Cornell Vegetable Program Enrollment

Program Areas

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  • Variety Evaluation
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  • Pest Management
  • Cultural Practices

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  • VegEdge Newsletter
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  • Educational Meetings & Conferences
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  • On-Farm Research Trials

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Soil Health

Soil HealthExcess rains and droughts of the past decade pointed out the poor health and productivity of soils on many local vegetable farms. Coupled with high fuel prices and high fertilizer prices, growers have been eager to improve their soil management efforts. Reduced tillage leads to less fuel use and legume cover crops allow the farmer to grow nitrogen fertilizer, reducing their need for conventional fertilizer and the fuel and labor to apply it.

The Cornell Soil Health Test can be used to determine your field's soil management for percentage of water-stable aggregates. A soil with low % water-stable aggregates has  poor crop emergence, more crusting, more runoff, reduced root growth, increased root diseases, and fewer beneficial microbes to cycle soil nutrients.

Vegetable farms using conventional tillage and few cover crops had an average of just 18% water-stable aggregates, while farms using reduced tillage or extensive cover cropping averaged 36-39%. Innovative growers are now beginning to adopt both strategies to improve soils even more.

In addition, the Cornell Vegetable Program is working with a number of conventional and organic vegetable growers on increasing the use of a wide range of cover crops to fill open niches in rotations to improve soil health and grow nitrogen.






Relevant Event

2018 Empire State Producers EXPO

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 16 - January 18, 2018
Morning, Mid-day, and Afternoon Sessions
Syracuse, NY

Most Recent Soil Health Content

Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

Darcy Telenko, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 19, 2016
Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

One challenge to adding cover crops to your vegetable production system is that herbicides with residual activity may interfere with cover crop establishment and growth. Residual herbicides are a key management tool in vegetable production, especially for management of difficult weeds and their potential to help control herbicide-resistant weeds. Here are some questions to consider when utilizing a cover crop and how well it will work with your herbicide program.

Video: Moving a High Tunnel

Cordelia Machanoff, Program Aide
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: May 19, 2016
Video: Moving a High Tunnel

Vegetable farmers have embraced the use of high tunnels to enhance productivity and quality of warm weather crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers. Growers meeting the demand for fresh market produce through high tunnel production face a unique set of soil management challenges. Intensive cropping minimizes opportunities for fallow periods, cover cropping and other techniques for maintaining soil health and fertility. The plastic covering prevents rain from leaching the profile, leading to excess salts and alkalinity. By choosing a moveable tunnel design, like the one in this video, a grower can grow a protected crop continuously while allowing for fallow periods, cover cropping and movement of excess salts through the soil profile. Moveable tunnels can be moved laterally (as shown) or pulled lengthwise to cover an already established crop (ie. move the tunnel from summer tomatoes over fall greens).

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: August 17, 2015
Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

This website enables growers to use a broader range of cover crops to improve soil health in many ways. Cover crop descriptions, seeding, seed sources, cost and management challenges are included.





More Soil Health Content

Living Mulch Project Update
Soil Health Grant Offers Cover Crop Evaluations and the Cornell Soil Health Test
SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation
Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures
Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables
2009 Elba Muck Soil Nutrient Survey Summary
Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production
more crops
Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

more crops
view calendar of events

Upcoming Events

CANCELLED: Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) / Harmonized GAPs Farm Food Safety Training

September 26 - September 27, 2017
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Salamanca, NY

This event has been cancelled due to low registration numbers. Farm food safety is common-sense practices organized to assist farmers to improve their skill set to continue to grow safe and healthy food.

Day One of this training will be an educational training on farm food safety principles and practices to provide the background and information for farmers to understand how to minimize the risk of food born disease contamination. Day Two will be for those who want help with writing a farm food safety plan.
view details

Pickle Variety Twilight Meeting

September 26, 2017
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Ransomville, NY

Vegetable growers are invited to tour an on-farm plot of early generation Cornell downy mildew resistant pickle breeding lines. Dr. Michael Mazourek, Professor of Plant Breeding, and lab members, will be on site to walk growers through the plot and review plant selections. All growers that attend will be an integral part of helping make selections for the next generation of pickle varieties released!
view details

Season Extension - Stretching Tomato Season and Winter Greens

October 4, 2017
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Allegany, NY

What do you need to do to stretch out your high tunnel tomato season or establish a profitable crop of winter greens? Meeting the full season's nutritional demands of tomatoes under organic management is challenging. Juggling diverse succession crops and keeping the tunnel profitable year round adds an extra level of difficulty. 
view details
view calendar of events

Announcements

Produce Donations for Hurricane Relief

The ENY Commercial Horticulture Program is leading an effort to collect pallets of produce to send down to TX and FL for hurricane relief. Feeding American is handling the transportation. "Hard" crops accepted:
  • apples
  • onions
  • cabbage
  • potatoes
  • winter squash
  • any other crop that withstand no refrigeration for a week
Farms donating product will receive a record of donation. Dates and locations of drop off locations in our region and across the state are provided. 

You must be prepared to contact them in advance with details on what crop you are donating, how many pallets, which location you will be dropping your donation off at, and when they can anticipate your products. For more information on this effort and updates on locations, visit the ENY Commercial Horticulture's event details.


Empire State Producers EXPO Proceedings Available

Proceedings from the Empire State Producers EXPO conference from 2011-2017 are available online.

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