Notes on Pruning Winter-Damaged Lavender

Previous articles on this blog have focused on the best methods of pruning in a typical year. With the winter damage this year, pruning techniques may need to be modified to get plants back to a rounded shape. To complicate pruning, many damaged plants are sending up new flower stalks, resulting in a late and staggered harvest. Here are some thoughts on pruning affected plants: Continue reading

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Ginseng Crop Update – August 22, 2014

We have been finding a significant amount of aphids in ginseng fields over the past few weeks. They have been found on all ages of ginseng and several areas of the ginseng growing region. Look for aphids on the underside of the leaves and along the petioles of the leaflets (Figure 1). They can often be found clustering on the midrib of the leaflet or along a vein. Aphids are sucking insects that stay relatively stationary on the leaves. The sucking removes sugars from the plant and can reduce energy needed for root growth if populations reach sufficient levels. Aphids can be best identified by their two cornicles that look like tail pipes extending from the rear of their body (Figure 2). This species is completely green with brownish legs. Winged aphids will have the wings folded straight back from their bodies. They cannot be easily confused with any other pest of ginseng. Continue reading

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Spotted wing drosophila and specialty berries

Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly that has rapidly spread across much of North America.  First observed in Ontario in 2010 and now widespread in all fruit growing regions of the province, this insect has become quite familiar to most growers of conventional soft skinned fruit, such as cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  Unfortunately, specialty berries are not immune to this pest.

SWD damage to goji

SWD damage to goji

SWD were isolated from goji and sea buckthorn berries beginning in 2012, but had not yet been detected in Ontario haskap.  In mid-July of this year, spotted wing drosophila were detected in haskap berries left on plants after harvest.  Haskap growers should be aware that their berries can be a host of SWD but likely escapes significant damage because haskap harvest is typically completed before SWD populations peak in late July.  Haskap and other specialty berry growers should be looking for this pest, particularly if later harvests are planned. Continue reading

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Basil Update – Downy Mildew Now Widespread

Over the last few weeks, we have had numerous calls from homeowners and growers wondering why their basil is turning yellow and defoliating.  The reason in most cases is downy mildew.  Basil downy mildew seems to be particularly common this summer, likely due to the rainy weather and the fact that the disease first appeared in the field in mid-July rather than August which has been more typical.

In Ontario, the fungicides cyazofamid (Ranman and Torrent), mandipropamid (Revus) and phosphorous acid (Confine) are registered for control of downy mildew in commercial field basil.   All of these products are preventative, and will have limited effect on the disease once symptoms are widespread in the field.  It is important for growers to also be aware that once leaves are infected with downy mildew, it takes at least a week for symptoms to develop. Consequently, seemingly healthy leaves at harvest may develop symptoms post-harvest. This is not an issue for dried basil, as long as drying occurs as soon as possible after harvest.  Research to date has not identified any organically acceptable products that are effective against this disease, nor are any currently registered in Canada. Continue reading

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OMAFRA nutrient management courses now available online

From Jennifer Jarvis, Stakeholder Communications and Marketing Advisor with OMAFRA:

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) offers a range of training courses to provide information on nutrient management and the Nutrient Management Act (NMA).  These courses are now available on line!

OMAFRA’s training courses give learners the tools to safely manage nutrients while protecting the environment. Take our courses to become a government-certified Nutrient Management Planner or Consultant.

Our eLearning format allows you to learn on your own time and at your own pace. The newest eLearning course – Introduction to Nutrient Management – provides a basic understanding of nutrient management best management practices. This course will be of interest to a wider audience beyond those who require certification.

Visit the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus website for more information on in-class and online nutrient management training options.

Contact the University of Guelph Rigetown Campus for more information:           Toll Free: 1-855-648-1444                                                                                                 Email:

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Ginseng Crop Update – August 7 2014

As we move into August many growers are preparing to plant.  Here are some general comments about ginseng seed and seeding rates that growers should keep in mind before planting.

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Hops Update – August 5, 2014

Growing_Hops_Ontario_Logo_5 with shadingHop cones on early season cultivars are testing at 19-20% dry matter in some areas of the province. Aim for harvest at 20-25% dry matter.  Test your hops regularly as we approach harvest season.  A handy hop harvest moisture calculator can be found on the University of Vermont’s website at:

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