IPM

Helping Connecticut Farmers Succeed: A Collaborative Journey

Billy Collins on farm
Billy Collins at Fair Weather Acres. Photo: Winter Caplanson

“Educating farmers in sustainable, profitable and environmentally-sound food production practices benefits every man, woman and child in the country directly, on a daily basis, by helping to maintain a safe and secure food source. Knowledge of effective IPM practices helps prevent excess application of pesticides by otherwise frustrated growers,” Jude Boucher says.

The name Jude Boucher is synonymous with vegetable production in Connecticut. Jude joined UConn Extension in 1986 as the Extension Educator for vegetable crops Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Jude provided cutting-edge solutions to growers on pest management and crop production problems, keeping them competitive on the local, regional, and national level. A multi-faceted approach is used in vegetable IPM that reaches a vast number of growers, not only in Connecticut, but; throughout the Northeast. During the growing season, Jude worked with numerous farms to improve their business and address crop issues as they arose. From conventional to organic farms, new farmers to experienced farmers; Jude worked with everyone and improved their economic viability and production.

Diversifying a Traditional Farm

Jude assisted Fair Weather Acres in Rocky Hill in diversifying and building resiliency to the challenges Mother Nature provided. The farm is over 800 acres along the Connecticut River. Jude advised Billy and Michele Collins on ways to diversify their marketing efforts and the number of crops they grow, after flooding from Hurricane Irene in 2011 washed away much of the crops, and left the farm in debt.

Originally, the farm received IPM training on three crops: beans, sweet corn, and peppers. With diversification, Billy began producing 55 different varieties of vegetables. Jude taught him pest management for his new crops, and the Collins hired an Extension-trained private consultant to help monitor and scout pests and implement new pest management techniques.

“I encouraged and advised Michele on developing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture on their farm and introduced them to other successful CSA farm operators,” Jude says. “Michele started the CSA with 120 members in 2012, and – through a variety of methods – has exceeded 500 summer CSA shares.”

Michele and Billy give back to Extension by speaking at state and regional conferences, hosting twilight meetings, research plots on their farm, and UConn student tours. “Jude has been an integral part of the growth and diversification of our farm. His extensive knowledge and passion for agriculture, coupled with his love of people and farmers in particular, made him an unrivaled asset to Connecticut agriculture,” Michele says. “Jude taught us, advised us, and offered us unlimited guidance in many areas including IPM, alternative farming concepts, marketing, and agribusiness just to name a few.”

Building a New Farm

Oxen Hill Farm is a family enterprise in West Suffield that began when the Griffin family inherited an idle hay and pasture farm with the intent of creating an organic vegetable and cut flower farm.

“Besides small-scale home vegetable and flower gardens, they had no experience operating a commercial vegetable and cut-flower business,” Jude says. “They signed up for training with me, and the first year, 2009, started with an acre of organic vegetables and cut flowers.”

Despite the challenges of their first year, they expanded their business in 2010, growing from 36 CSA members to over 150. Oxen Hill enlarged their acreage onto their parents’ home farm, to almost 20 acres of crops, and learned to grow everything from artichokes to zucchini. The farm continues to flourish.

Finding a Better Way

Jude worked with farmers throughout the region on deep zone tillage (DZT). “DZT allows a grower to prepare a narrow seedbed, only inches wide, rather than exposing the surface of the whole field to wind and rain,” Jude explains. “Farms can also till deeply, right under the crop row to loosen any hardpan that has formed after years of using a plow and harrow. This allows the soil to absorb and retain more water and allows the plants to extend their roots deeper into the soil. The system also improves soil quality over time.”

Due to his work, there are Extension programs in every New England state advocating the use of DZT, and over 45 growers in the region have switched to DZT. Although he retired in 2017, the work of Jude carries on in the farmers across the state. They organized a grower’s organization, and are looking forward to working with our new vegetable crops Extension educator, Shuresh Ghimire, who started on July 1st.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Vegetable IPM Class of 2016

IPM class
Photo credit: Jude Boucher

Each year, UConn Extension Educator Jude Boucher helps commercial vegetable growers find sustainable solutions to pest problems. The program emphasizes healthy soils, balanced plant nutrition, proper pest and beneficial identification, scouting and monitoring techniques, preventative management strategies, reduced-risk pesticide selection application, and resistance management.

Farmers apply to become part of the program, as space is limited to 12 farms per year. Those accepted into the program receive weekly, or every-other week farm visits from Jude, as he provides education and guidance for the specific challenges the farm is facing. This year’s farmers are from 9 different towns, with operations varying from 2 to 120 acres of vegetables, with over 40 different vegetable crops being grown.

“This group were all so young,” Jude says, “they gave me confidence that we do have some talented young farmers getting into the business and willing and able to take over for the next generation.”

Monitoring for Insects

Brazil internsIt may not be the Olympics, but we’ve been busy with Brazil too. Last week, Leanne Pundt visited Geremia’s Greenhouses in Wallingford to help train their interns on how to identify and monitor for insects on their yellow sticky cards. The interns are all from Brazil and part of The Ohio Program, an International Exchange Program of The Ohio State University specializing in Internships for Horticulture, Agriculture and Turf Grass.

Yellow sticky cards are used in greenhouses to monitor for winged insect pests such as whiteflies, thrips, fungus gnats, aphids, shore flies, and leafminers and leafhoppers. Growers can look at trends and see if insect populations are increasing or decreasing to determine if they need to treat and how well their management strategies are working. For more see: Identifying Some Pest and Beneficial Insects on Your Sticky Cards http://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/view.php?id=888

Interns were: Giovane Giorgetti, Thales Fogagnoli, and Paulo Boaretto (holding the reference book).

Did You Know: Urban Agriculture

Learning in the Field and the Classroom

farmers market
Urban agriculture students at the Danbury Farmers Market.

Students in the Urban Agriculture and IPM Training program completed 180 hours of classroom instruction, and volunteered 1,603 hours. Volunteer time was spent working on the farm preparing the land, building raised garden beds, planting and maintaining an acre of organic vegetables, and selling produce at the Danbury Farmer’s Market.

“We have learned to work as a team, and to grow organic vegetables. We learned to cultivate vegetables the right way,” says Juan Guallpa, a student in the urban agriculture class of 2014.

From April through October of 2015, students produced more than 10 different vegetables and herbs including spinach, cilantro, dill, basil, carrots, beets, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, squash, radishes, and cabbage. Through the program, more than 4,000 pounds of locally produced, organic vegetables were distributed among 150 low-income families.

The group of students is creating a non-profit organization to continue promoting urban agriculture among Hispanics.

Vegetable IPM Program

Jude Boucher of our Vegetable Crops Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program has had a busy summer. He helps commercial vegetable growers find sustainable solutions to pest problems. The program emphasizes healthy soils, balanced plant nutrition, proper pest and beneficial identification, scouting and monitoring techniques, preventative management strategies, reduced-risk pesticide selection and application, and resistance management. This summer he worked with farmers across the state, including Daffodil Hill Growers in Southbury and the Enfield Prison. Daffodil Hill Growers is part of UConn Extension’s Scaling Up for Beginning Farmers program.

Sara in greenhouse
Sara Blersch of Daffodil Hill Growers. Jude Boucher photos.
Dan in high tunnel
Dan Slywka of Daffodil Hill Growers

IPM at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford

Through its offices located throughout Connecticut, UConn Extension connects the power of UConn research to local issues by creating practical, science-based answers to complex problems. Extension provides scientific knowledge and expertise to the public in areas such as: economic viability, business and industry, community development, agriculture and natural resources. This post, written by Mary Concklin explores how UConn Extension programs impact an agricultural business.

tomatoesIntegrated pest management (IPM) takes many forms at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford. Dr. Jude Boucher, UConn Vegetable Production & IPM extension specialist, has been working with Bishop’s in season long vegetable IPM training aimed at increasing the production of high quality produce while avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications. Boucher has worked with Bishop’s field manager, Michaele Williams, scouting tomatoes on a weekly basis and teaching how to install preventative practices that help lower the incidence of disease and raise the yield and quality of their tomatoes. Preventative practices include plastic and living mulches for weed control, which also serve as a mechanical barrier for spores that might otherwise splash up from the soil. Timely irrigations through trickle lines under the plastic, trellis systems, plant pruning, and proper site selection help keep the plants healthy and growing, lift the plants off the ground, thin the leaf canopy and allow the leaves to dry quicker so that they are less prone to diseases problems. Fungicides can be used only when needed and applied when computer models call for an application or when a disease is actually found during weekly scouting. Insects on tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, onions and other crops are controlled with microbial insecticides that are not toxic to humans and spare natural enemies to help prevent future pest outbreaks. Working with Extension also helps Michaele learn to recognize pests and natural enemies and design management systems on a host of new crops that the farm is now growing, from squash blossoms to beets.

hcrs-rainwise-newa-qb85976-20140225
NEWA weather station. Photo: Mary Concklin

Mary Concklin, UConn Fruit Production & IPM extension specialist, works with Bishop’s Orchards with fruit crop IPM. Bishop’s Orchard has been the site of in-field workshops conducted by Concklin for the fruit industry including blueberry pruning and apple tree grafting. Blueberry pruning is important for maintaining plant health, improving berry production, and reducing pest problems, while grafting is an important tool used to top work fruit trees to varieties that are more productive, more marketable or resistant to particular diseases. Through a USDA Specialty Crop grant, Concklin installed a solar powered weather station whose data feeds directly into the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) at Cornell University. The data, run through pest models and accessible at www.newa.cornell.edu, is used by growers to help with pest management, irrigation and fruit thinning decisions. Concklin, in cooperation with Bishop’s Orchards and the USDA, has also been using pheromone traps to monitor for the presence of the new invasive insect pest, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. In addition she has monitored the bramble crops for the presence of the Spotted Wing Drosophila, another new invasive insect pest. Information garnered from these activities has been useful to the Bishop’s in determining management strategies.

Extension Educator Honored

Boucher Receives 2015 AAUP Service Excellence Award

Boucher
Jude Boucher on a Connecticut vegetable farm.

It was recently announced that Jude Boucher will be receiving the Service Excellence Award from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on April 6th at a ceremony in the Old Appropriations room of the State Capitol building in Hartford.

Jude is the Extension Educator for vegetable crops integrated pest management (IPM). His objectives are to provide Connecticut and New England vegetable growers with cutting-edge solutions to their pest management and crop production problems to keep them competitive on the local, regional and national level. IPM is a sustainable approach to managing pests, including insects, weeds, and diseases. IPM practitioners base decisions on information that is collected systematically as they integrate economic, environmental and societal goals. This flexible program can accommodate the changing goals of agriculture, commerce, and society by using biological controls, cultural control, mechanical control, chemical control and others.

Through his sustainable agriculture work with vegetable growers, Jude keeps Connecticut producers current on the most innovative agricultural technology to ensure farm profitability and economic viability of the industry. The positive benefit of his work extends beyond the farm, to the families, products, consumers and the environment.

Jude’s professional service to the agriculture industry, outreach efforts on behalf of UConn Extension and leadership in the department have been exemplary. His contributions have led to program excellence in vegetable production throughout the region. Through his work, vegetable producers have developed more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices that will enhance their economic viability for generations. To many Connecticut residents, Jude is the face of UConn. Congratulations Jude for receiving the 2015 AAUP Service Excellence Award.

 

Growing Container-Grown Greenhouse Vegetables

small green tomatoUConn Extension is sponsoring, Growing Container-Grown Greenhouse Vegetables  on Dec 16, 2014 at the  Litchfield County Extension Center, 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT.  

 

The speakers featured at this educational program include:

 

9:00-9:30         Registration

9:30 – 10:30     Growing Greenhouse Tomatoes and Cucumbers in Soiless Media

                                Richard McAvoy, Professor of Horticulture, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

 

10:30 – 10:45   Break

 

10:45–11:45     Growing Bench Top Salad Greens

                                Brian Krug, Extension Specialist, Greenhouse & Floriculture, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

 

11:45-12:45       Diseases of Greenhouse Vegetables

                               Yonghao Li, Plant Pathologist, CT Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT

 

12:45-1:30        Lunch

 

 1:30–2:30       How Connecticut Grown Labeling Catches Customer Attention & Impacts Decision Making

                              Ben Campbell, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

2:30–3:00      Food Safety for Greenhouse Vegetables

                             Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH, RD, UConn Extension Educator, University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension, New Haven, CT

 

3:00 – 4:00    Grower To Grower Panel

                            Ben March, March Farms, Bethlehem, CT and Bruce Gresczyk Jr., Gresczyk Farms, New Hartford, CT

 

4.75 Pesticide Recertification Credits have been approved for private applicators

A registration fee of $25 is due by December 8th payable by check only to the University of Connecticut.   Included in the cost of admission:  coffee, lunch and informational handouts.

4.75 pesticide recertification credits will be offered for attendees in CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, and VT.

For more information contact:  Leanne Pundt at leanne.pundt@uconn.edu or call 860-626-6855 or visit the website: http://ipm.uconn.edu   or Click here for the registration form.