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Archive | Farm Management

Companion Planting: The Magic of Corn, Beans and Squash

Companion planting

Companion planting is an important part of any gardener or farmer’s planning.

Recent discoveries in quantum physics, microbiology and ecology verify something gardeners have long known. Everything in nature is related. There are no solid lines between the plants’ roots, the soil and the bacteria and fungi tying it all together. To help understand why garden crops do or do not thrive, we are led into the enigmatic field of companion planting.

Just as we work and feel best around our friends, plants will grow better in their preferred company. Although the reasons may be obscure, a lot of observation and a little intuition can reveal mutual attractions and aversions. The garden teaches us the value of old-time practices, fresh experiments and keeping our eyes open. Continue Reading →

Commercial Organic Grafted Tomato Production

TomatoCommercial organic tomato production is lucrative but challenging. Marketable fruit can bring a good price but yield is reduced by crop disease and insect pressure, drought and flooding, non-optimal nutrient supplies and other factors. Grafted tomato plants can be less susceptible to some of these stresses, particularly certain nematodes and soilborne diseases. There is also evidence that grafted tomato plants tolerate unwanted extremes in soil moisture, low soil fertility and high soil salinity levels more effectively than ungrafted plants.

Grafting creates a direct, physical and one-time ‘hybrid’ plant with traits of the rootstock and scion varieties it contains. Rootstock and scion variety selection is the first step in using grafted tomato plants and the selection should be done very carefully based on traits that are important to you on your farm. Learn more about how thousands of combinations affect production outcomes and what Ohio State University is researching in the January 2014 issue of Acres U.S.A.

High-Tunnel Strawberry Production

strawberry d3401-1At a time when Arkansas-grown summer strawberries are a happy memory, Elena Garcia and her team are just gearing up for their growing season. Garcia, a professor and extension fruit and nut specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is studying the use of high tunnels for winter and early spring strawberry harvest in Arkansas. Her research, which aims to extend the short, but sweet, strawberry growing season in Arkansas, is one of 18 nationwide to earn a grant as part of the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative. Arkansas once ranked among the nation’s top strawberry growers, but California and Florida have taken over the majority of production. Total U.S. strawberry production was valued at $2.4 billion in 2011.

This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Thornless Primocane- Fruiting Blackberry

prime-ark-blackberryPrime-Ark Freedom, a new variety developed by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is the world’s first thornless primocane-fruiting blackberry. Freedom is the fourth in the division’s Prime-Ark line of primocane-fruiting blackberries, which flower and fruit on each season’s new branches, called primocanes, said John R. Clark, Division of Agriculture fruit breeder. Most blackberries only bear fruit on second-season canes, known as floricanes. “This unique type of blackberry fruits on current-season canes and second-season canes, potentially providing for two cropping seasons,” Clark said. Information about all fruit varieties is available from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and can be found at http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/fruits-nuts/default.aspx

This article appears in the October 2013 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Glyphosate-Resistant Pigweed Project

Weed control Amaranth-pigweedPalmer amaranth, commonly known as pigweed, is one of the most common — and problematic — weeds in soybean crops across the southern United States. Because it is difficult to control, it is best to combat the weed before it emerges. The journal Weed Technology offers results of field tests of resistant Palmer amaranth in glyphosate-resistant soybean crops in Arkansas conducted over a two-year period. In this study, 250,000 glyphosate-resistant pigweed seeds were incorporated into the soil, and their emergence was evaluated five times during the growing season. Three farming practices were tested — deep tillage, planting a cover crop of rye and doublecropping a field with wheat and then soybeans in the same growing season.

This article appears in the October 2013 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Seed Selection: Starting Your Corn Seed Management System

GEM2008_FieldDay_RowsSeed selection is one of the most important tasks a sustainable farmer takes on every year, but knowing what seeds to save takes some experience and expertise.

First, one note: We are entering the science of genetics when selecting seed. Every trait of a corn variety is genetically driven.

Now, we know are primarily interested in harvesting the largest yields possible and must not allow your seed variety selection to place limitations upon your fields. From experience, we know that corn variety numbers vary greatly under certain conditions, and even in identical conditions they may differ in yields as much as 10 to 50 bushels per acre.

Every farmer has his favorite seed corn numbers that consistently produce well. The problem develops when he wants to select some new variety of number to replace some that appear to be playing out. The question becomes, how should he select a new number for test purposes? Does he choose the new number at the recommendation of a seed salesman simply because he is a friend who farms and sells seed as a sideline? Does he take the advice of a part-time salesperson or go elsewhere for advice? Continue Reading →