The weather was a bit nippy at the UF/IFAS Extension Cole Crop Field Day on December 13, 2017. Gary England, Regional Specialized Extension Agent at the Hastings Agricultural Center, and his farm team organized the event at the Cowpen Branch Research Farm in Hastings. The event was well attended with over 40 participants including local growers, producers, seed companies, Extension agents, researchers, regulators and specialists. Specialists and Agents showcased the on-going farm trials on various crops and discussed their significance for local growers in the Tri-County Agricultural Area (TCAA).
Dr. Peter Dittmar discussed the weed management strategies with the on-going cabbage trials and Dr. Charles Barrett highlighted some advantages of advanced cabbage production. In this trial, traditional plantings on 40-inch row centers are compared with high-density plantings in plastic mulch beds. The plastic mulch beds are on 80-inch row centers but there are 4 drills in each bed planted 10 to 14 inches apart. The goal is to determine if these high-density plantings can produce similar marketable yields with less inputs such as fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and water. Cabbage producer Mark Barnes (owner of Barnes Farm, LLLP) was in attendance as he is particularly interested in the outcome.
Dr. Lincoln Zotarelli showcased the USDA Broccoli Trial that is being conducted all the way up the East Coast from Florida (Hastings) to South Carolina (Charleston) to North Carolina (Waynesville) to New York (Geneva) to Maine (Monmouth). A total of 31 different cultivars are being evaluated for the quality of production in various soil types to better understand which cultivars are best suited for our local growing conditions. The trials are timed so that the cultivars undergo at least two to three weeks of heat stress prior to harvest. The planting density across all the sites is 25,000 plants per acre and cultivars that show superior performance will be selected for agronomic yield trials in the following years.
Brussels Sprouts Trial
Dr. Lincoln Zotarelli also showcased the nitrogen trial with various fertilization rates on Brussels Sprouts including 50, 125, 200 and 274 pounds per acre (lbs/A). The visual differences among the plots told most of the story. Dr. Wendy Mussoline told the rest of the story by sharing quantitative data for nitrate-nitrogen taken up by the plants. She used a field screening tool, LAQUA twin nitrate meter https://www.specmeters.com/nutrient-management/nutrient-meters/nitrate/laqua-twin-nitrate-meter/, to detect the nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in the petiole sap for each of the plot trials. This method is intended to help growers make timely decisions on necessary N requirements for specific crops.
Diamondback Moth Trial
Dr. Bonnie Wells highlighted the diamondback moth trial that involved three different treatment approaches for the management of caterpillar pests. The treatment regimes have been applied for two consecutive seasons on field plots planted in cabbage and collard greens. Three different pesticide rotations for each crop were evaluated which included various groups of pesticides (namely Coragen, Dimilin, Xentari, Radient, Lannate, Rimon, Durivo, and Proclaim) applied at different stages of crop growth.
A very tasty cole crop lunch was sponsored by Ameris Bank, thanks to representative Mary Ellen Hancock. Updates from Jerry Fankhauser with the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and Dr. Kelly Morgan (Statewide representative for Best Management Practice Programs) wrapped up the day. Dr. Morgan provided an update on the phosphorus trials that will be implemented on four different farms in the TCAA to better understand the phosphorus requirements for lucrative potato farming.