The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.
Each year we trial annual fruits and vegetables. We evaluate new and old varieties side by side. During the season we make careful notation of flowering dates, fruit set dates, and first ripe fruits. In addition we evaluate plant habit, health, insect pressure, and taste. Our goal is to find out what varieties do best under our weather conditions here in Wisconsin.
Our data is used by both the home and market gardener to determine what to grow.
This years evaluations include a brief summary of weather conditions here at the station.
Each year we conduct trials and research on various fruits and vegetables. After data and seasonal evaluations are completed we donate our produce to local food banks. This year we gave our produce to two local pantries Middleton Outreach Ministry and the Lussier Center-Food from Friends program. In total we gave over 3000lbs of produce over a 5 week period. We are proud to work with volunteers and the organizations to provide the community with healthy food.
On July 26 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard received training at the University Display Gardens. The instruction focused on growing techniques for grapes, apples, and vegetable crops. The training was part of a week long series ‘Agriculture 101’ that was coordinated by the UW Babcock institute. The soldiers were given an overview of many agricultural topics to help prepare them for their service dealing with civilian farmers abroad.
The heat of the year is starting to drive some populations of insects. We are starting to see increased populations of japanese beetles and large numbers of cucumber beetles http://learningstore.uwex.edu/Cucumber-Beetles-P557.aspx and western corn rootworm adults http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/corn-rootworms. The beetles are severely attacking the blooms and even the vegetative growth of the vine crops.
The cucumber beetle can be devastating in particular. Besides destroying blossoms they also transmit bacterial wilt(http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/vine-crops-disorder-bacterial-wilt-0), which will ultimately lead to the death of infected plants. In our garden we have not seen the numbers like we have this year. Especially this early in the season. Because we manage our vegetables organically we have sprayed for the beetle using a certified organic compound Pyganic. This pesticide effectively knocks down the population. It does not have a long-term persistence in the environment.
The University Display Garden is planted and freshly mulched. This year we are trialing a total of 388 cultivars of annual flowers and approximately 127 varieties of vegetables and other food crops. With the help of irrigation the plants are settling in nicely. We continue to hope for rain.
Please come and see our selections grow throughout the summer.
Follow this link to the 2011 Vegetable Evaluations: 2011 Vegetable Evaluations
Vegetable trials at the station were a real trial this year. Rain totals for the summer were over 37 inches. The heat and humidity were conducive to a range of diseases and strange physiological problems. Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers were prone to many undiagnosed spots, lesions, and steaks, not including those identified diseases
This is the first year we have ever seen so much rust in sweet corn, that when we picked the corn we were covered with rust “dust”. One of our volunteers was walking around with a rusty, red nose.
However, we did find many of the vegetables we were trialing performed quite well, the fruit was very flavorful, and productive. We did need a machete to cut our way through the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin vines, but the insects seemed to be fewer than in past years.
Our favorite broccoli variety is still producing well on November 5.
‘Diplomat’ is a broccoli variety that we have been trialing for three years: 2008, 2009, and 2010. The first year we weren’t sure of the great results. So we decided we needed to trial this selection for at least one more year.
We loved the taste, production, and ease of growing so well that we decided we needed to taste this selection one more time……………….
The plant produces a huge first head. It begins to produce in 68 to 75 days from transplanting. Secondary heads are produced until hard frost and are at least 3 to 4 inches across.
An evening garden walk showcasing a multitude of vegetable cultivars will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on August 4th at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station. Come learn about new vegetables on the market, as well as some much-loved heirloom varieties. If you have questions about growing, harvesting, or storing vegetables, this is your chance to find out how! This tour will be led by Assistant Superintendent Judith Reith-Rozelle, and is open to the public (donation requested). For complete details about this and other garden walks, please visit www.cals.wisc.edu/westmad/garden/.