The organic industry is on track for a six-fold increase in the next five years, having grown from $6.1 billion in sales in 2000 to $29.2 billion in sales in 2011 (4.2% of total food sales in the U.S that year). Consumer demand continues to drive steady growth of this sector, which is indicated by average growth of 8% per year since 2002.
Very little sweet corn grown commercially today is open pollinated. Farmers who wish to save their own seed have few if any good choices of varieties to grow. Today’s hybrids have been developed for conditions that are different from those found on most organic farms. Organic sweet corn growers deserve better choices.
Organic farmer interest in on-farm plant breeding has been on the rise due to a lack of available germplasm adapted to organic systems, a growing awareness of the value of regionally adapted varieties, and consolidations in the seed industry that have led to a decline in varietal offerings.
Determing habitat requirements for natural enemies of farm pests
Coordinator: Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, University of California, Berkeley
Maintaining a healthy population of beneficial insects that serve as natural enemies to crop pests is an important component of pest management for organic farmers. To do so, we must understand the habitat requirements of these insects.