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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system. Our mission is to research, develop, and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations. The Center's work covers a spectrum that includes both theoretical and applied research, academic education and practical training, and public service for audiences ranging from local school children to international agencies. The Center is a part of UCSC's Social Sciences Division.

On the UCSC campus the Center manages the 25-acre UCSC Farm and the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden as sites for teaching, training, and research in organic horticulture and agricutlure. Both sites are open to the public daily.

Dr. Daniel Press, Director
CASFS
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
831.459-3240
casfs.ucsc.edu

Cover page of Tillage, Bed Formation, and Planting to Moisture: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Tillage, Bed Formation, and Planting to Moisture: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Understanding tillage sequences is critical for good soil and bed preparation prior to spring planting. Ill-timed or poorly executed tillage will lead to frustration and soil cloddiness. This is especially true for more challenging soils higher in clay content. The specific sequences you use will depend on soil type and implement selection.

Planting to moisture is an often-overlooked planting techniquethat minimizes weed competition when planting large-seeded crops such as beans, squash, and some cover crops, especially in California’s Mediterranean climate. Potatoes and dry-farmed tomatoes can also be planted to moisture.

Cover page of Fresh Market and Dry Bean Production: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Fresh Market and Dry Bean Production: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Fresh market round and flat pod bush beans can be a productive and profitable market crop, as well as a beneficial rotational crop in diverse, small- to medium-scale, mixed specialty crop systems in California.

This guide describes the steps involved in growing bush beans organically with a focus on planting to moisture for weed control, and reviews options for planters

  • 1 supplemental PDF
Cover page of Organic Mixed Production Blocks for Direct Markets on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Mixed Production Blocks for Direct Markets on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Crop diversity on small-scale farms is key to direct marketing strategies such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, farm stands, and restaurant accounts. Crop diversity also benefits on-farm ecology, risk management, and economic viability. However, managing a diverse cropping system requires significant experience and planning for the farm operation to be productive, competitive, and financially viable.

This guide focuses on producing mixed blocks of 30- to 60-day, direct sown and transplanted crops suitable for CSA and direct market sales, with the goal of improving cropping system efficiencies and economic viability. Note that the guide does not address specific crop information, but focuses instead on managing the mixed crop production block as a whole.

Cover page of Organic Potato Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Potato Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Potatoes can be a good addition to a small-scale, mixed specialty crop system. With access to the proper tools for mechanized weed management, hilling, and harvest, they are relatively easy to grow. Multiple varieties offer an array of shapes, sizes, and colors to make potatoes an excellent choice for direct sales, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, specialty markets, and restaurants.

The Central Coast’s climate is ideal for potato production. Yields can reach an impressive 10 tons per acre. This guide describes the steps involved in growing potatoes organically, reviews equipment needs, and provides information on “new” and “creamer” potato growth habits and recommended varieties.

Cover page of Organic Pepper Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Pepper Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Peppers are an excellent addition to most small-scale, organic mixed cropping systems that focus on local sales. Peppers are highly productive, and will reliably produce fruit from July through October without season extension technologies (such as hoop houses). They are relatively easy to grow and harvest, and provide multiple marketing and culinary options. Peppers can be harvested green or left on the plant to develop color. They offer many possibilities for adding value through processing or drying. Flavor options range from sweet to very hot. A variety of colors, shapes, and sizes allows for striking presentations at farmers’ markets and in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes.

This grower guide addresses the basic production steps in growing peppers organically in California’s Central Coast region and provides a varieties’ overview for those interested in adding peppers to their specialty crops.

Cover page of Organic Cut Flowers on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Cut Flowers on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Cut flowers have become a popular crop for small- and medium-scale mixed organic production farms. They can diversify and increase your income stream and offer an attractive option that draws consumers to your farmers’ market stall or farmstand. Cut flowers are a value-added specialty crop that in general can be managed like many other row crops while generating increased income per acre compared to most vegetables.

This grower guide provides examples of how to select and grow cut flowers, with a focus on crop planning and selection, harvest efficiencies, equipment needs, and market bouquets.

Cover page of Organic Dry-Farmed Tomato Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Dry-Farmed Tomato Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Where appropriate climate and soil conditions exist, growing dry-farmed tomatoes can be a good option for specialty crops growers. Dry farming generates an intensely flavored crop much prized by consumers and retailers.

This guide describes the steps involved in growing dry-farmed tomatoes organically on the Central Coast of California, with a focus on proper soil preparation, planting, and weed control.

Cover page of Organic Pest and Disease Management of Selected Crops on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Pest and Disease Management of Selected Crops on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Effective ecological arthropod and disease management begins with design and management of a farming system that avoids or suppresses pests and diseases. Such a system requires few external inputs. Knowing which pests and diseases are prevalent in your area allows you to implement strategies to manage them before they occur. By anticipating likely pest and disease species for crops you intend to grow, you can identify them correctly when they do appear.

Before you select varieties and plant your crop, look up common pests that affect the crop in your area. Learn about pest and disease life cycles, preventive practices, and possible treatments using resources such as the UC IPM website (ucipm.edu), your county Cooperative Extension offices, ATTRA’s Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Database (ncat.org/attra-pub/biorationals), local growers, and other knowledgeable professionals. The information in this guide is not intended to take the place of advice provided by professional pest and disease management experts or organic certification personnel.

Cover page of Organic Winter Squash Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

Organic Winter Squash Production on California's Central Coast: A Guide for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers

(2017)

Winter squash production can be done with low capital investment and simple infrastructure. Squash has low seed cost, modest fertility needs, and relatively little labor requirements during the growing season. The broad leaf canopy minimizes weed pressure, and many varieties are fairly resistant to pests and diseases. “Winter” or “hard” squash is grown in the warm season and can be stored for some months (through the winter). Unlike “summer” squash (zucchini and other “soft” squashes) that must be harvested daily and stored in a cooler, winter squash has a flexible window of harvest and sale (with proper dry storage). These characteristics make winter squash a viable crop for beginning specialty crop growers.

This guide addresses the steps involved in growing winter squash organically on the Central Coast of California, with a focus on planting to moisture to minimize weed pressure.