May 2024 Crop Talk

The May 2024 issue of Crop Talk is available. The issue includes the following articles:

  • Managing Aphids on Vegetable Transplants
  • Can Biochar be a Sustainable Soil Amendment for CT Farms?
  • Spring Fungal Disease Outlook for Fruit Growers
  • Soil Steaming for Pest Management
  • Sweet Corn Pest ID & Trapping

2024 Online Vegetable Production Certificate Course

We’re offering a Vegetable Production Certificate Course, beginning on February 25th 2024. It is a fully online course for new and beginning farmers who have 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants will learn answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farm, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing. The price of the course is $149. 

Please contact the course coordinator, Shuresh Ghimire (, 860-870-6933) with any questions about this course.

Registration deadline: February 19, 2024

Register at

Course Description

This vegetable production course is designed to benefit beginner vegetable producers who have 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants will learn answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farm, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing.

  • The course consists of seven online modules, each of which include a self-paced video, supplemental material, and a short quiz.
  • The slides presented in the video are also provided in a downloaded PDF file for note-taking and future reference.
  • The supplemental materials are great addition to your personal reference library and valuable resources for all farmers.
  • The module quizzes are designed to test your knowledge of the key points within the specific module.
  • Each module is expected to take you approximately one hour to complete, although this varies by user.

Course Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Develop a farm business plan, which will help you keep records, manage time more effectively, and price products.
  • Explain the characteristics of a suitable site for commercial vegetable crop production and adjust as needed.
  • Perform soil sampling protocols for nutrient analysis.
  • Explain full season tasks involved in vegetable farming including planting, in-season care, harvesting, and post-harvest considerations for some warm-season and cool-season vegetables.
  • Scout and identify biotic and abiotic issues.
  • Explain tools for season extension.
  • Understand different strategies, resources, options, and models for direct-to-consumer retail.
  • Identify additional reliable and fact-based informational resources on topics related to vegetable farming.

Table of Contents

  1. Pretest: 25 questions
  2. Farm business planning: Developing a farm business plan and enterprise budgeting
  3. Plan and prepare for vegetable farm: Site selection, soil test, and cover crops
  4. Warm season vegetables: Crop selection, planting to harvesting and post-harvest management
  5. Cool-season vegetables: Crop selection, planting to harvesting and post-harvest management
  6. Identification of pests and abiotic problems: Identification of diseases, insects, nutritional and other issues
  7. Season extension: Differences among low, caterpillar, and high tunnel; Opportunities and challenges in high tunnel growing; Micro-environment management
  8. Marketing: Different strategies, resources, options, and models for direct-to-consumer retail.
  9. Post-test: 25 questions

Course Dates (2024)

While this is an asynchronous course which you may work through at your own pace between Feb 25 and Apr 7, a recommended class schedule is listed below:

Feb 25 – 29      – Complete the Online pre-test (pre-course quiz)

Mar 1 – 4                 – Module 1 – Farm Business Planning

March 5 – 9             – Module 2 – Planning and preparing for a vegetable farm

Mar 10 – 14             – Module 3 – Warm Season Vegetables

Mar 15 – 19             – Module 4 – Cool Season Vegetables

Mar 20 – 24           – Module 5 – ID Pest and Abiotic Problems

Mar 25 – 29           – Module 6 – Season Extension

Mar 30 – Apr 3    – Module 7 – Marketing

Apr 4 –  7               – Complete the post-test

Course Instructors

Abby Beissinger, Former Assistant Extension Educator, UConn

Bruce Gresczyk Jr., Gresczyk Farms

Jiff Martin, Extension Educator, UConn

Joe Bonelli, Associate Extension Educator, UConn

Kip Kolesinskas, Consulting Conservation Scientist

Shuresh Ghimire, Assistant Extension Educator, UConn

Steve Munno, Massaro Community Farm


Please contact the course coordinator, Shuresh Ghimire (, 860-870-6933) with any questions about this course.

Climate Smart Mitigation & Adaptation Workshop

lettuce transplantsClimate Smart Mitigation & Adaptation Strategies Workshop

Wednesday, December 6th – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This UConn Extension workshop, in partnership with USDA RMA, will assist producers in understanding the seasonal risks, challenges and opportunities associated with our changing climate. We will outline many of the strategies that have emerged for:

  1. Successful adaptation
  2. Reducing risks
  3. Build farm and land resiliency

Examples and tools suitable for a wide variety of kinds and farms sizes will be included.

You will be provided with a template and tools to:

Participants will also learn of tools and programs available from USDA RMA, USDA FSA, USDA NRCS, and the CT Department of Agriculture.

Lunch will be provided free of cost.

Location: UConn Extension – Middlesex County, 1066 Saybrook Road, Haddam, CT

Register by December 5th to reserve your spot –

Download the program flier.

UConn complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination, equal opportunity, affirmative action, and providing reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Contact: Office of Institutional Equity; (860) 486- 2943;;

This material/event is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RMA23CPT0013448

June 2023 Crop Talk

Crop Talk cover image

The June 2023 issue of Crop Talk is available. The issue includes the following articles:

  • Beware of Hopperburn!
  • Newly Registered Pesticides for Vegetable Production in Connecticut
  • Understanding Spring Frosts: Critical Temperatures, Freeze Injury, and Frost Protection in Connecticut Fruit Orchards

UConn Extension’s Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference and Trade Show PDFs

The 2023 CT Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers’ Conference was held Wednesday, January 4. Please find below the PDF versions of the presentations. We hope to see you again in 2024!

Drone Imaging to Monitor Potato Leafhopper Damage in the Field

Vegetable benefits and disease control of nanotechnology

Strawberry Systems at Brookdale Fruit Farm

Nourse: Strawberry Plug vs Bare Root

Vegetable Twilight Meeting at Cold Spring Brook Farm, Sept. 2022

UConn Extension held a Vegetable Twilight Meeting at Cold Spring Brook Farm in Berlin, Connecticut on September 21, 2022. The video below is a recording of the meeting, and the handouts shared are also included.


Handout 1 – Uneven Ripening in High Tunnel Tomatoes

Handout 2 – Models and Data

Handout 3 – Biodegradable Mulch

Twilight Meeting Recording

Our work with high tunnel vegetable production is supported by USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Award # NR203A750008G009/Subaward # 0008145/07132020, and our work with biodegradable plastic mulch is supported by USDA Crop Protection Pest Management Program Grants # 2021-70006-35582 and 2017-70006-27201.

2021 IPM Annual Report is Available

IPM annual report cover

The 2021 IPM Annual Report is available. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program is a collaboration between UConn Extension and the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture. Since its inception in 1980, the UConn IPM Program has made great strides in developing and implementing sustainable methods for pest control throughout Connecticut. Integrated Pest Management applies multiple tactics in a variety of settings through the selection of appropriate tools and the education of agricultural industry members and Connecticut citizens to provide sustainable, science-based approaches for the management of plant pests (insects, mites, diseases, wildlife, and weeds, including invasive plants). The UConn IPM Program incorporates all possible crop management and pest management strategies through knowledgeable decision-making, utilizing the most efficient landscape and on-farm resources, and integrating cultural and biological controls. Program objectives include maintaining the economic viability of agricultural and green industry businesses, enhancing and conserving environmental quality and natural resources, educating participants on the effective use of cultural practices to mitigate pest problems, of biological control agents, and educating pesticide users about bee and other pollinator safe materials, least toxic options, and the safe use and handling of organic and synthetic pesticide products. The 2021 IPM Program Team included Mary Concklin (fruit and IPM Coordinator), Leanne Pundt (greenhouse), Victoria Wallace (school, invasive, pollinators, turf and landscape), Ana Legrand (vegetables), Shuresh Ghimire (vegetables and hemp), and Nick Goltz (diagnostician, hired August 2021). 

The goal of IPM is to reduce the dependence of agricultural producers and green industry professionals, Connecticut citizens, and schools on pesticides while maintaining or improving productivity, crop quality, and quality of life. The IPM Program has educated growers statewide about the judicious and safe use of organic and synthetic pesticides and alternative pest control methods. 

Broader adoption of IPM practices enhances responsible pest management and reduced management and production costs; minimizes adverse environmental and economic effects from pests and pest management; results in improved ecosystem quality and plant performance; and improves plant health, quality, yields, and aesthetics. The use of IPM includes cultural controls; biological control agents; biological fungicides; physical and mechanical controls; the use of resistant cultivars; regulatory controls; behavioral modification; and, only when necessary, chemical controls, with the selection of least toxic products. IPM partners and collaborators include State and Federal agricultural and environmental/non-governmental agencies and organizations; State, New England, and Northeastern fruit, greenhouse, grounds keepers, nursery, turf, landscape, and vegetable associations; industry suppliers/dealers; regional universities; educators; schools and municipalities; individual growers, farmers, and producers; Master Gardeners; and the general public. 

COVID-19 impacted many outreach programs usually conducted face-to-face beginning in 2020, with continuing restrictions due to the Delta variant in 2021. However, our team members continued to adapt and offered many programs virtually, with a few in-person as well as in-person site visits with safety protocols in place and adhered to. In pre-Covid years, IPM Program team members conduct intensive on-site educational training for fruit and vegetable producers, garden center owners, greenhouse growers, nursery producers and retailers, and turf and landscape professionals. Growers and green industry professionals receive information on the current status of and recommendations for important plant pests and training via pest messages, email alerts, webinars, newsletters, articles in national trade journals, management guides, websites, social media, consultations and counseling via phone and text, site visits to their operations, workshops, field demonstrations and research projects, conferences, exhibits, and short courses. IPM programs are evaluated through pre- and/or post-program surveys and evaluations, needs assessment surveys, focus groups, key informant interviews, testimonials, and unsolicited comments. Read the full report.

Online Ornamental & Turf Short Course Available

Registration for the 2021 Fall ONLINE Ornamental & Turf Short Course is open. This eight week course starts on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. Live virtual meetings and reviews will be held on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 – 7:00pm. Each week a new learning module will be presented along with a review of the past week.
Please read the attached Course Description for more important details and information before registering.
The registration fee is $375 and can only be done online, at this link, with a credit card. down to Ornamental & Turf Short Course. Please register as a guest. Please note, the last day to register is October 10, 2021.

Disinfecting Used Tomato Stakes

Wooden stakes are a place where the bacterial pathogens that plague tomatoes can survive between crops. In fact, stakes from a tomato planting where research was conducted on bacterial diseases have been used as a source of the pathogen for subsequent experiments! Therefore, it is prudent for growers to disinfect stakes that were in a field where a bacterial disease occurred last year. This step is worthwhile even if there is uncertainty about occurrence considering how difficult bacterial diseases are to manage. There are three bacterial diseases of concern on tomato: speck, spot and canker. Bacterial canker is sufficiently destructive that discarding stakes is recommended after an outbreak. Before the field season is in full swing often presents an opportunity to find time for disinfecting stakes.

Step one in disinfecting anything is removing as much dirt and debris as possible because this can protect pathogens and de-activate disinfectant. Therefore start by hosing down used tomato stakes.

Clorox or other household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) is commonly used as an agricultural disinfectant, although quarternary ammonium chloride, detailed below, is a better choice. Use bleach at a rate of 0.5% (=1 part bleach + 9 parts water). And use in a well-ventilated area. Soak stakes for 30 minutes.

While bleach is highly effective, it is short-lived after mixing in water, with a half-life of only 2 hours, and it is especially prone to being inactivated by organic matter, thus pre-cleaning is critical. A disinfectant containing quarternary ammonium chloride salts like Green-Shield is more stable than bleach after diluting with water. Use at 1 tablespoon (=0.5 fl oz) of Green-Shield in 1 gallon water. While this disinfecting solution will be more stable than bleach, it should not be used more than 24 hours after preparation.

Organic growers typically use a disinfecting solution with hydrogen dioxide or peroxide as the active ingredient, such as an OxiDate or SaniDate mixture. Check the labeled rate on the formulation you choose, as initial strengths will vary.

Regardless of the sanitizer, you need to soak stakes for at least 10 minutes to allow sanitizer to penetrate into the porous wood surface.      

 -CDB, edits by CLS

Originally published by Cornell Cooperative Extension Weekly Vegetable Update, April 4, 2013.

Vegetable IPM Program

Program Leader: Shuresh Ghimire, Assistant Extension Educator

Weekly Vegetable Pest Alert Weekly vegetable pest alerts focusing on pests, pest management and decision making, and safe pesticide use were delivered to over 600 subscribers via the UConn Extension Vegetable IPM Program listserv from May to September 2020. Starting in mid-July, the vegetable pest alerts were also available in Spanish. These pest alerts are also posted on UConn IPM website Vegetable Pest Messages.

“Thanks to your advice this past June we saved our garlic crop (most of it) from white rot.” Grower comment.

Vegetable Production Certificate Course

In spring of 2020, our Vegetable Program launched an online Vegetable Production Certificate course for the first time with an objective to effectively deliver information to beginner vegetable producers, especially when in-person interactions are limited. The course had seven online modules, each module with a self-paced video, supplemental materials, and a short quiz. This course was designed to benefit beginner vegetable producers with 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants learned answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farming, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing. In the post-course evaluation survey (total number of course participants = 23), respondents indicated an average 34% increase in their knowledge from the course.

Mashantucket Pequot Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and UConn Extension have been collaborating thanks to a USDA Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program to enhance agricultural production, food security, and health of tribal community members. An Extension program involving several specialists in vegetable and fruit production, farm business management, marketing, youth development, health and nutrition, communications, evaluation and assessment is working with the MPTN on their goals. The major outcomes of the project in 2020 are listed below:

  • Increased diversity of crops and production at the MPTN farm.
  • Improved consumption of locally grown produce by the MPTN community members.
  • Improved marketability and increased revenue from farm produce. The revenue from the farm produce increased from $2,600 in 2019 to $5,500 in 2020.
  • Improved the storage capacity and marketability of the farm produce.
  • Utilized more tools of integrated pest management compared to previous years.
  • The MPTN farm is now better equipped to continue production and expand the farm compared to previous years.
  • MPTN farm products are being sold at local supermarkets.

“This grant has helped us bring back a lot of traditional ceremonies because we are able to grow these things with the money that we didn’t potentially have before the grant was offered us”.

Jeremy Whipple, a MPTN member.

UConn Team Members: Shuresh Ghimire (April 2019-present), Mary Concklin (2017-April 2019), Joseph Bonelli, Miriah Kelly (2017-August 2020), and Michael Puglisi. Funding: USDA-FRTEP

Soil-biodegradable plastic mulch professional development training

UConn Extension partnered with Washington State University and University of Tennessee to organize the soilbiodegradable plastic mulch professional development trainings to educate extension personnel, industry representatives, and other agricultural service providers regarding soil-biodegradable plastic mulch so they can provide this information to growers. Two professional development trainings were held for agriculture professionals in northeastern US, and for members of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). All participants found the training to be informative. In the northeastern US webinar, 27% of participants felt they learned a lot from the training session and 41% learned some new information (N = 58, n = 38). In the ASHS webinar, 48% of participants learned a lot from the training session and 48% of participants learned some new information (N = 30, n = 21).

Hemp Growers Conference and Trade Show

Feb 26, 2020, Maneeley’s Conference Center, South Windsor, CT In February of 2020, UConn Extension partnered with USDA NRCS and CT Resource Conservation and Development to organize the Connecticut Hemp Conference and Trade Show. The goal of the conference was to bring together farmers, agricultural suppliers, and regulatory agencies interested in the hemp industry. The conference covered healthy soils practices, local policy and regulations, Connecticut field trial results, as well as innovative production markets. The speakers from UConn included Candace Bartholomew, Chris Perkins, Gerry Berkowitz, and Jessica Lubell-Brand. The event was a valuable resource for local producers and farmers seeking connections in the state as well as knowledge about local issues and opportunities.

The meeting was attended by 255 current and prospective hemp growers and 32 vendors. Thirty-one participants (12%) completed the evaluation form. Of those that completed the evaluation forms, 82% rated Excellent or Good for the amount of new information they learned at the conference.