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Farm Scoop August 2012

by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties

Ever Heard of Aronia?

Aronia, also known as black chokecherry (Aronia melanocarpa), is a fruit-bearing shrub native to North America that grows well in Maine. There is increasing interest in Aronia as a food crop, and two Aronia Field Days have been planned for the northeast.   One is in Monmouth ME on Thursday, August 16, 2012, and another in Storrs, CT, Thursday August 9.  The Field Days are free, but pre-registration is required.  Pre-registration and more information are available online.

Spotted Wing Drosophila Update for Maine Fruit Growers

The first spotted wing drosophila of the 2012 season was found in a trap in Limington on Friday, July 13, 2012. Since that time, we have found spotted wing drosophila flies in traps at locations in Springvale, New Gloucester, Poland Spring, Mechanic Falls, Wales, Litchfield, Fayette, Thorndike and Warren. While we have not yet caught the flies at all of the locations where we are trapping, it would be best to assume that the fly is now fairly widespread and active through much of the state. Please refer to the Highmoor Farm blog for more information.

Merger of New Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Under Way

As the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation gets under way, a series of public stakeholder meetings have been scheduled to start this month. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Department of Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley encourage Maine citizens to participate in the public forums which are designed to gather suggestions, comments and ideas about the merger process.

Information about the meetings and the merger process can be found at the departmental merger initiative Web site that also includes an email address for comments. For more information about the public meetings contact Amy Higgins at (207) 287-2735 or Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156.

Current Pest Reports Available

Did you know that the University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes regular pest reports throughout the season? You can read current and recent issues of the Strawberry IPM newsletter, the Potato IPM newsletter, and the Sweet Corn IPM newsletter. MOFGA also offers a vegetable pest report.

2012 Potato Pest Guide is available online

The Potato Program team at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension provides information on potato production. They update the pesticide recommendations annually by May, more frequently if new products become labeled. This guide is not an exhaustive list of materials labeled on potatoes in Maine, but it is a list of recommended chemicals. Click here to find information on weeds, diseases or anything else related to raising potatoes in Maine.

Soil Biology Test Now Available

The University of Maine Analytical Lab just announced the availability of this non-chemical test that measures the microbial biomass and biological health of your soil. It is an extra $10 when you ask for a Standard or Comprehensive Soil Test. Beneficial microbes thrive on yearly additions of high quality organic matter (compost, manures, cover crops.) Recommendations on organic matter management are included. For more information and prices for the various tests, visit the UMaine Analytical Laboratory and Soil Testing Service Web site or call (207) 581-3591.

Interested in Helping Farmers Suffering from Drought?

Maine hay growers who are interested in sending hay out west to help farmers who are having problems with drought may connect with Loyd Wilson at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Mr. Wilson is trying to connect farmers in need with farmers with hay. Contact him by email  or phone (573) 751-5513.

Sustainable Ag Questions? Try ATTRA

Experts in sustainable agriculture are waiting to answer your questions at no charge! The service is one of the most popular offered by the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA). ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service. Farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, and educators, can contact our experts through their hotline phone service, which is offered both in English and Spanish, and by using the “Ask an Ag Expert” function on the ATTRA Web site. Their experts can offer help with issues pertaining to crops, livestock, soil, water, nutrients, marketing, farm energy, and many other topics. ATTRA also has more than 300 publications, most of which are available to download at no cost, an archive of recorded webinars, an ecological pest-management database, an internship database, job opportunities, workshop and conference calendars, sustainable ag news and newsletters, and more. The ATTRA hotline numbers are 800-346-9140 (English) and 800-411-3222 (Spanish) or explore the ATTRA Web site.

Well Water Testing

Arsenic, radon and uranium are very common in Maine. None have any distinctive smell or taste – the only way to know if they’re in water is to have the water tested. The Maine Center for Disease Control recommends that well owners have their water tested each year for bacteria and nitrates, and every 3 – 5 years for arsenic, radon, fluoride, uranium, radon, etc. The Maine CDC has produced an excellent brochure describing these recommendations. More information on well testing, a list of laboratories certified to do drinking water tests, and information on what to do if test results show problems can be found at the Maine CDC’s Web site.  The UMaine Extension Publications Web site also has several drinking water related publications.

Invasive Aquatic Plant Information Resources

Questions about invasive aquatic plants? You can contact the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, based in Auburn, at (207) 783-7733 for help in reporting and identifying suspicious aquatic plants. The Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton at (207) 647-8580; Maine Department of Environmental Protection at (207)287-7688; and the Maine Congress of Lake Associations (COLA) at 855-4-ME-COLA are additional educational resources for any questions or concerns regarding the health of Maine’s lakes.

Got Hay? Need Hay?

The Maine Hay Directory is a resource for people who need hay or have hay to sell. Check out the online directory or call your local Extension office for a copy.







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