UD’s Ernest receives USDA grant for research on lima beans

December 11, 2013 under CANR News

Emmalea Ernest Research Assistant for Vegetable crops. Plant and Soil Science, Cooperative ExtensionEmmalea Ernest, extension agent in the University of Delaware’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (PLSC), has received federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) Program for a project aimed at developing heat-tolerant lima bean varieties.

“Lima beans are Delaware’s largest acreage vegetable crop and anchor the state’s processing vegetable industry,” said Ernest. “The varieties that are currently available to growers suffer yield loss or delayed yield when they are exposed to high temperatures during flowering.”

In order to be eligible for funding from the program, grant money had to be used toward specialty crops as opposed to field crops, such as corn and soybeans, or animal agriculture. Specialty crops are a wide-ranging category that includes fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, horticulture, and nursery crops.

With her funding, Ernest aims to develop procedures for heat tolerance screening in the existing lima bean breeding program, examine the physiological mechanisms for heat stress tolerance or susceptibility in lima beans, and investigate the underlying genetic basis for heat stress tolerance in lima beans. Her findings could greatly impact Delaware vegetable farmers’ yields.

Ernest said she has collaborated on multiple USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants in the past six years and acknowledged that the program has been a vital source of funding to the Extension Vegetable and Fruit Research Program. The money has allowed Ernest to help address production problems many Delaware fruit and vegetable growers have experienced, as well as explore new crop prospects.

The SCBG program seeks out projects like Ernest’s in order to promote and enhance the local agricultural economy.

“My past and current grant projects through this program have included work on lima beans but also on a variety of other crops, including processing sweet corn, blueberries, snap beans, cucumbers and cantaloupes,” said Ernest.

Her research with lima beans will be over the course of the next three years and take place on UD’s research farm in Georgetown.

Ernest said that in the genetics portion of the project, which will be built off of work funded by the Building a Better Bean SCRI Grant awarded to UD researchers last year, she will be working closely with colleague Randy Wisser, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, and Gordon Johnson, extension vegetable and fruit specialist.

Article by Angela Carcione

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

CANR announces 2013 Benton Award winners

July 29, 2013 under CANR News

benton-award-winnersThe University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has announced that Jacquelyn Marchese and Michelle Windle are the winners of the 2013 William J. Benton Graduate Student Awards.

The awards were established in honor of William J. Benton, former CANR associate dean of research and professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences (ANFS).

Jacquelyn Marchese

Marchese received her master’s degree from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology in May. Of the award, she said she was “honored that I was even nominated, so it was pretty cool that I won. I was definitely very grateful.”

Marchese’s research has dealt with bumblebees and how they can be used to pollinate certain crops in Delaware, such as watermelon, cucumbers and strawberries.

After graduating, she decided to take some time off and go on a cross-country road trip before settling into the professional world.

Marchese acknowledged her adviser, Deborah Delaney, assistant professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, and the rest of her committee: Gordon Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; Vincent D’Amico, supplemental faculty in entomology and wildlife ecology; and Joanne Whalen, Cooperative Extension specialist in entomology and wildlife ecology.

Michelle Windle

Windle, a doctoral student in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences who previously received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CANR, said her doctoral research focuses on silage, specifically how to increase the digestibility of starch earlier in the ensiling process to make it more readily available for cows to digest, which will in turn help them have more energy and produce more milk.

In addition to her research, Windle has also been a teaching assistant for many classes in fields as diverse as animal nutrition, which she taught for five years, production and genetics. She has traveled extensively to conduct research and present papers, and has given talks at conferences.

Windle said that it was an honor to receive the award, especially in light of the fact that she has interacted with some past winners. “That was really neat. It was an honor. I’ve known some of the other people who have gotten it, Laura Nemec and Kirsten Hirneisen, and it was an honor to be included with them.”

Windle pointed out that she could not say enough about her adviser Limin Kung, the S. Hallock du Pont Professor of Animal and Food Sciences who has been exceptionally helpful throughout her time at UD.

“I can’t talk about Dr. Kung enough. The guy is awesome,” she said. “He’s got drive, excitement, he thinks silage is cool, and he’s got the ability to inspire that in other students. He just genuinely wants to see you do well.”

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD Extension researchers look to blueberries as a small wonder for Delaware

June 27, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Blueberries,Vaccinium corymbosum, the tiny, sweet blue fruits touted for their health benefits are growing as a favorite among fruit lovers and health-conscious people everywhere. With consumer demand trending toward buying local, blueberries could be a no-brainer bonanza for the First State. For Delaware to do it right, knowing the best varieties to plant and documenting the ideal growing conditions for commercial production is essential.emmalea ernest works with blueberries

At the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and beyond, Emmalea Ernest is informally known as “the lima bean lady” in part for her research efforts to build a better lima bean, a vegetable crop that has enjoyed success and prominence in Delaware.

An Extension agent and fruit and vegetable researcher, based at UD’s Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center, Ernest works closely with her colleague, Gordon Johnson,  Vegetable and Fruit Extension Specialist. Ernest’s efforts have focused on evaluating varieties of crops that can be grown in Delaware for commercial production. Though lima bean breeding remains her specialty and area of doctoral study, Ernest also conducts trials of sweet corn, lettuce, watermelon, pole beans and for the third year in a row, blueberries are part of her research repertoire.

“Not a lot of Delaware acreage is devoted to blueberries at present,” Ernest explains, “but there is a lot of interest from growers.” Ernest’s research will provide valuable information on what varieties produce the best yield and taste for success in Delaware.

Since 2011, rows of blueberries-in waiting occupy approximately a third of an acre at the Thurman G. Adams Agricultural Research Farm part of  Carvel’s 344 acre complex. In all,  each of 23 blueberry varieties, with names like Aurora, Sweetheart, Star, Reka, and Chandler, to name only a few, are part of the large, multi-year study. In addition to the Carvel site, Ernest is conducting variety trials and other studies in collaboration with Hail Bennett, of  Bennett Orchards in Frankford.

In the first two years, Ernest and her “veggie team” have been pinching off the flower blossoms, preventing fruit production.

Stopping blossoms from progressing into blueberries allows the plant to become fully and firmly established. This summer, the third year of research has been the charm, or at least a change for the senses. This summer they will see and taste the fruit of their labors.

Ernest refers to her crop as “my blueberries” but she is willing to share their various shapes, sizes and flavors, as well as give  credit to her team of interns and UD colleagues for the hard work. This summer, the study will benefit from volunteer Master Gardeners who will help harvest the 275-plus bushes as they ripen. Size, weight, color, taste and overall health will be logged in and evaluated. While she is curious to receive feedback from others about their taste and texture, Ernest’s trials currently concentrate on the results of soil amendments, mulching techniques and specific variety’s response to Delaware’s seasons and weather conditions.  The varieties reach their peak at different times in the summer, important knowledge that will help growers to expand their production over several months.

Blueberries are relatively disease free Ernest explains, and while her research plot has yet to be picked off by birds, she anticipates they will be a major issue for the crop. Currently, uncovered, Ernest says there are plans to enclose the entire trial area with a trellis covered by one large net.

Also working closely with Ernest is Extension IPM Specialist Joanne Whalen, who monitors the plots for the presence of  spotted-wing drosophila, a potential, pesky fruit fly for the crop. The best bird netting won’t stop visits from fruit flies, however. If the presence of the spotted-wing becomes more of an issue, Extension experts will seek to find a solution to the pests the berries turn from green to blue and violet, they are picked and weighed from each bush. Taste tests at this stage are informal, with Carvel’s staff serving as willing taste critics.

Three different experiments are being conducted at the trial site. In addition to the variety trial, the team is evaluating blueberries’ response to various soil and mulches that she and her team apply.

Blueberries are traditionally planted with peat moss under the root, Ernest explains. They are evaluating less-costly alternatives. Materials being tested include pine bark fines, waste silage, composted saw dust horse bedding, chipped-up construction waste wood, and for control, no amendments at all. Mulching materials include the same list of ingredients, and also chopped corn stalks. The ongoing results are published in a vegetable and small fruit blog she and Gordon Johnson maintain,  and articles also appear in the Weekly Crop Update.

“Blueberries like wet conditions,” Ernest said, acknowledging that a very wet June has been good for the blueberry’s first year of production.”They’ve been very happy this summer,” Ernest said. “They do well in bog-like conditions, but they aren’t an aquatic plant.”

Ernest plans to collect data for several more years before being comfortable making recommendations to area growers.  Conducting successful variety trials, soil amendment studies and mulching recommendations can only be executed across an array of conditions and time. It is exacting work where patience is a virtue.

Ernest, ever the scientist, is nonetheless excited about the prospects of bigger and better blueberry crops in Delaware. “I think people will get more excited about them than lima beans,” Ernest admits. “I have no shortage of people offering to eat them.”

Article and photos by Michele Walfred

Share

Extension to host Retail Farm Market School

April 23, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

On Wednesday, May 29, Delaware Cooperative Extension will conduct a day-long Retail Farm Market School for anyone who handles, processes or merchandises fresh market produce, such as local farm market vendors. The school is sponsored by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Penn State University, Delaware Department of Agriculture and Delaware Agritourism Association. The course runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will be held at the Elbert N. & Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. Instructors will be Gordon Johnson from UD and John Berry from Penn State. The tuition is $45.

Topics will include produce handling and merchandising, customer service, sanitation and fresh cut produce. The course will be comprised of several delivery modes including professionally produced video segments, take-home text, post-harvest handling references, hands-on activities and a “certification quiz.”

Each school participant will receive a full-day of retail farm marketing education and networking, a 40-page text that follows the school curriculum, a professional produce knife, a digital produce thermometer, sign blanks and the opportunity to receive a Retail Produce Professional certificate.

The school material is appropriate for new employee training and as a refresher for existing employees who work with fresh produce.

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension welcomes and encourages public participation of their programs, events, and workshops scheduled for the public. All reasonable efforts will be used to meet the accessibility requests. Please contact the office two weeks prior to event to request assistance with any special needs you may have.

Registration deadline is Friday, May 17. Please contact Karen Adams at adams@udel.edu or call (302) 856-2585 ext. 540 to register, obtain additional information and directions. Class is limited to the 35 seats.

Share

UD awarded $1.5 million USDA grant to study lima beans

January 11, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Researchers from UD study lima beansDelaware is currently the number two producer of lima beans in the United States, second only to California and with the possibility of becoming number one in the future.

Because of this, it is imperative to study the many aspects of various diseases affecting the crop in Delaware and throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Such work requires a collaborative effort and a team has been assembled thanks to a five-year, $1.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant.

The grant awarded to the University of Delaware includes researchers from UD, Delaware State University, the University of Maryland, Ohio State University, Cornell University and the University of California Davis (UC Davis) who will begin studying the various effects of plant disease on lima beans in the First State.

The many aspects of this grant will include studies that are being conducted for the first time in history.

There are six components to the grant, each with various researchers studying different parts of the problem. They are conducting research on downy mildew, pod blight, white mold, root knot nematodes and germplasm resources and developing an economic analysis.

Downy mildew

Downy mildew is a fungal-like disease of the lima bean caused by Phytophthora phaseoliand the goal of the research team is to improve disease forecasting and look at genetic diversity of the population of the pathogen. In this way, researchers will be able to inform farmers of their risk of occurrence of the disease and have a better understanding of the genetics of the pathogen.

Tom Evans and Nicole Donofrio, professors of plant pathology in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Nancy Gregory, plant diagnostician for UD, will work together on this part of the project.

Pod blight

Pod blight is caused by the pathogen known as P. capsici and Gordon Johnson, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences at UD, will work on this part of the study with Evans and Gregory.

Unlike downy mildew, which is a disease that generally affects only lima beans, P. capsicihas a very wide host range. Once it strikes a particular crop, it is very difficult to get rid of, with pathogen’s spores lasting up to 10 years in the soil. Because of this, pod blight is an increasing problem for growers. The disease occurs in low-lying areas of fields and is more frequent in wet years. Therefore, this part of the project has three goals: to look for a fungicide to deal with the disease, to monitor the disease, and to look for alternative or organic non-pesticide driven strategies for control.

The study is also looking at risk management strategies, including information for growers in the state about the best time to spray for disease control and consideration of alternate control strategies.

Gregory, who diagnoses field samples collected by the research team and growers, maintains cultures of the pathogens and produces  the inoculum for the studies, said that the researchers are eager to “learn more about the epidemiology and the spread of pod blight and downy mildew, that will enable us to do a little bit better job on forecasting.”

She also noted how great is to have so many expert researchers involved, noting that she is looking forward to making significant progress on problems that have plagued the region for years. “To pull together a strong team of researchers like this and many new graduate students is really going to pull a lot of this research together and we’ll really come up with some great results.”

White mold

Kate Everts, an adjunct associate professor of plant and soil sciences at UD and a Cooperative Extension specialist with both UD and the University of Maryland, is leading research on alternative ways to control white mold, another disease that is very difficult to eliminate.

With an even broader host range than P. capsici, and an even longer life — persisting in soils for 20-30 years — finding out as much about the disease as possible, as well as possible ways to control it, is imperative.

Everts will look not just at lima beans but other crops, as well, as she tests biological control strategies and alternative control strategies for dealing with the white mold.

Click here to read more.. »

Share

Apple picking already in full force at Delaware area orchards

August 30, 2012 under Cooperative Extension

Summer means lazy days at the beach or pool, after-dinner trips to the ice cream stand and – this summer, anyway — outings to U-pick apple orchards.

Apple picking – typically synonymous with autumn weekends – is in full force at T.S. Smith and Sons Orchards in Bridgeville. “We finished picking Gala apples on Aug. 9. Normally, we don’t even start picking Galas until Aug. 19,” reports orchard co-owner Charlie Smith. “Everything is coming in much earlier this season.”

“Our U-pick operation has been open for several weeks and will run every weekend until all the varieties are finished – probably between the end of September and middle of October,” he says.

Because of the mild winter, apple trees flowered ahead of schedule at T.S. Smith and Sons and other area orchards. “Usually, the trees aren’t in blossom until right around my birthday — April 20. This year, they were blooming on April 1,” says Smith.

In Delaware, temperatures stayed mild throughout the spring so early blossoming wasn’t a problem – it just made for the earlier-than-usual crop. But in Michigan and parts of New England, spring frosts wreaked havoc during a growing season that was running about a month ahead of schedule.

An early April frost is estimated to have wiped out more than 50 percent of the apple crop in southwest Michigan. In Vermont, damage wasn’t as bad; yields were expected to be down 10 to 20 percent, according to the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association.

T. S. Smith and Sons has been busy shipping to locations that normally purchase northern apples, in addition to maintaining its regular distribution throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The orchard is one of two large-scale, commercial apple growers in Delaware. The other is Fifer Orchards, outside of the town of Wyoming. Several smaller orchards sell apples wholesale and one, Highland Orchards, in north Wilmington, only sells direct to consumers at its farm store.

Yet, even with just a handful of orchards, apples are Delaware’s most important fruit crop, says Gordon Johnson, a fruit and vegetable specialist with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.  More than 10.4 million pounds are grown here annually. Peaches, the number two crop, trail behind at around 1.2 million pounds.

At Fifer’s, they began packing apples for commercial shipments Aug. 16, though local sales began much earlier. “We used to ship to Florida and to other long-distance locations,” says Michael Fennemore, a fourth-generation Fifer family member who works on the farm. “But we took a look at transportation costs and realized it made more sense to concentrate on the Mid-Atlantic market. For example, we now sell apples to Wegmans and Harris Teeter grocery stores in the Washington, D.C., area.”

Fifer’s has been in business since 1919. In its early days, word of mouth helped drive sales, as friends and neighbors talked up the orchard’s produce. Today, word of mouth is still a key part of Fifer’s marketing strategy – the only difference being that people talk online, rather than at the general store or the Grange Hall.

Fennemore is responsible for the orchard’s social media efforts and uses everything from Facebook to Twitter to get the word out. The orchard has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, who keep up a steady conversation of comments and questions.

“I tweet, for example, when Rambo apples are ripe and available in our farm store,” says Fennemore. “People tell me that they have been in line at the bank window or on another errand and head over to the farm when they see our tweets.”

Given the early season, devotees of particular apple varieties should pay close attention to such tweets. “Honeycrisp are really popular and have a lot of fans,” he says. “People expect to come out and get them in October, but this season, we could run out of Honeycrisp by mid-September.”

A common topic on Fifer’s social media sites is what’s happening at the farm that week. Agri-tourism is an important component of the business, with activities ranging from an Asparagus Peak Party in April, to kick off the growing season, to a Cider Fest held late November to mid-December.

Currently, the orchard is gearing up for its Fall Fest, which starts Sept. 19 and will run Mondays-Saturdays until Oct. 27. In addition, U-Pick apples opened yesterday and will continue as long as the apples do.  As Fifer’s website notes, U-Pick is a “great way to enjoy a crisp fall day and experience tree ripened apples.”

This season, it’s also been a great way to enjoy tree-ripened apples on sultry summer days.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

Share

UD Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Program Open House

August 8, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Program invites growers and all those interested in the vegetable and small fruit industry in Delaware to an open house on Tuesday, August 21 from 4-8 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center.

This open house will feature field research projects from the 2012 season in watermelons, processing and fresh market sweet corn, lima beans, pickles, strawberries, blackberries, lettuce, onions, greens, and other crops. Hear information about breeding programs, reduced tillage systems, overwintering production, season extension, and much more. Preliminary results will be presented and there will be a wagon tour. Dinner will also be served at the event, featuring local produce.

Gordon Johnson, vegetable and fruit specialist, and Emmalea Ernest, lima breeder and extension associate, will be leading discussions.

Please pre-register by contacting Karen Adams at 302-856-2585 ext. 540 or adams@udel.edu.

It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

Share

UD Professors, Extensions Specialists present at Ag Week

January 18, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Professors from the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Cooperative Extension Specialists were well represented at the 7th annual Delaware Agriculture Week, giving presentations and moderating discussion panels throughout the week for members of the agricultural community.

This year’s Delaware Ag Week runs from Jan. 16-21, with the majority of events taking place at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington, Delaware. Delaware Ag Week is an on-going collaboration between The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Delaware Ag Week aims to provide useful and timely information to the agricultural community and industry through educational meetings and events, as well as allowing for networking and fellowship with old and new acquaintances. There are also many opportunities to receive nutrient management, pesticide and certified crop advisor continuing education credits.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, University of Delaware professors and extension specialists gave numerous presentations during the “Processing Vegetables” sessions that took place during the morning and afternoon. Emmalea Ernest, extension vegetable crops associate, gave two lectures during the morning highlighting her trials with sweet corn and lima beans, as well as moderating the afternoon session.

Other presenters included Mark VanGessel, a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences as well as an extension weed science specialist, Gordon Johnson, assistant professor of plant and soil science and an extension fruit and vegetable specialist, Kate Everts, an adjunct associate professor of plant and soil sciences, Joanne Whalen, an extension integrated pest management specialist in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, and Bob Mulrooney, an extension plant pathologist.

Presentations will continue on Thursday, Jan. 19, with sessions on agronomy and soybeans scheduled for the morning and the afternoon at the Delaware State Fairgrounds Dover Building.

Delaware Ag Week will wrap up with the “Friends of Agriculture Breakfast” at 7:15 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 20 at the Harrington Fire Hall and then with a fruit and vegetable growers roundtable discussion on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 9 a.m. at the Paradee Center in Dover, followed by a potluck lunch at noon. Registration for the “Friends of Ag Breakfast” is $20 and advance registration is preferred.

For more information on Delaware Ag Week, visit the website.

Share

An apple a day

September 22, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

As Hurricane Irene approached Delaware, those of us who weren’t ordered to evacuate searched for ice, gas and batteries, and secured lawn furniture and trash cans. But at Highland Orchards in North Wilmington, there wasn’t time for anything but harvesting.

“It was all hands on deck – the goal was to pick apples, peaches and everything else that was ripe or near ripe before the storm blew through,” recalls orchard co-owner Ruth Linton. Her 10-year-old daughter, Katya, picked apples while her 82-year-old mother, Elaine Linton, cut flowers that are sold in the orchard’s retail shop.

For several days straight, the Lintons and their employees labored to save the early apple harvest and, for the most part, were successful. But they couldn’t do a thing but about the mid-season varieties, which weren’t ready to pick.

Those apples – galas, ginger golds and Paula reds – blew right off the trees. A few tree limbs came down, too, but not many, thanks to Linton’s pruning work last spring. “Pruning out smaller limbs protects from wind damage because it gives the larger limbs more room to sway,” she says.

Like many Delawareans, Linton lost power during the storm; in her case for three days. That meant no cold storage for all those just picked apples. Fortunately, she was able to rent a refrigerated truck but it took hours to move the apples from cold storage to the truck and eventually back to cold storage.

Today you’ll find an ample supply of apples at Highland’s shop, just not as many varieties as usual.

“Normally, we have about 10 varieties of apples in early September but we only had three varieties earlier this month,” says Linton. “Currently, we’re offering 10 to 12 varieties; usually we have 15 to 20 varieties in mid-September.”

Linton says that late-season varieties weren’t impacted by the hurricane because, at that point, those apples were small so they weren’t blown off the trees. As long as rainy conditions don’t persist she says the late-season crop should be good.

“It’s been a crazy weather year,” says Linton. “First it was wet, then very dry and then very wet.”

But the family has seen worse. “From ’33 to ’34 during the Great Depression we had total crop failure. There was a drought the first two years and then a hurricane knocked down all the trees,” she says.

“So, 2011 is not the worst weather we’ve ever seen, it’s just the worst in the last 75 years.”

Fifer Orchards, outside the town of Wyoming, fared a bit better than Highland. “We were very fortunate that we were able to harvest what was ready before the hurricane and that most of the apples remaining on the trees were fine,” says Mary Fifer Fennemore, a co-owner of Fifer’s. “We did have some fruit on trees get knocked around and bruised, and some apples ended up on the orchard floor. A few peach trees were blown over but all the apple trees remain standing. We really got lucky; the forecast had predicted a lot more wind.”

Despite hurricane hassles, Fifer Fennemore says that the 2011 apple season is going strong. But, if you have a favorite variety, don’t delay your trip to Fifer’s or to your favorite farm stand or farmers’ market. “The crop is running about 10 days early because of the summer heat,” she says.

The dwarf trees in Fifer’s U-Pick orchard are in particularly good shape and abundant with fruit now. U-Pick is only open on Fridays and Saturdays; when it re-opens this Friday, Fuji and Mutsu varieties should be available for picking and possibly Stayman. U-Pick began operations several years ago to expand on the orchard’s successful Fall Fest and other agri-tourism activities. Fall Fest, which starts tomorrow and runs through Oct. 29, features corn mazes, pumpkin painting and other seasonal fun.

But don’t let the tricycle and rubber ducky races fool you. Fifer Orchards is a working apple orchard, one of only two large commercial apple growers in Delaware. The other, T&S Smith, is located in Bridgeville. (In addition, there are a few smaller orchards that sell wholesale. Highland only sells direct to the consumer via its farm store.)

Even with just a handful of orchards, apples are Delaware’s most important fruit crop. More than 10.4 million pounds are grown here annually, according to Gordon Johnson, a fruit and vegetable specialist with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Peaches, the No. 2 crop, trail behind at around 1.2 million pounds. A large part of the state’s apple crop is sent to processors to be turned into everything from cider to applesauce.

Fortunately, there are plenty of Delaware apples set aside for the fresh market. Look for local apples in area grocery stores and at farm stands and farmers’ markets. Go to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s website, and click on farmers’ markets or on-the-farm-markets to find one near you.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

Also available online on UDaily

Share

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.

Share