February 25, 2013 – The dry conditions experienced in 2012 point out how critical irrigation is in reducing risk when producing high value vegetables. Even with dry conditions, growers were surprised at how much disease they encountered. Improper irrigation can create situations conducive for disease development, but a little fore thought can go a long way and allow you to provide water while minimizing disease-promoting conditions. Many soil borne diseases rely on wet conditions for development, transmission and movement. Conditions promoting soil diseases can occur with improper irrigation. Rapid water application to clay-based soils leads to water runoff and disease movement within and possibly between fields. Clay soils should be irrigated slowly and for long periods to allow water to penetrate and for soil to adequately absorb moisture throughout the root zone. Many raised-bed, plastic mulched, drip irrigated vegetable plantings are placed in sand-based soils. The high sand allows for easier shaping, but is prone to leaching. Irrigation on these soils needs to be done in frequent, quick applications, perhaps more than once a day. Long periods of free water contribute to disease development and it doesn’t take much water in these soils to reach field capacity and create favorable conditions. Growers with these soils often over-irrigate, contributing to nutrient leaching and disease development and spread. In sand, water can move down to soil depths of 20 inches in an hour; irrigating longer than this is unnecessary since it would be pushing water out of the root zone and adding free water. Proper timing of overhead irrigation is important for keeping diseases in check. Many fungal diseases require eight to 14 hours of a continual wet period for spore germination. If plants are irrigated in the evening, they will stay wet long enough to meet these requirements. Growers need to avoid evening irrigations and should apply overhead water early in the morning when plants are already wet from morning dew. Drip irrigation is always preferable to overhead simply because drip does not wet leaves and it can be operated at any time. However, some crops such as corn, beans, carrots and others do not lend themselves well to drip. Organic soils are also overhead irrigated since the entire surface needs to be kept wet to limit soil movement.
April 11, 2013 – Versatile has unveiled a new line of front-wheel assist tractors that feature one of the largest cabs in the industry and a considerable increase in wheelbase and size. The styling of the new tractor is a departure from the existing Versatile front-wheel assist. A sloped hood offers visibility and features cues from the new Versatile design first introduced on the line of four-wheel drives. An increased grille area allows for better airflow with reduced maintenance and cleaning requirements. Combined with a longer wheelbase, this new design allows for tight turns, even with 30-inch row spacing. First introduced on the four-wheel drive, the new cab offers operator space and comfort. The door swings wide for easy entry and egress. The adjustable armrest features fingertip controls for ergonomic comfort and a seven-inch high-resolution display for electro-hydraulics and the tractor performance monitor. Multi-power sources are available including 110-volt AC and five volt USB ports. The new Versatile tractor is available in 260, 290 and 310 horsepower, which is provided by a Cummins QSL 9.0L featuring interim Tier 4 technology. The QSL features the Cummins Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) for sharp response in the field and offers a torque rise of more than 40 per cent. A reversing fan system is available that works as needed, providing quiet operation and fuel savings. The fan reverses approximately every 20 minutes to blow out the grille, reducing maintenance. The transmission is a 16F x 9R full powershift transmission with push-button controls. Designed to work with the power bulge and torque curves of the Cummins engine, this transmission offers durability and smooth shifts in the field. Fuel capacity has been increased to 170 US gal.