OF1019 – Organic Farmer

Scaling up Your Farm—Is it for you?

Local foods purchasing has moved beyond farmers markets to mainstream grocery stores. As consumers become more interested in purchasing local foods, chain grocery stores from Walmart to Safeway tout their support of local farmers and are trying to back it up by purchasing from local or regional farmers. At the same time, many established farmers want to move out of time-consuming, often saturated, direct marketing channels such as farmers markets and community supported agriculture models. What is “scaling up?” In a recent article titled “How to know when to scale up,”  in Growing For Market newsletter, Jed Beach...

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Mating Disruption for Navel Orangeworm Available for Organic Nut Crops

Effective management of navel orangeworm requires an integrated approach to pest management. This is especially true in organic nut crops where insecticides that are industry standards in convention orchards are not available. This puts added emphasis on the need for variety selection, winter sanitation, timely harvest, and mating disruption.   Mating Disruption Mating disruption works by using dispensers to flood an orchard with synthetically-produced pheromone, thus interrupting the ability of male moths to find and mate with females. Reductions in eggs and larvae occur if females fail to mate or if there is a delay in when mating occurs....

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Organic Plant Breeding Yields Superior Cucurbit Varieties

Farmers looking for disease resistant cucurbits now have more choices thanks to the release of new cucumber and melon varieties by Cornell University, the result of years of research by public plant breeders and organic farmers. These varieties are a result of participatory breeding efforts focused on cucurbits most in need of improvement, and exhibit exceptional resistance to evolving diseases as well as production and culinary characteristics important to organic farmers.   “Our approach to plant breeding involves a close collaboration with farmers, regional seed companies, and other researchers to test varieties in the environment of their intended use,”...

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Integrated Weed Management Practices for Controlling Unwanted Vegetation

While all growers should strive to use integrated weed management practices to control unwanted vegetation, organic farmers are more reliant on the strategy than most. The first step in building any successful weed management system is to properly identify the species that are present. This will allow growers to avoid sites populated with difficult-to-control weeds, such as perennials, and to properly select the types and timing of management measures that target weeds when they are most susceptible to control. Recurring scouting efforts will identify control successes and failures and can be used to document changes in the composition of...

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Organic Price Premiums Under Pressure

The organic produce market has had tremendous growth over the last five years. But could the sector’s rapid expansion be damaging its own prices?   A few years ago demand for organic produce was expanding faster than the industry was growing supply. The telltale signs were rising prices alongside rising volumes. Between 2013 and 2015, retail prices for the top seven organic produce items rose by an unweighted average of 1.3 percent per year. Recently however, there are indications that growth in organic movement has changed as retail prices have declined by an annual unweighted average of 0.4 percent...

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USDA Market Facilitation Program

Enrollment in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Facilitation Program will be open through December 6, 2019.   The program, for both specialty and non-specialty crop producers will provide up to $14.5 billion in direct payments. This USDA relief strategy was developed to assist farmers who continue to suffer economic damages due to trade retaliation in some of their export markets.   In May, President Donald Trump directed Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary to craft a relief strategy in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. The Market Facilitation...

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Transitioning a Conventional Apple Orchard to Organic

In 2014, a small group of investors bought Queener Farm, a 40-acre plot in Scio, Oregon with over 115 heirloom and modern varieties of apple trees. Jeannie Berg and Chris Homanics operate the orchard. Transitioning a 2,000-tree heirloom apple orchard from conventional to organic has proved a challenge, although after five years, Jeannie and Chris are beginning to feel like they’re getting a handle on it. For the first year and a half they took a hands-off approach, letting the orchard sit and heal. The previous farm managers sprayed conventional herbicides. “It took three years to get anything to grow...

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Growing Herbs the Old School Way

Diversity, lots of hands-on labor, and staying on top of chores are three keys to the longevity and success of this Alsea, Oregon herb business. Not only do Rolfe and Janet Hagen and their daughters grow herbs using natural, organic methods, the family also grew their business in an organic way, by following the natural procession of things. The Beginning The couple started out with a country restaurant in the small rural town of Alsea. Janet used fresh herbs in the dishes she prepared, so she and Rolfe planted herb beds around the restaurant. The herb plants produced seeds, which...

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Organic Methods to Control Filbertworm and Other Hazelnut Pests

Go ahead and get a little batty if you want to control filbertworms in your hazelnut orchard. Since bats eat night-flying insects, including the filbertworm moth, attracting them to your orchard is a beneficial and organic way to help control filbertworm population. Give bats a place to call home by installing bat boxes. The Oregon Organic Hazelnut Co-op (OOHC) sponsored a filbertworm presentation at the Nut Growers Society Summer Tour in Albany, Oregon. Two of the four-member panel of experts had opposite results with bat boxes. Linda Perrine put up boxes, but never had a single bat move in. Kirk...

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