Imagine those delicious tomatoes you just planted. You can already taste that juicy and tangy first bite! But not so fast; it’s not quite that simple. It’s June and three of your plants are mysteriously missing – cutworms! What are they? Where did they come from? The rest of your plants are hidden by a thicket of weeds. ‘I didn’t plant those!’ you think to yourself. It’s July and we are back on track. But wait. Half the leaves have been torn off, the rest are covered in brown spots—hornworms? The news says it’s early blight – how, why? So it goes on into fall when you finally pick your few remaining treasures before some new plague devours them.
Fighting the critters that devour our plants is pretty much a given, whether you are tending a small kitchen garden or farming 1,000 acres. If you want your crop to succeed, then you need to know not only what your crop needs, but what makes those critters tick! (more…)
Why is agriculture so important? Well, we can all point to the abundant, safe and cost effective food supply, which comes from our fine farmers and ranchers each day. However, agriculture also has a profound effect on conservation, and it is critical to maintain undeveloped, open agricultural landscapes as a part of a strategy to ensure endangered, at-risk or declining species and habitats remain in our ecology. Interestingly enough, more than 90% of at-risk species in Wisconsin exist on private land—many on farms in your community!
It’s April, and in the Central Sands farmers are beginning to stir and get ready for action in the fields! The wind is from the south, and gentle spring rains are recharging the groundwater. The landscape is about to be awoken and soon to be thriving with growing vegetables–the Central Sands region is one of the nation’s premier potato and vegetable production areas. Just the warm and earthy smell of the soil after rain is an elixir to the farmers; they are ready for the season to begin! (more…)
When the warm winds blow from the south in late March, it is a sure sign of spring! While it might be welcome to many, it can be a big problem for the vegetable growers in Central Wisconsin. The winds can easily pick up small grains of sand from bare soil and blow them from the carefully tended fields—this may be of little consequence in a place like the Sahara desert but it cannot be tolerated in the Central Sands where the farmers spend lifetimes building the soil to the structure and health needed to grow quality vegetables. So what can they do? (more…)
As spring ripens into summer and you take a relaxing drive through Wisconsin’s Central Sands—from Coloma to Plover, barely 50 miles—you will see a remarkable diversity of crops taking shape on the landscape. Not many realize it, but you are travelling through the heart of one of the nation’s most important vegetable production areas, and also one of its most diverse. (more…)