To Participate In The Census of Horticultural Specialties

On January 02, 2020

To Participate In The Census of Horticultural Specialties

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties this winter to provide a comprehensive picture of the U.S. horticulture industry. Survey codes will be mailed this month to more than 40,000 horticulture producers to respond online. Collected just once every five years, the Census of Horticultural Specialties is the only source of detailed production and sales data for U.S. floriculture, nursery, and specialty crop industries, including greenhouse food crops.

“Horticulture is a very important part of U.S. agriculture and our economy,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Responding to this census is the best way for growers to help associations, businesses, and policymakers advocate for their industry, and influence program decisions and technology development over the next five years.”

The 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties results will expand the 2017 Census of Agriculture data with information on horticultural crop production, value of products, square footage used for growing crops, production expenses, and more.

Producers who receive the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties are required to respond by federal law (Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113), as it is part of the Census of Agriculture program. The same federal law that requires producers to respond also requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.

Growers are asked to use their unique survey code to complete the horticulture census online via NASS’ secure website. The online questionnaire is user friendly, accessible on most electronic devices, and saves producers time by calculating totals and automatically skipping questions that don’t apply to their operations.

The deadline for response is Feb. 5, 2020. Results will be available December 2020. For more information about the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, visit

In an era of fluctuating grain and dairy prices, knowing the price and the value of your crop inputs is critical when making management decisions.  Unfortunately, a poor understanding of the value of cover crops keeps many from fully utilizing the practice of even trying it.  To help de-mystify the value of cover crops, Penn State Extension, with support from the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance, is now offering Making Cover Crops Pay, a look into the management and economics of cover crops.

To Understand The Value Of Cover Crops

Penn State Extension is offering a new workshop series highlighting the value of cover crops. Extension Educator Zach Larson explains at this workshop, you will figure out the value that cover crops can bring to your farm by looking at how improved soils and enhanced cover crop management techniques benefit your bottom line by assigning your own costs to them.  In the workshop we will explore how improving organic matter makes for more resilient systems, how to incorporate legumes for nitrogen production and how to utilize cover crops as part of a weed management program.  Attendees will also learn how they can develop and tailor cover crop mixtures for their farm.

The half-day workshops will be held in Lancaster on January 14th, Kittanning on January 21st, Bellefonte on January 22nd, Kane on January 24th and Gettysburg on February 5th.  The event is free of charge and is ideal for those looking to get into cover cropping or taking the next step into more intensive cover crop management.  You can register for the event by calling 1-877-345-0691 during business hours, Monday through Friday.  Seats may be limited at some locations, so please register in advance to ensure your spot.

To Learn About Establishing Orchards

The completion of harvest brings the opportunity to begin planning new orchards with exciting new cultivars and rootstocks. Penn State Extension now offers two online courses on best practices for planning and establishing orchards.

The self-paced courses provide the latest recommendations on site planning and preparation, cultivars, rootstocks and training systems. Although designed for new producers, orchard managers and young growers returning to the family farm, the courses also have step-by-step suggestions useful to more experienced growers.

The first course, “Orchard Management — Site Planning and Preparation,” addresses orchard site and climatic considerations along with site preparation practices to obtain early tree growth and yield. Basic horticultural principles are discussed for individuals who desire more training but have limited time. Online learners will develop an orchard map using sound horticultural principles and determine a site-specific approach to the preparation of a new orchard planting.

The second course, “Orchard Management — Cultivars, Rootstocks and Orchard Training Systems,” has a series of videos and exercises on the selection of cultivars, rootstocks and training systems for apples, peaches, pears, plums, sweet cherries and tart cherries. Course registration includes access to image galleries of cultivars and rootstocks. There also are whiteboard animations on training various fruit types to higher density, profitable production systems.

The courses are designed to stand alone or to be bundled for a discount. For more information and to register, visit

Cost share programs can help in offsetting the cost of trying new species, such as crimson clover and annual ryegrass.  Zach Larson photo.

To Participate In A Cover Crop Survey

Have you utilized a cover crop cost share program such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP or CSP to plant a cover crop on your farm?  Did you apply for them, only to find roadblocks that kept you from ultimately from utilizing the program?  Are you considering utilizing a cost share program to get into cover crops?  If so, Extension Agronomist Zach Larson invites you to please tell us what you think.

Cornell University, with support from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), is conducting an external assessment of cover crop incentive programs in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. The assessment is based on farmer feedback, so they are seeking fruit, vegetable, field crop, grain, and mixed crop-livestock producers to take their 5-10 minute survey. You do not need to have experience with cover crops to participate.


The goal is to identify how cover crop incentive programs can be improved to better suit farmer needs. Key findings from the survey will be shared widely and communicated directly to local, state, and federal program administrators.

Please click go to this link fill out the survey:

Quote Of The Week: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin