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  • Author or Editor: Lee Stivers x
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Hispanics residing in the United States are playing a larger role in agriculture. For example, in Pennsylvania, this group comprises the largest increase in new farmers, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Efforts to connect with this population can be improved. Hispanic farmers and farmworkers face access barriers to agricultural programming that need to be addressed to more effectively “reach and teach.” Over a 1-year period, 22 to 25 agricultural educators attended a three-workshop training series focused on increasing knowledge and skills for planning, designing, advertising, and delivering agricultural programs inviting to Hispanic farmers and farmworkers. The workshop series included an expert on the science of inclusion, a specialist in Latino community studies, and several representatives from organizations with long histories of connecting with Hispanic farming audiences. Through guided activities and facilitated discussion, participants developed strategies for creating programming welcoming to the Hispanic farming community. This workshop series was highly rated by participants. After the first workshop, one participant stated that it was the best diversity workshop he had attended in his 22-year career. In a follow-up survey 1 year after the final workshop, the majority of respondents had made efforts to build relationships through agricultural programming for Hispanic farmers and farmworkers. Here, we are providing the methods we employed to serve as a model for others working to connect with this or other underserved or nontraditional farming audiences.

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Recent hypothetical modeling suggests that increasing commercial broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) acreage in the eastern United States has the potential to notably reduce the costs of transportation within the broccoli supply chain. In this region, increasing broccoli acreage will require production improvements. Here, research was conducted to determine the best yielding commercially available cultivars for broccoli production. Eighteen to 19 cultivars of broccoli were evaluated in spring and fall evaluations using diverse production systems during 2014–15 in three locations across Pennsylvania. Data collected included production, yield, and quality attributes. Most interactions between site, year, and cultivar were significant suggesting that environmental conditions influence broccoli yield, quality, and concentration of harvest. Overall, the cultivars evaluated were not different from, Imperial, the standard used, for marketable yield, head diameter, and concentration of harvest within a site year. Blue Wind was consistently the first cultivar harvested, and Avenger and Emerald Jewel the last overall site years and growing seasons. These three cultivars may be good options for extending the growing season.

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Butternut, acorn, and buttercup/kabocha winter squash (Cucurbita sp.) cultivars were evaluated in a conventional system in central, southeastern, and southwestern Pennsylvania in 2010–11. Results from individual locations were used to create statewide recommendations, which are also relevant for the mid-Atlantic U.S. region. Additionally, butternut and acorn cultivars were evaluated in an organic system in central Pennsylvania. In a conventional system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, Quantum, and Metro are recommended based on equal or higher marketable yield than the standard Waltham Butternut. Acorn squash cultivars that performed equally to or better than the standard, Tay Belle, were Table Star, Harlequin, and Autumn Delight. In the kabocha/buttercup category, ‘Sweet Mama’ and ‘Red Kuri’ had marketable yields not different from the standard ‘Sunshine’ in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. In the organic system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, and Metro all had marketable yields not different from the standard Waltham Butternut. For acorn cultivars, Celebration yield did not differ from the standard Table Queen.

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Sixteen cultivars of green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) were evaluated on the basis of yield in three locations across Pennsylvania during the growing seasons of 2008–09. Cultivars were evaluated in comparison with the cultivar Paladin. In central Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed had marketable yields (based on weight) not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Lynx’, ‘Socrates’, and ‘Escape’. In terms of fruit number, all cultivars were not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Socrates’. For large-sized fruit, all the cultivars trialed are recommended. In southeastern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except SP-05–47 had marketable yields not different than ‘Paladin’. For large-sized fruit, ‘Revolution’ outperformed all other cultivars, including ‘Paladin’. In southwestern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except Lynx and SP-05–47 produced comparable marketable yields to ‘Paladin’. None of the cultivars evaluated, including Paladin, consistently outperformed Revolution in terms of large fruit. Statewide, all the cultivars, except Lynx and SP-05–47, are recommended on the basis of marketable yields. For growers looking for large-sized fruit to meet market demand the cultivar Revolution is recommended over ‘Paladin’.

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To provide growers with regional and statewide recommendations, 23 cultivars of bicolor and white synergistic sweet corn (Zea mays) were evaluated in southwestern, central, and southeastern Pennsylvania. ‘Temptation’ was the standard. Despite differing production practices used in all locations, all cultivars were not different or produced more marketable primary ears compared with Temptation. Paydirt was the only cultivar to produce lower marketable yields by weight than Temptation in 2 site years or more. However, ‘Paydirt’ has an early maturity, which improves its acceptability. Very few ears were unmarketable. In terms of ear size, measured as diameter and length, overall all cultivars were not different from Temptation. ‘Temptation’ is early maturing and ear size was expected to be smaller than later maturing cultivars. This was not observed. Ease of hand harvesting was determined by measuring two factors: distance from the base of the primary ear to the soil line and ease of picking (1–5 rating scale where 1 = difficult and 5 = easy). The closer the primary ear was to the soil line was thought to be more difficult to harvest. ‘Synergy’, ‘Espresso’, ‘Kristine’, and ‘Paydirt’ ears were lower than ‘Temptation’ on the culm in 2 site years or more. ‘Whiteout’, ‘Synergy’, and ‘Mattapoisett’ were rated as more difficult to pick than ‘Temptation’ in 2 site years or more. Distance from the soil line to the primary ear and picking ease ratings were not observed to be closely related to each other and a combination of these and other factors may more accurately reflect the ease of hand harvesting. Overall, growers in our region have access to a lot of synergistic sweet corn cultivars with acceptable yield, quality, and ease of hand harvesting characteristics giving them a wide range of options.

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