Pest Management for High Tunnels

Ipm for high tunnels and greenhouse sites going into Spring, based on a good article from University of Kentucky Extension:

  1. Start clean and stay clean.
  2. Sanitation and weed control in and around structures, repair screening for insect pests.
  3. Regular monitoring and visual inspection of plants and sticky cards. Know crop history and pests encountered, and keep records
  4. Detect pest problems early, while at manageable levels.  Identify pests and for aphids and whiteflies identify them to species.  County Extension offices and Plant Clinics can help with this.
  5. Release beneficial species (natural enemies and pollinators), from reputable suppliers. Monitor populations because beneficial species require management.

NFG 2/19/2019

Beginner Farmer series begins January 2019

The Delaware Beginning Farmer Program is for new and beginner farmers working in small-scale vegetable and/or fruit production. Through hands-on training, demonstrations, workshops, field trips and farm tours, as well as self–study, growers will spend an entire growing season learning and growing with Delaware Cooperative Extension, and other invited agriculture industry professionals.

Although not limited to the following topics, this training will explore the fundamentals of soil fertility and health, basic crop production, integrated pest management, food safety, and business planning and development.  This training will also provide an excellent networking opportunity.

Eleven sessions are covered by one affordable registration fee of $50.
Sessions meet at:

New Castle County Cooperative Extension Office
University of Delaware
461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE 19716

>>> Download the 2019 Beginner Farmer brochure.

Click here to REGISTER NOW

2019 Beginning Farmer Training Schedule:

Wednesday, 1/30/19, 6-8 pm, Introduction, Developing a Small Farm/Business planning

Wednesday, 2/20/19, 6-8 pm, Soil Health

Saturday, 2/23/19, 9-11 am, Seed Starting/ Setting up an Indoor Seed Starter Unit, Fischer Greenhouse

Wednesday, 3/20/19, 6-8 pm, Variety Selection

Saturday, 3/23/19, 9-11 am, Season Extension

Wednesday, 4/24/19, 6-8 pm, Integrated Pest Management

Saturday, April date TBD, 9-11 am, Plant Diagnostics

Wednesday, 5/15/19, 6-8 pm, Weed Management

Saturday, 5/18/19, 9-11 am, Against the Grain Farm at Penn Farm

Wednesday, 6/19/19, 6-8 pm, Panel Discussion

Saturday, 6/22/19, Pot Luck Reception

Funding provided by:

Pest Management in High Tunnels

The Kentucky Pest News, Weekly Newsletter had a great article about pest management in high tunnel situations, mostly biological control, as many chemical control products are not labeled for high tunnel use. Here is the link: .

Addressing mostly arthropod pests, these are good guidelines for disease control too:

  1. Sanitation and cultural controls in and around structures, which includes screening and weed control.
  2. Biweekly Monitoring – visual inspection of plants and sticky cards, keeping written records.
  3. Recognize pest problems early, before they are at critical levels. Properly identify pests; for some, identifying them to species. County Extension offices can help.
  4. Release beneficial species (natural enemies and pollinators) – monitor effects – consult with extension specialists. Beneficial species require management.
  5. Anticipate future problems based on previous crop history (refer to records).

Pest and Beneficial Insect Walk in the UDBG June 20, 2018

Pest and Beneficial Insect Walk, $15  Wednesday, June 20, 4-6 pm, University of Delaware Botanic Gardens, 531 S College Avenue, Newark.  Meet at the entrance to Fischer Greenhouse.  Learn to identify insect and disease pests, as well as beneficial insects in the landscape on a walk through the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens.  Instructors: Nancy Gregory, Brian Kunkel, and Carrie Murphy. Credits available: 2 pest, 2 ISA, and 1 CNP.  Register with Carrie Murphy (302) 831-2506 or 

NFG 6/11/18

Disease and Insect Identification Workshop July 19, 2017

Disease and Insect Identification Workshop                         $15
July 19, 4-6 pm                                                                        Credits:  (2 Pest., 2 ISA,1 CNP)
Townsend Hall, 531 S College Avenue, Newark, DE, Room 012 Townsend Hall

Learn what signs and symptoms the Extension Specialists use to identify pests and diseases! Tips and techniques will be shared. Fresh and preserved specimens will be available to look at using hand lenses and microscopes.  Instructors:  Nancy Gregory, Brian Kunkel, Carrie Murphy, Jen Rushton

Call 302-831-2531 to sign up

NFG 7/14/2017

New programs in Integrated Pest Management

Parasitized tomato hornworm
Parasitized tomato hornworm

A recent publication found that few homeowners know or understand the term IPM, and another publication found homeowners were unaware of what cooperative extension is or does. This year we started a couple new education programs for homeowners, school teachers, and green industry professionals.

Integrated pest management (IPM) uses the current knowledge of pest biology and the interaction with the environment to manage pest populations and their damage by the most economical means possible with a variety of techniques that minimizes hazards to people or the environment. The most common methods available to manage insect populations include: mechanical or physical removal of pests, cultural, biological, and chemical control tactics. Cultural control practices involve knowledge of the plants and where they would grow the best. Biological control tactics rely on existing beneficial insects to feed on pests and chemical control uses pesticides. The new programs focus education efforts towards Future Farmers of America (FFA) teachers, green industry professionals and the general public.

Allison Wagner searching for insects on a squash plant
Allison Wagner, Extension Scholar, searching for insects on a squash plant

The new program designed to provide new information about IPM to Future Farmers of America teachers occurs during the summer and fall. This group of workshops discusses a variety of pests and the potential biological control agents available to manage them. The greenhouse workshop also provides network opportunities between FFA teachers and green industry professionals.

The “Morning with an Expert” is a new program that provides homeowners with opportunities to ask insect or disease questions to cooperative extension specialist and agents in each county. The next event is scheduled on 27 August 2014 at 5:30 pm at Brandywine Garden located at 12th and Brandywine in Wilmington, DE. This event also will demonstrate the use of companion plants in an urban garden. Beneficial insects will be discussed and on display at the evening workshop. A goal of this program is to increase homeowner tolerance of insects and awareness of cooperative extension in Delaware.

The urban gardening project combines the use of herbs or common flower garden plants such as chrysanthemums with garden vegetables. One goal of this project is to increase the number of naturally occurring insect predators and parasitoids in vegetable gardens to reduce the number of pest insects. Another goal is to increase homeowner awareness of alternative methods to manage insect populations other than using insecticides. This new project also increases the chance for the general public to interact with and ask questions to cooperative extension personnel.

Small fruits for Delaware focus of Georgetown meeting

people watching a presentation
Approximately 40 local Delaware growers attend small fruit meeting in Georgetown

On a rainy Thursday, July 10, approximately 40 local Delaware growers attended a Small Fruit Educational Tour at the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown to learn best practices on growing blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes in the First State. Among the group, interest in growing certain fruits was evenly divided among each of the small fruit.

Rainy weather changed a planned outside tour into a virtual one – but real live blueberries and blackberries, harvested at their peak, were plentiful for evaluations on taste and appearance. Feedback from growers is an important component to the ongoing research and recommendations UD Extension researchers will make to farmers about which small fruits might be suitable as a commercial crop in Delaware. Additionally, Extension research hopes to offer an expanded growing season with these specialty fruit crop varieties.

Blueberries on dishes on table
15 varieties were available to taste and rated on “sweet.” “sour,” “fruity,” “mild/bland,” and “earthy” characteristics
Twenty five varieties of blueberries are now being evaluated as part of two ongoing trials, at Carvel REC and Bennett Orchards in Frankford, Del. through a Specialty Crop Block Grant administered through the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

“Blueberries are a challenging crop to grow,” said Gordon Johnson, Extension fruit and vegetable specialist. Johnson said the fruit is native to southern New Jersey and prefers soils in the Pine Barrens region.  Growing blueberries in Delaware requires a 2-3 year initial commitment from Delaware growers to recreate the sandy, organic conditions that are native to New Jersey’s soil – soil in which blueberries thrive.  To grow blueberries successfully in the First State the following conditions must be met:

  • Acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5 pH. “This doesn’t happen overnight,” Johnson said. “It takes a half year to a full year to get it right and it is a grower’s biggest hurdle.”
  • High organic soil is needed.  Commercial compost is alkaline and should not be used. Planting a cover crop and tilling is helpful, Johnson said.
  • Adding soil amendments like pine bark fines helps.
  • Peat moss in the planting hole makes a big difference. “This is a must have,” Johnson said. “Otherwise the plant will not take off.”
  • Blueberry plant roots do not tolerate heat and must be mulched.   Mulch should not raise the pH.
  • Drip irrigation. Blueberries require consistently moist soil
Growers at UD's Small Fruit Meeting evaluate the taste and appearance of blueberries and blackberries
Growers at UD’s Small Fruit Meeting evaluate the taste and appearance of blueberries and blackberries

Emmalea Ernest, associate scientist for fruit and vegetable crops reviewed second-year results of various blueberry varieties, calling out the names of blueberries in the trial that did well in the Georgetown research farm, and which showed little or no freeze damage, and produced plump, tasty fruit. Legacy was her favorite, Ernest told the audience, with Lenoir and Chandler also showing great potential. But taste preferences are subjective, so Ernest wanted other feedback – important in making final recommendations when the trial is complete.

Lenoir blueberry bush
One of 25 blueberry bushes grown on Carvel’s research farm, Lenoir rated well in overall tests Photo:E.Ernest

With clipboards in hand, guests sampled more than 15 varieties of blueberries, identified only by a number. At another table, named varieties were in clear cups so that they could be rated on their size and attractiveness.

The group seemed to concur with Ernest, giving Legacy, Lenoir and Chandler high marks. Two others, Star and Hannah’s Choice also scored praise. A small minority preferred the tart Reka variety. A winning blueberry, however, may not be perfect for all purposes.

“Chandler is really an enormous fruit,” Ernest remarked. “They would be ideal for U-Pick customers. Baskets would fill up quickly,” she said. “But it might be too big for muffins or pancakes.” Chandler is also not a high yielding variety overall.

presentation screen of insect
University of Delaware IPM Specialist Joanne Whalen explains the potential threat of Spotted Wing Drosophila

The meeting also highlighted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in small fruit crops. IPM Specialist Joanne Whalen addressed the threat of the Spotted Wing Drosophila, a troublesome fruitfly that Whalen is carefully monitoring throughout Delaware. The small insect lays its eggs inside the fruit which will swell noticeably once infested.  “It has the potential to be a really scary bug,” said Whalen.  A serious threat in New Jersey, Whalen is curious to know what other growers are seeing and is interested in setting up monitoring projects.

Whalen and her team set up various traps with pheromones, or a cocktail comprised of 40 percent Merlot wine and 60 percent apple cider vinegar to attract any Spotted Wings that might be in the growing area. Whalen said only the males have spots on their wings. Whalen advised the growers to consider removing any wild berries or wild cherry growth from the perimeter of their plots. “Wild pokeberries, wild cherries and even honeysuckle are indicators that Spotted Wing Drosophila could be a problem, Whalen said.

Gordon Johnson also produced yield results data on primocane (fall-season) fruiting blackberries and produced seven varieties for taste and appearance evaluation.  Primocane fruiting blackberries offer the potential for extended production for growers, Johnson said, suitable at farmers markets, schools and institution, local restaurants and wholesale outlets. One variety, Ark 45, produced 16,000 pounds per acre (floricane or summer producing) in 2013 with an additional 6,000 pounds per acre on primocanes in the fall, according to handouts shared at the meeting. “The dual production system on both floricanes and primocanes is promising for extended production over an 18-20 week season from June through October,” Johnson  writes.  Johnson acknowledged that there is “heavy pressure from Spotted Wing Drosophila in 2013 with this extended production.”

For more information visit the University of Delaware’s Small Fruit and Vegetable program website.

Photos and article by Michele Walfred