Organic/Horticulture Library

Organic/Horticulture Library

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A Brief Overview of the History and Philosophy of Organic Agriculture

This publication outlines the origins of organic agriculture, highlighting the concepts that define it as a distinct and sustainable approach to farming.

A Few Facts about Biochar

This intern report gives a brief overview of biochar.

A&L Reference Guide: Soil Sampling

This guide covers procedures, tools, sample preparation, size, depth, and timing, and recommendations for specialized sampling locations and situations.

A&L Soil Analysis Fee Schedule

This is a fee schedule from A&L Laboratories.

A&L Soil Sample Information Sheet

This is a soil sample submission form from A&L Laboratories.

Apply by Dec. 21 for NRCS Monarch Habitat Funding

December 21 is the deadline for farmers and ranchers to apply for funding from the current round of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides financial and technical assistance…

Are We Organic Yet?!

This presentation covers organic practices, prohibited substances, food safety, integrity, seeds & planting stock, marketing, steps to certification, and resources.

Arkansas Plant Board Votes for Dicamba to be Pulled

via Delta Farm Press: On a 9 to 5 vote, the Arkansas State Plant Board agreed on June 23 to ban the spraying of dicamba products. As drift complaints are picking up steam, the board…

Arkansas Valley Vegetable Garden Planting Guide

It’s time to plan your 2015 garden, and time to plant some seeds indoors for transplanting later outdoors. This guide is for those who live in Arkansas River Valley of far eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas….

Assorted Resources: Equipment and Organic Pesticides/Tools

This handout lists various supplies and equipment used in the Kerr Center’s organic horticulture program.

Berries Thrive in High Tunnels, But Be Aware of Pests

via Southern SARE: A University of Arkansas study has found that using high tunnels in berry production can increase yields, extend the harvest season, and improve fruit quality compared to field production. However, care must…

Blending Guide for Low-Analysis Fertilizers

This handout discusses points to consider when blending organic fertilizers. It contains several tables of nutrient contents of different organic fertilizers.

California Adds Roundup Ingredient Glyphosate to List of Cancer Causing Chemicals

via Reuters: Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co’s popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state’s Office of…

Case Studies Show Big Economic Benefits of Soil Health Practices

Soil health practices such as cover crops and no-till can result in an economic return of over $100 per acre, according to a set of case studies jointly released by the National Association of Conservation Districts and Datu Research, LLC.

Cover crops and no-till can limit soil loss, reduce run-off, enhance biodiversity, and more. Naturally, farmers who are considering adopting these practices are keen to know how they will affect their farm’s bottom line.

Choctaw Hoop House Workshop Recap – and Updated Plans!

The Choctaw Nation hosted one of the Kerr Center’s popular hoop house workshops at its Community Center in Poteau on October 7. The workshop treated participants to a hands-on experience assembling an affordable, 1,700 square-foot…

Compost & Soil Humus Resource List

Extensive bibliography, step-by-step outline, and list of common materials giving carbon:nitrogen ratio for each.

Compost Presentation Notes

This handout includes a table of different compost feedstocks and their approximate carbon-to-nitrogen ratios.

Cover Crop Survey Reflects Enthusiasm for the Soil-Saving Practice

Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found a yield boost in corn and soybeans following cover crops. Multi-year data shows the yield boost increases as cover crops are planted year after year, a revelation that points to an appealing long-term benefit of the conservation practice.

Cover Crops as Beneficial Insect Habitats

This publication outlines thoughts on, and experiences with, using cover crops as beneficial insect habitat in organic farming.

Designing an Organic System

This is a two-page description of how to apply the concepts of systems theory to practical management for certified organic production.

Drip and Micro Irrigation Suppliers

This handout lists contact information for several commercial suppliers of drip and micro irrigation equipment.

Elderberry Workshop Recap

Thirty people gathered at the Kerr Center on Saturday, September 26, for an in-depth look at all aspects of elderberries as an alternative crop, from propagation and culture through harvest and marketing. This post summarizes the workshop and provides links to resources used during it.

Elderberry Workshop Recap 2016

A capacity crowd filled the Kerr Center’s June 11 elderberry workshop at 360 Farms. Two of Oklahoma’s most successful elderberry entrepreneurs, Brent and Valerie Madding, hosted the workshop at their operation in southeastern Muskogee County….

Elements of Organic Farming: Pest, Insect, and Disease Management

This presentation discusses the management of crop pests on an organic market farm.

Elements of Organic Farming: Putting Your System Together

This presentation gives an extensive overview of setting up an organic farming system.

Exploring Biochar

This intern report consists of an annotated research bibliography on biochar.

Exploring Elderberry Varieties (Oklahoma Gardening)

In this segment, from its August 6 episode, “Oklahoma Gardening” takes a tour of the Kerr Center horticulture program’s elderberry plantings.

Fall Cover Crops Are In!

This week we planted cool-season cover crops on the Cannon Horticulture Plots: a mixture of grain rye, hairy vetch and Alsike clover. For a wealth of resources on how and why we use cover crops,…

Farm Made: A Guide to On­-Farm Processing for Organic Producers

This report provides an overview of the general requirements for organic certification and for food processing facilities, followed by a discussion of four different on-­farm enterprises, including table eggs.

Farming with Walk-Behind Tractors

This report covers the Kerr Center’s decade of experience using walk-behind tractors in the Cannon Horticulture Project. It serves as both backgrounder and how-to manual.

Gardening in Goop

“Even in organic no-till,” muses George Kuepper, “you can still get caught.” He’s surveying a small plot of ground that was tilled up for a demonstration for the May 9 plasticulture workshop. Heavy rains forced…

George Kuepper Retires

George Kuepper was Horticulture Manager at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture from 2008 through his retirement earlier this year.

Growing and Marketing Elderberries

The workshop is full. Call 918.647.9123 to be put on the waiting list in case of a cancellation.
Don’t miss Patrick Byers, regional hort specialist for Missouri Extension and one of the authors of “Growing and Marketing Elderberries in Missouri,” who will speak at the Kerr Center’s elderberry workshop on Sat. Sept. 26.

Growing Fruit in Extreme Weather

This new publication from ATTRA is free online.

Harvest and Post-Harvest

This presentation discusses harvest and post-harvest handling of fruit and vegetable crops for market farms and gardens.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2008: Sweet Sorghum

This publication presents the results of our 2008 heirloom sweet sorghum variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2009: Squash

This publication presents the results of our 2009 heirloom summer squash variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2009: Tomatoes

This publication presents the results of our 2009 heirloom tomato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2010: Grafted Tomatoes

This report presents the results of our 2010 grafted heirloom tomato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2010: Sweet Potato

This report presents the results of our 2010 heirloom sweet potato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2010: Tomatoes

This document discusses interesting observations we made in our 2010 heirloom tomato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2011: Flour and Meal Corn Demonstration

This report presents the results of our 2011 flour and meal corn demonstration.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2011: Sweet Potatoes

This report presents the results of our 2011 heirloom sweet potato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2012: Sweet Potatoes

This report presents the results of our 2012 heirloom sweet potato variety trial.

Heirloom Variety Trial Report 2012: Three Sisters

This report presents the results of our 2012 heirloom Three Sisters variety trial.

Heirloom Vegetables, Genetic Diversity, and the Pursuit of Food Security

This report defines and describes heirloom vegetable varieties and discusses their implications.

Heirloom/Heritage /Open Pollinated Vegetables

  2011 Flour and Meal Corn Demonstration 2011 Organic No-Till Pumpkin Demonstration Demonstration planting of pumpkins in SE Oklahoma: grown organically, no-till, some heirloom varieties, with summer cover crop comparison; color photos, variety descriptions, production…

Herbicide Injury Image Database

The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service now has an online Herbicide Injury Database that shows images of different plants’ responses to herbicides.  The plants included in the database included vegetable and field crops, as…

HIS 2018 Proceedings Available

The proceedings from the 2018 Horticulture Industries show, along with a photo gallery from the same event, are now available free online. The proceedings document is a 222-page pdf with program information, vendor contact information,…

Hoop House Construction Plans

This document explains how to build a low-cost hoop house, of the design developed by Tod Hanley.

Hoophouse Materials List

This is a list of materials and cost calculations for building a hoophouse. It was most recently updated in fall 2017.


The Kerr Center's horticulture program shows farmers and gardeners, from beginners on up, how to sustainably grow vegetable crops. The six+ acre Cannon Horticulture Project, certified organic in 2011, is founded on organic system design and management. ...

Horticulture Main Demonstration Plot Scheme

This handout maps the Cannon Horticulture Plots, as well as the field within them where the 2013 warm-season cover crop trial was conducted.

How to Take a Soil Sample to Yield an Accurate Soil Test

Tools, tips and techniques for taking a soil sample that will result in an accurate soil test. Presented by Kerr Center Horticulture Manager George Kuepper. Testing your soil is essential for getting the best results…

How We Converted Bermuda Pasture to Organic Vegetables

This fact sheet describes how to eliminate bermudagrass from future vegetable fields using a sorghum-sudangrass cover crop.

Making Melons Safer with Steam

Steam can more effectively combat food pathogens on cantaloupes than traditional removal methods. That’s the finding of an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Pennsylvania. Dike Ukuku and his colleagues have demonstrated that a relatively inexpensive steam cleaner (designed to remove wallpaper and clean outdoor grills) can rid cantaloupes of common pathogens more effectively than existing techniques.

Market Farming with Rotations and Cover Crops: An Organic Bio-Extensive System

This report outlines how to control grasses and weeds, and build soil life, health, and fertility organically, using cover crops and rotations.

Neonics: Addictive – and Overused

Neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, rank high among the many threats facing honeybees – so high that the European Union has banned three of the most widely used ones outright. Now, though, it turns out that…

New Labels for Conservation-Friendly Farming Practices

Sustainable farmers and ranchers now have two more ways to claim a premium for their ecologically friendly management practices, thanks to two new labeling programs. Both are backed by organizations with strong track records in…

New Soil Health Guides from Organic Farming Research Foundation

via the Organic Farming Research Foundation OFRF is releasing a new series of educational guides designed to help organic farmers and ranchers enhance the soil health and overall resilience of their operations. Each guide begins…

New Studies: Cover Crops Insure Soils against Extreme Weather; Crop Rotations Boost Beneficial Soil Microbes

Two new studies show the beneficial effects of both cover crops and crop rotation on soil health and quality. These practices boost beneficial soil microbes and enhance the soil’s ability to withstand weather extremes like drought and flooding.

New Study: Best Time to Crimp-Kill Cover Crops Is…

Clair Keene, a researcher at The Pennsylvania State University, and her colleagues wanted to find the perfect time to crimp-kill a cover crop: grown long enough to make biomass adequate to suppress weeds, but not far enough along to make seeds.

Notes on Tillage & Seeding Equipment for Small Vegetable Farms

This is a list of resources and description of basic equipment necessary for soil preparation and seeding in different farming methods.

Oklahoma Garden Planting Guide

OSU’s basic guide to planting a vegetable garden in Oklahoma, including when to plant, how much to plant (per person), spacing, hardiness, and   gardening tips.    

Oklahoma’s Home-Grown Elderberry Experts

The workshop is full. To be put on the waiting list, call the Kerr Center at 918.647.9123.

OMRI Newsletter Features Review Panel Member George Kuepper

The June issue of the Organic Materials Research Institute (OMRI) newsletter, OMRI eNews, featured review panel member George Kuepper.  Kuepper was horticulture manager at the Kerr Center for nine years, retiring in 2016. According to…

On-Farm Composting and Vermicomposting

This presentation discusses the composting options for fertility in market farming/gardening.

Organic Bio-Extensive Management Revisited

This report recounts the lessons learned from nine years of organic management of the Cannon Horticulture plots.

Organic Production in Oklahoma: Questions & Answers

This is an FAQ-format summary of organic farming for producers considering certification.

Organic Soil-building

"Start with the soil." "Feed the soil, not the crop." "Weed the soil, not the crop." These are common catchphrases in organic agriculture - here are the dirt-under-the-nails details on how the Cannon Horticulture Program...

OSU Soil Test Pricing

This is the 2011 fee schedule from OSU’s Soil, Water, and Forage Analytical Laboratory.

Other Hoop House Resources

This is a selection of off-site resources on season extension.

Overview: Sweet Potatoes at the Kerr Center

This summary of sweet potato work at the Kerr Center from 2010-2013 contains a guide and links to more detailed publications resulting from that work.

Perennials, Polyculture, and Pollinators

After several years of large-scale demonstration work for the Beginning Farmer Program and Resilient Farmer Project, the horticulture program is shifting gears. Three of the four fields in the Cannon Horticulture Plots will be moving…

Pesticides: Safety, Handling, Application

This presentation discusses the safe handling of pesticides in a market farm setting.

Plan Now for a Hoop House

A hoop house built over the winter can get spring crops to market earlier, for higher prices.  Here are the Kerr Center’s plans and explanatory aids for a low-cost Hanley-style hoop house.

Planting Calendar

This handout shows seeding and transplanting dates for a variety of vegetable crops.

Plasticulture Workshop Recap

Heavy rains rendered the Cannon Horticulture too mucky for the planned plasticulture demonstration at the May 9 workshop, but ODAFF and the Kerr Center are nothing if not adaptable. The demonstration simply moved to dry…

Position Announcement: Education / Horticulture Program Manager

Responsible for design, development and delivery of educational programming related to sustainable horticulture and organic horticulture. Educational programming will be hands on, written and web-based….

President’s Note: Equipment and Timeliness in Planting Your Market Garden

In a previous president’s note, I discussed the Kerr Center using plastic mulch on our horticulture farm. Last year (2016), we were unable to get into the field to plant from mid-April through the end…

Produce Safety at the Farm Market: A Guide for Farmers and Sellers

This handout has guidelines for farmers and sellers at farmers markets to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Researchers Find Water Conservation Solutions in Cover Crops

via Southern SARE:

In a two-year graduate student study at Texas Tech University, funded through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) program, winter cover crops – specifically rye – helped build healthy soils while preserving precious water for summer crops in minimally tilled forage-based grazing systems.

Rotations, Cover Crops, and Green Fallow on the Cannon Horticulture Project: A 2010 Status Report

This report outlines the “bio-extensive” approach to fertility and weed management used on the Cannon Horticulture Plots.

Scientists Document Benefits of Diverse Rotations

Anyone who’s attended a Kerr Center horticulture workshop in the last umpteen years has been exposed to the idea that crop rotations confer numerous benefits both on the soils they’re carried out on, and on the crops that grow in those soils. Studies hot off the academic presses have just added more support to the notion.

Season Extension Hits the Skids

Last month’s hoop house workshop looked at a variety of season extension structures. One of them came about almost by accident, but is proving to be one of the most versatile and popular on the…

Seed Starting Guide – Arkansas River Valley

This handout lists, for over four dozen vegetable crops, fall and spring planting dates and related information.

Seeds, Seeding, and Growing Transplants

This presentation covers seed biology, germination, storage, variety selection, planting dates, field & greenhouse plantings, and growing out transplants.

Small Scale Organics: A Guidebook for the Non-certified Organic Grower

This report includes guidelines and an organic system plan to help determine whether an organic farming operation meets the USDA standards.

Small-Scale Gardening Technology at the Kerr Center’s Cannon Horticulture Project

This report relates the Kerr Center's experiences with small-scale farming and gardening tools during a decade of bio-extensive management on the Cannon Horticulture Plots. Tools evaluated include spades, digging forks, broadforks, hoes, soil rakes, cultivators,...

Small-Scale Technology and Practices for Sweet Potato Growing in Southeast Oklahoma

This report contains an overview of insights and observations from three years of grant-funded investigation of small-scale technologies and techniques for growing sweet potatoes that might benefit gardeners and small market growers.

Soil Management: Site Selection, Soil Fertility

This presentation discusses the management of soils for market farming operations.

Soil Sampling and Analysis

This is a presentation by Brian Freking from the livestock track of the 2012 Oklahoma Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program.  It covers the purpose of soil sampling, how (and how not) to take a sample,…

Soil Test Interpretation for Vegetable Crops

This is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service publication number HLA-6036.

Soil Testing, Soil Sampling, and Soil Fertility

This presentation discusses soil nutrient management.

Soil Testing: The Right First Step

This is Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service leaflet number L-249.

Soils and Organic Fertility Management

This presentation discusses the management of soil fertility under organic regulations.

Southern Soil Health Conference Videos

Videos of several presentations from the January 2016 Southern Soil Health Conference in Ardmore are now available for viewing free online.  

Stretching Every Drop: Summer Irrigation Tips

In general, the Kerr Center horticulture program is pretty sparing with irrigation. When we do use water, we try to work it so that a little goes a long way. In high summer, when crops…

Studies Show Benefits of Native Vegetation Near Crops

Two new studies by researchers at the University of California highlight the benefits of keeping native vegetation and crop fields in close proximity. In one, researchers found that hedgerows planted near tomato rows created habitat…

Supply & Equipment List

This handout lists various supplies and equipment used in the Kerr Center’s organic horticulture program.

Sweet Sorghum: Production and Processing

This is a scanned version of an older report that describes a small-scale commercial sorghum operation.

Texas Farmers Learn to Build Soil Health Through No-till and Cover Crops

Just across the state line in Vernon… (via Southern SARE) Farmers tour cover crop research plots in north Texas. Photo credit: Southern SARE.   It’s a hot, dry, windy summer day on the plains of…

Texas Research Explores Spinach Varieties for Organic Production

Researchers at Texas A&M are screening various spinach varieties to identify those with both improved nitrogen-use efficiency and disease resistance, as a first step toward developing cultivars adapted to production in Texas.

The Kerr Center’s 2014 Demonstration Market Garden

This report describes the demonstration organic market garden planted as a teaching tool for the 2014 Oklahoma Beginning Farmer & Rancher Program.

Tour a Field of Elderberries

Terry Durham, Missouri elderberry grower and maker of jams, jellies, juices and medicinal products, will be featured Sept. 26 at the Kerr Center’s Elderberry Workshop. Walk with him through a field of ripe elderberries.

Two-Barrel Nested Biochar Retort

This is a drawing illustrating how a two-barrel nested biochar retort operates.

Using a Bed Shaper

Horticulture Program Assistant Bill Edgar demonstrates using a bed shaper to form raised beds for planting.

Vegetable Crop Irrigation Chart

This handout lists, for several different vegetable crops: irrigation frequency, critical moisture period(s), rooting depth, and potential defects.

Water and Irrigation Systems for Market Farming

This presentation discusses watering needs and approaches for small-scale horticultural crops.

Weed Scientists Warn of Drift, Resistance Risks from Auxin Herbicides

via the Weed Science Society of America Scientists with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) say special precautions are necessary when using auxin herbicides, which are known to drift and to cause harm to…

What is Organic Agriculture?

What does "organic" really mean? For information on the main concepts of organic agriculture and its history and use, watch the presentation below.   Learn About: Organic Certification Regulations covering organic certification, and guidelines for...

Where We Shop: Sources of Seed, Tools, and Supplies

This is a list, by item, of sources of seeds, tools, and supplies used in the Kerr Center horticulture program.