Farm Scoop August 2011

By Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties

FSA County Committee Nomination Deadline is August 1st

Androscoggin/Sagadahoc County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Thomas Kuklinski, reminds farmers and landowners to nominate farmer candidates to serve on their local FSA county committee by the August 1, 2011 deadline. Producers may nominate themselves or others as candidates. The LAA up for election this year includes the towns of Auburn, Durham, Mechanic Falls, Minot, and Poland. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and more information about county committee elections are available online. For more information about county committees, please contact the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc County FSA office at 207.753.9400 ext. 2 or visit the FSA Web site.

Ecological Weed Management

Two workshops on ecological weed management will be offered on Monday, August 1st at 5:00 p.m. at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick and Wednesday, August 3rd at 5:00 p.m. at Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont. Weed control is a primary challenge in organic farming systems. This workshop will offer ecological and cultural approaches to weed management with experts from MOFGA and the University of Maine. It will also feature a primer on weed control using the various forms of cultivation equipment available to vegetable growers. 1 pesticide credit will be available to participants. If you have questions, please contact Andrew Marshall at MOFGA.

Learn About Pumps for Small- Scale Farm Irrigation

On Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., MESAS  (Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society) is hosting a free Twilight Event for farmers and others entitled, “Variable Speed Drive Pumps for Small Scale Farm Irrigation”. The benefits of these pumps will be demonstrated and discussed. In 2010, Laughing Stock Farm installed a well and submersible pump system under the Water Source Development Program that was available from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources. Laughing Stock Farm is located at 79 Wardtown Road (Route 125), Freeport, Maine. For more information about this Twilight Event or about MESAS, contact Andrew Files or call 207.843.7581. There is no charge to attend this Twilight Event.

Maine Farm Days: August 24-25 at Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton

Misty Meadows Farm on the Hill Road in Clinton, Maine, will be hosting Maine Farm Days this year. The event will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission is free and open to the public. It is an excellent opportunity for the entire family to visit a working dairy farm and learn about how the farm works. There are also many opportunities to earn pesticide and nutrient management recertification credits. More information is available online.

From Recipe to Market in Cumberland County

This popular, five-session workshop series for developing and taking your specialty food product to market will be offered in Falmouth starting on September 28th. For more information and to register, contact Lois Elwell or call UMaine Extension at 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine).

2011 National Pinzgauer Show

The National Pinzgauer cattle show will take place in the livestock show arena, at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds on October 2, 2011. This event is held in a different region of the United States each year. This year the Northeast Region Breeders will be hosting the show, annual member and board of director meetings. Pinzgauer breeders from all over the US and Canada are expected to attend and show their cattle. This is the first time the Pinzgauer National show has been held in Maine. For more information on the Pinzgauer Show visit the American Pinzgauer website or contact Clayton Haskell or call 207.892.5396. For information on the Fryeburg Fair visit their website.

Are Wild Turkeys On Your Farm?

Researchers at the University of Maine in Augusta are investigating the effects that wild turkeys are having on our various agricultural landscapes. As a farmer, you can help identify concerns involving this wildlife issue, by completing a brief online survey. For more information contact Dr. Chris Lage.

Garlic Bloat Nematode and Allium White Rot

Two destructive diseases that can decimate a garlic crop and are spread through infected seeds, or cloves, have reached Maine. Garlic bloat, caused by the nematode Ditylenchus dipsaci has been confirmed on one farm. Allium white rot appeared last year and has now spread to three farms. The pathogens are both widespread problems in New York state, Canada, and on the West Coast and were likely spread when stock was ordered from out-of-state companies. Bloat nematode is a destructive pest of alliums and generally is introduced to a farm via infested seed bulbs. There are different races of D. dipsaci. The garlic and onion race of D. dipsaci infects garlic, onions, leeks, and chives; it also attacks celery, parsley, salsify, some varieties of peas and lettuce, hairy nightshade, Canada thistle, flower bulbs and other plant species. Garlic plants with bloat will be stunted, have a premature yellowing of the leaves and die prematurely. Nematode reproduction and damage to bulbs will continue and may increase during storage. To prevent this nematode from infesting your farm, a 5-year rotation (4 years between host crops) is a minimum. Careful sanitation on affected fields also needs to be performed. You may consider a biofumigant crop as a plow down rotation, but it will not eliminate the need for the long rotation.

Allium white rot can result in the total loss of a crop and take the affected land completely out of production for garlic, onions, and leeks for 20 to 30 years. Garlic infected with allium white rot can be safely eaten but the cloves cannot be used for seed. Both diseases are spread with the garlic seed pieces, so it is critical that anyone with either problem not sell seed. Please contact your local UMaine Extension office if you suspect your plants have garlic bloat nematode or allium white rot so a diagnosis can be made. For more information contact Steve Johnson at 207.764.3361 or David Fuller at 207.778.4650.

The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act: Who Needs a License?

When a buyer of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables declares bankruptcy, often the farmer is not a priority when it comes to getting paid. Under the USDA’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), licensed farmers may step to the front of the line and receive payment for their goods first. In general, any person who buys or sells more than 2,000 pounds of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in any given day is required to be licensed under the PACA. Wholesalers, processors, truckers, grocery wholesalers, and food service firms fit into this category. A person selling at retail is subject to a PACA license once the invoice costs of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetable purchases exceed $230,000 in a calendar year. To apply for a license, to obtain more specific information about licensing requirements, or to find out if a firm is a licensee, call the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service toll-free at 1.800.495.7222 or visit the website.

Sun Protection and Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin cancer is common among farmers, due to the long hours spent in the sun. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself from sun exposure and decrease your risk of skin cancer. For tips on preventing skin cancer and what to look for, see this Kansas Farm Bureau brochure (PDF).

Establishing Local Agriculture Commissions

Are you interested in raising the profile of agriculture in your community? There are many local Ag Commissions around New England doing just that!