing more harm than good.

In part 1 of this mini-series, we addressed the need for vegetative growth to have a high yielding crop. Vegetative action is required early in the crop cycle so the plants can establish themselves. By creating this strong base, the plant will be able to support a highly productive generative state later on.

The generative growth phase focuses on managing plant productivity. It is achieved through strategic stress induction in your plants. These minor stresses are going to push the plant to divert resources to reproductive organs (fruits), while ensuring that all other plant processes can be maintained. The key word here is minor – pushing the plant too far is not going to have the response you are looking for.

How Do I Manipulate the Plant?

A few of the major contributing factors to vegetative and generative growth are listed here below. We will address the impact that each factor has on crop steering.

  •        Water availability
  •        EC
  •        Day/Night temperatures
  •        Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD)
  •        Pruning
  •        Fruit load

Water Availability

Watering frequency, duration and timing plays a role in pushing the plant towards a more vegetative or generative state.

In vegetative action, water is readily available for the plant when it needs it. The plant does not have to work hard to uptake water and will readily create new above- and below-ground biomass. As roots and leaves are being produced, the plant is preparing for full-blown production. Higher water content in the substrate is achieved through small, frequent irrigation events throughout the day.

Once it is time to switch to generative growth, these watering events become longer and more infrequent. As water becomes less available, less energy is put towards the production of root and shoot material, and more will be diverted to fruit production. The plant will now have to actively seek water compared to it being readily available in the vegetative stage.

Figure 1. Depicted here is the general irrigation strategy for substrate-grown greenhouse crops (ex. Tomato). Water content (WC) is depicted in green. While the timing and frequency of watering for generative and vegetative phases will vary, the general concept applies. As the day ramps up, you slowly increase the amount of water you deliver to the crop. After you achieve first run-off, you can start hitting the crop with water at regular intervals (determined, in part, by the weather that day). As the end of the day approaches, irrigation stops all together. Photo credit: Greenhouse Canada, June 2010 (

While the daytime irrigation strategy is important in crop steering, you must also consider what is happening through the night. The length of the dry-down period of your growing media will help to tip the scales towards vegetative or generative tendencies. A short dry-down period (usually achieved by scheduling the last irrigation event of the day 1-2 hours before sunset) encourages vegetative growth. A longer dry-down period (which would have the last irrigation event happening earlier in the day) will encourage generative tendencies.

EC Measurement

The electrical conductivity (EC) of your fertilizer solution is important to consider when encouraging vegetative or generative action. EC is an indication of the salt content in the solution and will therefore impact water availability to the plant. A higher EC value means a higher salt content, and the harder the plant must work to take up water. As the plant works harder to take up water, less resources will be sent to vegetative growth (leaves, roots) and more will be sent to the generative tissue.

Here is a rough guideline of where your target EC should be, based on the crop stage:

Plant Stage

Target EC

Germination (vegetative)

0 - 1

Plant raising (vegetative)

2.5 – 3

Harvesting (generative)

2.75 – 3.5*

Full harvest (generative)

2.75 – 4*

*Should be watering with an EC of around 3, but you will see a higher substrate EC as the salts accumulate in the grow media

Understanding how your watering habits sway the crop in one direction or the other is a good starting point. Irrigation is something that all protected producers have control over, and it is important to see that watering plays a huge role in plant phenology and overall production capacity.

Creating a system that encourages maximum production capacity is in everyone’s best interest, and it is extremely important that all factors are addressed when trying to push for a more generative crop. Adjusting the watering and EC alone are not going to be enough to hit the target yield. All plant processes are intertwined and should be carefully considered whenever adjustments are made.

Stay tuned for our next post on vegetative vs generative growth, which looks at the role of temperature and humidity in crop steering.

Posted by: Talia Plaskett

Pilot Program for Nation-Wide Monitoring of European Corn Borer

Thursday, June 10, 2021

 European Corn Borer (ECB; Ostrinia nubilalis) has been an important pest of corn in eastern Canada for nearly a century now. It is becoming apparent that ECB is a generalist feeder, and has a wide range of hosts (ex. Hops, tomatoes, peppers, etc.).

The symptoms of ECB infestation will vary depending on the crop. The classic symptoms of corn see larvae migrating their way down the ear, chewing and burrowing as they go, rendering it unsaleable. In vine crops (pepper, tomato, eggplant), larvae can enter the stem and cause wilting or death. They are also attracted to the fruit, and will reduce your marketable yield.  For more information on the life stages of ECB, the impact it has on a handful of crops, monitoring and management, check out our factsheet!

Figure 1. An image of a ECB larvae that is taking refuge within the stem of a cannabis plant in Nova Scotia. Photo credit: Alex Gillis

With a recent confirmation of ECB resistance to Cry1F Bt corn in Nova Scotia, there is an increased need to monitor pest distribution across Canada. The Surveillance Working Group of the Canadian Plant Health Council has developed a harmonized monitoring protocol for ECB. This can be used to report the sightings of eggs, larvae, or any crop damage observed across Canada. It is encouraged that you try the harmonized monitoring protocol and report the data from your production using the free Survey123 app (available for both desktop and mobile devices):

  • Early to Mid-Season ECB Survey (Before July) -
  • Later Season ECB Survey (July to Pre-Harvest) -

You can log your information without creating a profile, otherwise a hard copy version is also available. 

Why should you care?

Real-time reporting may help estimate the risk of outbreaks in your region, and target the ideal window for scouting and management. At the end of the growing season, maps illustrating the results of the monitoring program will be made available on the 'Great Lakes and Maritimes Pest Monitoring Network', and the 'Prairie Pest Monitoring Network' websites, among others. 

Please feel free to contact Tracey Baute (OMAFRA), Meghan Vankosky (AAFC-Saskatchewan), John Gavloski (Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development), James Tansey (Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture) or Brigitte Duval (MAPAQ) if you have questions about this pilot project.