August 2016

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In this issue

New  Webinars on Seed Production, Cucurbit Diseases and Conservation

August 16, 2016: Organic Seed Production Six Webinar Series Part 3: Pests and Diseases

Tomorrow (August 16th) is the third webinar in our monthly Organic Seed Production Six Webinar Series, organized by the Organic Seed Alliance and MESA. You're welcome to attend even if you missed the first two presentations, which are archived on the eOrganic YouTube channel. One registration allows you attend any or all of the webinars in the series. This month's session, by Jared Zystro of the Organic Seed Alliance and Shannon Carmody of Washington State University, focuses on the management of pests and diseases in organic seed production. Find the full description and register here

October 5, 2016: How to Implement and Verify Biodiversity Conservation Activities in Organic Production

Organic operations must follow the National Organic Program’s (NOP) regulations. The NOP Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance, which interprets these regulations, helps organic producers and their certification personnel determine which conservation practices are appropriate. Biodiversity conservation in organic agriculture varies in a continuum from simple to complex stewardship practices. Opportunities for USDA NRCS to support producers with putting in many of these conservation practices will be discussed. Examples from Wild Farm Alliance that suggest compliance, and minor and major issues related to the Guidance, will be shared. This webinar will also feature presenter, Assistant Professor John Quinn, who will discuss components and issues around biodiversity. Organic producers will learn how to implement conservation practices, and certification personnel will become skilled on how to observe and verify organic operation’s biodiversity conservation practices. Register here

October 19, 2016: Viral Diseases in Cucurbits: Identification and Management Strategies

Presented by Dr. John Murphy of Auburn University, this presentation will focus on four commonly occurring aphid-borne viruses that infect cucurbits. We will describe these viruses, how they spread in the field and why they are particularly difficult to manage. We will discuss approaches to diagnose their occurrence in cucurbits and various approaches used to reduce losses caused by these viruses, for example genetic resistance and integration of various production practices such as use of UV-reflective plastic mulch and inter-row living ground covers. This webinar, as well as the following one, is being organized by the NIFA-OREI funded Eastern Sustainable Cucurbit Project, which is a collaboration of growers, researchers and extension agents working to find solutions for the many challenges facing organic cucurbit producers. Register here

December 6, 2016: Managing Cucurbit Downy Mildew in Organic Systems in the Northeast

Downy mildew of cucumber, pumpkin and other cucurbits occurs annually in the Northeastern US causing severe losses in yield.  This presentation will discuss when the pathogen first arrives in and area and how the pathogen spreads.  Additionally, methods for controlling cucurbit downy mildew will be discussed including resistant varieties and cultural controls. Results from studies on the use and effectiveness of organically approved commercially available products for controlling downy mildew will also be presented. Register here

We'll be adding more webinars as fall approaches, and you can find them all along with links to our archive at All webinars are free and open to the public, and unless otherwise specified, they take place at 2PM Eastern Time (1 Central, 12 Mountain, 11 Pacific).

Spotted Wing Drosophila Research Project Updates

The multi-state Organic Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila research project, funded by NIFA OREI, has been posting updates about their research activities this summer, which highlight some of the many challenges researchers face in conducting experiments with the goal of finding solutions to this troublesome pest, including hailstorms and unexpected predators! Learn about ongoing experiments in mulching, exclusion, and pruning and their effects on Spotted Wing Drosophila, as well as the overall objectives of this project at

New Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Publications

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Organic Systems research project, also funded by the NIFA OREI, recently published several new journal articles and other resources on their findings and listed them on their website, with links to the journal article abstracts. Find them here:

New Video: CalCORE Research: Controlling Soilborne Diseases in California's Strawberry Industry with Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD)

The NIFA OREI funded CalCORE Research project has produced a new short video about their work using Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) to control diseases in organic strawberry production, which is available here on the eOrganic YouTube channel. To learn more about ASD in greater depth, view the archived webinars they have presented on this technique:

New Fact Sheet on Integrated Pest Management and Organic Production

Organic agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) systems and proponents share many of the same goals to address environmental and human health concerns. However, key commonalities and differences between these systems are not always clearly understood. The Organic and IPM Working Group developed a fact sheet summarizing these two systems, including ways to tell if products were produced using organic and/or IPM practices. You can find and download the fact sheet on the working group’s website ( or by clicking here. The Organic and IPM Working Group is comprised of over 60 industry professionals, practitioners, researchers, Extension agents, educators and policy makers working together to synergize these two communities. Their work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, North Central IPM Center. This summary was submitted to eOrganic by Jaime Pinero, Assistant Professor and IPM Specialist at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium 2017 Call for Abstracts

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in partnership with the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University invite the submission of research abstracts for presentation at the 2017 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS), taking place on January 25-26, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky, immediately preceding the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference (SAWG). The symposium will feature researchers from all disciplines related to organic farming and food systems, and other systems of sustainable agriculture that employ techniques compatible with organic standards.The intent of the symposium is to provide current information to farmers, ranchers, extensionists, educators, agricultural professionals and others interested in organic agriculture.

Based on the results of the 2015 OFRF survey with organic farmers in the Southern region, we especially encourage conference participation related to the following priority topic areas. (For additional topic areas and more information, click here)

• Biological and cultural practices to manage insects, diseases and weeds
• Market entry and transition to organic production systems
• Adaptations to climate change in the Southern region.

Presentations will be selected based on their innovative excellence, relevance to the research needs and priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, soundness of the methodology used, and the overall scientific quality.

The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2016. Abstracts should be sent to Dr. Joanna Ory at

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Seeks Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin seeks a new Executive Director. Read detailed information on the requirements and responsibilities of this position as well as contact information on their website at The Michael Fields Institute is a public, nonprofit organization dedicate to sustainable agriculture education, research and policy. 

National Organic Program News: Roundtable on Consumer Perception of "Organic" Claims for Non-Agricultural Products

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will co-host a roundtable in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2016, to help the agencies better understand how consumers perceive “organic” claims for non-agricultural products, such as personal care products.

At the roundtable, invited panelists, including consumer advocates, industry representatives, and academics, will discuss the following topics:

  • Consumers’ interpretations of “organic” claims for products and services that generally fall outside the scope of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program
  • A recent FTC-USDA study on organic claims, including its methods, limitations and conclusions
  • Approaches to address potential deception, including consumer education. 

The roundtable is open to the public, and the FTC welcomes written comments, including further evidence of consumer perception. Interested parties may file a comment electronically. Paper comments may be mailed to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580, or they may be delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024.

Commenters should write "Green Guides--Organic Roundtable, Project No. P954501" on their submission. The public comment period will remain open until Dec 1, 2016. Comments will be posted on the roundtable's public webpage.

The roundtable is free and open to the public. It will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Building, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20024. The Commission will publish a detailed agenda at a later date. 

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Published August 15, 2016

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.