Thursday, August 25, 2016

WNC Farmlink News-including the first video!

The WNC Farmlink program is growing and expanding! Check out the first of what we hope are many videos about the program, the services offered, how to negotiate farmland purchases and leases, and the people the program serves. The videos are being made by the two people highlighted below.
Thank you, Leo Stefanile, for your great camera and editing work! Leo is a multi-talented research assistant in our program.

Recently, WNC Farmlink teamed up with NC Farmlink to combine their databases so they could offer a "one-stop shop" for North Carolina farm seekers and land owners. Here are the links to the farm seeker database and the farm owner database. WNC Farmlink is unique because there is a person located in the western North Carolina dedicated to helping people through the process of finding, buying, selling, and leasing farmland.
Suzanna Denison is the WNC Farmlink land access coordinator. She is an extension assistant in my program at NC State University with an office in the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy offices in downtown Asheville, NC. The unique aspect of WNC Farmlink is that Suzanna is located in western NC to provide personalized one-on-one consultations to people in the region. She also organizes workshops for farm seeks and owners, helps landowners understand all the options available to them, and helps beginning farmers negotiate equitable leases and prepare logistically and financially for long-term land tenure and purchase. 
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, in partnership with Organic Growers School and WNC Farmlink, was recently awarded a $600,000 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant which will help support this program over the next three years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cucurbit Downy Mildew present in Western North Carolina

We are conducting screening trials for the multi-state Organic Cucurbit Breeding project. We are growing cucumber, melon, and squash varieties and breeding lines and looking for resistance to several diseases and insects. The most important disease we want resistance to is Downy Mildew. Usually it is a huge problem for us and takes down susceptible plants by mid-July. But this year, our field plots look great because we have not had Downy Mildew. But, that will probably end soon as Downy Mildew has been diagnosed in the region, as our pathologist, Inga Meadows, explains in this article:
Cucurbit Downy Mildew Found in Ashe and Haywood Counties
- Written By Inga Meadows, Plant Pathologist, NC State University

Cucurbit downy mildew has been reported on pumpkin and cucumber in Ashe and Haywood Counties, respectively. Downy mildew, caused by the oomycete Pseudoperonospora cubensis, infects leaves and can result in significant yield loss.  

It was reported through the CDM IPMPipe on pumpkin in Ashe County on August 10, 2016 and by an NCDA Agronomist in Haywood County on August 12, 2016.

Cucurbit downy mildew is a foliar disease that affects all commercial cucurbits (cucumber, cantaloupe, squash, watermelon, pumpkin, etc.), but is most severe on cucumbers. Growers are advised to actively scout for the disease and initiate preventative sprays in cucurbit crops immediately. 

The Cucurbit Downy Mildew factsheet, previous alerts, North Carolina fungicide efficacy trials, and The Southeastern US Vegetable Crop Handbook provide recommendations for chemical control options. Growers should use intensive spray programs (every 5-7 days) once disease if found in their fields, especially if weather conditions are conducive to disease (wet and cool weather). The downy mildew pathogen can become resistant to fungicides very quickly. It is critical that growers alternate products in their fungicide programs and tank-mix with a protectant with every application to protect the few chemistries we have that are still highly effective in controlling downy mildew.

If you think you have downy mildew in your field, please contact your local Extension agent and send photos and/or physical samples to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. Reporting the occurrence of cucurbit downy mildew to the CDM IPM pipe helps us protect our state's cucurbit industry by providing them with timely disease management information.