Vegetable Production and Marketing Information Online:
Selected Links for Commercial Growers

Brent Rowell, Extension Vegetable Specialist

(last updated May 2005)

The following is a select list of websites containing an incredible wealth of useful information of interest to commercial vegetable growers in Kentucky and surrounding states. Remember that Internet addresses change frequently. If you are typing these into a web browser, be sure not to include the period at the end of an internet address--this simply indicates the end of a sentence in the text below. Some of the addresses may have changed since the last update. If you are looking at this document in printed form, the interactive web version can be accessed directly at http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Horticulture/veglinks.htm.

Warning!

Use this information with caution and at your own risk. You should be very careful about using any variety, fertilizer, or pesticide recommendation from another region or distant state. Some pesticides may be legal only for use in that particular state or production region. Varieties which perform well in another state may or may not perform well in Kentucky. Refer to the current issue of our Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (publication ID-36) below for specific recommendations for Kentucky.

UK College of Agriculture

The College of Agriculture's home page at http://www.ca.uky.edu/ provides links to most UK agriculture departments and their publications. The Horticulture Department's home page at http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/HLA/welcome.html has most of our vegetable crop publications. Click on "Commercial Horticulture” and “Vegetables". The Horticulture Department pages also link to the New Crops Opportunities Center at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/ which provides research updates, seminar schedules, and other information on promising new crops for Kentucky including peppers and blackberries. Information on tomato production in tobacco greenhouses can be found by clicking on the "Greenhouse Tomatoes" link at: http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/HLA/anderson/fl_prog.htm. Be sure to check out UK's Ag. Weather Center for an excellent source of current and historical weather information. You can link to it from the College home page or go directly to it at: http://wwwagwx.ca.uky.edu/

General vegetable/agricultural information sites

The University of Kentucky's Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (ID-36) is available online in either Acrobat portable document (pdf) or html file formats. Using the pdf version, you can print the entire document or individual portions which will be identical to the original publication. Most sites that use Acrobat/pdf formats will also tell you how you can download the free Acrobat Reader utility you will need to read and print these publications. Our Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers and many other UK extension publications are available from the online publications page http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/pubs.htm. Simply type “Vegetable Production Guide” in the search window. You can also search for publications by author, department, publication number, or program area. The production guide is a very long publication has been divided into several sections for easier downloading and printing.

The html version is easier and faster to use on the Internet although the printed format will be different from the original publication. You can go directly to the html version at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id36/id36.htm.

In addition to ID-36, detailed production information and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines for Kentucky sweet corn, cabbage, peppers, and pumpkins can be found in the Kentucky IPM Manual series. These are now available in pdf format at http://www.uky.edu/Agriculutre/IPM/manuals.htm.

Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Research Reports are also available online (since 1998); these include results from vegetable variety trials conducted in the state and can be found at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/pubs.htm. You can search by publication number to to locate reports published since 1998: "PR 410" (1998), "PR 423" (1999) "PR 436" (2000), "PR 452" (2001), “PR 470” (2002), “PR 488” (2003), and “PR 504” (2004). All these reports can also be accessed from the Horticulture Department’s webpage, (http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/HLA/welcome.html) under “Commercial Horticulture” and “Vegetables”.

The companion to our commercial vegetable crop production guide is the online publication Vegetable and Melon Enterprise Budgets for Kentucky. This interactive publication is available for downloading at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/vegbudgets08.html. The Vegetable & Melon budgets include 17 common vegetable and melon crops grown in Kentucky: broccoli, Cabbage, Fresh market Cucumbers, Trellised Cucumbers for Fresh Market, Eggplant, Muskmelon, Okra, Bell Peppers, JalapeƱo Peppers, Fresh Market Potatoes, Pumpkins, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Sweet Corn, Staked Tomatoes, Seedless and Seeded Watermelons. These budgets reside in a Microsoft Excel file. In addition to providing average costs and returns for most vegetable crops with the default information provided, the budgets allow users to enter their own cost and price figures to instantly estimate their returns per acre. Instructions for using the Vegetable & Melon budgets are included on the introduction and table of contents pages of the spreadsheet. The budgets are also available on the New Crops Opportunities Center website at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/vegbudgets08.html.

These budgets allow growers to quickly examine the effects of fluctuating market prices on returns per acre. In addition to these crop budgets compiled for Kentucky, links are provided to a large number of vegetable crop budgets from a number of states at University of Florida's Southwest Florida Research and Education Center site: http://www.imok.ufl.edu/liv/groups/economic/budglnks.htm.

New growers or tobacco growers considering vegetable production, should take a close look at UK's publication Marketing Options for Commercial Vegetable Growers (ID-134, http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id134/id134.htm). New growers should also look at some of the horticulture publications from Kansas State University at: http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/hort2/. Farming a Few Acres of Vegetables (pdf format) listed on this page is an excellent introduction together with Kansas State's publications on drip irrigation for commercial vegetables. Another excellent extension bulletin on plastic mulch and drip irrigation is Georgia's Plasticulture for Commercial Vegetable Production (http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/b1108-w.html).

Ohio State University extension has an excellent vegetable crops information site: http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~vegnet/ which includes a link to their production guide. Links to the extensive library of OSU and other states’ extension publications on vegetable crops are found at http://newfarm.osu.edu/crops/vegetables.html. Purdue University also has information pertaining to our geographical area; some of their extension publications are available online at: http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/hort.htm#1. Additional vegetable and other horticultural crop links from Purdue can be found at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/hort/ext/veg/. These include a link to information on aromatic and medicinal plants.

North Carolina State University's Horticulture Information Leaflet series for fruits, vegetables, and postharvest information are available from http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/veg-index.html. North Carolina also provides a good source of information on many aspects of sustainable vegetable production practices for the south at http://www.cals.ncsu.edu:8050/sustainable/peet/. North Carolina in cooperation with Kentucky and other states provides forecasts for downy mildew on cucurbits (melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, etc.) at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/pp/cucurbit. For the latest downy mildew forecast, click on the year followed by the month and the day. Links to a photo gallery of symptoms and control recommendations are also provided at this site; however, Kentucky growers should also consult the Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (Publication ID-36--see link under "General vegetable/agricultural information sites" above) before using any new chemical control. Other states may have special needs or emergency labels for chemicals that may not be legal in Kentucky.

The University of Florida offers a wide range of horticultural information through its electronic distribution (edis) pages: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/. Commercial vegetable information can be linked to from this page by clicking on "Topic Areas" and then "Crops” followed by “Vegetable Crops". Florida's extensive vegetable production guide (SP170) is available from this site. Information is also available on plant petiole sap testing for nitrogen nutrition using Cardy meters.

Southern Florida's Vegetable Transplant Newsletter is available at: http://www.imok.ufl.edu/veghort/pubs/news/news.htm. A list of Florida transplant producers is available from: http://www.imok.ufl.edu/veghort/tgrowers.htm. The University of Georgia has an excellent publication on transplant production on the web at: http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1144.htm. Another transplant publication is available from Mississippi (next paragraph).

Virginia Cooperative Extension's information on fruits and vegetables is available from: http://www.ext.vt.edu/resources.

A wealth of greenhouse tomato production information is available from Mississippi State University at http://msucares.com/crops/comhort/greenhouse.html. Scroll down the page to find links to publications like The Greenhouse Tomato Handbook, Starting Vegetable Transplants, and Fertigation: The Basics of Injecting Fertilizer for Field-Grown Tomatoes. Links are also provided to other sources of greenhouse production and pest management information.


Weekly vegetable IPM and other newsletters

Kentucky Pest News periodically has important articles on vegetable pest and disease problems. Access the current and back issues of KPN at http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/kpn/kpnhome.htm. UK's Department of Entomology also makes their vegetable insect publications (ENTFACTS) available online which can be linked from the Dept. of Horticulture website or from: http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts/efveg.htm. Both the University of Illinois and Purdue University provide weekly newsletters on pests and other information on fruits and vegetables during the growing season. These are available at: http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/~ipm/news/fvnews.html (Illinois Fruit & Vegetable News) and http://www.entm.purdue.edu/entomology/ext/targets/newslett.htm (Indiana's Vegetable Crops Hotline).


Organic vegetable production

Organic vegetable growers can use much of the information on cultural practices, resistant varieties, disease management, and insect management in UK's Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (ID-36) cited above under "General vegetable/agricultural information sites". This publication now includes a section on Organic Manures and Fertilizers for Vegetable Crops which is also available at http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Horticulture/manures.htm. This will help you convert the ID-36 fertilizer recommendations into equivalent amounts of organic fertilizers. There are many other good books and references that provide more of a systems approach to organic vegetable production. One of the best comprehensive books on sustainable (including organic) vegetable production is Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market available from http://www.nraes.org/publications/horticulture.html.

You will find a good synopsis of relevant books and extension materials on organic production methods together with links to selected publications at http://www.msstate.edu/dept/cmrec/organic/organicresources.html. Although these pages were compiled by Mississippi State University, much of the information is applicable to Kentucky.

USDA offers publications and other general information on organic food production, sustainable agriculture, and community supported agriculture (CSA) at the Alternative Farming Systems Information Center site: http://www.nalusda.gov/afsic. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/indexIE.htm provides links to new NOP standards.

The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) website has a number of online organic vegetable production guides: http://www.attra.org/. Look at the column of links on the left of the page to find “Horticultural Crops” and then “Vegetables”. The University of Florida also makes available information on selected organic production topics at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ under “Topic Areas”, then “Crops” followed by “Organic Farming”.

Cornell University provides good basic biological control (for insect pests) information with links to other online biocontrol resources at http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/biocontrol/. Cornell also provides a link to a good publication on tillage equipment for weed control on their Horticulture Department’s website http://www.hort.cornell.edu/extension/commercial/vegetables/index.html; click on the “Online Resources” link.

 

For information on Kentucky organic certification, go to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s organic page at: http://www.kyagr.com/mkt_promo/wood/programs/organic/index.htm. Here you will find all the necessary certification forms and links to other sources of organic information.


Marketing and market prices

Most new growers and marketers should study UK's Marketing Options for Commercial Vegetable Growers (ID-134) publication available online at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id134/id134.htm in both html and pdf formats. Written specifically with tobacco growers in mind, this publication compares and contrasts most of the available produce marketing options including direct markets, produce auctions, cooperatives, local wholesalers, direct store deliveries, chain stores, terminal market brokers, etc. Market channel comparisons are made in a table with headings such as "difficulty getting into the market", "compatibility with tobacco production", "capital investments required", "price stability", and others. A number of other marketing fact sheets and for vegetable and fruit crops grown in Kentucky are available from the Kentucky Horticulture and New Crops Marketing website at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/marketing.html.

Terminal market (wholesale) vegetable prices can be easily obtained from: http://www.agribusinessonline.com/. Click on "Market Prices". This site also provides fruit, flower, and herb prices when available and has links to other sources of ag. information. USDA provides the same wholesale price information and also specialty, auction, and farmers' market reports at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/fv/mncs/fvwires.htm. ProduceLinks.com at http://www.producelinks.com/ claims to be the largest free list of produce and agricultural industry websites in the world. This site may help you find new suppliers, customers, services, and even recipes.

Today's Market Prices, a commercial site at http://www.todaymarket.com/, is perhaps one of the most comprehensive. Its Market Price Service offers daily terminal market wholesale prices from more than 30 market locations in the U.S. and worldwide for all vegetables (and herbs) being sold on those markets. It also reports Shipping Point Market Trends from major growing areas with comments about supplies of different commodities. The site also has Green Web Links (no charge) which will connect you to many other useful agricultural websites. Subscriptions cost is $25/month ($240/year); free trials are available.

Remember that these terminal market prices are the average prices at which wholesalers at these locations are SELLING produce. If you plan on selling to them, you can expect, on the average, about 15% less than the prices posted. Prices will also vary from those posted based on supplies and quality at any given time. Use these prices only as guidelines or to supplement other sources of information.

To find out what's available from Kentucky farmers' markets during the summer months, check out the new Kentucky Garden Basket website at http://www.ca.uky.edu/gardenbasket/. For wholesale prices being received at North Carolina's regional farmers' markets, see http://www.agr.state.nc.us/markets/mktnews/vegetabl.htm. This site also lists links to FOB prices from North Carolina and other southern states. For descriptions and information about North Carolina's extensive network of state and regional farmers' markets, see http://www.agr.state.nc.us/markets/. Publications on facilities for roadside markets and produce handling for direct marketing are available from http://www.nraes.org/publications/horticulture.html.

USDA now has all of its fresh fruit and vegetable grading standards online at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/standards/stanfrfv.htm. You may need to download Acrobat Reader (also available from this site) to view these leaflets. Also, while you're checking out government documents, take a look at the Economic Research Service's excellent Fresh Market Tomato Briefing Room at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Tomatoes/. The USDA also hosts a Direct Marketing Home Page at http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's innovative home page can be found at: http://www.kyagr.com/. Click on the “Ag Marketing” link on this page and then the “Value-added Plant Production” link to go to the Horticulture Division’s fruit and vegetable marketing programs including cost share and grant programs for direct marketing and value-added. These pages provide links the Kentucky Produce Shipper's Directory. This page: http://www.kyagr.com/mkt_promo/hort/programs/hort/Co-ops/cooperative.htm provides contact information for Kentucky's four vegetable marketing cooperatives. An exciting program is the KDA's web page design and hosting service. The Department will help eligible Kentucky producers build their own website at no charge. For instructions on developing your web page, go to http://www.kyagr.com/buyky/webbuild/index.htm. Individual websites are linked under the producer's listing on pages like the KDA Country Store at http://www.kyagr.com/buyky/cstore/cstore.htm. For information on Kentucky organic certification, go to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s organic page at: http://www.kyagr.com/mkt_promo/wood/programs/organic/index.htm. Here you will find all the necessary certification forms and links to other sources of organic information.

Kentucky Farm Bureau's website at http://www.kyfb.com/ also provides a link to its map and directory of Kentucky Certified Roadside Farm Markets for fresh fruit and vegetables: http://www.kyfb.com/federation/Member%20Benefits/roadside.asp.

Information on legislation and programs promoting agricultural diversification in Kentucky can be found at the new Commodity Growers Cooperative website at http://www.commoditygrowers.org/. A good source of small farm direct marketing information can be found in past issues of University of California's Small Farm News. Links to previous issues and articles are found at the UC Small Farm Center site at: http://www.sfc.ucdavis.edu/. You can also order their excellent Specialty and Minor Crops Handbook under links to “Publications” and “For sale publications”. Also, for some great information on farmers' markets (probably the best available), look at the University of Arizona's direct marketing handbook. You can order it in loose-leaf notebook form or print the portions you want at: http://ag.arizona.edu/arec/pubs/dmkt/dmkt.html.


Postharvest and food safety (including handling, cooling, grading, packaging, etc.)

Some good information on containers and retail weights of fruits and vegetables is found in Georgia's publication Weights and Processed Yields of Fruit and Vegetables in Retail Containers available online at http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubs/ (scroll down the long alphabetical list to find it). While North Carolina State has some postharvest information in its production leaflets at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/veg-index.html, the best sources are their excellent postharvest commodity series publications posted at: http://www2.ncsu.edu/bae/programs/extension/publicat/postharv/index.html. These include publications on precooling and packaging requirements for vegetables.

Other crop-specific postharvest guidelines ("Produce Facts") are available from the University of California at: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Produce/Producefacts/index.shtml. UC Davis also provides comprehensive information on chlorination of produce and food safety. Go to their "Vegetable Information Page" at http://vric.ucdavis.edu/veginfo/veginfor.htm, highlight "Food Safety" in the drop down “Topics” menu. Chlorination and other documents are linked on the right of the page. Additional information and resources are available from UC's Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center at http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/.

Some of the best information on food safety and good agricultural practices for growers is available from Cornell University at http://www.gaps.cornell.edu/. Check out Food Safety Begins on the Farm—A Growers Guide under the “Publications” link.

 

Migrant labor

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services provides some information for agricultural employers from their home page:
http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/index.htm. You can also download and print copies of I-9 forms from this site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-9.htm.

The USDA has information on the H2-A guest worker program and worker protection standards at this site: http://www.usda.gov/agency/oce/oce/labor-affairs/affairs.htm.

A more detailed publication on farm labor including migrant labor is the Ohio Farm Labor Handbook, a summary of which is online at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hrm-fact/0005.html.