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Nine New Organic Production Guides Now Available

Nine New Organic Production Guides Now Available

Commissioner Announces Guides for Farmers who are Transitioning to Organic

Contact: Curt Petzoldt, 315-787-2206, cp13@cornell.edu

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced the availability of nine new organic production guides for farmers.  The new guides provide information for farmers on how to produce certified organic apples, blueberries, grapes, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and cole crops, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  There is also a new guide to help control dairy cattle related pests using organic IPM methods.

"Farmers indicated to us that there was a lack of clear, research-based information available to help them transition from conventional to organic production," the Commissioner said.  "These free guides are in direct response to those pleas and we hope they serve the farmers interested in transitioning by providing practical and proven information to make the transition as smooth and possible."

With limited pest control products available for use in organic production systems, these guides offer commercial vegetable producers organic integrated pest management (IPM) techniques for both fruit and vegetable crops.  IPM techniques such as keeping accurate pest history records, selecting the proper site, and preventing pest outbreaks through use of crop rotation, resistant varieties and biological controls are all components of successful organic and IPM management techniques.  The guides may be downloaded at Organic Guides at the IPM website.

Donald A. Rutz, Ph.D., Director of the New York State IPM Program, said, "The fundamentals of organic and IPM production practices are so similar that coordinating the development of these guides is a natural extension of our New York State IPM Program activities.  There is a lot of valuable information for organic growers at Cornell; assembling it in one place, identifying gaps, and searching for what's been developed in other states provides growers with the best information available now and also identifies areas where research is needed."

Cornell University experts contributed to the manuals, and expert organic farmers and veterinarians acted as reviewers, which culminated in peer-reviewed documents containing all current, relevant information about growing the particular crops. The nine new guides join four organic guides written in 2009 for New York State processing vegetables.  The previous four guides for carrots, peas, snap beans and cucurbits, which include winter squash and cucumbers, were initiated by the New York State IPM program.

In 2008, the Department and the New York Field Office of USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service conducted a survey of all organic farmers and a representative sample of conventional farmers to identify barriers to organic transition.  Lack of production information was one of the barriers to transition that farmers identified.

Development of the guides was funded in part by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets' Organic Development and Assistance Program, and coordinated by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program with contributions from dozens of professionals at Cornell University and Cooperative Extension.  Depending on their expertise, professionals provided input on soil fertility recommendations, crop rotations to prevent pests and disease incidence, and specific strategies to address common crop problems.

New York State ranks among the top ten states in the country for the number of organic farms.  In 2008, the U.S. Census identified 827 organic farms in New York State with nearly 168,400 total acres in production.  The 2008 Census also found that 77 farms were transitioning another 2,806 acres to organic production.