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Lewis Jett*, Edward Carey, and Laurie Hodges

There is great interest by horticulture producers in the Central Great Plains in methods to extend the traditional growing season, increase value of crops and provide more locally grown produce. High tunnels are low-cost, unheated greenhouses that can accomplish these goals. In 2002, the Central Great Plains High Tunnel Project was initiated through funding support by the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). The Univ. of Missouri, Kansas State Univ., and the Univ. of Nebraska have constructed 24 high tunnels to conduct research on vegetables, small fruits and cut flowers. Each year, a multi-state workshop is conducted along with several on-farm and research center tours. Growers are collaborating with extension personnel on projects ranging from high tunnel temperature management to pest management. A web site for high tunnel information has been constructed (www.hightunnels.org). Production guides on specific high tunnel crops have been printed. From 2002-03, a significant number of high tunnels have been constructed in the Central Great Plains.

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Eric H. Simonne, Christine E. Harris, Edgar Vinson, and Karen Y. Dane

Vegetable variety trials are of interest to the entire vegetable industry from breeders, seed companies, growers, consultants, researchers, to Extension personnel. The Auburn Univ. vegetable variety trial results have been made more accessible and user-friendly by becoming available online at http://www.ag.auburn.edu/dept/hf/faculty/esimonne. Users can point and click through a completely searchable database by selecting one of the following categories: 1) explanation of rating system and database, 2) list of vegetable crops, 3) description of variety types of crops, 4) contacting seed companies and web sites, 5) vegetable variety trial team members. For additional information about vegetable variety production, a link to horticulture extension publications has been included. The database gives each vegetable crop tested by Auburn Univ. a rating and allows a search for varieties. For each crop, the five options available to search the database are “rating,” “variety name,” “variety type,” “seed company,” and “type.” The Web page is primarily intended to be a quick, practical reference guide to growers and horticulture professionals in Alabama. Variety performances presented are based on small-scale research plots and test results may vary by location. It is always recommended to perform an on-farm trial of several varieties before making a large planting of a single variety.

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J.L. Olsen

The chestnut (Castanea Mill.) industry in the northwestern United States is in its relative infancy, with most orchards being less than 10 years of age. Currently there are an estimated 300 acres (121 ha) in Oregon and Washington. California has about 500 acres (202 ha) in chestnuts. Current worldwide production is over 500,000 tons (435,600 t). China is the leading producer with 40%, followed by Korea at 15%. Italy, Turkey and Japan grow 10% each, while France, Greece and Spain grow 4% each. The United States, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia each grow less than 1%. The value of chestnuts imported into the United States is estimated to be $10 to 15 million annually. Domestic producers hope to displace some of the imported chestnuts in the marketplace. The leading variety being grown in the western United States is `Colossal,' a hybrid between european chestnut (C. sativa Mill.) and japanese chestnut (C. crenata Gillet). `Dunstan' hybrids are chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica Murr.) resistant, and were bred in Florida using chinese chestnut (C. mollisima Blume) and american chestnut (C. dentata Marsh. Borkh.) parentage. Prices received by chestnut producers in the northwestern United States have ranged from $1.20 to $7.00/lb ($2.64 to $15.40/kg). The marketing of chestnuts has been through brokers into wholesale markets, farmers markets, mail order and direct sales through catalogues and World Wide Web sites.

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Tina M. Waliczek, R.D. Lineberger, J.M. Zajicek, and J.C. Bradley

A survey, targeting adults working with youth in garden situations, was designed for delivery on the KinderGARDEN World Wide Web site. The goal of this survey was to investigate adults who are actively involved in gardening with children in school, community or home gardens on their perceptions of the benefits of children participating in gardening. Three hundred-twenty completed surveys were returned via e-mail during a period of 9 months. Fourteen questions were included on the survey requesting information concerning what types of gardening situations in which children were participants and the demographics of the children involved in gardening. Results of the study cover 128,836 children (youth under 18 years old) involved in gardening, primarily with teachers in school gardens. The children involved were generally 12 years of age or under and were growing food crops. Adults gardening with children reported benefits to children's self-esteem and reduction in stress levels. Adults were also interested in learning more about the psychological, nutritional and physical benefits of gardening. Comparisons between those adults involved in gardening found that parents' and teachers' ideas differed concerning the most important aspects of the gardening experience. Parents viewed food production as most important while teachers thought socializing and learning about plants were most important.

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Steven McKay

Recent interest in expanding commercial currant and gooseberry (Ribes L.) plantings in the United States has put pressure on the states with Ribes restrictions to review their regulations. A meeting on 9 January 1998 initiated discussion between the state agriculture regulatory agencies, forest pathologists, and horticulturists. Since then a white pine blister rust (WPBR), Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer) World Wide Web (Web) site (McKay, 1998) and list serve have been activated to facilitate communication. Vermont is a state that has no regulations on the books at this time. Connecticut and New York also have mentioned that infection rates are low. Maine retains a Ribes reduction program, and Massachusetts is strictly enforcing their regulations. The following summarizes the general consensus among the majority of regulating states: 1) It is desirable to find a way for both white pines (Pinus L.) and commercial Ribes plantings to coexist. 2) More research is needed to survey existing Ribes and pines, the potential impact of commercial plantings versus the impact of existing Ribes, and the potential impact of escape /volunteer seedlings from immune Ribes cultivars. 3) There is interest in permitting immune Ribes cultivars to be planted. 4) There is interest in having consistency in regulations from state to state.

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Kenneth W. Mudge and Kelly Hennigan

The role of cooperative extension in providing information to amateur and professional horticulturists is being profoundly altered by the availability of vast amounts of horticultural resources on the World Wide Web and other electronic media. Advances in computer-related instructional technologies including the Internet, have coincided with, and to some extent triggered, a burgeoning demand for non-traditional continuing education in practically all fields of knowledge, including landscape horticulture. Although there are numerous Web sites offering a wide range of gardening and related information, there are relatively few opportunities for structured learning in the form of on-line distance learning courses or instructional modules. In Fall 1999, we conducted a survey of the membership of the New York State Nursery/Landscape Association to determine priority-training needs that might be met by computer-mediated distance learning. One-hundred-seven companies, representing horticulture-based businesses throughout New York State, completed the surveys. Results from the survey indicated that 83% of those responding were interested in taking one or more computer-based distance learning course(s), that 67% were willing to provide financial support for continuing education of their employees, and that 95% have access to a personal computer. We have also collected data indicating subject matter preferences, interest in full-course and short-course offerings, levels of computer and Internet experience, and more. It is apparent from the findings in this study that the cooperative extension has a great opportunity to use the World Wide Web as a component of its role as an information provider. This research will contribute to designing effective approaches for teaching hands-on horticultural skills at a distance, thereby expanding the cooperative extension's ability to reach its intended audiences.

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Jayesh B. Samtani, John B. Masiunas, and James E. Appleby

In 2004 and 2005, potted white oak seedlings 0.6 m in height were treated with six herbicide treatments at three concentrations, 1/4, 1/10, and 1/100× of the standard field use rate. These herbicides and their standard field use rate of active ingredient (a.i.) included 2,4-D at 1.5 kg/ha, 2,4-D + glyphosate at 0.8 kg/ha + 1 kg/ha, acetochlor + atrazine at 3.5 kg/ha, dicamba at 0.7 kg/ha, glyphosate at 1.1 kg/ha and metolachlor at 2.0 kg/ha. The seedlings were treated at three growth stages: swollen buds, leaves unfolding, and expanded leaves. A compressed air spraying chamber delivering 187 L/ha was used to apply the herbicides. After treatment, the containers were placed in an open field plot in a completely randomized design. Oak seedlings were most susceptible to herbicide injury at all concentrations, at the leaves unfolding stage. Symptoms on seedlings treated with 2,4-D and dicamba at the leaves unfolding stage included leaf cupping and rolling, leaf curling, leaf rolling downward from leaf margin, and unusual elongation at leaf tip. Glyphosate + 2,4-D applications resulted in leaf cupping, yellowing, leaf rolling downward from leaf margin and abnormal leaf tips. Glyphosate symptoms ranged from leaf yellowing and browning, to slight browning of interveinal leaf tissues. Acetochlor + atrazine, or metolachlor alone caused the abnormality referred to as “leaf tatters” where in severe cases, only the main veins are present with limited amounts of interveinal tissues. Detailed description of the injury symptoms, supplemented with photographs are posted on a web site: http://www.nres.uiuc.edu/research/herbicide_research/index.htm

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N.G. Creamer, K.R. Baldwin, and F.J. Louws

Consumer demand for organically produced food and the desire by many farmers to eliminate chemical fertilizers and pesticides is increasing the need for research and educational programs to support organic farmers. To date, the land-grant universities and the cooperative extension service have been viewed by organic farmers as unresponsive to this need. The primary reason for the unresponsiveness has been inadequate training and resource materials available to extension agents. In 1998, we conducted an intensive training for agriculture agents in North Carolina. Funding was provided by the USDA SARE Professional Development Program. More than 50 agents participated in a series of workshops that were offered together as a graduate course worth four NCSU credits. Much of the training was conducted on the Organic Unit at The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a 100-acre facility dedicated to research and education in organic farming systems. The hands-on training consisted of lectures, demonstrations, field trips, and class exercises. The topic areas included soil biology/ecology; crop rotation; organic nutrient management; composting; cover crop management; organic weed, insect, and disease management; appropriate tillage practices; organic greenhouse management; marketing organic produce; integrating animals into organic crop production systems; delivery systems for disseminating information to organic producers, and; social and community development aspects of sustainable agriculture. Unique features of the workshops were the interdisciplinary approach to teaching them, and the integration of information about interactions between production factors. The training was very well-received and will serve as a model for future extension programming. A training manual, slide sets, extension publications, and a Web site are being created to further support agents as they conduct programming in their own counties.

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N.O. Anderson and J.D. Walker

Setup and administration of comprehensive live plant identification (ID) tests in horticulture classes is time-consuming and costly. The curricular goal of this study was to integrate Web-based plant ID self-tests and computer-graded tests into floriculture potted plant production classes to potentially replace live plant ID tests. This research was conducted during 2000 and 2001 with students enrolled in Hort 4051 at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. All plant ID tests were mandatory, constituting 12% of the grade. In 2000, only Web-based ID tests were used, while both Web-based and live plant ID tests were used in 2001. Two separate self-tests were designed as study aids with 34 randomized photographs/test. Correct spelling was mandatory to receive full credit for genus, species, and family. Self-tests could be taken ten times each per student. Students then completed two for-credit (graded), unmonitored Web-based tests. Students completed a Website evaluation form at the end of the semester. The two live plant ID tests were conducted with the same materials and were monitored. Mean student scores for the Web-based ID tests in 2000 ranged from 73.5 to 99.5% with a class average of 91.9%; there were no significant differencesamong students' scores. Student Web-based ID test scores for 2001 had a similar range with a high class average of 93.8%. In contrast, the 2001 live plant ID tests had a wider score range of 21.7% to 100.0% and lower class average (72.2%). Web-based and live plant ID tests, students, and their interaction were all highly significant. Web site course evaluations demonstrated interesting trends in student perception of Web-based and live plant testing. The implications for future class use and potential modifications for continued Web-based instruction are presented.

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N.G. Creamer, K.R. Baldwin, and F.J. Louws

More than 50 agents participated in a series of workshops that were offered as in-service training and as a graduate level North Carolina State University (NCSU) course worth four credits. The Organic Unit at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a 100-acre (40-ha) facility dedicated to research and education in organic farming systems, served as a home base for training activities. These training activities consisted of lectures, hands-on demonstrations, group discussions, field trips, and class exercises. Two unique features of the workshops were the interdisciplinary, team teaching approach and the emphasis on integration of information about interactions among production practices. This well-received, successful training program will serve as a model for future extension training. A training manual, slide sets, extension publications, and an organic farming web site are being created to provide agents with the resource materials they need to conduct county-based educational programming in organic production systems and enterprises. The model for extension training presented in this report is an effective means for engaging county agents in continuing education and professional development. Interdisciplinary teaching teams allow for a full, integrated treatment of subject matter and present a whole systems perspective to agents. Regularly scheduled, intensive sessions that accommodate busy calendars and utilize time efficiently provide a strong incentive for regular attendance. Awarding graduate level university credit hours for completion of required course work attracts and retains prospective student and agents. Encouragement of active participation by agents through hands-on field activities, open discussion of issues that impact agricultural and rural life, and field trips to view concepts presented in a real world context ensure that educational goals are fulfilled and that active learning takes place. This model should be used in future extension training programs.