October 11, 2010

Contacts: Amy Ivy, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 518-561-7450; Dr. Thomas Bjorkman, Cornell University, 315-787-2218

The Hot Topic” Field Days Set for Nov. 8-10 for Northern NY Vegetable Growers

“Using cover crops is THE hot topic for Northern New York vegetable growers this fall,” says Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Clinton County Executive Director and Horticulture Educator Amy Ivy.

Ivy has helped organize three field day opportunities for November 8-10 to offer regional vegetable growers the opportunity to learn the latest practice for improving soil health, reducing soil disease, recovering nitrogen and reducing nitrogen purchasing.

Cornell University Associate Professor of Vegetable Crop Physiology Thomas Bjorkman will present information on research evaluating the use of cover crops in the cabbage family, including five types of mustards, tillage radishes, forage turnips and rapeseed. Two late season plantings of the crops have been established at three sites in Northern NY.

Bjorkman says, “These crops are inexpensive to try and have the potential to return big in terms of soil health, which, in turn, impacts crop quality and yield. I am keen on seeing how we can fine tune what we know from trials with these cool-season cover crops in Western New York and the Great Lakes region to fit the cooler, shorter growing season of Northern New York.”

Participants in the 1-3pm programs on:
• Monday, November 8 at the Cornell University EV Baker Agricultural Research Farm in Willsboro;
• Tuesday, November 9 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Extension Learning Farm in Canton; and
• Wednesday, November 10 at the Juczak Farm in the Woodhenge Sustainable Living Community in Adams Center,
will discuss the latest data on the benefits, drawbacks, and optimal timing and management of each cover crop. The growers will tour the local field trial, and receive free seed samples, fact sheets, and a copy of the new “Crop Rotation on Organic Farms Planning Manual.”

Using fall-planted brassicas (mustard varieties) as cover crops is a relatively new practice for vegetable growers in the Northeast. The crops will have special value to organic growers.

“These cover crops grow well in the fall after the farmers have pulled their last cash crop. They are effective at suppressing a number of soil diseases and are an especially good complement for tomatoes and peppers,” Bjorkman says.

Vegetables need a good supply of nitrogen right up to harvesting and the cover crops under evaluation on the Northern New York are known to be very good for recovering nitrogen left behind after harvest, going as deep as six feet.

“Some farmers have been able to recover as much as 100 lbs. of nitrogen per acre with the right late season planting practices. That’s a lot of nitrogen, so even if we can recover a part of that that can translate to cost savings for Northern New York growers and it’s worth trying,” Bjorkman says.

The $15 field day program cost includes the new cover crop planning manual, fact sheets series, 4 lbs of seed, and refreshment.

Growers can register for the November 8 program in Willsboro with Amy Ivy, CCE Clinton County, 315-561-7450; for the November 9 program in Canton with Stephen Canner, CCE St. Lawrence County, 315-379-9192; and for the November 10 program in Adams Center with Roz Cook, CCE Jefferson County, 315-788-8450. The Towards Sustainability Foundation in Ithaca, NY, has provided project funding.

Learn more about horticultural crop production in Northern New York and link to the New York cover crop decision-making covercrop.net resource tool at www.nnyagdev.org. #