How to Grow Potatoes in the Kentucky Garden
Growing potatoes in the garden is such a fascinating crop to grow, since the edible portion of the plant is secretly grown underground. With the wide variety of potato shapes, sizes, and colors, this underground stem can enhance your garden and diet at the same time!
Start potatoes in the garden from seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are actually a piece of potato rather than a seed. Purchase “certified” seed stock from a reputable nursery or mail-order company. The certified means that the stock has been inspected and is disease free. Avoid using grocery store potatoes or potatoes from your own garden, since soil-borne diseases can be carried easily this way.
If seed potatoes are not cut, slice the tuber into pieces that are similar to the size of a small chicken egg. Make sure that each piece has at least 2 to 3 eyes which is a small depression where potato sprouts will form. Next, store newly cut pieces at room temperature for 1 to 3 days before planting. This gives the cut surfaces time to dry and form a callus, which decreases rotting.
In Kentucky, home gardeners can plant early potatoes from March 15th through April 10th in a well-drained, loamy soil high in organic matter. Soils should have a pH level of 5.0 to 5.5, so scab disease will not be a problem. When planting the seed pieces, drop them into a furrow that is 3 to 5 inches deep with 6 to 12 inch spacing in between pieces. Fill in the furrow to ground level. “Hill” potatoes when they reach 4 to 6 inches tall by mounding soil to cover most of the leaves. Three weeks later, hill again. This technique will make furrows between the rows at least 6 inches deep.
Since potatoes are shallow rooted, they need constant soil moisture. If soil dries out after tubers have formed, a second growth like a crack or knob will start when soil becomes moist again. Also, fluctuating dry and wet conditions can cause cavities near the center of the potato to develop.
Harvest mature potatoes after vines have been dead for two weeks. This method allows the skin to set and minimizes skin peeling, bruising, and rot while in storage. Quickly remove potatoes from the field to avoid sunscald damage if harvest conditions have high temperatures or bright sunlight. Also, be cautious to avoid bruising tubers during harvest.
For more information about growing potatoes in the Kentucky garden, make sure to contact the local Extension Office in your area. They have a free resource entitled “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” publication which can be found at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ID/ID128/ID128.pdf.
Control Tips for the Colorado Potato Beetle
Once gardeners plant potatoes in the garden, it won’t be much longer before they discover the black and yellow-striped “potato bug”. The potato bug is scientifically known as, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, or more commonly referred to as the Colorado potato beetle. Both the larvae and adult forms of this insect feed on potato foliage, and if left untreated, can quickly defoliate plants. The Colorado potato beetle can also be a serious pest to other vegetables including eggplant, pepper, and tomato.
To control Colorado potato beetle, it is good to understand the insect’s lifecycle. The beetle overwinters in the ground, and becomes active in the spring at the time when potatoes begin to emerge in May where they feed on weeds and early plantings of potato. The female beetles lay orange-yellow eggs in batches on the underside of leaves. Females can lay 500 or more eggs over a period of five weeks.
After the eggs hatch, the larvae appear in groups and begin feeding on potato foliage. The larvae are easily recognizable by their humpbacks with two rows of black spots on each side of their body. Then, the full grown larvae move down in the ground to pupate and in five to 10 days, the adult beetle emerges. In Kentucky, this lifecycle continues with two to three generations occurring annually.
Treatment for Colorado potato beetle in home vegetable gardens can be challenging, but not impossible. Check the undersides of potato leaves for egg masses. If noticed, remove leaves from the garden and dispose in the trash. Adult beetles can fly into gardens so make sure to inspect the garden regularly. For small gardens, handpicking may also be an effective means for control. In the morning, drop the adult and larvae forms into a bucket filled with soapy water. For chemical controls, please visit the local extension office in your area. They will be glad to give you recommendations of insecticides to apply for controlling the potato beetle.
Four Key Benefits of Why to Shop Local at the Farmer’s Market
National Farmers Market week is celebrated August 5th through August 11th this year. Many studies show that farmer’s markets are improving the community, the economy, and the well-being of citizens across the United States. According to the Farmers Market coalition group, here is a deeper look at the four key benefits of buying products at the local farmers market:
- #1- Stimulates Local Economies
- Growers selling locally create 13 full time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned.
- According to the US Census of Agriculture data, farms selling local food through direct to consumer marketing channels like the farmers market were more likely to remain in business than other farms not utilizing the direct to consumer marketing channels.
- #2- Preserves Americans Farmland
- Farmers markets provide beginning farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs entry points to start small and give them the opportunity to test new products. In the 2017 National Young Farmers Coalition survey, community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets were the marketing channels that generated the highest proportion of new and beginning farmers’ sales.
- At a farmers market, 100% of food dollars goes back to the local farmer. When consumers spend at traditional food outlets, farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar.
- Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 52% increase in the number of farmers markets operating during the winter months. Those 1,864 winter markets provided an extended opportunity for vendors to do business and sell their products.
- #3- Increases Access to Fresh, Seasonal Produce
- A 2012 grocery retail study showed that consumers ranked farmers markets as the most trusted food outlet to supply local foods. Consumers rated it an 8.2, on a scale of 1-10. Natural food markets and locally owned grocery stores were next highest in the rankings.
- 7,377 markets and direct-marketing farmers accepted SNAP EBT in 2017, which resulted in $22 million in SNAP spent at farmers markets. This number means fresh food access and more money for small farmers.
- #4- Supports Healthy Communities
- A study lead by the Project for Public Spaces revealed that people who shop at the farmers markets have 15-20 social interactions per visit. As compared to only one or two social interactions per visit at the grocery store. This evidence shows that the social space at farmers markets has important public health implications.
After reading about the many benefits, it is important to take time to shop the farmers markets in your area! Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local food, farmers, and prosperity!
Stay tuned for more information coming later this week from Warren County Agriculture on others ideas to help celebrate national farmers market week in the Bowling Green area! Keep an eye on the Warren County Agriculture Facebook page for future videos and food demonstrations coming soon from other staff at the Extension Office! #nationalfarmersmarketweek2018 #kyproud
2017-2018 Kentucky Agricultural Economic Situation & Outlook
Contributors: Kenny Burdine, Todd Davis, Jerry Pierce, Will Snell, Tim Woods, (Ag Economics), Jeff Stringer, Bobby Ammerman, Chad Niman, and Billy Thomas (Forestry)
U.S. Agricultural Economy
The U.S. agricultural economy entered 2017 following three straight years of declining income and prices, after an unprecedented/record breaking period of growth during the 2007-2013 period. USDA is projecting 2017 net farm income to total $63.2 billion, up $1.7 billion (+2.7%) relative to 2016, but still off nearly 50% from the record high established in 2013. U.S. ag cash receipts are forecast to be 2.4% higher in 2017 in response to improved livestock sales (+7.6%) versus slightly lower crop receipts (-2%). Production expenses were up slightly (+1.5%) with higher labor, fuel, livestock, and interest costs, but lower feed, seed, fertilizer and chemical expenses. Government farm payments fell to $11.2 billion (-$1.8 billion) as large declines in Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) payments offset higher Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments. These direct government payments (excludes crop insurance indemnities) accounted for 17.6% of the U.S. net farm income in 2017 vs 21.1% in 2016.
Despite a lot of political discussion and ag-related concerns about trade this past year, U.S. agricultural exports rebound to $140.5 billion (+8%), in FY 2017, benefiting from a weaker U.S. dollar, an improving global economy, and abundant U.S. supplies. The U.S. exports agricultural commodities/products to nearly 200 nations, but our top three foreign customers – China, Mexico, and Canada, account for nearly one-half of the U.S. ag export value. Undoubtedly the strong export market helped support ag prices in 2017 in the midst of abundant global supplies. Any future disruption in trade could put additional downward pressure on prices.
Ag lenders remain cautious in the midst of a prolonged downturn in the farm economy. Relatively low interest rates (along with cash purchases) have constrained growth in farm debt levels and also provided support to land values in the midst of the sharp-downturn in the ag. Despite the slumping farm economy, the overall balance sheet for U.S. agriculture as a whole remains relatively strong compared to the farm crisis days of the early 1980s. However, available cash flow/working capital for lower-tiered managers and some highly leveraged/young producers remains a concern for bankers, especially if the current economic conditions lingers.
Without a major supply shock, prices for most ag commodities will likely remain relatively low in 2018 (compared to levels observed during the 2011-2014 period) in response to abundant global grain supplies, growing meat supplies, and potentially a stronger U.S. dollar.
Politically, agriculture will continue to monitor changes in trade policy, tax, health care, and immigration reform, along with debate over the 2018 farm bill and the increasing concentration among agricultural input suppliers and processors. Food price inflation remained benign in 2017 and is expected to remain below historical levels in 2018 as consumers benefit from intense competition in the grocery sector, abundant ag/food supplies, and continued food marketing efficiencies and innovations.
Kentucky’s Agricultural Economy
The University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics is forecasting that Kentucky ag cash receipts will rebound in 2017 to $5.6 billion, 3.5% higher than last year, but well below the record $6.5 billion in 2014. Improved prices will enable sales growth for most Kentucky livestock enterprises –poultry (+10%), horses (+10%), cattle (+5%), dairy (+12%), and hogs (+11%). Poultry also benefitted from a rebound from avian influenza outbreaks, which constrained growth the past two years. Increased soybean acres and record yields are expected to elevate soybean production to record levels. Potentially record corn yields will help offset lower acres and depressed prices. Kentucky’s tobacco sector rebounded from a poor crop in 2016, with sales expected to once again exceed $300 million.
Poultry remained Kentucky’s number one ag enterprise, accounting for 20% of projected 2017 sales, followed by equine (18%), soybeans (15%), cattle (14%) and corn (13%). For 2018, Kentucky ag cash receipts are expected to be relatively flat ($5.7 billion) with modest gains in poultry, horses, and soybeans, offsetting expected losses in tobacco, corn, and cattle. Look for continued growing demand for local produce/meats, nursery items, and value-added agriculture.
Kentucky net farm income has followed national trends, falling to $1 billion in 2016 compared to averaging $2.1 billion over the 2013-2015 period. Average net farmincome for farms participating in Kentucky’s Farm Business Management (KFBM) program declined to around $100,000 in 2015 and 2016, down from record highs exceeding $400,000 during 2011-2013, and compared to a ten year average of $283,000. Preliminary indications reveal that KFBM average net farm income will improve modestly in 2017 due primarily to higher crop yields, improved livestock prices, and stable input prices.
Commodity Spotlights (2017-2018)
- Calf prices rallied from fall 2016 levels and are roughly $30 per cwt higher than one year
- Growth in the beef cow herd still ongoing, but has likely
- Increases in production for all major meats will pressure beef (and cattle) prices in
- Backgrounding/stocker operations should be opportunistic on placement and aggressive with price risk management.
- Wholesale broiler prices are up from 2016
- Sector largely back on track following avian influenza outbreaks in recent
- Production likely to increase another 2% nationally in 2018, with continued growth in Kentucky.
- Kentucky inventory continues to grow, breeding herd up 7% in 2017.
- Eastern Corn belt hog prices to average $7 per cwt carcass basis higher in 2017.
- Sizeable production increase likely at national level for 2018, prices unlikely to hold at 2017 levels.
- Equine market has generally been steady since recovering from the global recession.
- Signs point to strength in 2017 –Keeneland yearling sale up 13%, Fasig Tipton yearling and breeding sale up as well.
- Equine likely to gross nearly $1 billion in Kentucky farm receipts for 2017, with modest growth in 2018.
- Farm level milk prices increased by more than $1 per cwt in 2017, with lower feed and hay prices leading to improved margins.
- 2017 was a better year than 2016, but certainly not a good year for dairy producers.
- Kentucky dairy cow numbers continue to decline.
- Increase in S. cow numbers and milk per cow suggest another production increase and consequently lower farm prices in 2018.
- U.S. corn harvested area reduced by 3.6 million acres in 2017 to 83.1 million acres. A record U.S. yield of 175.4 bu./acre produced the 2nd largest crop of 14.6 billion bushels.
- Carryout expected to increase to 5 billion bushels, which is the largest quantity since 1987. The stocks-use ratio in 1987 was 55% but is 17% in 2017 because of strong use.
- The 2017 S. Marketing Year Average Farm Price projected at $3.20/bushel, which is only 5% above the 2006 U.S. MYA price.
- U.S. soybean planted area increased by 6.8 million acres in 2017 to 90.2 million acres. The 2nd largest U.S. yield of 52.5 bu./acre produced a record crop of 4.4 billion bushels.
- Carryout expected to increase to 425 million bushels, which is the largest quantity since The stocks-use ratio in 2006 was 19% but is 9.8% in 2017 because of strong use.
- The 2017 S. Marketing Year Average Farm Price projected at $9.30/bushel which is 45% above the 2006 U.S. MYA price.
- Wheat harvested area reduced by 3 million acres in 2017 to 37.6 million acres. The 2017 yield was also reduced 6.4 bu./acre from last year to 46.3 bu./acre. The 2017 wheat crop is 568 million bushels smaller than last year to 1.7 billion bushels.
- Carryout expected to decrease by 246 million bushels to 936 million The stocks-use ratio in 2017 is 43.8%, and is below 50% for the first time since 2014.
- War of attrition on supply side is reducing stocks – not strong growth in
- The 2017 S. Marketing Year Average Farm Price projected at $4.60/bushel, which is $0.71/bu. higher than last year. However, the 2017 U.S. MYA price is only 8% above the 2006 U.S. MYA price.
- Global burley supply and demand appears more balanced entering the 2017 marketing season, primarily in response to a 30% reduction in world burley production over the past three years.
- S. burley demand remains soft with exports down nearly 30% since 2015, domestic cigarette production down 8% so far this year, and imports currently accounting for nearly 2/3 of use by domestic manufacturers.
- A better quality crop and improved supply/demand balances should result in leaf prices being stable to slightly higher, boosting the value of Kentucky’s tobacco crop to around $350 million in 2017 compared to a post-buyout low of $283 million in 2016.
- Anticipated ample burley supplies and softening demand will likely reduce U.S. burley contracts in 2018, with modest growth in snuff consumption enabling dark contracts to remain relatively stable.
Fruits, Vegetables and Greenhouse
- Markets were generally stronger for produce in Kentucky in 2017 as hurricane effects substantially elevated prices for late summer and fall crops.
- Market signals typically tied to nursery production and services (home improvement market, housing starts) have indicated steady recovery from the most recent recession.
- Accelerating local food movement and demand for value added products provides additional opportunities for growth, but labor uncertainties remain a major concern potentially constraining future growth.
- Overall forestry sector increased to an estimated $14.5 billion in total economic contribution to Kentucky in 2017 with primary industries including sawmilling showing the largest increase of over 14% from 2016.
- Exports and high domestic demand for white oak and tie logs will remain strong in 2018 pushing overall timber prices up.
- Pulpwood markets still sluggish but potential re-opening of Wickliffe pulp and paper plant may positively affect markets in Western Kentucky.
Kentucky Grazing Conference
Register Now for the Kentucky Grazing Conference: Pasture Management to Control Weeds and Improve Production
The 2017 Kentucky Grazing Conference will focus on pasture management to control weeds and improve pasture production and will be held: October 17th in Lexington and October 18th in Hopkinsville. The Keynote speaker is Kathy Voth, who has presented nationally on using grazing to control weeds and is a founding partner and editor of the popular online newsletter “On Pasture.”
Other speakers will discuss management and chemical options to control weeds including: Dr. Chris Teutsch, UK; Dr. Scott Flynn, DOW; Dr. Greg Brann, NRCS; Dr. Michael Flessner, VT; and Bill Payne, retired dairyman. The popular KFGC Forage Spokesperson contest will be held at the Lexington location. Early registration is $40 and ends October 4 or you may choose the value option of conference registration plus a one year KFGC membership for $50. KY Forage and Grassland Council membership is normally $25. Early registration ends October 4th. Go to the UK forage website and click on “Grazing Conference Tab” to register (www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage) or for full program. Exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities are also available.
Keeping Forage-Livestock Producers in Kentucky Informed
We have had several calls about yellowing alfalfa lately and wanted to share this article.
Possible Causes of Yellowing Alfalfa
Alfalfa fields may periodically exhibit yellowing of foliage. There are several possible causes for such symptoms.
Leaf spot diseases. During springtime, several leaf spotting diseases–including Lepto leaf spot and summer black stem & leaf spot—are common in alfalfa. Very wet weather in spring and early summer favor activity of leaf spotting diseases in first and second cuttings. Wet and humid weather during summer favor other leaf spotting and blighting diseases. In all such cases, leaf spots and blights weaken the plant but alfalfa often outgrows the damage in later cuttings. Maintain a regular cutting schedule, cutting at 30- to 35-day intervals.
Potato leafhopper. Potato leafhoppers are common in Kentucky alfalfa fields. Information on recognition, scouting, and control are available from UK’s Entomology Extension program. See our previous article or your county Extension office.
Soil compaction. Wet soils this spring during preplant operations or hay harvesting operations can result in severe compaction in some fields. Check for soil compaction by digging and examining both root systems and soil structure. If the compaction is so severe that the taproot cannot pass through the compacted zone, yields will be reduced significantly and plowing and replanting might be the only option. Remember, it is much easier to prevent than to alleviate soil compaction.
Potash deficiency. High quality alfalfa removes a large amount of potassium from the soil each year. Soil test K levels should be monitored closely and fertilizer K should be applied whenever it is recommended. It is possible that some plants in your field may exhibit mild potash deficiency symptoms even if potash levels in the soil are adequate, since roots that are limited by compaction and/or root rots will be less effective at taking up potash. Maintaining soil test levels and preventing soil compaction will help to assure maximum productivity and stand longevity.
Root rots. There are a variety of root-rotting diseases of alfalfa that are favored in the saturated soils. The most damaging is Phytophthora root rot; which can attack any part of the root system of plants of any age. Aphanomyces and Pythiumorganisms are also known to attack the fine feeder roots of mature plants of alfalfa when soils are saturated. Always select varieties with R or HR ratings to Phytophthora and Aphanomyces root rots when seeding alfalfa in Kentucky. Unfortunately, there is no known resistance in commercial cultivars to Pythiuminfection, but improving soil drainage and minimizing soil compaction will help with all three diseases.
Poor nodulation. Check nodulation of new seedings by carefully digging and washing root systems and examining for nodules. Poor nodulation of roots may be the result of root-rot infections or of poor viability of the Rhizobium bacterium on the seed. If poor viability on the seed is the cause, an inexpensive practice to improve the chances for nodulation can be found at: http://plantpathology.ca.uky.edu/files/ppfs-ag-f-04.pdf.
Crown rot diseases. Dig plants and cut into the crowns. Those that are showing brown discoloration are exhibiting crown rot. A variety of soil-boirne fungi can cause crown rot. Adapted varieties of alfalfa can sometimes recover from crown rots. However, if severe, crown rots can be a significant problem for long-term health of the stand. Thus, if you see a high frequency of crown rot in a particular field, that is usually a flag to rotate.
Probably the best indication of when to rotate is stand density. Approximate guidelines as to economically acceptable stands from Dr. Garry Lacefield, UK Forage Agronomist, are:
3 crowns per square foot for hay
1 crowns per square foot for grazing
Dr. Lacefield points out that these are approximate guidelines. For example, a beef cattle producer often will meet his/her production goals well with a much lower density of alfalfa crowns than a hay producer. He also indicates that, for the Upper Midwest, for high-quality dairy hay productions, the standards are based on stem density, since this more closely correlates to forage production than crown density.:
55+ stems per square foot: no yield reduction
40-55 per square foot: some yield reduction
Below 40 per square foot: give consideration to replanting
If stands are less than needed for your yield goals, plan a rotation away from alfalfa followed by re-seeding.
~ Drs. Paul Vincelli, Chris Teutsch and Kiersten Wise, revision from an early extension article on this topic by Paul Vincelli and Greg Schwab.
Kentucky’s Agricultural Economy
Kentucky agricultural cash receipts set a record $6.5 billion in 2014 before retreating to $5.8 billion in 2015. UK’s Department of Agricultural Economics is projecting that Kentucky ag sales will fall to $5.4 billion in 2016, off 7% from 2015 and 17% from our 2014 record. Kentucky’s top two major ag enterprises had decent years as poultry rebounded from the effects of avian influenza, while the equine sector had another stable year. Most of the decline in Kentucky ag sales for 2016 can be attributed to rapidly falling cattle receipts which fell by more than 30% in response to mounting beef, poultry, and pork supplies. Grain receipts were mixed as soybean sales increased while corn and wheat sales declined. Tobacco receipts slumped to their lowest post-buyout level due primarily to unfavorable weather and curing conditions. Poultry remained Kentucky’s number one ag enterprise, accounting for 23% of projected 2016 sales, followed by equine (17%), soybeans (15%), corn (13%) and cattle (12%). For 2017, assuming a normal growing season, Kentucky ag cash receipts are expected to stabilize with modest gains in poultry, hogs, horses, and tobacco offsetting expected losses in grains, dairy, and cattle.
Kentucky’s net farm income peaked at $2.97 billion in 2013 before slipping to $1.7 billion in 2014 and 2015. Kentucky net farm income is expected to dip to less than $1.5 billion in 2016, potentially its lowest level since 2010. A significant decline in cash receipts the past couple of years plus the ending of the tobacco buyout payments in 2014 have been the major reasons behind the rapid fall in Kentucky’s net farm income since it peaked at nearly $3 billion in 2013. Looking into 2017, profitability in the grain sector will once again be tested given projected prices and slowly adjusting land rents. Increasing livestock/meat inventories will continue to challenge beef returns. The equine and poultry industries are expected to have solid years. Tobacco returns should improve assuming better yields and quality. Look for a continued growing demand for local produce and value-added agriculture.
Assuming no major supply/demand shocks, net farm income for Kentucky farmers may show signs of stabilizing in 2017 as the global markets work off excess supplies and global economies begin to show modest growth which should help to stem the downward spiral in commodity prices. Production expenses are projected to be fairly stable, but government payments may be lower given the structure of the current farm bill. Issues to monitor in 2017 will be the value of the U.S. dollar, energy prices, interest rate changes, 2018 farm bill discussions, additional buyer/seller concentration in ag markets, and potential changes in labor and trade policy. The big winners in the current depressed ag economy are consumers as prices for many food items were stable to lower in 2016 and food price inflation is expected to remain below historical levels in 2017.
Source: 2016-2017 Kentucky Agricultural Economic Situation and Outlook, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment