Extension postharvest quality maintenance programs in North Carolina were significantly enhanced by engineering inputs and Exxon violation escrow funds. Equipment and storage designs and recommendations have provided tangible results for North Carolina horticultural crops producers and shippers, including “Cool and Ship,” a portable, pallet-size forced-air cooling system, thermal storage immersion hydrocooling systems, and the horizontal air flow sweetpotato curing and storage system. Impacts include: 30% to 50% blueberry and strawberry loss reductions using forced-air cooling; and 20% to 30% sweetpotato packout rate increases when cured and stored with the new system. Useful materials include a video on cooling options, a computer decision aid for precooling, a storage poster, and more than two dozen publications on Maintaining the Quality of North Carolina Fresh Produce.
When comparing states with population percentages residing in major cities, Nevada is considered the third most urban state in the nation. It also has the distinction of being the driest, with less than 4 inches of precipitation annually in the Las Vegas Valley. Nevada is using 280,000 acre-feet of water from its 300,000 acre-feet allotment from the Colorado River annually. Approximately 60% of this is used for urban landscaping. With average water use at >300 gallons per person per day in the past, Las Vegans have been criticized as “water-wasters.” Rising water prices and an active research and extension education program begun in 1985 and supported by the local water utility has helped to contribute to changing water use patterns and a reduction in water use. Research, educational programs for commercial landscapers, and home horticulture programs conducted through Master Gardeners have helped to reduce water use in the Las Vegas Valley while providing information on sound horticultural practices.
In 1985 an extension consumer horticulture computer information system (HORT) was initiated on the Virginia Tech mainframe computer to mitigate the demands on agents' time while providing monthly professional updates and accurate, timely information for use in their local programs. Agents access the information through their office microcomputers, which are linked to the Virginia Tech mainframe computer. Agents can transfer the needed information onto a diskette for reference, immediate use, or further editing or print a hard copy on campus to be mailed to them. Slide sets or videotapes can be ordered from the Virginia Tech Learning Resource Center (LRC) on this system. The monthly releases are available at no charge to anyone in the land-grant system with a BITNET or Internet user identification number.
Three hundred and one Extension professionals (88.3% response), working in home horticulture educational programs in the United States in 1984, indicated their greatest areas of inservice education needs in program delivery are: 1) increasing expertise in the various subject matter areas, 2) developing skills in plant disorder diagnosis, 3) managing information files for rapid retrieval and dissemination, and 4) developing and implementing innovative programs. Subject matter areas where respondents have the greatest training need are: 1) pest identification and control, 2) diagnosis of plant disorders, 3) weed identification, 4) home fruit production, 5) information on recommended cultivars, and 6) ornamental plant identification. Home vegetable gardening ranked 1st in respondent perception of importance and perception of proficiency needed for job performance.
Through an agency called Volunteers for Overseas Cooperative Assistance (VOCA), funded primarily by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), professionals from many disciplines are recruited to assist less-developed countries (LDCs) with establishing new industries and/or improving management practices in existing businesses. We were recruited to evaluate the causes of postharvest losses of horticultural products in Russia. These losses historically have been high due to the limited availability of mechanical refrigeration and poor postharvest management practices. This paper reports on the success of an extension demonstration project in Russia where traditional storage and handling systems for carrots were compared to systems using improvements in grading and prestorage sanitation. An evaluation of storage facilities and recommendations for improvements are discussed.
Both growers and vegetable seed companies have had long-term historic relationships with public agriculture extension educators and faculty to conduct unbiased evaluation of vegetable varieties. Reductions in both the number of vegetable seed companies as well as university human resources has led to questions about the viability and appropriateness of publicly-funded variety evaluation programs. Field based extension educators and regional staff have taken more leadership to evaluate varieties, but this often results in fragmented or repetitive trials with limited long term integration of data. Statewide vegetable extension specialists must provide the leadership in coordinating these trials to enhance the rigor of data collection and analysis. Fundamental to enhancing rigor is improving regional coordination and collaboration. The calculation of stability estimates for new and older varieties is most efficiently and quickly achieved through regional collaborations. Initial efforts should improve uniformity of trials by creating common evaluation methods for yield and qualitative evaluations (e.g., color, appearance), including two standard varieties (one local and one regional, long-term standard), standardizing field establishment practices, and selecting experimental designs and plot sizes to improve labor efficiency. These regionally coordinated trials will improve the ability to publish this type of applied research and demonstrate new levels of efficiency for university administrations. In the long term, carefully designed comparisons of genotypic performance among different environments could suggest new directions for university breeding programs as well as cropping systems research.
In 1993, a modification of the Master Gardener volunteer program was created to focus on ecological principles for environmentally sound gardening. The new program is called the Master Gardener-Environmental and Community Stewardship (MGECS) program and addresses important environmental concerns in Middlesex County, N.J. Program participants receive more than 100 hours of training in horticultural and ecological principles and are required to share their knowledge with others through volunteer activities monitored by cooperative extension staff. Volunteers encourage home comporting, recycling of grass clippings, proper fertilization techniques, and least-toxic pest control in the home landscape and garden. Trained volunteers have helped more than 16,000 people during the past 2 years through lectures, demonstrations, telephone contacts, and newspaper articles. Since the MGECS program began in 1993, the number of volunteer hours per person during the first year has increased by 30% compared to the traditional Master Gardener program offered from 1989 to 1992. This new program is an effective model to encourage practical environmental stewardship through community volunteer action.
The Internet has become a valuable tool in education in the traditional classroom. Although electronic publications and other visual information in the form of PowerPoint presentations, with or without streaming video, have proven very effective in disseminating information, these forms lack interaction with clientele. Horizon Wimba software circumvents this limitation by allowing interaction between presenter and remote audience as well as between individual students while the lecture is in progress. This Web-based tool was evaluated in two Extension programs, Master Gardener and county agent trainings. With both types of audience, evaluations showed high satisfaction and effectiveness of the delivery of information. Evaluations also showed that Master Gardeners who use the Internet on a regular basis considered the Web-delivered interactive lecture format similar to face-to-face interaction. Master Gardeners who do not use the Internet on a regular basis listed that Web-delivered interactive training could be used as a supplement to traditional face-to-face interaction. County agents were very comfortable with the format and indicated high interest in participating in future trainings via the Internet.
The government-funded horticulture extension service, which provided a free service to New Zealand growers for nearly 50 years, was privatized in the late 1980s as part of major reforms to the primary production sector. That service had provided one-on-one on-farm visits, budget advice, provision of technical information, and facilitation of field days, workshops and discussion groups throughout the country. This government-funded service also provided policy advice, acted as an interface between industry and the research and development (R&D) sector, and responded to biosecurity incursions. A decade following privatization, the number of people involved in equivalent consultancy activities has almost halved with very little recruitment of new people into the profession. The emphasis is now much more towards providing advice on the overall management of an individual enterprise to ensure its financial viability, with less emphasis on technical transfer. Large horticultural businesses are increasingly employing specialists in-house who can provide technical solutions and advice on balance sheet management. Private consultancy companies now tend to work more at a local or regional level rather than at a national level and links with R&D providers have markedly weakened as research organisations are increasingly protecting intellectual property for their own commercial advantages and as information provision is now largely on a user-pays basis. In addition, biosecurity incursions over the past decade appear to have increased as a result of a weakened surveillance effort. Nonetheless, horticultural exports from New Zealand continue to grow at around 10% per annum and many sectors remain very competitive on world markets.
production and marketing risks, with presumed additional uncertainty in the bar and restaurant industry resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Given the opportunity, stakeholders have called for greater research and extension assistance to