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Commercial Horticulture

Phytophthora species consistently rank as some of the most devastating disease agents in Massachusetts farms. Two species, P. infestans and P. capsici, attack regionally important vegetable crops, including cucurbits, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. In 2007, over 8,000 acres of vegetable crops susceptible to infection by P. capsici and P. infestans were harvested in Massachusetts.

The sustainability of water resources and of green spaces will become increasingly important for quality of life in the future. The efficient utilization of turfgrasses to remediate organic pollutants in these efforts can be an important component of a sustainability strategy. Research has established that significant differences exist between plants in their remediation abilities: different abilities of plants to adsorb and absorb pollutants; different exudates being released from the root systems; and different microbial populations associated with roots of different plants.

Mitochondria are cellular organelles which are often referred to as the "powerhouse" of the cell. Their many functions include generating the chemical energy utilized by cells, as well as roles in cell signaling, differentiation, cell growth and even cell death. It has been shown that chronic exposures to organic pesticides such as Rotenone, which inhibits mitochondrial function, can result in pathological conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Well-maintained, healthy turfgrass provides many environmental and social benefits.  However, multifaceted programs such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are needed to withstand the constant challenges by abiotic and biotic stressors year around. Integrated pest management is a comprehensive approach that brings together various cultural and chemical pest control methods to manage insects, plant diseases (mainly fungi), and weeds.

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.

In order to compete in the marketplace, assure profitability and preserve the environment, cranberry growers must overcome barriers to sustainability. This project has three components related to increased sustainability in Massachusetts cranberry production:

Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Project MAS00999
Duration: October 2010 - August 2015

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.

Authors - William M. Dest, Associate Extension Professor emeritus, University of Connecticut Storrs and J. S. Ebdon, Associate Professor of Turfgrass Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Featured in - SportsTurf magazine, May 2011

The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems for the turf, floriculture, vegetable, nursery, urban forestry and landscape industries. We serve farmers, horticulturists, landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries, and others in agriculture and the green industries. The lab also assesses ticks for Lyme disease as a service to the public.

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