Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Season Extension and Hoophouse Webinars Coming to an Extension Office Near You!

Learn more about pest management in season extension production systems such as high tunnels by registering for a new webinar series offered in November.

The series is sponsored by the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group, the University of Illinois Extension, and a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development grant. Presenters will include experts from The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Cornell University, University of Vermont, Pennsylvania State University, University of Illinois, Purdue University, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

There will be five webinars of 1-2 hours produced on Nov. 1, 3, 8, 16 and 18. The first three webinars will be an introduction to pest management in various season extension systems, focusing on tomatoes and winter crops. The last two webinars will be geared toward soil, water and nutrient management, plus a summary of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) high tunnel pilot project initiated in 2010.

Pest complexes in season extension production systems such as high tunnels are different than field-grown fruits and vegetables, and an understanding of that difference is needed to capitalize on early- and late-season markets. High-tunnel production can lengthen the growing season and provide producers with a means to enter the market earlier with high value crops.

In several states, the Natural Resource Conservation Service is providing monetary incentives and assistance through EQIP to growers who use high tunnel production systems.

"The adoption of growing crops using high tunnels provides `great potential`... to expand the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

Webinar One is titled "Introduction to Pest Management for Season Extension" and will air on Nov. 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). Bill LaMont from Pennsylvania State University will provide an overview of season extension methods and the pros and cons of getting into season extension: low tunnels, row covers, high tunnels, greenhouses, extended storage and basic economics. Judson Reid and Meg McGrath with Cornell University will speak on basic pest management considerations in high tunnels for insects, mites and diseases, respectively. Brad Bergefurd of OSU will discuss best weed management options in high tunnels.

Webinar Two, "Pest Management of Tomatoes in High Tunnels, " will be offered on Nov. 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). Matt Kleinhenz of  OSU will start with an overview of production systems and economics for tomatoes and other solanaceous crops. Shubin Saha of Purdue will address cultural controls, pesticide use, biocontrols and organic methods for pest and mite management of tomatoes under high tunnel production.Sally Miller of OSU will discuss cultural controls, pesticide use, grafting, and organic methods for disease management.

Webinar Three, "Pest Management in Winter Crops," will be held on Nov. 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST (5:30-7:30 p.m. CST). An overview of winter crop production systems including a discussion of economics, sanitation, plastic management, production sequences, crop selection, sanitation for simple hoophouse, greenhouse, in-ground, in container, row covers and low tunnels will be given by Adam Montri of Michigan State University. Judson Reid will cover pest and mite management for winter crops, and Ann Hazelrigg of the University of Vermont will offer disease management options for winter crops. Vegetable storage management will be covered by Matt Kleinhenz of OSU.

Webinar Four, "Management of Nutrients, Water, Soil, and Other Production Considerations in High Tunnels," and will be on Nov. 16 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST (noon-1 p.m. CST). Mike Orzolek of Penn State will be the presenter. The first 50 participants or organizations to include webinar four as part of their registration will receive a free copy of the High Tunnel Production Manual published by Penn State.

Webinar Five, "Interpreting NRCS High Tunnel Project Guidelines," will be on Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST (noon-1 p.m. CST). The guidelines pertaining to the high-tunnel production pilot project will be outlined and discussed by Ruth Book, state conservation engineer; Ivan Dozier, assistant state conservationist; and Brett Roberts, state agronomist, all with the NRCS in Illinois. Not all states in the North Central or North East region participate in this program, so check with your local state NRCS office for more details.

Pre-registration for this webinar series is mandatory and can be found at
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/season_ext. The cost for the series is $30 whether you attend one or all five webinars.

Each webinar will be recorded and available on several state IPM or vegetable-oriented websites for viewing soon after its original airdate. For people who do not have a broadband connection, organizers are identifying several sites throughout each state to host the webinar series.

Visit the Great Lakes Vegetable Working Group website at
http://glvwg.ag.ohio-state.edu/index.php and click on "Projects" at the top of the page to find more information and a pre-registration link.