Person: Alice McGary
Four diversified vegetable farms planted strips of an annual flower mix. Farms assessed flower establishment and attractiveness to insects. Buckwheat dominated the mix, providing early blooms but perhaps to the detriment of other flowering species. After buckwheat bloomed, there was a gap before the cosmos began to bloom. Basil, dill and cilantro did not fare well in the mix; farmers would prefer to transplant or plant these species in monoculture blocks.
April 12, 2018
Six farmers compared three or four
lettuce varieties, Coastal Star, Hampton,
Magenta, and Muir, to determine
which produces better during summer
months (harvest July – Sept.) in Iowa.
• Magenta had the highest yields on
three of the six farms, and was much
more heat tolerant than Coastal Star.
• Coastal Star produced sizeable heads –
particularly in earlier successions – but
tended to bolt quickly.
• Farmers found they could grow quality
summer head lettuce using these
varieties, though specific preferences
differed by farm.
December 6, 2017
In a Nutshell
• Two farmers planted strips of flowering
herbs – anise hyssop, borage, and
lemon basil – with cash crops on their
farms. Pollinators in prairie strips were
• Farmers evaluated characteristics of
the herbs and assessed pollinator use
of the herbs by doing transect counts
of pollinators during bloom.
• Neither farm had successful direct
seedings of anise hyssop (McGary had
success with transplanting).
• Borage filled out and flowered earliest
though it became top-heavy, fell over,
and had late-season weed management
• Lemon basil (and anise hyssop, at Mc-
Gary’s) had healthy, upright habits but
required more early-season weeding
• Small native bees had the most individuals
counted among all pollinator
groups observed on both farms.
• Hartmann’s lemon basil had the most
pollinators; at McGary’s, borage had
the highest average count.
December 7, 2016
In a Nutshell
• Six farmers compared three broccoli
varieties, Belstar, Gypsy and Imperial,
to determine which produces better
during summer months (harvest July –
Sept.) in Iowa.
• Imperial had the highest yields at four
of six farms, followed by Gypsy and
• At three farms, Imperial had statistically
higher yields than the other
• Plant spacing differed by farm, but
average yield per area was 0.28 lb/ft2
for Imperial, followed by Gypsy (0.27
lb/ ft2), and Belstar (0.22 lb/ft2)
• Following the indications of the data,
most farmers strongly preferred Imperial
as their summer broccoli variety.
Five farmers compared two bell pepper varieties, Olympus and Revolution, to determine which produces better in Iowa’s climate. Each farm planted four randomized pairs of research plots, each pair with 10-20 plants of each variety.
December 21, 2015
Since 1987, the Cooperators’ Program has been Practical Farmers of Iowa’s vehicle for conducting on-farm research on the issues and concerns deemed most important by our members. The Cooperators’ Program is the epitome of what PFI is all about: Farmer-led investigation and information sharing. In 2015, 63 farmers took part in 35 research projects on […]
December 17, 2015
In a Nutshell
• Five farmers compared two bell pepper
varieties, Olympus and Revolution,
to determine which produces better in
• Each farm planted four randomized
pairs of research plots, each pair with
10-20 plants of each variety.
• Pepper yield was significantly different
by farm, but treatment (variety) also
had a significant effect on yield. Revolution
yield was significantly higher
than Olympus when all farms were
• Revolution produced more pounds
and number of peppers per ft2 and
per plant than Olympus at three of
five farms. The remaining two farms
saw no difference in yield between the
• Average plant yield of green bell peppers
across all farms was 4.3 lb/plant
for Revolution and 4.03 lb/plant for
• Plant spacing was different by farm,
but end-of-season yield for green bell
peppers ranged from 1.82 – 2.66 lb/ft2.
December 7, 2015
Well, it certainly has taken me a just little longer than planned (self-directed sarcasm intended!) to write this summary of the Mustard Seed Community Farm field day (held July 25) — but it was such an excellent event, that the knowledge deserves to be shared! The title of the event, “Establishing On-Farm Pollinator Habitat,” is […]
December 2, 2015
For the past several years, roller-crimping a cereal rye cover crop before a summer vegetable cash crop has been attracting interests as a research topic at the Practical Farmers of Iowa Cooperators’ Meeting. A roller-crimper is a specialized tool designed by the Rodale Institute that, once the cover crop nearly reaches physiological maturity, simultaneously terminates a living cover crop and converts it to a […]
December 1, 2015
Objectives: Determine the effect on summer squash yield from terminating a cereal rye cover crop by either mowing then tilling prior to planting squash or delaying mowing rye to a later stage prior to planting squash.
July 7, 2015