0615 NowTime

6/15/2013 7:00 AM

To Follow Good <\n>Food Safety Practices

at Farm and Farmers Markets

As a Pennsylvania grower of fresh vegetables and fruits, you have worked hard to learn about and adopt Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, on your farm and in your packing house.

Extension horticulture educator Lee Stivers reminds us to practice those farm food safety concepts when selling your produce at farm and farmers markets. Food safety practices that extend from farm to fork can help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

Make sure your workers follow good hygiene while vending fresh produce. This includes using sanitary restrooms and proper hand washing. Workers who have any symptoms of illness should not be handling fresh produce at your markets.

Whenever possible, workers should use gloves or tongs when handling produce items. One trick is for workers to turn a plastic bag inside out, then place it over the produce item being purchased, invert the bag with the item, and proceed with the sale.

Avoid handling money and produce with the same hands, even if gloved.

Use clean, sanitized containers for displays. Wipe them down and clean up spilled debris from time to time during market hours. Keep crates of fresh produce off of floors, sidewalks and pavement.

Keep products as cool as possible, within their optimal temperatures. As much as possible, limit the time that fresh produce remains on display under higher than optimal temperature ranges. Icing can help keep products cool, but make sure that water used to make ice is from a safe source.

Avoid leaving produce unsupervised. This will minimize both intentional and unintentional contamination by shoppers. Although the risk is low, in rare cases people may deliberately attempt to contaminate food. For most market situations, you can’t stop shoppers from handling produce items, but they may do so more respectfully if they know someone is watching.

Cull any wilted, damaged or pest-infested produce items from your displays. Microbial pathogens will reproduce more quickly on damaged produce.

If you are offering samples of fresh produce, make sure you are following all food safety regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and local municipalities. Samples should not be left unattended at any time. Let your customers know you follow GAPs. Post a copy of your GAPs training certificate or other certification, or create your own sign to post.

To Participate in the 2013 Corn Club

Registration for the Five Acre Corn Club is open. Yield prospects for this year’s crop are looking good. Take time now and make sure you can get one of your fields registered in the club for this year.

This program is conducted in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association. This year, we are continuing our simple online system for registration that allows producers or their advisers to register them with a credit card. Fields need to be identified at registration.

For the 2013 rules and registration information, visit http://extension.psu.edu/plants/crops/grains/corn/club . You can register at the website or by calling 877-489-1398. Cost is $35 per field if registered by July 1.

To Learn About Soybean <\n>Sentinel Plot Program for 2013

Last year, Penn State Extension’s Crop Management Team initiated a program scouting local soybean fields for disease and insect pests to provide growers a feel for pests that are active in different parts of the state.

Extension agronomist John Tooker reports we scouted 15 fields in 10 counties and reported our findings weekly in the Field Crop News and posted the results on a Department of Entomology website.

In 2013, we are making a similar effort, but are expanding to 18 fields in 13 counties. These fields will be scouted by Penn State Extension educators and their staff members.

The Pennsylvania Soybean Promotion Board is funding this effort to inform growers what pest species they may find active in their fields so they can better direct their own scouting efforts. Reports will be distributed weekly through Penn State’s Field Crop News and on Penn State’s Field Crop Entomology website.

Our scouting season has only partially begun as some of the fields have yet to emerge, but the few reports we have received this far have identified bean leaf beetle populations and slugs, particularly with the recent bouts of rain.

To Register for the <\n>Penn State Extension Agronomic Field Diagnostic Clinic

The annual Penn State Extension Agronomic Field Diagnostic Clinic will be 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, July 16-17, at the Penn State Agronomy Research Farm near Rock Springs, Pa.

This year’s Clinic will include sessions on Understanding and Assessing Fertility Needs for Higher Planting Populations; and Herbicide Persistence, Availability and Crop Sensitivity With Diverse Crop Rotations.

Other Topics include Assessing Midseason Corn Growth and Development Issues as well as Assessing Nitrogen Retention and Supply by Cover Crop Mixtures.

Another topic is titled The Ground Crew: Assessing and Managing Biological Soil Quality. CCA, NM and pesticide credits will be available. Cost is $75, $95 after July 9.

To register, call 877-489-1398. Credit card payments will be accepted. If you have questions about the clinic, contact Dwight Lingenfelter at 814-865-2242.

Quote of the Week

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

— Abraham Lincoln

Leon Ressler is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

Do the deer cause a lot of damage to the fruit and vegetable crops in your area?

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