Georgetown research farm named for late Senator Thurman Adams

May 18, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The late State Sen. Thurman Adams, Jr., of Bridgeville has often been called a champion of Delaware agriculture, both personally and professionally, for his advocacy during his 37 years in the State Senate. In honor of Sen. Adams and his legacy, the University of Delaware has named its research and education farm in Georgetown, Del., the Thurman G. Adams Agricultural Research Farm.

“Thurman Adams was simultaneously committed to preserving Delaware’s farm heritage and to ensuring that Delaware farmers were leaders in adopting new technologies,” said Robin Morgan, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “He cherished his friends and colleagues and was quick to credit them and recall their successes. Surely a giant in Delaware agriculture, he touched so many people across generations.”

Lynn Adams Kokjohn, Polly Adams Mervine and other family and friends of Sen. Adams joined UD officials and state legislators on Tuesday, May 15, for the naming announcement at the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center, which Sen. Adams affectionately referred to as the “Substation.”

“This place [the Substation] had a special place in Thurman’s heart,” said Mark Isaacs, director of the Carvel Research and Education Center, as he recalled the tireless efforts of Adams advocating for agriculture as well as the associated educational research component. “Sen. Adams was committed to making sure that the Substation had all the resources it needed to address the agricultural needs of Delaware. He stated time and time again, that his goal was for the substation to be the showcase for the east for research and Extension programs meeting the challenges for agriculture for years to come.”

Adams was also a steadfast supporter of other programs, including the Cooperative Extension and Delaware 4-H.

“Agriculture was number one to him,” said Mervine, one of Sen. Adams’ daughters. “He absolutely would be thrilled about this but more thrilled to see how the agriculture community has moved forward with all the advances they are making.”

A resolution on the naming passed by the University’s Board of Trustees at its recent spring meeting credits Sen. Adams for sponsoring “critical legislation to preserve Delaware’s farm heritage and strengthen the state’s agricultural economy.”

Isaacs said that Sen. Adams’ contributions in the Senate and Delaware accounts for millions of dollars of funding for the poultry industry, cooperative extension as well agricultural research and education at UD as well as other organizations. “Sen. Adams’ support was critical in providing the facility and equipment needs of the Substation, as well as the staffing to make sure research and extension programs were cutting edge,” Isaacs said.

Sen. Adams earned his bachelor of science degree in agricultural education from UD in 1950, and joined his father in family farming and their grain brokerage business, T.G. Adams and Sons, Inc., of which he later served as longtime president.

Article by Meredith Chapman

Video by Katy O’Connell and Bob DiIorio

Photos by Danielle Quigley

To view a video that accompanies this story, visit the CANR Youtube page

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New Poultry Extension Blog

January 26, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The UD Poultry Extension blog has officially launched at http://sites.udel.edu/poultryextension!

The blog is maintained by Bill Brown, state poultry extension specialist, and Stephen Collier, poultry research manager, both at Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown.

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Hurricane Irene: Carvel REC in Georgetown

August 26, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown will be closed from 2pm on Friday, August 26th through Monday, August 29th.  Due to possible power outages, updates to this schedule will be made available via their main phone line at 302-856-7303.

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Sweet watermelons

July 15, 2011 under CANR News

Delaware watermelon connoisseurs are enjoying the moment – local watermelons are now ripe and ready to enjoy. Local watermelons are sweeter and tastier than the out-of-state melons available earlier in the summer, claim their aficionados.

“Local watermelons do taste pretty sweet. And buying local produce when it’s in season helps to support our local growers,” notes Phillip Sylvester, agriculture agent for Kent County Cooperative Extension.

The state’s watermelon crop typically ripens by July 10 and continues through Sept. 25, with the most active harvest period in mid-August.  Delaware’s watermelon industry has declined slightly in recent years but is still strong.  There are more than 2,700 acres of watermelon in Delaware, down from 3,000 acres five years ago. Crop production is currently valued at $11 million annually.

Sylvester always plants watermelons in his home garden in Felton but the bulk of commercial growing takes place further south, in and around Laurel. The well-drained, sandy soils in western Sussex County are excellent for watermelon growing.

This area has been the seat of Delaware’s commercial melon industry since the 1850s, when schooners loaded with watermelon traveled the Nanticoke River to Baltimore and points beyond. More recently, the Laurel Farmers’ Auction Market opened in 1940 to bring wholesale watermelon buyers and sellers together. At one time the price of virtually every Delaware watermelon was negotiated at the Laurel Market. Today, supermarket chains send brokers directly to growers but the market is still used by small- and medium-sized buyers.

Sylvester grows “Crimson Sweet” watermelons because he says they have an exceptionally sweet taste. But this striped heirloom melon will never win any popularity contests, tasty as it might be, because of what some view as an unforgivable downfall – its seeds.

“I don’t care if a watermelon has seeds,” says Sylvester, “but most people do.”

In the 1990s, less than 1 percent of watermelons were seedless. Today, about 75 percent of the watermelons sold in the U.S. are seedless varieties. A seedless watermelon plant contains three sets of chromosomes and is sterile so it must be pollinated by a second plant to set fruit. As a result, growers must pay strict attention to the pollination needs of their seedless watermelon crops. Most growers rent or own honeybee hives but some have started to use bumblebees. UD bee researcher Debbie Delaney and Cooperative Extension fruit and vegetable specialist Gordon Johnson are working with watermelon growers this summer to see if bumblebees improve crop productivity.

Kate Everts also is conducting watermelon research but her projects focus on combating Fusarium wilt. This pestilent pathogen causes one of the most economically significant watermelon diseases worldwide. It causes wilt and plant death early in the season and again when the plant is in fruit. Once a field exhibits severe Fusarium wilt, it’s off limits for watermelon growing for 15 or more years.

Everts, who holds a joint appointment at the University of Delaware and the University of Delaware, collaborates closely with Extension specialists Emmalea Earnest and Gordon Johnson. Her research team focuses on several areas: they’re developing plants resistant to Fusarium wilt, exploring chemical disease measures, and looking at how cover crops can suppress this nasty fungus.

Sylvester is diligent about helping commercial growers obtain maximum yields but when it comes to his own watermelon plot, he adopts a laidback attitude. Though the ag agent know his way around a garden, sometimes pests or weather get the best of his watermelons. Every spring he tells himself “maybe we’ll have watermelons, maybe we won’t.”

However, this summer he hopes for a bumper crop because his 1 1/2-year-old son, Henry, shows a liking for watermelon. What could be better than a “Crimson Sweet,” grown in the backyard by Dad?

Article by Margo McDonough

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UD researchers share weed science, crop trial info at annual Weed Day in Georgetown

June 27, 2011 under CANR News

Growers and those serving in the agricultural industry toured research plots at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown as part of Weed Day, an annual agriculture tradition at UD’s experimental station whose goal is to deliver the latest research findings from studies conducted throughout the year on trials involving key agronomic crops, such as corn, soybean, lima beans and watermelon, to evaluate their effectiveness of weed management.

Those attending were welcomed by Mark Isaacs, director of the Carvel Research and Education Center, Mark VanGessel, University of Delaware extension specialist and professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Barbara Scott and Quintin Johnson, members of VanGessel’s team of weed science researchers.

After the welcome, Weed Day began inside Carvel’s meeting rooms with a brief overview of UD’s trials, what methods or herbicides have shown promising results, and weeds that remains challenging, such as morning glory, speedwell, annual ryegrass, herbicide-resistant pigweed and Palmer-aramanth.

Later in the morning, visitors were chauffeured on haystacks for a firsthand look at several field trials, with VanGessel introducing the tour group to a trial on organic production of corn, soybean and winter wheat.

Keeping local growers up to date on field trials is a very important part of Weed Day, as communication to the industry is a key component in Delaware’s continued agronomic success and is part of Cooperative Extension’s outreach mission.

To read more about Weed Day, visit the Carvel and Research Education Center News Website

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Sussex MGs offer garden walk

June 13, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The Sussex County Master Gardeners are pleased to invite the public to a Garden Walk at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden on, Thursday, June 16, 2011, 5 – 7 p.m. The garden is located behind the county Extension office, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown. The event is free.

Master Gardeners will feature a look at a June garden filled with flowers. In addition to enjoying the garden, a number of Master Gardeners will be available to provide information and help on a wide variety of gardening topics including an exhibit of Accessible Gardening Tips and Tools.

Following the Garden Walk, Master Gardener Vicki Thompson will be presenting a workshop on ‘Hostas’ at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 3 of the Extension Office. Pre-register for this workshop by contacting Tammy Schirmer at (302) 856-2585 ext. 542 or tammys@udel.edu

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices. It is Delaware Cooperative Extension’s policy that that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran or handicap status. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.

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For the love of limas

May 5, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pole lima beans are a Delaware staple.

April 20 was National Lima Bean Respect Day but in Ronald Dodd’s eyes, limas deserve kudos every day of the year.

The Georgetown septuagenarian has been growing pole limas since he was a boy and says that his father and grandfather grew them before he did. Dodd’s 55- by 147-foot garden, on land he owns one block off Georgetown’s Circle, features 42 to 45 hills of pole limas each season.

Come harvest time, he’ll enjoy pole limas in succotash accompanied by baking powder biscuits, just like scores of other native Delawareans.

But head a couple hundred miles from the First State, or talk to new state residents, and you may get puzzled looks at the mention of pole limas. “At conferences, I’ve met people in the agricultural industry who have never heard of pole limas,” says Emmalea Ernest, aUniversity of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate who specializes in lima bean research. “But there is a long tradition of growing pole limas here; there is a real lima bean culture in Delaware.

“As a plant breeder, the most interesting thing to me about pole lima beans is that it is still possible to find people in Delaware who are growing local landrace varieties that they have selected themselves or that have been passed down in their families.  For other vegetables, even though there are lots of people out there growing heirloom varieties, they got the seed from Burpee, not their grandmother.”

Lima beans are a big business in Delaware. Limas are grown on more acres in the state than any other vegetable crop. However, the commercial market is made up almost entirely of baby limas and Fordhooks, not pole limas. These baby limas and Fordhooks are grown for processing, which, nowadays, means flash-frozen, not canned.

If you want to eat fresh lima beans this summer, you’ll need to be on the look-out for pole limas at farmers’ markets, particularly markets in Sussex or Kent counties. Or, better yet, you can grow them yourself, suggests Ernest.

She knows, though, that some folks may need convincing that it’s worth the effort to grow limas, pole or otherwise. Maybe they weren’t paying attention on National Lima Bean Respect Day. Or, more likely, they still have vivid memories from childhood of mushy, over-cooked canned limas heaped high on dinner plates or school lunch trays.

There’s nothing worse than a soggy canned lima but these days, flash-frozen baby and Fordhook limas are tasty and have a nice, firm texture, says Ernest.

And there’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh-picked pole lima, she says. “The taste of a pole lima is delicious and the pole lima isn’t starchy, unless you leave it on the vine too long. My four-year-old daughter, Irene, just gobbles them up.”

As an added bonus, pole limas – and limas in general – are nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich in fiber, potassium, iron, copper and manganese.

In her own Ellendale garden, Ernest doesn’t bother growing baby limas or Fordhooks – “I am able to get enough of them at work,” she says. But she has devoted 400 feet of trellis to pole limas.

If you want to grow pole limas this summer, now’s the time to prepare. Pole limas have a long growing season and should be planted between mid-May and early June. Pole limas can be grown on teepees but Ernest prefers trellises because teepees can blow over in windy conditions. Pole limas can tolerate New Castle County’s heavy, clay soils as well as Sussex’s sandy conditions.

Ernest starts her pole lima plants from seed. You can buy seeds online; pole lima plants are available at some independent nurseries and farmers markets. One of the most popular varieties is Dr. Martin, an heirloom that features 16- to 20-foot-long vines bearing large, flat pods. Big Mama and King of the Garden are other local favorites. For something different, try the Christmas Lima, sporting a red and white speckled bean that has a butter-like texture and a subtle chestnut-like flavor.

Pole limas need a lot of room and should be planted four to six feet apart. To keep your pole limas happy, Ernest says to go heavy on the watering and light on the fertilizing. Keep an eye out for spider mites and stink bugs; the two most common lima pests. Pod development should start occurring in mid- to late-August, with mature beans ready to pick about three weeks later. Pods will continue to develop into September.

If you have a bumper crop of pole limas you can freeze them or, like Ronald Dodd, you can give the excess to friends and neighbors. “I have plenty of ‘customers’ who like to get some of my pole limas,” says Dodd. “But last year was not a great season; I didn’t have any extra to give away.”

Plenty of native Delawareans – and Delawareans in the know – will be hoping for better pole lima yields this growing season.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.

 

 

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2011 GAP/GHP Training Sessions Announced

February 18, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension will offer voluntary food safety Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GH’s) training sessions for fruit and vegetable growers in 2011.

The training includes certification issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

According to Gordon Johnson, extension specialist and assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, “For wholesale growers, this training certification program satisfies some wholesale buyer requirements that growers attend GAP/GHP training. For those expecting to go through an audit this year, this program will help you to know what is covered in an audit and how to develop your farm food safety plan.”

Smaller growers that do not market wholesale are also encouraged to become trained and learn about the best ways to keep produce safe from food borne pathogens.

Limited or no wholesale, mostly direct market growers will need to complete only 3 hours of training, while significant wholesale growers must attend 6 hours of training in order to receive certification.

Training sessions in 2011 include:

Kent County

Wholesale growers: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, March 3.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Monday, April 4.

Both sessions will take place at the Kent County Extension Office, UD Paradee Building, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, DE 19901.

Call (302) 730-4000 to register, and contact Phillip Sylvester (phillip@udel.edu), Kent County cooperative extension agent, for more information.

Sussex County

Wholesale growers: This will be broken up into two sessions. Session 1 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 10 and Session 2 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 17.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, April 14.

All sessions will take place at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, DE 19947.

Call (302) 856-7303 to register or contact extension agents Tracy Wootten (wootten@udel.edu) or Cory Whaley (whaley@udel.edu) for more information.

New Castle County

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 26.

The session will be held at the New Castle County Extension Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE , 19716

Call (302) 831-2506 to register or contact extension educator Maria Pippidis (pippidis@udel.edu) for more information.

Trainings are also sponsored by the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware.

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CANR researchers team up to combat lima bean disease

February 3, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

When battling downy mildew, a potentially devastating disease that strikes lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus), one of Delaware’s most important vegetable crops, assembling a team of experts to attack the problem from all angles is a must. That’s why a diverse group of plant scientists in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has joined together to battle this important plant disease.

Tom Evans, professor of plant pathology in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, and many graduate students have studied downy mildew over the past 15 years.

Evans said lima beans are vital to agriculture in Delaware and are “the cornerstone of the state’s processing vegetable industry.” Approximately 6,000 hectares of baby lima beans are grown annually, with a farm value of over $6 million. If lima bean cannot be grown profitably in the state, then many other processing vegetables would not be grown due to the economics of processing.

Downy mildew, caused by the fungus-like organism Phytophthora phaseoli, is prevalent in Delaware because it thrives in humid conditions, and lima beans are grown on small, dense acreage. Evans said that most lima bean growers are concentrated in close proximity from Dover to Georgetown and from the Delaware Bay west into Maryland, so wind-driven rain makes it easier for the pathogen’s sporangia to move from one lima bean field to another.

That was the case in 2000, when downy mildew caused $3 million damage in what Evans called “the largest downy mildew of lima bean epidemic ever recorded.” Two factors contributing to this epidemic were the emergence of a new race of the pathogen, Race F, which overcame the genetic resistance of lima cultivars being grown, and frequent wind-driven rain that spread the pathogen’s sporangia.

With the emergence of Race F, growers could no longer rely on downy mildew resistant lima bean cultivars to prevent the disease, as they had in the past. New cultivars with resistance to Race F need to be developed and in the meantime growers have relied upon fungicides to manage the disease.

Bob Mulrooney, extension specialist in plant pathology, has tested fungicides for effectiveness against downy mildew for a number of years and has identified new more environmentally-friendly chemicals which offer good control. Mulrooney’s research results are the basis for growers’ current downy mildew management practices.

Evans and his group have been responsible for studying the biology of the pathogen, monitoring the evolution of new races of the pathogen and the epidemiology of the disease.

Extension associate Nancy Gregory diagnoses the disease on samples sent in by growers, maintains the pathogen in culture for field and greenhouse experiments, and determines their races.

Emmalea Ernest, an extension associate at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, Del., breeds lima bean for desirable traits, such as disease and drought resistance, and is developing cultivars for Delaware farmers. Ernest and Evans work together screening lima bean germplasm from around the world for resistance to races E and F of P. phaseoli. Ernest has conducted experiments to determine how the resistance genes are inherited. After making crosses between resistant parents followed by several years of field screening, Evans and Ernest are testing lima bean lines with resistance to both races this summer.

Nicole Donofrio, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, is responsible for the pathogen side of the study, trying to understand the pathogen’s virulence mechanisms, and how it evolves to attack certain aspects of the plant. Donofrio said, “In order to fight the disease, you have to know your enemy, and the more you know your enemy, the more equipped you are to tackle it when things like a new race emerge.”

Knowing exactly how to fight against the disease from a pathogen standpoint is difficult. Donofrio points out that P. phaseoli has over 500 effector genes, molecules that bind to a protein altering its activity and enabling infection. To study effectors, Donofrio and doctoral student Sridhara Kunjeti took a two-pronged approach. First, they took what they knew about P. infestans, the pathogen responsible for the Irish potato famine and a close relative of P. phaseoli, and searched for similar genes in P. phaseoli to determine if it used similar mechanisms in its attack on lima bean.

Next, they looked at lima beans that had been infected for three and six days to see which effectors were active during those time-points of infection. Donofrio said this could lead to a breakthrough because if they are able to characterize the effector genes, they can look for traits that could be a countermeasure to pathogen attack and thereby block pathogenesis.

Randy Wisser, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, works on aspects of quantitative genetics and plant breeding and Blake Meyers, Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor and chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, works on genomics of lima bean-downy mildew interactions.

In various combinations, the research team has received over $200,000 from various CANR seed grants and Delaware state grants to more fully explore P. phaseoli and downy mildew.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

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