South

Development and Assessment of Bacterial Wilt and Downy Mildew Resistant Cucumber Seedstocks - Year Two

In this project I will continue to assess downy dildew (DM) resistant cucumber seedstocks, with intensified focus on evaluating and advancing the lines I selected in 2018 from Common Wealth Seed Growers’ DMR breeding population. This population performed very well in our 2018 trials, having the highest yield and best foliage ratings in the DM trial, and above average performance in the bacterial wilt (BW) trial. Because I am increasing focus on cucumbers, I am not including melon research in this year’s proposal.

 

Evaluating Benefits of Winter Annual Cover Crop Systems for Organic Sweet Potato in North Carolina

North Carolina is the second largest producer of organic sweet potatoes in the U.S., with a rapid 42% increase in acreage transitioning to organic from 2014 to 2016. Despite a steady demand for organic sweet potatoes, marketable yield often does not reach the yield potential for this region due to challenges in weed, insect and soil fertility management. Through farmer consultation soil borne pests such a wireworm and weed proliferation were identified as two areas of concern for organic farmers in North Carolina.

 

Developing a Cover Crop-Based, No-Till System for Small-Scale Vegetable Producers: Effects on Soil Health, Weeds, Arthropod Communities, and Yield

In the Midwest, one limitation faced by small- and mid-scale organic producers involving cover crop-based, no-till systems is the expense associated with equipment such as a roller crimper needed to terminate the cover crop for spring planting. Thus, the development of an effective no-till system that does not require the use of expensive equipment would be beneficial to producers.

Flowering Plants in Organic Strawberry Fields to Enhance Natural Enemies and Pollinators and Improve Pest Control and Fruit Quality

Methods to conserve and augment beneficial insects in modern horticultural production systems are needed given issues with pest resistance to insecticides, pest resurgence due to lack of natural enemies, and replacement of native with invasive species. Production systems also require pollinators and, in recent years, declines in managed and wild species have been well documented. Organic agriculture systems are less disturbed by insecticides and well suited to benefit from practices designed to improve abundance and diversity of beneficial insects.

A New Approach for Successful Organic Peach Production in the Southeast

The production of organic peaches is extremely difficult under the humid conditions of the Southeast due to high pest and disease pressures, and the lack of effective, organically approved pesticides. Consequently, only very few growers have taken the risk and transitioned into organic peach farming. This proposal aims to provide growers in the Southeast with a new tool to reduce the risk of transitioning to organic production of peaches. This strategy consists of the use of paper bags to physically protect the fruit from pests and diseases to reduce reliance on spray applications.

Long term vegetable rotation systems using organic production methods and conservation tillage

This experiment is a long term study comparing continuous tomatoes with vegetable rotation under five possible production systems to determine which system is most viable for each vegetable commodity produced. Some vegetables in the southeast can be grown easily with organic production methods (sweet corn, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, etc.) but others have numerous problems (foliar diseases in tomatoes) that will require changes in production strategies. By rotating vegetable crops we are able to see which crops also can be grown under conservation tillage.

Shade-covered high tunnels for summer production of lettuce and leafy greens

Most varieties of greens do not grow throughout the market season in the Midwest because of the 85-degree-plus weather, which persists for much of July, August and September. High temperatures (and resulting problems with dormancy and rapid drying of soil) result in poor crop establishment, and bitterness and bolting of lettuce. Other leafy greens are severely affected by high insect populations. The ability to extend the greens season through the summer heat would benefit local growers while meeting a consumer need at peak market times.

Participatory Evaluation of Organic Production System in Southwestern Louisiana

Several researchers (Francis et al., 1990; Murray and Butler, 1994; Poudel et al., 2000) have suggested farmer participatory research methods for problem identification, research design, and implementation of research results in developing production strategies for enhancing agricultural sustainability and environmental quality.

Development of a biologically integrated food waste composting system

Sustainable agriculture and food systems depend upon the efficient use and recycling of nutrients in order to minimize dependence on non-renewable resources - such as fossil fuels and mined minerals - and to prevent contamination of ground and surface waters. Yet, as modern food systems continue to industrialize and globalize, environmentally sound nutrient cycling becomes increasingly difficult because of the massive scale and concentration of agricultural production enterprises, food processing facilities, distribution systems, and food service institutions.