April 22, 2023

In This Issue: 

Herb Pollock Passes Away, Allium Leafminer, Strawberry Neopestalotiopsis, Vegetable Referendum, Herbicide Drift Survey and more.

PVGA Loses Life Member Herb Pollock

PVGA Life Member and former Director Herbert Clark Pollock, 97, of Indiana, went into eternity with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Sunday, April 16, 2023. A long-time sales representative for Eastern States Farmer's Cooperative and later Agway, his advice was greatly valued by growers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

A son of Clark Craig Pollock and Mary Louise (Hopkins) Pollock, he was born in Indiana and raised on the Pollock farmstead in East Mahoning Township in Marion Center.

Herbert attended the Mahoning one room elementary school for seven years and graduated from Marion Center High School in 1944. He participated in both 4-H and FFA. Herbert experienced the change from horsepower to tractor power! See more here.

2023 Allium Leafminer Emerging Earlier Than Recent Years

Keep a lookout for Allium leafminer on any garlic or early-planted alliums you may have this season.

The unusually mild weather we’ve had throughout this winter is leading to earlier emergence than we have seen in recent years. Evidence of leafminer activity has been seen in Maryland and southern New Jersey recently, which indicates it will not be much longer until this pest is seen in Pennsylvania.

Allium leafminer (ALM) is an invasive fly from Poland first detected in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, in December 2015 (Fig. 1). ALM attacks plants in the Allium genus, including onion, garlic, leek, scallions, shallots, and chives. It overwinters as a pupa in leaf tissue or adjacent soil, emerges in the spring, and adult flight occurs over a 5–7-week period. Females puncture leaves with their ovipositor, and both males and females feed on leaf sap. Oviposition results in a characteristic linear series of round wounds (Fig. 2). Larval development progresses to the pupal stage but is then delayed as the pupa undergoes summer aestivation, and they do not emerge again until late September for another 5–7-week flight. See more here.

Strawberry Disease Identification: Neopestalotiopsis (aka Pestalotia) or a More Traditional Disease?

Neopestalotiopsis (Pestalotia) is a new strawberry disease that has been causing problems on the East Coast for a few years now.

Neopestalotiopsis (or Pestalotia) was present in plug plant material distributed in PA and the Mid-Atlantic in the fall of 2021. Here are some photos and tips on how to tell it apart from other foliar and fruit diseases. We don’t know whether this disease will continue to show up in the spring, but be on the lookout. Matted-row growers should know that this disease has not been found on the plant material used in matted-row plantings so far, so if you see similar symptoms, you are most likely seeing one of our more traditional diseases, but let your local extension educator know so we can follow up.

Pestalotia foliar symptoms progress very quickly during warm wet spells. Large portions of infected leaves are invaded within a few days under these conditions, and though the speed of invasion varies somewhat with cultivar, disease progression is noticeable over just a few days. Other foliar diseases, if widespread enough, can also invade large portions of the leaf and coalesce, but tissue invasion is much more gradual. See more here.

Vegetable Marketing and Research Program Undergoing Review Referendum Vote "Yes".

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program is currently undergoing a required five-year review referendum where growers have the opportunity to vote whether the Program should continue. Have you received your ballot and voted yet? Ballots must be mailed and postmarked by May 3, 2023.

Naturally, the Program Board and PVGA encourage you to vote "Yes" to continue the Program - see their letter to growers and quotes from other people in the industry here. You can also see the Program's 2022 Annual Report issue of Fresh Ideas here.

If you are a grower who grows one or more acres of vegetables in Pennsylvania for sale OR who grows 1,000 sq. ft or more of greenhouse or high tunnel vegetables for sale OR who grows and sells $2,000 worth of vegetables you are by law part of the Program and eligible to vote. If you do not receive assessment notices and Fresh Ideas from the Program in the mail, please see our introductory grower information here. If you have questions, contact the Program at 717-694-3596 or pvmrp@embarqmail.com.

If you have not received a ballot in the mail and would like to vote in the referendum (provided you meet the criteria for a grower outlined in the previous paragraph), please contact Holly Zarefoss at the Department of Agriculture as soon as possible - 717-783-8461 or hzarefoss@pa.gov. Remember, ballots must be mailed and postmarked by May 3, 2023.

The Vegetable Marketing and Research Program exists to serve Pennsylvania growers by promoting Pennsylvania vegetables and funding practical vegetable production research. Check out the reports from research sponsored by the Program since 2009 on the PA Veggies website here. Reports are just coming in from the 2022 projects.

The PA Veggies website offers vegetable recipes, how to prepare videos, informational blogs for consumers and grower/market directories. It also offers a wealth of grower resources - promotional information and graphics that you, as a grower, can use in your social media or printed promotional pieces. Consumers love checklists. Among other useful images, we've created "How To" lists like the one below for 14 popular summer crops. 

Remember, Vote "Yes" to continue the Program and these grower resources.

Your Response is Needed

The Census of Agriculture allows producers to tell the story of U.S. agriculture and it’s not too late to respond. Since data collection began last fall, over a million ag census recipients across the country have returned their questionnaires, but many have yet to respond. USDA will continue to collect completed 2022 ag census forms through the spring to ensure all producers have the chance the be represented in widely used census data. Producers can respond online at agcounts.usda.gov or by mail.


Census data inform decisions about policy, farm and conservation programs, infrastructure and rural development, research, education, and more. If you are a producer who has already submitted your 2022 Census of Agriculture, you may disregard any additional ag census letters and forms.

Please note - the Ag Census is especially important for vegetable, potato and berry growers. The Ag Census is the best data available for the acreages of these crops and its accuracy depends on your response as grower!

Herbicide Drift Survey Underway

The Herbicide Drift Survey aims to collect data on awareness of herbicide drift damage and herbicide-application issues. Our goal is to help both grape growers and herbicide applicators by identifying if knowledge gaps exist; if identified, these will be used as future focus points for Penn State Extension specialists.

To grape growers:To the best of your knowledge, please fill out the survey even if your vineyard is not impacted by herbicide drift.

To herbicide applicators: Please fill out the survey even if you believe your methods are not causing herbicide drift or damage to off-target plants.

Please be as detailed as possible and answer all questions that are relevant to your business. See more here.

USDA Invests Over $46M in Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an investment of more than $46 million in the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which has funded farmer-driven grants and grassroots education programs resulting in climate-smart solutions for farms and ranches in every state and island protectorate since 1988.

“This investment in sustainable agriculture underscores USDA’s ongoing commitment to transforming our food and agricultural systems,” said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics (REE). “Through this investment, SARE will continue to provide competitive grants and education programs that foster farmer-driven innovation to promote climate-smart practices, make sustainable producers more profitable, and improve local economies and the quality of life in rural communities.” See more here.

NAFDMA's Agritourism Learning Retreat

July 17 to 18, 2023 Helene's Hilltop Orchard, Wisconsin

NAFDMA's Agritourism Learning Retreat is a multi-day intensive that connects attendees with premier agritourism operations in North America.


Stepping out of the classroom and onto the farm, the ALR offers immersive, hands-on education in best operational practices for farms and attractions. Registration will open in May.

Getting Geared up for the Sweet Corn Sprint

While grand finales epitomize the Fourth of July, the holiday also represents the opening of sweet corn sales in the northern third of the U.S. “Timing to the market — that’s the whole story,” New Hampshire grower Trevor Hardy says. “There’s lettuce and early vegetables, but the cash crop that really brings the customers in at the start of the year is sweet corn. The first farm to have sweet corn starts to get the customers. Some of the customers don’t even care what it costs. Growers will throw money upon money just to get that early sweet corn and then recover it later in volume. So that’s where the growers are willing to spend money on technology to get that first corn.”

According to Hardy, the Business Manager at his family’s Brookdale Fruit Farm, that technology comes in three forms: transplants, clear plastic, and row cover. See more here.

Potato Tuber Physiological Age, Sprouting and Emergence

I have received questions in the past about variable potato sprouting in the field. While field and planting conditions, soil temperatures, seed piece handling all have an effect, another factor is seed age.

Potato tuber physiological age will determine seed piece sprouting. The physiological age is affected by harvest conditions, calendar (chronological) age, and storage conditions.

During seed tuber storage, the main influence on physiological aging is temperature. Higher storage temperatures cause greater physiological aging, colder storage keeps seed potatoes in a young stage.

In general seed potatoes can be divided into old and young physiological groups. Physiologically older aged seed emerges earlier, grows faster, yields higher early, and yields less later than physiologically young unaged seed. Physiologically young seed has more vigor, produces higher yields of larger tubers than old seed and is ideal under long production seasons. See more here.

Want To Lessen Pests in Your Farm Fields? Intercropping Might Be the Answer

Intercropping – the practice of planting mixtures of crops – can be an effective pest management tool worldwide, a new University of Florida study demonstrates. The analysis compiled results from 44 field studies across six continents and focused on four crop types – cabbagesquash, cotton, and onion – planted on their own and mixed with a companion plant species. In these studies, scientists recorded 272 total occurrences of 35 different species of plant-eating insects on crops.

“Overall, intercropping proved to be very effective against pests, but it did vary based on the pest and their feed preferences,” says Philip Hahn, Assistant Professor in the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department, who led the study. “It also depended on crop type, with cabbage and squashes showing the strongest resistance, while resistance was less strong for onions and cotton.” See more here.

Linear Bed Foot Method for Determining Fertilizer Needs for Vegetable Crops on Plastic Mulch

In the Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations, fertilizer recommendations are given on a per acre basis. For crops grown on plastic mulch, the most common bed spacing between rows is used and recommendations are based on linear bed foot (LBF) values.

The LBF system can be used to express fertilizer rates for any fertilizer delivery method with mulched beds, including production systems using bed placed fertilizers. In the production systems that rely on the drip irrigation system to deliver water and fertilizers, the LBF fits closely because growers already know the total length of drip tubing in an acre. LBF can also take into account areas for drive rows used for sprayers such as in watermelons or cantaloupes. See more here.

Tech Able To Dig Into Real-Time Soil Data Essential for Food Quality

Soil provides myriad benefits for agriculture and the environment. Its health is vital to farming because it’s essential for nutrition, water filtration, climate regulation, and plant growth. However, it’s threatened by environmental changes such as climate change. Improving soil quality is imperative to sustain agriculture and feed the world’s growing population.

Here are some things farmers can do to ensure soil quality is at its best.

Digitized Soil Health

Agriculture must be monitored or digitized to address increasing environmental changes like climate change, severe weather and sustainable farming. Food demands are increasing while supply is undergoing setbacks. Eco-friendly practices can improve soil health and reduce environmental impact. The world’s water supply is predicted to fall short by 40% in 2030, with costs already rising, so preserving water is of utmost importance.

It takes about 1 liter to produce one calorie — that’s about 2,000 liters of water to feed one person daily. The growing population is projected to increase drastically, requiring more calories generated by quality soil. A digital transformation can help manage risk and variability and improve decision-making, economics and livestock well-being. See more here.

Advocates Offer $2.4M in Grants to Answer Organic Sector Challenges

The spigot of financial investments to organic agriculture is flowing — and for good reason. While the organic industry continues to gain market share and enjoy steady growth, challenges that have troubled the sector since its inception persist.

Not only is the certified organic label competing with an increasing number of certifications touting soil health and climate-smart agriculture benefits, but organic producers are increasingly facing the effects of climate change, like drought, severe weather and invasive pests, that show now sign of slowing.

To address these challenges — strengthening the organic label and better supporting organic producers — two organic advocates are awarding $2.4 million in matching funds for organic outreach and research, according to a news release. The Organic Center, a research and education nonprofit affiliated with the Organic Trade Association, has partnered with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, an organization that connects private-public funding opportunities, in awarding grant funding in 2023 and 2024 to tackle these issues. See more here.

Transitioning to Organic Production? Here's How the USDA Can Help

The USDA has announced details around its $75 million investment in conservation assistance for producers transitioning to organic production.

As part of the multiagency Organic Transition Initiative, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will dedicate financial and technical assistance to a new organic management standard and partner with new organic technical experts to increase staff capacity and expertise, according to a news release.

"Producers transitioning to organic can count on NRCS for assistance through the process,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said in the release. “By strengthening our technical proficiency and providing technical and financial assistance through new tools and practices, we can better support producers through the challenges of organic transition.” See more here.

Field Scouting Guide: Yellow Nutsedge

This edition of “Field Scouting Guide” concentrates on Cyperus esculentus (aka, Yellow nutsedge). Each month, we will bring you a different pest, ranging from weeds and diseases to insects and even wildlife.

We reached out to several experts to learn how to spot and treat this disease. Our contributors are Bernard H. Zandstra, Michigan State University; Timothy W. Miller, Washington State University; Nathan S. Boyd, Ph.D., University of Florida; Darcy E. P. Telenko, Ph.D., Cornell Cooperative Extension Cornell Vegetable Program; and Joel Felix, Ph.D., Malheur Experiment Station/Oregon State University.

Yellow Nutsedge Basics

  • Scientific name: Cyperus esculentus L.
  • Crops affected: All cultivated crops
  • Geographical range: Worldwide. It favors tropical or temperate regions, but it will extend to cool areas as well. It is widely spread throughout the entire continental U.S. and Hawaii; but it’s not found in South and North Dakota.

See more here.

Weeds Shelter Vegetable Insect Pests

Leafy vegetable and melon production in the desert Southwest requires effective weed management for all the obvious reasons. It’s also essential for another important, but often overlooked, reason.

Several common weed species can serve as host plants for many important insect pests. And when weeds are not controlled in the field, they can be an impediment to insect control.

Weeds can serve a beneficial role by harboring insects’ natural enemies and pollinators. But the resulting consequences often outweigh the benefits they potentially provide. See more here.

Exclusive Strawberry Luxury Reaches New Heights

What would a single strawberry have to taste like to be worth a $365 retail price tag?

“It makes you really happy. It’s like an apple meets a strawberry meets a grape meets a whole bunch of red roses that you smell,” said TV presenter and English celebrity Chef Paul Hollywood in his “Paul Hollywood Eats Japan” documentary series, when he visited Okuda Mikio, owner of Okuda Farm in Hashima City to taste the bijin-hime (beautiful princess) strawberry.

The chef hopped with glee like a schoolboy after his first juicy, creamy aromatic bite of what could be the most expensive strawberry in the world.  See more here.

Vegetable Crop Insect Scouting


Scout greenhouses now for aphids and spider mites on transplants. Aphids can be easily controlled with tray drenches of a neonicotinoid. A tray drench should also prevent cucumber beetle damage on transplant wagons but tray drenches have limited residual activity once the transplants are planted and growing. Be sure to read the labels carefully to ensure that you have enough active ingredient left for a cucumber beetle application in the drip lines if needs be next month. For greenhouses with spider mite activity, the easiest time to treat the transplants is while on the transplant wagon.

See also Asparagus, Cole Crops, Seedcorn Maggot, Potato and Tomato, Peas, Sweet Corn here.

Sales and Classified Ads

For Sale

Automatic Potato Weigher and Bagger - Paper and poly.

Call 610-996-1403 for more info. 12/31

Classified Ads and Sale Notices are are free for PVGA members. Email your information to us pvga@pvga.org.

Reminders and Coming Events

Understanding the Basics of Agricultural Conservation Easement Programs

Friday, April 28, 2023 12:00 pm via Zoom.

Agricultural conservation easement programs are a legal tool that has been used at the local, state, and federal levels to protect farmland and farming viability against development pressures. This webinar will provide an overview of, and background for, various state and federal agricultural conservation easement programs, including the recent consolidation of previous federal programs into one single program called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The webinar will also address how land is identified, evaluated, and selected for easement programs as well as review the pros and cons of the various methods employed. See more here.

New York Company Seeking Local Pickle Source

Eddie’s Pickles (Eddie's Pickles | Heritage & Health | Since 1888 (eddiespickles.com)) is seeking a local supplier of cucumbers. They are based in NY. They are looking for Kirbies/pickling cucumbers all summer long (winter too if a producer has greenhouses). During the summer season they can use up to 60,000 lbs but can work with what you have. Size 2 A 2B and 3AL. Contact is Ralph (the owner) at Eddie’s Pickles: contact@eddiespickles.com.

PVGA Scholarship Applications Due May 15

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association is pleased to be able to offer Rudolph Grob Memorial Scholarships each year to students pursuing higher education. The funds for the scholarships are generated by the interest earned by the Association’s Keystone Fund, an endowment-type fund created by the voluntary extra dues paid the Keystone Members of the Association.

Applications are being accepted for the 2023 round of scholarships. See more here.

Camp Hill Farmers Market Seeking for Produce Vendors

Market on Market Camp Hill is looking for an additional produce vendor to meet the demands of our newly established Market! The season runs May 16 – Oct 24, Tuesdays 3:00 to 7:00 pm at the Market St. Parking Lot of Trinity Lutheran Church, Camp Hill. For more information contact Mitzi at farmersmarket@camphillborough.com or 717-805-7243.

Next Berry Growers Info Exchange is May 8th at 7:00 p.m.

PVGA is continuing to host a periodic get-together for berry growers. These "Info Exchanges" will be once a month on the second Monday of the month, but given our early sunsets, we have moved the start time to 7:00 p.m. Please join us - meeting are designed to give growers a chance to get time-sensitive updates on current issues from state and regional extension personnel, exchange info with other growers, get answers to their questions, or just listen in or bounce thoughts off of others.  Kathy Demchak is the host.  


Calls are open to PVGA members and non-members to maximize information exchange, so spread the word and invite your friends and neighbors to join. 

The Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83077021881

The call-in numbers are (be aware that this is not a toll-free call):

+1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC).

The meeting ID is 830 7702 1881

If you have questions, contact us at pvga@pvga.org or 717-694-3596.

Farm & Food Worker Relief Payments

Starting in March 2023, farm and meatpacking workers can apply for a one-time $600 pandemic relief payment through Pasa Sustainable Agriculture. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the federal government distributed several rounds of relief payments to small businesses, including farm owners. This relief was vital in keeping many of these small businesses operating during an unprecedented time.

But these relief efforts did not directly support frontline workers, like farmworkers and meatpacking workers, who continued to report to their jobs at the height of the pandemic, when much of the population was ordered to stay home.

Pasa, alongside other organizations across the country, advocated for relief for pandemic-related expenses incurred by farm and food workers. In response, the USDA announced its Farm and Food Worker Relief (FFWR) Grant Program. See more here.

DEP Offers Ag Energy Efficiency Rebates

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Energy Programs Office is offering an Agriculture Energy Efficiency Rebate Program for PA farmers and ag producers. 


Rebates are being offered for the following technology categories:

  1. Energy efficient lighting systems: LED lighting (both interior and exterior), including fixtures and controls (DLC or Energy Star rated lighting)
  2. Energy efficient ventilation equipment: Ventilation fans including both circulation and exhaust fans, motors and controls
  3. Energy efficient dairy and refrigeration equipment: Variable speed vacuum pumps, efficient motors and controls, scroll compressors, well water pre-chillers (plate coolers/heat exchangers), and refrigeration heat recovery (RHR)


All of the above technologies have proven energy savings, which can help reduce operating expenses. The program guidelines detail applicant and equipment eligibility and can be found here: www.dep.pa.gov/agricultureenergy


Rebates will pay up to 50% of equipment purchase costs, up to $5,000. Applicants may apply under all 3 technology categories, but the maximum rebate is $5,000 per applicant. Up to $500 in installation costs may be included in the total project costs for each technology category, to be reimbursed at up to 50%.


The program is open on a first-come first-served basis as funding remains available or through June 30, 2023. You must submit an application to obtain a rebate voucher prior to installing equipment. All applications must be submitted online through eGrants/Electronic Single Application. More information can be found on the DEP website, along with a link to step-by-step application instructions and a link to the online application.