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  • Author or Editor: Kristen Harper x
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Since the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, certified organic produce has begun to make a large impact on national markets. However, USDA statistics indicate that many states in the southern region have considerably reduced certified organic acreage when compared to other regions in the United States. The absence of organic acreage may perhaps originate with a lack of training and educational materials provided to producers due to unanticipated growth of organic markets. A thorough review of all Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (ACES) materials, such as bulletins, publications, and workshops over the past 10 years, would reveal what information has been provided to producers on certified organic production. This review of ACES materials defines the existing groundwork on which ACES could construct future organic publications and outreach programs in order to sustain and stimulate organic farming within the state.

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As funding directed toward research has diminished, it has become vital seek other avenues of support to maintain long term field projects. To meet this need, the University of Arkansas Horticulture Department began the Friends of Fruit (FOF) program during 2004 engaging volunteers in conducting tree fruit field research. Volunteers were graduates of the Master Gardener program and executed tasks including data collection and plot maintenance. Objectives of this study were to evaluate the experiences and benefits to the volunteers and horticulture department, and to assess the success of the FOF program in providing assistance and support to research. All volunteers and facilitators were interviewed. Interview questions were designed to understand the motivation and level of volunteer activity, determine if training and supervision was adequate, and determine if ample recognition occurred. Volunteers sought experience and knowledge with fruit crops. Costs to volunteers included time and travel, conversely benefits included knowledge, experience and fellowship. Volunteers planned to repeat the program and were pleased with the recognition they received. Facilitators noted that volunteers had basic horticultural knowledge and the desire to learn. The program did call for improved task management and increased planning time by facilitators. The program succeeded in benefiting volunteers and horticultural research. The FOF volunteers contributed to fruit research by harvesting ≈4,000 kg of fruit samples and providing >200 hours of time.

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A study was conducted on the Texas A&M Univ.-Commerce campus to evaluate the effect of compost type on the spread of bermudagrass into rose garden beds. Roses were planted in an randomized complete-block design in beds amended with composts derived from yard waste, manure, poultry litter, or dairy manure, or an unamended control. The study site was free of vegetation prior to planting. No pre- or post-emergent herbicides were applied after planting. Each bed was assessed visually monthly and scored on a scale of 0 to 10, with each point equivalent to 10% coverage. A bed received a score of 10 upon full coverage. Beds amended with poultry litter and yard waste had significantly higher bermudagrass invasion and reached 100% coverage more quickly than other treatments. Some of the poultry litter beds reached 100% coverage within 40 days of planting. The control planting had significantly lower coverage than all compost treatments throughout the study.

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It is generally accepted that plants closer to structures benefit from the warmth emitted via imperfect insulation and solar energy reemitted as long-wave, thermal radiation. However, while claims of protection are given, little quantifiable information exists on the extent or pattern of this protection. We studied existing plantings of Trachelospermum asiaticum, an evergreen groundcover that is frequently damaged in northeast Texas. The plantings studied were part of a landscape with at least five different identifiable microclimates: 1) near building (NB); 2) mid-bed (MB); 3) bed edge (BE); 4) beneath Quercus virginiana (LO); and 5) beneath Pyrus calleryana`Bradford' (BP). We placed HOBO temperature data loggers recording one temperature per minute in each location. Following our first damaging freeze, we waited 7 days before collecting leaf samples. Leaf samples were collected by using a 25-cm square, 2 cm deep on two sides. The square was placed on the groundcover so that the top of the groundcover was level with the top of the square. All leaves and stems that extruded through the top 2 cm of the square were excised. Four samples were taken from each location, and the number of damaged and nondamaged leaves were counted for each sample. Leaves that were at least 50% discolored were considered damaged. Leaf damage data were analyzed using SAS Proc ANOVA. Leaves in the BE and BP locations showed significantly fewer live leaves than any other locations. NB leaves were virtually undamaged. Average temperatures in the BE and BP locations were 4.5 to 5 °F colder than the “near building” locations, comparable to an a or b zone in the current USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map.

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