Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Minnesota Statewide High Tunnel Conference in Baxter, MN

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (1/15/2015)—University of Minnesota Extension is leading a 2015 Minnesota Statewide High Tunnel Conference, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 17 and 18, at The Arrowwood Lodge At Brainerd Lakes, Baxter, MN. High tunnels (HT), also called hoop houses, are temporary structures that extend the growing season.

A Beginning High Tunnel Grower Workshop with a “Basics of High Tunnel Production” session will be held the morning of the first day, Tuesday, February 17, from 8:00 a.m. to noon for beginning growers and those needing a review. The main conference will begin at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday and run through Wednesday afternoon, February 18.

Keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Steve Bogash, Penn State Extension Educator. Steve will present four different topics:
  • Advances in HT Tomato Production: Techniques, Varieties, Nutrition, and Pest Management
  • Mechanization of Ventilation in HT
  • Advances in HT Bell Pepper Production
  • Advances in HT Cucumber Production: Techniques, Varieties, Nutrition, and Pest Management.
In addition to the keynote topics, main conference topics include:
  • Understanding Spider Mites and Other HT Insects
  • Fruit Production in HT
  • Oxygen Drip Tape Injection Research
  • Understanding Your HT Irrigation Water: Putting It Into Your Total Plan
  • Do Colored Ground Plastics Make a Difference in HT Production?
  • Effective Pest Scouting and Control Methods, and HT Sprayer Technology
  • Current University of Minnesota Research with HT Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant Diseases
  • Understanding HT Ventilation in Detail
  • Current University of Minnesota Research with Winter Production in HT
  • Cover Crops in HT

A new feature this year will be irrigation water testing. Participating growers are encouraged to bring a sample of their irrigation water with them to the conference for free analysis. Water samples (one cup per well; one cup per container) can be placed in a clean self-sealing bag or clean container with lid. One self-sealing bag inside of another works well. Bring samples to day one of the conference.

For more information or to request a brochure and registration form contact Sue Schuler at the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office, Grand Rapids, MN at 218-327-5958 (ext. 3001) or; or visit the High Tunnel website at

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Extension, FSA add extra 2014 Farm Bill crops education seminars

ST. PAUL, Minn.  (Jan. 14, 2015)—Due to high demand, University of Minnesota Extension and the Farm Service Agency will offer seven educational seminars to help crops producers choose options necessitated by the 2014 Farm Bill programs.

In addition, online instruction is available to guide both crops producers and landowners through decision-making required by the new farm bill. Visit for videos and printable materials.     

Registration is not required. Newly added programs, and phone contacts for more information, are:

·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 27, Freeport Community Center, 307 Seventh St. SE, Freeport,  (320) 836-2526
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Jan. 28, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, 1501 State St., Marshall, (507) 537-7110
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 3, Courtyard Marriott, 901 Raintree Road, Mankato, (507) 388-1234
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 4, Rochester International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Dr. SW, Rochester, (507) 529-0033
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 4, Bede Ballroom (second floor, Sargeant Student Center), University of Minnesota Crookston, (218) 281-6510
·         9:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 5, Bigwood Event Center, Fergus Falls, (218) 739-2211
·         1 to 3:30 p.m., Feb. 5, University of Minnesota Continuing Education and Conference Center, 1890 Buford Ave., St. Paul, (612) 624-3275

Crop producers have until March 31, 2015 to make decisions required by the farm bill, including the choice among three new risk management programs. They will be locked into a decision that lasts five years. Landowners have until Feb. 27, to complete the base reallocation and yield updates.

The farm bill repeals several previous programs, including direct payments for most crops. It covers the following crops grown in Minnesota: corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, canola, sunflowers, oats, sorghum, lentils, dry peas, garbanzo beans and flax.

The farm bill designates the extension arm of land-grant universities nationwide as the education provider for producers. To learn more, visit Extension’s 2014 Farm Bill page at

Minnesota Grown Directory seeking new members

          ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is updating its popular, statewide, Minnesota Grown Directory filled with direct to consumer farms and farmers markets. Membership and Directory listing are open to Minnesota producers who grow or raise products. The 2014 edition promoted 978 farms and farmers markets. Minnesota Grown has more than 1,200 members including fruit and vegetable farms, livestock producers, farmers markets, CSA farms, orchards, garden centers, farm wineries, Christmas tree growers and more.

170,000 copies of the Minnesota Grown Directory are released annually in April and distributed statewide in tourist centers, libraries, chambers of commerce, farms, and retailers. Farms who advertise in the printed Directory are also included in the online edition, which was redesigned and had more than 290,000 unique visitors in 2014. The new, mobile friendly, website was improved to simplify searches for Minnesota products and farms.

“The demand for local foods has increased dramatically the last few years,” said Ag Marketing Specialist with the Minnesota Grown Program, Jessica Miles. “Our Directory is the most comprehensive and commonly used guide to local foods and plants available in Minnesota. It’s also becoming an excellent resource for family activity ideas and learning opportunities.”

While memberships are accepted year-round, farms must sign up or call Jessica Miles by February 6, 2015 to be included in the 2015 printed Directory.

“For $60 farmers can get an entire year’s worth of advertising both online and in print,” said Miles. “They’ll also have access to other great Minnesota Grown member-only benefits, such as use of the trademarked logo and FREE stickers, price cards and other promotional items. Just don’t delay and call right away because the deadline to be included in the printed Directory is February 6, 2015.”

Potential new members may sign up and pay online by clicking on the “Members & Retailers” tab at, then clicking on “Become a Member” or contact Jessica Miles at 651-201-6170, to request an application by mail or with questions.