What sparked my interest in vegetable newsletters was one I received recently from UMass with two articles on the effect of the smoke from the wildfires in Canada on vegetable crops. One article came Dr. Gordon Johnson from the University of Delaware; the other, Dr. Steve Reiners of Cornell University. Johnson did an excellent job going through why the smoke could potentially impact crops while Reiners’s main conclusion was that the lack of rain was probably more important to the health of the vegetable crops.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved with newsletters at major land grant universities both as a contributor and editor. I’ve found that it can be hard work pulling together a concise and timely newsletter that serves the needs of growers out there battling the weather, weeds, insects, diseases, markets, labor issues, regulations and supply chain problems. Many excellent newsletters are available to growers throughout the country. I’m going to highlight some on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Growers normally subscribe to their state newsletter (or maybe a regionally oriented one). At Penn State, our monthly Vegetable Gazette has the latest news and information on classes, workshops, publications, videos and virtual and in-person events. Topics include integrated pest management, plant diseases, pollinators, crop production systems for vegetable and small fruits, soil health and resilience, mushroom production and a host of other topics. Over the years, articles printed in our newsletter were picked up by other newsletters and commodity organizations.

As I reflect on other newsletters I’ve been receiving for years, one that comes to mind is the Cultivating Cumberland Newsletter published by my friend Wes Kline and his colleagues in New Jersey. In the recent July issue, there was an article about a new publication by ATTRA (“The Irrigator’s Pocket Guide”), which looks to be full of useful information. I also saw an article by my friend Michelle Infante-Casella on “Magnesium Deficiency in Tomatoes.” It’s a newsletter that also covers nursery crops, which are big in Cumberland County, NJ, and has an extensive calendar of upcoming events and meetings.

The UNH newsletter Vegetable and Fruit News is published by their Vegetable & Fruit Team. Their blog shares the latest news and research about vegetable and fruit production in New Hampshire and beyond. You can receive email notifications when they post new articles by subscribing to their newsletter. My friends George Hamilton, now retired, and Becky Sideman, the current vegetable research/Extension person, both worked hard on the newsletter. There are timely articles on topics such as “Leek Moth in New Hampshire.” With the advent of e-newsletters and associated blogs, information reaches growers almost instantaneously, compared to the “old days” of the monthly newsletter via snail mail.

The Vegetable Notes Newsletter from UMass has been around since 1975 and is full of information to keep growers up to speed on items of interest. In the recent newsletter they have Crop Conditions, an extensive Pest Alerts section and an article by Gordon Johnson from the University of Delaware on “Potassium and Vegetable Crops.” They wrap up with News and Upcoming Events.

The neat thing about these newsletters is that they have excellent photos which makes for a much more effective publication. As someone who started with line drawings of insects and black and white photos of diseases, I can appreciate the current technology.

Another newsletter I’ve been following is the Long Island Fruit and Vegetable Update since the days when Dale Moyer was still in Extension. It is put out by Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk County. It starts out with some general observations, then goes to vegetables, then to small fruit/tree fruit (and usually something on potatoes).

The VegEdge is the highly regarded newsletter produced by the Cornell Vegetable Program. As with other newsletters, it provides information on upcoming meetings, pesticide updates, pest management strategies, cultural practices, marketing ideas and research results from Cornell and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Twenty-five issues of VegEdge are produced each year. CCE personnel are using blogs, YouTube videos, Instagram, Facebook and podcasts to reach out to growers with current information. Many sites have a gallery of photos of disease and insect pests or nutritional deficiency of crops.

University of Maryland Cooperative Extension puts out the Fruit and Vegetable News, a timely publication for the commercial vegetable and fruit industry available April through October. It is published by UMD Extension Agriculture and Food Systems. My friend Bryan R. Butler Sr. is a senior agent in agriculture and natural resources stationed in the Carroll County Office in Maryland and is an excellent resource person on high tunnels and published articles in the newsletter.

Ohio State has the VegNet website and newsletter – an outstanding outlet for pest management and production information on vegetables in Ohio supported by my longtime friend Dr. Matt Kleinhenz in horticulture, along with his colleagues in entomology, weed science and plant pathology. They have moved from a newsletter to a blog where timely articles are posted. This site is full of useful links for information on vegetables.

The Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Newsletter provides practical production advice that growers can use today to improve their farming operations.

Having worked in the Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources Department at Kansas State University for nine years, I couldn’t write an article on newsletters without giving my friend Ward Upton, who coordinates the K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Newsletter, a shout-out. They have very timely articles on cultural practices, pest management, marketing, etc., with excellent photos.

Throughout the country at the land grant universities you will find newsletters and websites promoting fruits and vegetables. They have come a long way from the hard copy and snail mail newsletters that I grew up working with. They have evolved into elaborate websites with a host of information from articles on current crop conditions to pest situations and counts to ways to deal with insect, disease and weed problems. There is production information on every vegetable from asparagus to zucchini and small and large fruit crops, budgets, variety trial information, blogs, podcasts and social media. It is mind-boggling the ways that information is disseminated in today’s world. I’m sure it will continue to evolve to get timely information to growers so they can make informed decisions for their operations.

No matter how the information is packaged, the bottom line is having solid, science-based information to extend to growers in a timely and efficient manner. Organized knowledge requires additional expertise beyond that of the Extension/research personnel at the state and county level, so we bring in the creative information technologist to take that information and package it into a useful, easy to access format.

You can contact me with feedback on my columns or ideas for future columns at wlamont@psu.edu.

Cultivating Thoughts by Bill Lamont