Skip to main content

New guides available to help farmers grow organically

Nine new and free organic production guides are now available for farmers.

The guides provide information 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 on management of dairy cattle pests using organic integrated pest management (IPM) methods.

This effort was coordinated by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell, funded by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM).

"Farmers indicated to us that there was a lack of clear, research-based information available to help them transition from conventional to organic production," said Patrick Hooker, commissioner of NYSDAM. "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 as possible."

With limited pest-control products available for use in organic production systems, these guides offer commercial producers organic IPM techniques for fruit and vegetable crops. Such IPM strategies 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 pest management. The guides can be downloaded at http://nysipm.cornell.edu/organic_guide/.

"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," said Donald A. Rutz, professor of entomology at Cornell and director of the New York State IPM Program.

Dozens of professionals at Cornell and Cornell Cooperative Extension contributed to the manuals while expert organic farmers and veterinarians acted as reviewers, which culminated in peer-reviewed documents containing current, relevant information about growing the particular crops. The nine new guides join four others published in 2009 by the New York State IPM Program for carrots, peas, snap beans and cucurbits, which include winter squash and cucumbers.

New York ranks among the top 10 states in the country for the number of organic farms. In 2008, the U.S. Census identified 827 organic farms in the state with nearly 168,400 total acres in production. The census also found that 77 farms were transitioning another 2,806 acres to organic production.

Media Contact

John Carberry