Apples are a high value crop in Massachusetts and in the entire Northeastern United States, with an annual farm-gate value of $11.6 million and $550 million, respectively, in 2008. Nearly 100,000 acres are devoted to apples in the Northeast, with 4,000 of those in Massachusetts. Apples in the Northeast are attacked by dozens of pests, both arthropods and diseases, and, as a result, apple production is one of the crops listed in the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list - a list of the fruits and vegetables that on average use the most pesticides in their production.
Stockbridge School of Agriculture
House flies are the major vector of numerous food pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli). It has been suggested that the fly crop is the major reservoir for the pathogen and also that this is where horizontal transmission of antibiotic resistance occurs. The salivary glands of most flies involved in vectoring pathogens are also involved in pathogen transmission and their nutrient and pathogen uptake while feeding. We know very little about those factors involved in the regulation of both crop filling and emptying.
This research involves utilizing genomics and molecular biology tools to understand the basis of DMI (demethylation inhibitor) fungicide resistance dollar spot, the most important disease of turf grasses for golf courses. For this, we will take advantage of cutting-edge research tools in genomics and molecular biology to shed light on how the dollar spot fungus is able to overcome fungicides at the molecular level.
The topic of nutrient density in food crops has been active among consumers, producers and the scientific community in recent years. Literature on food composition demonstrates that the mineral nutrient density of vegetables has fallen in the past 50 years. This decline is associated with two factors: declines in soil fertility and with the genetics of plant cultivars that accumulate yield at higher rates than they accumulate mineral nutrients.
Utilizing food systems to improve nutrition without the need for artificial fortification of food or use of dietary supplements of mineral nutrients is important in ending malnutrition. Malnutrition from deficiencies of mineral elements is reported to be on the rise worldwide, even in the United States. It is estimated that half of the world population suffers from incidences of mineral nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies limit the physical, intellectual, and mental health activities of the affected people.
Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) is a highly invasive weed on short-mown golf course surfaces (fairways, tees, putting greens) where it often becomes the dominant species despite extensive attempts to suppress it. Superintendents often resort to managing it instead of more pest-tolerant bentgrasses (Agrostis spp.). P. annua can provide an acceptable playing surface for putting greens and fairways when properly maintained, but this requires extensive chemical inputs due to its lack of stress tolerance and susceptibility to many diseases and insect pests. P.
This project is identifying potentially useful wine grape cultivars and evaluating their growth under conditions in central and coastal Massachusetts. It will provide information to Massachusetts fruit growers on grapes that they may grow to assist them to diversify their crops.
The recent removal of fenamiphos from availability leaves golf course superintendents with no effective management for plant parasitic nematodes. Fenamiphos was the only effective nematicide registered for use on golf greens in the United States. However, the LD50 of fenamiphos is in the single digits and therefore difficult and risky to applicators and non-target organisms. There have been a number of commercially-available products and experimental products offered as fenamiphos-alternatives.
Preharvest drop of fruit can result in losses to a grower that may exceed 50% of the total crop. There is a need to find effective ways to keep fruit on the tree until it achieves an acceptable level of quality and maturity. Compounds that can potentially be used to influence preharvest drop are also known to affect ripening and fruit quality. Therefore, the effect of strategies that control preharvest drop must also be evaluated for their effects on fruit quality and storage potential.
To strengthen the rural economy, successful strategies are always needed to reduce farm production cost and increase product values. Organic waste is generally disposed of by being left on the field to decay and/or burned. These treatments yield low values and may cause environmental pollution. Production and use of bio-oil and biochar from organic wastes could improve soil and environmental quality, provide renewable energy and reduce fossil fuel dependency, and increase soil carbon sequestration and mitigate global warming.