Wood Prairie Seed Piece
             Organic News and Commentary
                   Thursday, June 16, 2016
                      Volume 24 Issue 13


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

      Plant Then Harvest.

     Texas Potato Harvest. Our thanks to customer Dr. Chad Perry of Keller, Texas, for recently sharing this beautiful photo of his mouth-watering garden harvest.  Those potatoes are three great varieties: Rose Gold, Yukon Gold and Dark Red Norland.
   Here in Maine, steady rains the last couple of weeks has slowed down planting.  However, we’re in the final stretch now and early plantings are looking good.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 Bridgewater, Maine
Click here for the Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.
Discussion With Eliot Coleman on Controlling Colorado Potato Beetles.

     We recently had an exchange with our friend and long-time seed potato customer Eliot Coleman of Four Seasons Farm down on the coast of Maine in Harborside.  The topic was the bane of temperate potato growers worldwide: the Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB).  CPB is the insect which has co-evolved for thousands of years with potatoes and relishes eating members of the deadly Solanaceae (nightshade) family.  Should anyone be surprised this is one tough adversary?
   If your appitite is whetted, further discussion of CPBs was a part of last winter’s Wood Prairie Potato School Webinar #5 – “OK, My Potatoes Are Planted, Now What Do I Do?”

Eliot: Jim, If you have a minute, can I get a Potato Beetle consult? I may have asked you some of this at Big Sur.
When do your first adults appear? For us it is normally around June 15.

Jim: Yes, we first see them also about mid-June or a little later.  Have not yet seen a single one to date this year.  Twenty years ago they used to emerge 1 month earlier. I have reason to believe the systemic insecticide "Admire" has all but wiped out the early emergers.

Eliot: When do you start spraying?

Jim: When we used to use Bt tenebrionsis ("Novador") we were taught to flag 10 plants with egg masses.  Then when 30% of them hatched spray Btt that evening.  Then depending on how hot the next week was, spray a second time in 7 days (if a real hot week maybe drop back to 4-5 days; if a real cool stretch, extend to maybe 10 days).

Eliot: What products do you use?

Jim: In descending order of personal preference, here's what I would like to use, have used, would use (last resort).

1. Novodor.  (Valent)

Does not meet USDA NOP requirements (because it contains an EPA Class 3 Inert)  We have been unsuccessful getting the manufacturer to re-formulate. Therefore, we have not this product used since 2001.
Extremely narrow spectrum targeted material: controls Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB) and just one other beetle, period.  Organic farmers in Europe are allowed to use this formulation but we American organic farmers are not. Btt only controls small and medium larvae up to fourth instar.  Does not control large larvae or adults.  Spray in evening as sunlight speeds breakdown of material and CPBs will consume a lethal dose overnight.

2.  Entrust.  (Dow)

OMRI-listed  with active biological ingredient 'Spinosid.'  Fast-acting and controls all life stages of CPB invluding large larvae and adults.

3.  Mycoltrol O.  (Bioworks) 

WSDA-approved but no longer OMRI-listed so seek organic certifier approval before use.
Upon spraying, the parasitic fungus Beauvaria Bassiana establishes itself in the potato field.  A single spore will colonize on a potato beetle and result in its death.  In the cadaver of one CPB there will be a million spores which will then spread and re-populate throughout the potato fields.  Works best in cooler northern climates.

4.  DeBug Turbo.  (Agrologistics)

OMRI-listed Neem oil formulation.  Has some fungicial benefits as well as insecticidal ability.  Slow to achieve knock-down so be patient and apply somewhat early.

5.  Pyganic 5.0. (MGK)

OMRI-listed broad spectrum - so used only as a last resort because of its high ecological profile.  We rarely use this material, and then usually only to control early season occurrence of Potato Leaf Hoppers (PLH), but it controls CPB during that usage.

Eliot: I am totally incompetent with sprayers so I have been amusing myself experimenting with physical control.

Jim: Up until 25 years ago we used diaphragm-style Solo Backpack Sprayers which is doable on your scale.  Get two units and two-buddies can do the job in half the time. A 12-volt boom-style 20-Gallon Tank home-made sprayer unit rigged on on a balanced high-clearance bicycle-tired hand-pulled cart might be worth the effort.  Here's a concept to get you inspired.

Eliot: I have a backpack vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle that is very effective on the adults when they start showing up. (I only have 1/4 acre of potatoes.) However, I miss some and when the first larvae appear I need another technique. Is there any data on the use of diatomaceous earth, Surround Clay, wood ash, etc. as an inert dust pesticide for the larvae? We used basalt dust for that with reasonable effectiveness when I was at the Coolidge Center back in the late 70s.

Jim: Twenty five years ago, local french fry maker McCain's invented a tractor-power implement which would vacuum up CPBs and then fast spinning knives would obliterate them back into the earth.  This implement took a huge amount of power from a very big tractor because of all the hydraulic motors. We have used diatamacous earth, wood ash and Surround WP kaolin clay with unreliable results. It can't hurt but it doesn't give us the control we need.

Eliot: We are now shifting the potato field from the vegetable areas on one side of the farm to the other every other year (a distance of about 1000 feet) to make them harder to find. Is that worth it and is that far enough to make a difference?

Jim: Yes, it's worth it.  For twenty years (five potato-years in our four-year-rotation) in the year following growing potatoes on the home farm simply rotating to the next field across the road (800 feet away) was the only CPB control we needed.  That record-run ended four years ago as the CPB pressure has now increased substantially.  The pendulum has swung back to the same high CPB pressure of the late 80s/early 90s.

Eliot: The tops on the early variety we grow (Charlotte) go down around August 21. So last year we planted a late row from seed potatoes stored in the fridge (started pre-sprouting July 1, sown July 21) along the edge of the potato field on the side farthest from where the potato field would be this year. We vacuumed adults off (a lot) till the tops on that row were killed by frost. I wonder what percentage we prevented from over-wintering? Any opinion? This spring I planted a row of seed potatoes (that I had started sprouting extra early) along the opposite edge of that field (the side closest to the direction towards where this years potato field is located) and I have been dispatching the earliest adults that have appeared there (this year starting June 1).

Jim: The belief is that half of a field's CPBs will seek winter shelter at the base of the potato plant they feasted upon over the summer.  The other half will migrate southward and westward and for the duration of the winter burrow under forest cover and leaf duff -which in most northern winters will not freeze to any extent.

Eliot: Is there any data on the effectiveness of potato beetle trap crops? Thanks for any light you can shine on all of this.

Jim: At Potato School a dozen years ago university researchers from a cold state (Minnesota?) reported on the following technique.  On the south side of a field of potatoes they planted a very late crop of potatoes (say two rows wide the length of the field).  They allowed these potatoes to grow all late summer and fall while they killed down the regular fields.  CPBs would migrate south to munch on this fresh spud foliage.  Once the weather turned plants were killed by the cold (November?) scientists covered the late crop of potatoes with a carpet straw bales as insulation.  Then in January they monitored the weather and ahead of a predicted extreme-cold-spell, they peeled off the straw bales allowing the cold to penetrate and freeze the ground and the ill-prepared CPBs.

Interestingly, the scientists reporting the research were overly apologetic as to the impracticality of their approach.  However, their unconventional research exposed CPB behavior and proved the concept was very effective at decimating the over wintering CPB population.  I felt they had nothing to be apologetic over and was grateful they performed this research - and reported on it.  To my mind, this is exactly what scientific investigation should be doing - extending our understanding of how the world works so we can implement out of-the-box solutions.


Click Here For Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Special Offer: FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed.

      Organic Winter Rye is recognized as perhaps the most winter hardy grain.  Typically, and most especially when grown as a grain, Winter Rye is planted in the North from late Summer through early October.  As one goes further South, the planting date can go later into the Fall.
     What is not so widely known is that Winter Rye can successfully be planted anytime throughout the growing season as an excellent cover crop.  Spring-planted Winter Rye will not form grain heads but this presents no problem for its use as a soil-saving cover crop.  We suggest you keep a sack of Winter Rye seed on hand.  Then, whenever a corner of the garden is harvested, Winter Rye can quickly and easily be scattered-by-hand onto the plot.

      We’ve always had 100% success with rugged Winter Rye in Maine.  It reliably establishes itself without even taking the time to rake it into the soil.  A 5-pound sack will plant 1000 square feet.  Stored properly, Winter Rye seed remains viable for several years - so have a sack ahead to have ready whenever it’s needed.  Cover crops are excellent for protecting and building your soil.  Take care of your soil and your soil will take care of you!

    Here’s your chance to recieve some FREE Winter Rye seed.  Earn yourself a FREE Two-and –a -Half-Pound Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when the amount of goods in your next order totals $39 or more.  FREE Two-and –a -Half-Pound Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed offer ends Midnight Monday, June 20 so please hurry!

   Please use Promo Code WPF491. Your order and FREE Two-and –a -Half-Pound Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed must ship by 6/24/16. This offer may not be combined with other offers. Please call or click today!

Questions? Call us Wood Prairie Family Farm at (207) 429 - 9765.

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Cover Crop Section.

Organic Winter Rye
. Despite its name, Winter Rye can be grown in any season.

Roasted Potatoes. Not all potatoes are equal when it comes to roasting - or boiling.
Want to Try Growing Organic Seed?

     Have you ever wanted to try saving some of your own seed?  It’s not hard.  First, so the seed will come back true, start with open-pollinated seed – all the seed we sell here at Wood Prairie Family Farm is open-pollinated and Certified Organic.  Second, learn and respect established isolation distances from similar varieties to be able to maintain genetic purity.  

   Two excellent books which will help you learn seed saving basics are Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth and The Organic Seed Grower by Maine’s  Dr John Navazio.

   Now, a new free six-part webinar series, Organic Seed Production will be presented monthly by our friends at Organic Seed Alliance.  The first webinar is next week on June 21 so - if interested - please register now.

Jim & Megan

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Organic Vegetable Seed.

Notable Quote: Jane Goodall on Making a Difference.

Recipe: Rose Petal Granola.

4 c Wood Prairie Organic Rolled Oats
1 1/2 c walnut halves
1/2 tsp Wood Prairie Sea Salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
2/3 c dried currants
dried petals from a dozen or so small roses
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c honey
1 egg white (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 F degrees with racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Set out two rimmed baking sheets.

Combine the oats, walnuts, salt, pepper, currants and half of the rose petals in a large mixing bowl. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir in the honey. When thoroughly combined, pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated. If you like clumpier granola, stir in the egg white. Divide the mixture equally between the two baking sheets and spread into a thin layer.

Bake, stirring a couple time along the way, for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until the granola is toasty and deeply golden.  Remove from the oven and press down on the granola with a metal spatula - you'll get more clumps this way. Let cool and sprinkle with remaining dried rose petals. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 7 cups.


Rose Petal Granola.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

 Jim & Megan Gerritsen
 Wood Prairie Family Farm
 49 Kinney Road
 Bridgewater, Maine 04735
 (207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm