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  • Author or Editor: Michele R. Warmund x
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Master Gardener training was delivered via interactive television (IT) or face to face (FTF) in Missouri in 1997. IT and FTF participants were surveyed on their acceptance of the Master Gardener training method and their perceptions of program quality and technology to evaluate the newly developed multiple site IT training. Demographic characteristics were also recorded to determine if IT format attracted a different clientele than that of FTF training. Those who participated in IT training generally had more years of education than those in the FTF training and lived in suburban rather than rural areas. IT participants missed fewer training sessions than FTF participants. However, IT participants rated the slide quality, sound, and overall training lower than the FTF group. Some problems associated with IT training identified by the participants are correctable, which should improve future acceptance of this technology.

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The time required to harvest and field sort chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima) with two types of paddock vacuums and with a manual nut-harvesting tool was compared. Pickup time for harvesting chinese chestnuts was faster with a small paddock vacuum (Paddock Vac) than with a manual nut-harvesting tool (Nut Wizard), but field sorting plant material and soil, as well as movement of the small vacuum, was time-consuming. With minor equipment modifications to facilitate sorting, harvest time for a larger paddock vacuum (Maxi Vac) was 2 seconds faster per nut than that for the manual nut-harvesting tool. Economic analyses revealed that the larger modified vacuum also reduced labor costs by $237 when the wage rate was low ($8 per hour) and with total production at 1000 kg. However, with the lower equipment cost, the manual nut-harvesting tool was more economical to use than the modified paddock vacuum, with $8 per hour labor costs and <6370 kg of harvested chestnuts. As labor costs and nut production increased, it was more economically efficient to use the modified paddock vacuum as compared with a manual nut-harvesting tool. At $10, $12, and $15 per hour labor, the modified pasture vacuum was the lowest cost method of harvesting chestnuts at yields >4555, 3466, and 2510 kg, respectively. Thus, the modified pasture vacuum may provide a relatively inexpensive method for new, small producers to mechanize chestnut harvest.

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Winter injury has limited the expansion of commercial blackberry (Genus Rubus, subgenus Rubus) production into more northern latitudes in central and eastern United States. Rowcover (RC) was applied over trailing ‘Boysenberry’ and ‘Siskiyou’ and erect, thornless ‘Triple Crown’ and ‘Apache’ blackberries at Kearneysville, WV (lat. 39.5°N, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6b) from 2004 to 2007. The daily minimum temperatures under RC were as much as 5 °F to 10 °F higher at nights after sunny days, but were similar during nights after overcast days. On sunny days, daily maximum temperatures under RC were as much as 28 °F higher than in the open. Under RC, humidity rose more quickly and remained higher during the day than in the open, but was slightly lower at night. Mean vapor pressure deficit in late December, January, February, and early March was 100 to 250 kPa higher under RC than in the open. RC treatment significantly reduced winter injury and increased yield in ‘Siskiyou’ blackberry plants. The winter protection techniques described here would provide substantial benefits for growing blackberries in more northern areas where winter injury frequently causes crop failure.

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Researchers have collected a considerable amount of data relating to apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars and rootstocks over the past 30 years, but much of this information is not easily accessible. The long-term goal of our working group is to increase access to this information using online technology available through eXtension. In eXtension, researchers and extension personnel are developing a community of practice (CoP) to increase the quality and amount of online information for individuals interested in our work [referred to as a community of interest (CoI)]. For this project, our CoI is broadly defined as commercial apple producers, nursery professionals, county extension educators, Extension Master Gardeners, home gardeners, and consumers. Our CoP is developing diverse educational tools, with the goals of increasing productivity, profitability, and sustainability for commercial apple production. Additionally, we will provide other members of our CoI access to research-based, reliable information on the culture of apples. We chose to begin our focus on cultivars and rootstocks adapted to the eastern United States and will add other U.S. regions as our resources and interest in our project grows.

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