Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Plan to Attend the NCSU 2014 Tomato Research Field Day

research employee checking tomato plant
Are you interested in learning about the research that faculty at NCSU are doing on tomatoes in western North Carolina? Want to see the up and coming varieties? How about a tomato grafting demonstration? See that and much more at the annual Tomato Field Day at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, NC. And new this year, you can take a tour of some of the other research on the station including apples, ornamentals, hops, and bioenergy crops. Those tours will start at 1:00 pm. The tomato field day welcome is at 3:00 pm. In-between you can visit the exhibitors. There will also be an industry sponsored supper at 6:00 pm.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have attended this event in the past, it will be a little different this year. It is starting later in the afternoon and the dinner will be at the research station, NOT at Lake Julian.

Hope to see you there.
tomato field day august 7, 2014 in mills river, nc

Sunday, July 13, 2014

From stevia to truffles, we have lots of interesting research in Waynesville this year

Last Thursday I spent the day at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC checking out my research plots and participating in the annual field day. Here is a quick overview.

In this study we are looking at the feasibility of growing stevia on a commercial scale in western NC. The study is being done in partnership with Sweet Green Fields and funded by the NCDS&CS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

This study is part of the Eastern Broccoli Project which is developing new broccoli varieties for east coast production.

This is our organic cucurbit breeding study. This is party of a big multi-state, multi-agency project to develop squash, cucumbers, and melons for organic production. Cucurbit project website
This is the third year effort of the organic, participatory broccoli variety study funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation. Note all the farmscaping we have included.

This is the All-America Selections vegetable and herb trial we conducted. The judges came through last month.

And here are a few pictures from the field day. If you didn't attend, you missed out on a good time filled with equipment demonstrations, educational tours, a pork loin sandwich dinner (yummy!), music, and a raffle for a chainsaw.

And where, you might ask, are the truffles? The two truffle orchards are there, I just forgot to take pictures. Right now, just envision a filbert orchard. This coming winter we plan to bring out a trained dog to sniff out any truffles that might be there. We were also just awarded a grant to evaluate methods to determine if the trees you buy and your orchard soils are colonized by the truffle fungi.

And that is what we are up to at Waynesville this year. Watch for notices about our project field days.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tomato Late Blight Confirmed in Western North Carolina

It doesn't look this bad yet, but we all know what late blight can do to our tomato plants. Unfortunately, I just received an email from our NCSU vegetable plant pathologist, Dr. Lina Quesada-Ocampo that the presence of tomato late blight in western North Carolina has been confirmed. Late blight is one of those diseases that you need to prevent because you can't cure it once it has started. So, here is her information on it: Extension Plant Pathology Tomato Late Blight Recommendations

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

4th Annual NCSU Hop Yard Field Day-July 18th




4th Annual
North Carolina State University
Research Hop Yard Field Day

Friday, July 18th   
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center
74 Research Drive, Mills River NC 28759

$5 donation welcomed
Raffle for a new hand lens!

Come see the 12 varieties in our 4th year hop yard for side by side comparisons of variety performance. Learn about two of our biggest pests: downy mildew and spider mites, how to identify them, the damage they cause, and control strategies. We will have microscopes in which to view the spider mites, and a raffle for your very own hand lens! Learn about our new experiment with topping the plants. Come share you own experiences and learn from others. No registration necessary.

Please contact Kelly Gaskill with any questions:
kelly_gaskill@ncsu.edu. 828-684-3562 ext. 250

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Notes from our April Hops Growers Meeting

June 12, 2014 in research hop yard in Mills River

On April 22, 2014 fourteen hop growers and researchers from North Carolina and Virginia met in person and by phone to discuss hop growing. This is an informal gathering of the Southern Appalachian Hops Guild that takes place twice a year; usually in the late fall and early spring. We get together to share experiences and discuss the industry needs. I have included a link below to the notes that I took at that meeting. I removed people's names and identified them by their location instead. No one asked me to do this, but it just seemed wise with the internet. If you are on our hops email list, you will receive a copy of the notes with everyone's names included so you can contact them directly. The hop growers in our region are a wonderfully sharing bunch. That is going to help this industry in the long run.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Update on the Research Hop Yard in Mills River, NC


 All-American Selection delegation came through to see the research hop yard in early June.
Brewconomy is filming a documentary on the economic impacts of the craft beer industry and they stopped by to visit with us in the research hop yard.
We have so much going on in our program right now, it is hard to keep everyone informed via our various social media venues. I will try to do short updates on our various programs over the next few weeks. Let's start with the hops. Our research hop yard is now four years old. It is a variety trial that started out with ten varieties, each replicated four times. We lost one variety, Newport, to downy mildew during the second year. It actually killed the crowns. So last year we planted a few other varieties in those empty sections. We now have four year old Cascade, Chinook, Magnum, Galena, Centennial, Zeus (Columbus), Nugget, Mt. Hood, and Willamette plants and two year old Santiam, Vojvodina, and Canadian Red Vine plants.

We have systemic downy mildew in our yard, but the season started out strong. We thought that just cutting back the plants through late April and removing any downy mildew spikes would keep the disease under control until we started foliar sprays, but once we let the bines grow, it showed up with a vengeance. So we cut our plants back again REALLY late (May 7th), did a soil drench with Ridomil, and then let the plants regrow. There is still a little downy mildew in the yard, but we are managing it (so far) with our weekly spray schedule. After my monthly discussion with a group of hop researchers from the eastern half of North America, we have decided that we will crown the plants next spring (shave off the top of the crowns, just below the soil surface). This is giving good downy mildew and powdery mildew control in Vermont.

The late cut back set the plants back in terms of bine growth, but we have abundant lateral growth and there is a good cone set on our strongest varieties. Many of us were curious about the practice of topping the bines at the summer solstice that Dr. Greg Lewis told us about in spring of 2013, so we gave that a try last week. We have two strings to each crown, so we topped one and left the other to grow. If the bine looked like it had naturally terminated, we left it alone. The theory is that this will encourage more lateral formation and thus more cones. We will keep you informed!

I still owe you a transcript from our hop grower meeting in April. I will get to that soon. I promise!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Our Video on Growing Bloodroot


Bloodroot is in demand and we are getting many questions on how to grow it. Last fall my employees Margaret and Alison produced this very practical educational video on how to grow bloodroot. They titled it as for home use, but these methods work for commercial growers, too. Hope you enjoy it.
Bloodroot Video