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What makes a grower?

Register • Jan 19, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Not only are the days getting longer but many gardeners can actually get outside now to enjoy the few sunny and relatively warm days that the weather brings our way. Most large growers will be out pruning in force all winter but the dedicated hobbyist will wait until the most comfortable days or even late winter to finish their pruning.

Regardless, the goal is usually to have all the pruning done prior to the plants breaking bud in a few months.

Talking to people who are getting ready for the new season brings up the question of who is a hobbyist and who is a commercial grower. The local foods trend has encouraged some people to expand production and enter into the roadside market business.

Larger and small growers alike have taken advantage of people looking for very local roadside and farm market resources for seasonal groceries. And, some have seen this as an opportunity to start their own small enterprise.

This is where resources and information are different for a commercial grower and a backyard gardener. Commercial fruit and vegetable growers depend on those crops for some income - either as a major source of funds or to supplement an existing full or part time job.

So, no matter what their size, they represent some very small businesses that contribute to the household, township or village economy.

Crop loss means income loss for these growers. I recently had a conversation with our State Insect Specialist (yes, we actually have a person that concentrates her teaching and research efforts on fruit and vegetable insect pests).

She noted that with spotted wing Drosophila becoming such a major pest she is getting more calls from very small growers.

These producers may have less than an acre, but they do sell their produce locally at the roadside or in a farm market. These growers, small as they are, have a more critical need for information than the backyard gardener or hobbyist.

Also, as a grower they have more options they can consider for pest management and educational updates.

In an effort to connect with the small and very small producers we are putting together an email list so these growers have easy access to the information that is available to their larger counterparts.

If you would like to take advantage of this information, send an email to me at malinich.1@osu.eduand answer these two questions:

• Do you sell any of what you produce?

• What crops do you grow?

Your email address will be used to send you information throughout the year about pest problems, classes and area meetings.

For the coming growing season, there many good educational opportunities for home gardeners and commercial growers and a great deal of information to share: spotted wing Drosophila continues to be a problem in many states; brown marmorated stinkbug has moved into the area but has not become a major pest (yet); downy mildew has destroyed most of the impatiens market; and thousand cankers of walnut and Asian longhorned beetle are being watched very closely by the Department of Agriculture.

It looks like it will be another very interesting year.

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