What's killing my kale?

umn extension

In "What's Killing My Kale?", get research based solutions to pest issues affecting fruit and vegetable crops from University of MN Extension. Learn how to manage weeds, insects, diseases, and more. Each month we'll have a three part podcast exploring one main issue from three different perspectives. "What's Killing My Kale?" is a part of the UMN Fruit & Vegetable NewsSubscribe to their updates here

To listen to an audio podcast, mouse over and click on the episode title. The podcasts are also available on iTunes and Stitcher


Episode 12: Spray programs for organic tomatoes (7/16/2020)
Natalie talked with Inga Meadows, Extension plant pathologist at NC State University, about disease management in organic tomatoes.

Episode 11: Apple Crop Load Management Techniques (6/1/2020)
In this episode, Annie interviews Dr. Amaya Atucha at University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension about the complexities of apple crop load management, also known as fruit thinning. This is a good episode for beginning apple growers, or experienced growers who would like to revisit and improve their fruit thinning strategies.

Episode 10: Flowering and fruit set in cucurbits (5/21/2020)
Natalie talked with Dr. Brent Loy, emeritus professor of plant genetics and cucurbit breeder extraordinaire at the University of New Hampshire.

Episode 9:  Nutrient management in wet soils (5/7/2020)
Natalie talked to Dr. Paulo Pagliari, an associate professor of soil science at the University of Minnesota, about nutrient management in wet soils.

Episode 8: Measuring soil health: biological activity (5/7/2020)
Natalie talked to Local Extension Educators Claire LaCanne (Rice & Steele Counties) and Shane Bugeja (Le Sueur and Blue Earth Counties) about their recent trials to measure soil biological activity. 

Episode 6: Organic management of SWD (4/10/2020)
Annie talked with Dr. Mary Rogers, an Assistant Professor studying organic food production systems in the Department of Horticulture. They discussed recent research findings from Dr. Rogers team, as well as other farms and researchers around the country, about the best ways to manage SWD organically. 

Episode 5: The economic impact of SWD on the Minnesota berry industry (4/10/2020)
Annie talked with Gigi Digiacomo, a research fellow in the Department of Applied Economics. They discussed Digiacomo's recent findings about how spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) has impacted the Minnesota berry industry, and weighed the economics of SWD management strategies.

Episode 4: Climate change adaptation at Little Hill Berry Farm (3/30/2020)
Annie interviewed Aaron Wills from Little Hill Berry Farm in Northfield about climate impacts on perennial fruit production.

Episode 3: Climate change adaptation at Open Hands Farm (3/30/2020)
Natalie interviewed Erin Johnson and Ben Doherty from Open Hands Farm in Northfield about climate impacts on their diversified vegetable farm and adaptation strategies.

Episode 2: Climate change adaptation at Loon Organics Farm (3/30/2020)
Annie interviewed Laura Frerichs from Loon Organics in Hutchinson farm about the impacts she's seeing on her diversified vegetable farm, and strategies she and her husband Adam are using for adaptation.

Episode 1: Growing Produce in a changing climate with Kenny Blumenfeld (3/30/2020)
In this episode Natalie interviewed DNR senior climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld about how our climate has changed over the last 100 years in Minnesota, and predictions for future changes.


Episode 27: Swede Midge Management - an overview of what we know (10/4/2019)

Episode 26: Swede Midge - a new brassica pest in Minnesota (10/4/2019)

Episode 25: Adding Flowering Plants to Your Garden to Increase Pollination (8/2/2019)
In episode 25 of What's Killing My Kale, Natalie talked with Extension Educator (horticulture) Julie Weisenhorn, and recently graduated horticulture master's student Nathan Hecht. Both Julie and Nathan have been studying how flowering plants near fruit and vegetable plots impacts pollination and fruit set. While we generally know that adding flowering plants to the landscape is good for pollinators and beneficial insects, we wanted to dig deeper and learn how much of an impact flowering plants can have, how to go about selecting the proper plants, and how the broader landscape impacts results. This is a longer episode, but it's packed with insight and good discussion.   

Episode 24: Vertebrate Pest Management (7/18/2019)
In episode 24 of What's Killing My Kale, Natalie talked with wildlife biologist John Loegering about vertebrate pest management. They discussed a four pillar IPM approach to wildlife management both in packshed areas and in fields, and talked about balancing the competing interests of supporting wildlife habitat while keeping animals out of the field.

Episode 23: Understanding Degree Day Maps for Insect Monitoring with Anthony Hanson (7/10/2019)
In episode 23 of our fruit and vegetable podcast What's Killing My Kale? we talked to Anthony Hanson, an Extension post-doc who has been creating degree day maps for various insect pests in Minnesota. Anthony explained how fruit and vegetable growers can use these maps to help make pest management decisions.

Episode 22: Thinning Techniques for Apple Trees Through the Season (6/24/2019)
In episode 22 of What's Killing My Kale, Annie took a deep dive into apple crop load management (thinning) techniques with fruit tree researcher Becky Wiepz. Becky recently received her Masters degree in Horticulture at Penn State, studying a crop load management technique called artificial spur extinction. This non-chemical technique may be a promising option for organic apple growers in the Midwest, as it reduces or eliminates the need for chemical thinners during the growing season. In addition to artificial spur extinction, we compared the advantages and disadvantages of various thinning techniques, and laid out what options apple growers have at this point in the season if they have not thinned yet.

Episode 21: Solarization for Weed Management with Courtney Tchida  (6/17/2019)
In episode 21 of our fruit and vegetable podcast What's Killing My Kale? we talked to Courtney Tchida, farm manager at Cornercopia student organic farm. Courtney has been trying various weed management methods over the years, and has recently been experimenting with solarization using standard plastic as well as used billboards (as in billboards from roadside advertising!). Courtney shared her insight on how well these methods work, labor and equipment costs, convenience, and more.

Episode 20: Let's Talk Transplants! (6/10/2019)
In this episode of our fruit and vegetable podcast What's Killing My Kale? we're talking all about transplants with Alissa Jacobsen, a farmer who currently works at Open Hands Farm in Northfield. Alissa has worked on many farms at different scales and with different types of markets and goals. 

Episode 19: Dealing with Bud Injury in Cold Climate Fruit Trees  (6/1/2019)
In the first episode of our 2019 fruit and vegetable podcast What's Killing My Kale? we take a deep dive into fruit bud injury with Dr. Amaya Atucha of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Atucha has a wealth of knowledge on this topic, so it made for a fascinating and useful conversation that we think fruit growers will find very helpful! 


December, 2018

The December episodes of the podcast center around understanding the complex topic of pesticide use and safety on fruit and vegetable farms, including organic and natural pest management products.

Episode 18: Navigating Natural Remedies: What Works and Why? with Linda Chalker-Scott (12/10/2018)
The internet lays many claims about the benefits of numerous "alternative" or "natural" remedies for pest management and plant health. How do we know which methods are backed up by science, and which are not? In this episode, Linda lays out ways growers can determine if claims about natural products are accurate and effective. We use epsom salts and compost tea as two examples. Linda is an Extension Educator at Washington State University and manages the Horticultural Myths blog and The Informed Gardener podcast. 

Episode 17: What Does Pesticide Safety Mean for Organic Farms? with Natalie Hoidal (12/10/2018) 
In this episode, Natalie discusses the importance of thinking about pesticide safety on all fruit and vegetable farms, including organic farms with organic pesticide products. She also lays out the results of the fruit and vegetable pesticide use survey that was distributed by UMN Extension to fruit and vegetable growers throughout 2018.

November, 2018

This month on "What's Killing My Kale?" we had a fascinating discussion about this with Chryseis Modderman, UMN Extension Educator for manure management. Among other things, we talked about best practices for applying compost and manure on vegetable fields, and how it is that weed seeds and diseases can travel all the way from the pasture, through the animal, and onto the vegetable field. We then discussed practices that growers can adopt to minimize the risk of bringing in new weed infestations via manure and compost.

Episode 16: Manure, Compost, and Weeds, with Chryseis Modderman (10/31/2018)

September-October, 2018 

For our September series of "What's Killing My Kale?", we caught up with some of our Extension IPM experts to discuss the main 2018 growing season pest pressures and how to prepare for 2019. We discussed weeds with Annie Klodd, diseases with Michelle Grabowski, and insects with Bill Hutchison. 

Episode 15: Insect Overview with Bill Hutchison (9/30/2018) 
Episode 14: Disease Overview for 2018 with Michelle Grabowski (9/25/2018)
Episode 13: Late Season Weed Control with Annie Klodd (9/20/2018)

August, 2018 

In our August episode on pollinator and beneficial insect conservation as part of IPM, we talk with Extension educator and native bee expert Elaine Evans, and Xerces society conservation planner Karin Jokela. We'll discuss some background on how pollinators and beneficial insects are faring in our current agricultural systems, how farmers can implement beneficial habitat, and some tips for managing pests without harming beneficial insects. 

As always, please provide feedback so that we can improve our podcast! If you'd like to do a farm consultation with Karin, reach out to your local NRCS office or email Karin at [email protected]

Episode 12: How Much Do We Really Know About Japanese Beetles? (8/22/2018)
Episode 11: Pollinators and IPM part 3: Pesticides and pollinators with Karin Jokela (8/10/2018)
Episode 10: Pollinators and IPM part 2: Beneficial insect habitat with Karin Jokela (8/10/2018)
Episode 9: Pollinators and IPM part 1: Elaine Evans, native bee expert (8/10/2018)

July, 2018 

This month's episodes of "What's Killing My Kale?" is all about plant diseases. We start in part 1 with a trip to the plant disease clinic to learn about the services they provide to growers. In part 2, we talk with Michelle Grabowski about diseases in Brassica plants, and what growers should be thinking about in terms of scouting and management in the upcoming weeks. Finally, in part 3 we discuss a newly identified disease that's been impacting grapes across Minnesota.

Episode 8: Plant Disease Update part 3: Trunk disease in MN grapes (7/31/2018)
Episode 7: Plant Disease Update Part 2: Disease identification and management in Brassica plants (7/11/2018)
Episode 6: Plant Disease Update Part 1: University of Minnesota's Plant Disease Clinic (7/11/2018)

June, 2018 

This month's episodes of "What's Killing My Kale?" focus on Spotted Wing Drosophila. This invasive vinegar fly, now widespread in Minnesota, is a major concern for small fruit growers as it lays its eggs directly in the flesh of many high value fruits. This series of podcasts provides growers with top recommendations on managing SWD from Mary Rogers, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Jim Riddle, long-time organic fruit grower and owner of Blue Fruit Farm, and Bill Hutchison, UMN Extension Entomologist. Additional information on SWD can be found at https://www.fruitedge.umn.edu/swd.

Episode 5: Spotted Wing Drosophila Part 2: A Chat with Jim Riddle of Blue Fruit Farm
Episode 4: Spotted Wing Drosophila Part 1: Dr. Mary Rogers on Keeping Out SWD

May, 2018

This month on What's Killing my Kale we're talking about integrated weed management (IWM) with Annie Klodd and Charlie Rowher. In part 1, we talk about how integrated pest management applies to weeds and explore the four pillars of IWM. In part 2, we discuss different tools we've worked with for mechanical weed management. Annie shares her top 5 tools, and Charlie provides some insight on how flame weeders can be integrated into your weed management strategies. In part three, we explore specialty systems. Charlie shares his experiences with weed management in hops, Annie discusses considerations for perennial systems like grapes and apples, and we finish with some insight from Charlie on weeds in high tunnel systems.

Episode 3: Weeds in Perennial Systems (5/23/2018)
Episode 2: Tools for Weeding (5/22/2018)
Episode 1: Integrated Weed Management (5/23/2018)