Syngenta hires three new breeders to accelerate leafy vegetable varieties in the U.S.

The three new global R&D team members, based in the U.S., are focused on developing new varieties with enhanced features in romaine,  iceberg and batavia lettuce, as well as spinach, including baby leaf. Three areas they will be focusing on are:

· Enhanced disease resistance, water optimization and value chain benefits are among areas of focus for breeders

· Increased R&D capabilities will help accelerate introduction of new varieties with desirable traits

· New varieties to address market needs throughout the U.S. value chain

For more information about Syngenta leafy vegetable varieties, visit .

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Where do I place my high tunnel? Which way should it be facing? Can it be placed on a grade? How close to trees can I place it?  If I build more then one high tunnel, how close can I place them apart?

These are just a few of the question I get asked by our customers. The readers of the Missouri Vegetable Growers Association most likely are no different. So let’s see if we can put some light to this subjects.

Where do I place my high tunnel?  This one is very important. First of all it should be close enough to the house or office to where you can get to it in a very short time. Why? There will be times you will need to close or open it in a hurry. This could be caused by temperature change. It can also be cause by a storm moving in that has lots of wind to it. If closing your high tunnel, close the wind side first.  Then the down wind side last. In case where you have an auto open/close system, both side will close/open together.

The next thing you need to look at is your land layout close to your buildings.  Best place-to-place your high tunnel is a nice and level location. This is not always possible. If your land has a small grade to it, it will work also. If your tunnel uses any electricity or water, you want it close to the source. The least amount of digging you need to do the better.

Which way should it be facing? Very good question. Since a high tunnel is a natural ventilated structure, we need to make sure we get good airflow through it. To do this, you need to have the wind flowing thought the shortest point possible. If your prevailing wind is from the southwest, you will need to place your tunnel in a northwest southeast orientation. If the prevailing wind is from the south, place high tunnel east and west. Each way, the wind is hitting the side of the tunnel first. This will be the shortest way for the wind to get though your high tunnel. It will also give you the most natural ventilation.

Can it be placed on a grade?  Yes it can to a point. In fact I know of some Amish that build their greenhouses on a grade intentionally. Why? We all know that heated air moves to the top. Since they do not use any electricity, they let nature do the heat moving for them. By placing the stove on the lower side, the warm air moves to the high side of the building. This pushes the cool air to the lower end. In the case of where they are using hot water as the heat source, the heated pipes are run at a grade also. Hot water moves up and pushes the cool water back down to the stove to reheat it again.

How much of a grade can I use for my high tunnel? For the width of the high tunnel, not more then a 5% grade. This would be a maximum of 1 ½’ for a 30’ wide high tunnel. On the long side, no more then a 3% grade. On a 96’ long high tunnel this would be around 3’.

If your tunnel is build on a grade make sure you cut a drainage on the high side. Cut ditch as close to high tunnel as you can. Some people line this ditch with plastic or some type of heavy fabric. Do not put any small rock on plastic or fabric to fill ditch, as the rocks will fill up with soil or plant debris. Then no longer will it drain properly. End of drainage ditch should divert water away from high tunnel. If you do not make a drainage ditch, this water will run right though your high tunnel. This will cause you to have a very wet soil in your high tunnel. 

How close to trees can I place it?  Trees are wonderful plants if they are in the right spot. In the wrong spot, they can just plain down be a pain. With high tunnels, you want the trees far enough away from the tunnel so if one does blow over, it does not reach the high tunnel. Also trees create shade.

Place your high tunnel away from the trees, the height of the tallest tree then add another 20-35 feet to this measurement. If the tallest tree is 50’, keep high tunnel 70-85’ away from the tree line. This way if a tree does fall over, it should not hit the high tunnel.

If I build more then one high tunnel, how close can I place them apart?  You want a minimum of at least 10’ between high tunnels. If you plan on mowing the grass between the high tunnels with a tractor and brush hog, 20’ would be better.

You want them far enough apart so you get good wind flow through them. Too close and they will block the wind flow.

If you are looking at building more then one unit, you might want to look at a gutter connected unit. These units can be anywhere from 2 units to up to at least 5 units wide. If more then 2 units are to be used, I would recommend putting ridge vent on the units. Units this wide need good Hope this is of help to some one.



MVGA Brings Nationally Recognized Speaker to Great Plain Growers Conference

The Missouri Vegetable Growers Association has a two year project grant funded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Program for increasing beekeeping and honey production in Missouri. One way the MVGA is using this grant is to bring Larry Connor, a nationally recognized beekeeping speaker, to the 2016 Greater Plains Grower Conference. Larry will be speaking on Thursday, January 7th.

 Larry Connor was born in Kalamazoo and graduated from Richland High School in 1963. He earned three degrees in entomology from Michigan State University and was hired as Extension Entomologist in Apiculture at The Ohio State University in 1972. In 1976 he was hired by Chuck Dadant of Dadant and Sons to run a new bee breeding program located in Labelle, Florida. Called Genetic Systems, Inc. this firm had two missions: to produce breeder queens for the Starline and Midnite hybrid bee programs (established by Dr. G.H. “Bud” Cale, Jr), and to mass produce instrumentally inseminated three-line hybrid bees called the Cale 876 Hybrid.

 Connor left Florida late 1980 and lived in Cheshire and New Haven, Connecticut. In 2007, due to pressure of travel, he relocated to Kalamazoo and continues to write books and publish for Wicwas Press as well serve as a monthly columnist for Bee Culture Magazine and the American Bee Journal.

 In huge demand on the beekeeping speaking circuit, Connor travels widely to speak at beekeeper meetings. He also conducts workshop on queen rearing and bee breeding, honey bee microscopy and related topics. Since childhood Connor has a strong interest in photography. He continues to expand his collection of images of bees, beekeepers and bee flora.



Important update on Contaminated Compost


Check out the Beginning Farmers blog for this post.

This is relevant for both farmers as well as home gardeners. 

 There are 3 sections to this post: 

                         1. Article from MU on contaminated compost

2. Green bean test for contaminated compost

3. US Composting Council response and action on your part if you have purchased contaminated compost. 

 Read it at


Contact : Debi Kelly, Horticulture/Local Foods Specialist

University of Missouri Extension - Jefferson County

301 3rd Street, P.O. Box 497

Hillsboro, MO 63050-0497

Phone: 636-797-5391



In the last article we looked at the high tunnel frames. Since there is more then just a frame to a high tunnel, we need to look at the other parts of these units. Different manufactures offer different types of ventilation as well.

 So lets look all the options available. Tunnels can be vented from the side’s walls, end walls and also the roof. They can also be vented at more then one location. Ventilation can be manually or can be done automatically with either electric or mechanical.

 Now which option is best for you? First of all you need to know what crops you are going to be growing in your high tunnel. Is it tomatoes? Cucumbers? Peppers? Leafy greens? Strawberries? Or a combination of several different crops?

 Since we have not made up our minds on which crops we are going to be growing in our high tunnel, let’s look at the different options. What are there good points and the not so good points?

 SIDEWALLS: On sidewalls you can have either drop curtains or roll up. They can be manual or automatic operated with electric. Each has their good points and also the not so good.

 DROP CURTIANS: Just as the name says, the curtains open from the top down. In the photo above, curtain is open. This unit is not finished as shown in photo. Auto curtain machine was installed later to make it automatic. Drop curtains are opened and closed by a series of ropes, pulleys,  Curtain machine is controlled by an electric controller according to temperature and time set for curtain to open/close. Manual operated tunnels use a small winch that you would find on a boat trailer.

 To open curtain, weather manually or automatic, the cable that runs along the outside of the tunnel moves away from the winch end towards the weight located below the strap pulley. By doing this, it lengthens the ropes that are attached to the cable and curtain, which lets down the   curtain. To close the curtains, the cable is rolled up which moves the cable towards the winch end. This pulls the ropes upward to close the curtain.

 If tunnel is set up for automatic control, the opening and closing of the curtain is done with a curtain machine. This machine is controlled by a controller that tells when to open or close the curtain according to temperature setting.  The controller also has a time control on time of the movement of the curtain. In either opening or closing, the machine will run for a set amount of time. Most of the time this is in seconds. 15 to 20 seconds is the most popular setting. The machine will open or close the curtain for this time and then pause for the same length time before resuming operation again. The reason for this is because if there are any clouds around that get between the sun and your high tunnel, temperatures can and will change quickly. This time control will keep the curtain machine from opening or closing the curtain all the way and then the cloud moves away or in front of the sun causing the machine to either close or open the curtain again.

 The good points of a drop down sidewall is that you can grow warm loving crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, eggplants, peppers and others. The cool air comes in over the top of the crop and cools off the top part of the tunnel.  It may not be the best choice for cool weather crops, put it will work. The draw back is in putting together the drop curtain system. There are pulleys, eye screws. Stay on clamps, cable and a winch assembly to put together.  This maybe more then some people want to tackle. However many do for the benefit they get from there tunnel.

ROLL UP SIDES: This is one of the most popular styles of tunnel ventilation sold by companies that need to sell a low cost unit.  A roll up sides can be build very economical is so desired. Roll ups if done right with no opening for the wind to come in, will costs as much or maybe a little more then a drop curtain sides.

 So how is a roll up side different from a drop curtain sidewall? A roll up sidewall opens from the bottom to the top. This is done by steel tube that rolls up the poly. By rolling up the poly. It continues till it reaches the top of the opening. The roll up tube is either operated by hand using a crank that you turn and need to lock into something to keep it in place. This is the economical way. A better choice is a gear assembly attached to the tube. This gear assembly rolls up and down on a hanging tube. The good thing about a gear assembly used on a roll up is that it stays where you stop cranking. No need to have something there to lock it unto.

 Roll up sides can also be made to be open and closed by a machine. This machine is controlled by a controller just like the drop curtain machine is.  By using a machine to open and close your tunnel, you do not have to be there to open or close it when needed. The machine will do it for you.

 Roll up sides work great for crops that like it cool like lettuce, spinach and greens. It is also the choice if you are growing crops on benches.  If fact, roll up sides are the most popular tunnel ventilation sold by the companies that sell on tunnel cost only.

 The down fault of roll up sidewalls is that there are not recommended for warm season crops that like it warm. This would include tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, pepper, melons and etc.

 RIDGE VENT: This a ventilation system that few consider. If you need to keep the top of your tunnel cool, a ridge vent will cool it off fast.

 So what is a ridge vent? Just like the name says, it vents out the top of the tunnel.  A ridge vent has a roll up on the front of it. By rolling up the poly here, you can leave out the hot air.  Ridge vents can be opened and closed by a gear crank from the ground or they can be made to open and close automatically by a machine.

 All ridge vents need either a drop curtain or roll up sides. When the ridge vent is open, the sides need to be open also. If not the air will not flow. The front of the ridge vent needs to be faced away from the wind.

 Ridge vent add to the cost of a tunnel. On a 30’ x 96’ tunnel, by adding a ridge vent you will add around $1500.00 to $2000.00 to the cost of the tunnel. It will also add 1 more day to constructing the tunnel for a crew of 4-6 guys that know what they are doing.

 END WALL VENTILATION: End wall ventilation can be as simple as just 2 doors on each end of the tunnel. Several other ideas are a exhaust fan of fans installed in the end walls. The draw back with exhaust fans is that if the sides are opened up. They pull the air from the easiest and closes opening. This will be from the first few feet of the side wall opening. Fans work great as a ventilation system if you are not at home. Since the fans are controlled by a thermostat, they will come on when the temperature inside the tunnel hits the high temperature set on the thermostat.

 Some suppliers also supply a vent called a butterfly vent. This is a square opening usually in the top part of the end wall. There will be one on each end of the tunnel. A butterfly vent is easy to make. In a square opening, build another square to fit inside the first square opening. In the center of the sides of the both squares, drill a hole through both. Now but a long bolt through the holes, with a flat washer in between both squares. You will need to put a lock nut onto the bolt to keep it together. Cover inner square with either poly or double wall poly carbon sheets. Butterfly vents open by pushing out the bottom of the inner square. This will cause the upper part of the inner square to come in.

 I am sure that I missed some other ventilation ideas. Tried to cover the most popular ones. High tunnels are being build on a daily basic. Some one some where is coming up new ideas on how to make the better.


Syngenta Pipeline Preview: Solatenol Fungicide Coming Soon

Syngenta is awaiting registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Solatenol®-based fungicides. Available in four formulations for use in vegetables, pome fruit, grapes and row crops, products containing Solatenol will result in improved and longer-lasting residual control of diseases, increased yield potential, and maximum return on investment. A preview of each formulation is below:

·          Aprovia® Top fungicide will offer cucurbit and fruiting vegetable growers a powerful, dual-mode-of-action product for improved control of tough diseases. In an environment of emerging disease resistance, Aprovia Top will offer growers a trustworthy new product that combines the proven performance of a triazole with the latest SDHI chemistry.


·          Aprovia fungicide will be targeted for use in grapes, apples and pears. Trials have shown that Aprovia is highly effective in controlling apple scab and powdery mildew. As a solo product, it offers growers greater flexibility for integrating into existing disease-control programs

• Elatus® fungicide is specially formulated for use in peanuts and potatoes. By combining Solatenol fungicide and azoxystrobin technology, Elatus will offer peanut growers excellent control of Southern stem rot and other key diseases, and provide potato growers with a more efficacious dual-mode-of-action, in-furrow product to protect their plants from soil-borne diseases in the critical early season.

·         Trivapro™ fungicide, which will be a combination of Solatenol, azoxystrobin and propiconazole, will be registered for use in corn, soybeans and wheat. Trivapro will offer outstanding application flexibility and improved disease control. It also will provide excellent crop enhancement benefits, such as stronger stalks, better root systems, and improved straw quality and drought tolerance. There is no cross-resistance among the three active ingredients in the fungicide (strobilurin, triazole and the newest, longest-lasting SDHI) making it an excellent resistance-management tool.

Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Solatenol, Aprovia, Aprovia Top, Elatus and Trivapro are not yet registered for sale or use in the United States and are not being offered for sale. Aprovia®, Elatus®, Solatenol® and Trivapro™ are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company.

Grant Opportunity

Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA)  has a new grant program for which we are accepting applications until October 31.  

The  Value Added “Farm to School” Grant Program is a competitive grant program which may be used by small Missouri businesses to purchase equipment and/or resources needed to access or process locally grown agricultural products for use in Missouri schools.  Eligible equipment might include coolers, freezers, washing or packing equipment, and professional services for GAP/GHP and HACCP plan development.   

Further information and the full program guidelines and application format can be found at


Water Testing and GAPs by James Quinn & Bob Schultheis

What one’s water is tested for at most farms will fall into one of two categories:

· Being potable (so you can wash produce with it); you can then also use it for pesticide sprays which contact produce that may be eaten raw (e.g. tomatoes, green beans or leafy greens), or any irrigation uses.

· Not being potable. At the current time for the USDA GAPs audit, there are no specific guidelines for preharvest water usage. It is up to the producer to decide how high the levels of total coliform and E. coli CFU (colony forming units) to use, and what to do (if anything) if the producer feels the levels are too high. Pesticides mixed from non-potable water should not be applied directly to produce which may be consumed raw, but could be applied to crops like sweet corn, potato foliage, or pumpkins. 

By far the least expensive and simplest way to test water is with the county health department, which has a courier service to get your water to a state lab. The cost is only $10 per sample, but they will not accept surface water sources and only test to see if it is potable. Most growers should have at least some potable water, for drinking water and for certain pesticide applications. GAPs certification will require that this water is sampled and submitted annually. Any other well water, even if only for field irrigation, could be submitted at that same time. If it passes, then that is all you need to do. It could smell like rotten eggs and be an awful color, such that you’d never drink it, but it only matters that it passes the microbial testing. What do you do if your well does not pass the potable test, or is a surface source (e.g. pond or stream)? 

Unfortunately, you then need to get it tested at a lab that can provide a number count for total coliform and E. coli CFU. We have chosen to provide two labs (later in this article) which provide this service. Both ask that growers contact them to get sample bottles and instructions for submission. Since the samples need to be received the following day, one will have to express mail the sample, unless delivery is reliable within a single day by UPS for ground service.  

So why even test water that you can use anyway? Because guidelines are being developed on allowable levels for irrigation water, and the USDA GAPs inspector would be able to alert a grower if their source was a possible problem. Then the grower could consider what action might be taken to reduce the microbial levels. [The Food Safety Modernization Act may eventually provide water testing guidelines, but the proposed rule has been withdrawn for revision, and water testing was one area that will likely be revised. Thus what the GAPs inspectors are currently using is the most important for now.] 

To submit water sample to a county health department, contact them directly ( You will need to get a sampling kit from them. [Should you need their contact information, feel free to contact a nearby MU Specialist, either by phone or in writing. Our office support staff should be able to find the county health department information if we are not in the office.]  This is a time-sensitive test so you need to find out when the courier leaves for the lab, and from where. Say that’s at 11 a.m. in your county. Collect the sample according to the kit’s directions, transport it back to your county health department before 10 a.m., in a cooler to keep the sample cool and away from light, so it gets on the delivery truck to the lab in Jefferson City the same day. Sample Monday through Thursday (excluding holidays), to assure the sample is tested within 24 hours. 

To submit ‘non potable’ or ‘surface’ water for testing, contact a lab providing this service directly. Listed below are two which do and have good customer service. There are certainly other labs that also provide this service, but we were unable to find a comprehensive list for labs that do so, and which provide customer service expected by the general public.

· Midwest Labs ( — The cost is $20 and is called “Generic E. coli and Total Coliforms”. But they request you contact them ahead of time. They will ship you the correct sample containers and form to fill out. Phone:  402-334-7770.  The test is under the ‘Environmental-microbiology’ area. Unfortunately, only NW Missouri is close enough to Midwest Labs for Ground Rate UPS to deliver to them the next day. Thus, next day shipping would have to be used for other areas of Missouri, at a significant increase in shipping cost. 

· Penn State University ( — They provide a ‘Total Coliform and E. coli’ test for $35, under Drinking Water Individual Test (Bacteria), for surface sources (but non potable well water is accepted, too). Contact their lab for a ‘Drinking Water Test Kit’. Phone:  814-863-0841.

 Sampling your well or surface source:

For a well, sample as close to the well head as practical. Many county health departments provide the option where they will sample for you, at a very reasonable charge. This may be worth considering if getting to the pick-up/drop off point may be difficult.  Wells need to be sampled annually.

For surface water like a pond, use the nearest point of contact which is usually where the pump lines hook up to the drip lines or out of the sprinkler nozzles. [The best water from a pond is at 18 to 36 inches below the surface. Consider this for your pump intake.] Surface water sources are often sampled quarterly, thus if one samples a pond in May, and will continue to irrigate into September, another sample should be taken again in August. However, the GAP inspector may suggest more frequent testing based on one’s results.

 Samples should be kept cool; if shipping a sample, the lab should provide instructions for keeping the sample cool during transit.

Featured in the May, 2014 newsletter


From the Plant Diagnostic Clinic by Patricia Wallace


 I am the new Director of the Plant Diagnostic Clinic. I grew up in Ava, MO and was thrilled to be chosen to fill this position. It is my pleasure to serve my home state of Missouri by diagnosing your plant disease issues and identifying pesky pests or plants you may be dealing with.  The clinic officially reopened April 1st.  The only April’s fool joke was the cold weather and storms that followed.  Despite the ‘stormy’ start we have received a number of plant samples.  Several samples have had winter injury due to a drought year followed by a hard, long winter and also due to several warm days followed freezing temperatures.  If you are seeing some dieback on your ornamental plants it could be related to these things.  If you suspect something else, I am happy to receive your samples. Information for sample collection, submission and associated fees can be found at your local Extension office or on the clinic’s website: . 

 If you have a pre-2014 copy of the Midwest vegetable Production Guide, I recommend purchasing a revised 2014 edition. There are some nice features in the latest guide such as comparison charts of active ingredients, showing if you can get more disease prevention from a single application. The guide is available for purchase through the MU Extension publications for $12.  The item number is MX384 and can be ordered by phone (1-800-292-0969).  It is also available as a free at . Below are a few notable updates to the manual.  

· For tomato a new fungicide is recommended for the suppression of white mold, Priaxor® at 4-8 fl. oz / A applied prior to disease development and continue on a 7 to 14 day interval during  conditions that are                  conducive to disease.  It can also be used on sweet corn and legumes. [This is the 1st foliar fungicide for white mold (also called timber rot) on tomato. Contan can be applied to the soil before planting.]

 · For watermelon a new fungicide is recommended for the suppression of Fusarium wilt, Proline 480 SC® at 5.7 fl. oz / A.  This product may be applied by ground or chemigation application equipment but   cannot be used in water used for hand transplanting.  The label allows for one drip application, at the time of transplant. 

 · Also the watermelon variety, Distinction, now has a resistance rating of ‘++++’ against Fusarium wilt. 

Featured in the May, 2014 newsletter


Letter from the Board

Dear MVGA Member, 

We have several exciting developments that have occurred since the start of the year to bring you up to date on. They are: 

· The MVGA website has been redesigned to be more modern, and simple! It is now on software the will allow updates to made more quickly and easily. It is still a ‘work in progress’, e.g. the newsletters and the search option for old articles has yet to be completed. But there are a number of improvements, like one can now by for one’s membership on line. Take a moment to check it out. 

· The MVGA treasurer function has been moved to the Morgan County Extension Center. MVGA’s bank is now The Bank of Versailles and checks can be issued from the extension center. However, the MVGA treasurer approves those expenses and the account is also reviewed by the Morgan County Extension Council. Most secretary functions have been managed by the Morgan County Extension Center for a number of years; this combined with the treasurer activities allows for the association to be managed more efficiently. [in case you weren’t at the Great Plains Growers Conference, this change was discussed and approved at the annual meeting]  

·MVGA has also submitted a grant titled “Increasing Beekeeping and Honey Production in Missouri” to the Specialty Crops program of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA. The good news is that it passed the first test as a ‘concept paper’ and was turned in as a full proposal. Keep your fingers crossed for this $31,000 project. It will allow vegetable growers to partner with beekeepers in new ways and both ‘honey and vegetables’ will benefit economically, for our benefit and agriculture in general. We should get word by September if not before.

 Featured on the May, 2014 newsletter

Small Fruit Farmers are Advised to Monitor for Spotted Wing Drosophila

March, 2014 - In 2013, Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) was captured in monitoring traps and very quickly became a devastating pest of berry crops in Missouri. In addition to small fruit crops, this invasive insect pest also attacks some stone fruits (cherry, nectarine, peach), high tunnel tomatoes, and wild hosts (including pokeweed, autumn olive, crabapple, nightshade, Amur honeysuckle, and wild grape). Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, elderberries and grapes are at the greatest risk. If you grow any of these fruits, then for the 2014 growing season you are advised to monitor for this invasive pest. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) options to manage SWD in high tunnels include monitoring, sanitation, exclusion, and timely application of lower risk insecticide sprays. Research aimed at identifying additional management options will be conducted by the LU IPM Program. Free monitoring traps and yeast-based bait are available at no cost by contacting Mr. Jacob Wilson at or (573) 681- 5591. For further information on SWD identification go to LU IPM program website:









Farm Bill 2014

March, 2014 - Overall, the new farm bill invests $444 million over the next ten years in beginning and socially  disadvantaged farmers, an increase of 150% over the 2008 bill. Beginning farmers will have funding for education, FSA microloans, and  expanded loans and  programs increasing access to capital to aid beginning farmers in the purchase of land and equipment. Full Article





USDA Enhances Farm Storage Facility Loan Program

March, 2014 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the expansion of the Farm Storage and Facility Loan program, which provides low-interest financing to producers. The enhanced program includes 23 new categories of eligible equipment for fruit and vegetable producers, and makes it easier for farmers and ranchers around the country to finance the equipment they need to grow and expand.  This is part of a broader effort to help small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers, as announced today by Agriculture  Secretary Tom Vilsack.

 Producers with small and mid-sized operations, and specialty crop fruit and vegetable growers, now have access to needed capital for a variety of supplies including sorting bins, wash stations and other food safety-related equipment. A new more flexible alternative is also provided for determining storage needs for fruit and vegetable producers, and waivers are available on a case-by-case basis for disaster assistance or insurance coverage if available products are not relevant or feasible for a particular producer.  Full article