University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station director Carolyn DeMoranville said there hasn’t been much change in annual rainfall totals in the past 20 years, but the station has noted one significant change in the past six or seven years: The rain comes in big rain events with long dry periods in between. Those torrential rains tend to run off the land instead of soaking in and replenishing diminished groundwater supplies, making irrigation costly. (Cape Cod Times 10/26/15)
News from the Media
Massachusetts state officials released a plan for boosting locally grown food – the first such plan since 1974.
"We have brought together an incredibly diverse and broad range of people involved in the food system, everyone from anti-hunger advocates to farmers to truckers to policy advocates, to try to figure out how we can build on the strength of the state's food system and collaborate in ways we haven't collaborated before," said Winton Pitcoff, the project manager overseeing the plan and a Plainfield resident. (Masslive 10/25/15)
CLEVELAND, Ohio--Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, regardless of your age. But a new study coming out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that some types of physical activity have a greater impact on body composition in postmenopausal compared to premenopausal women. (Science Newsline, 10/20/15; Science Codex, 10/19/15)
BOSTON (AP) — New England residents and visitors to the six-state region hoping to catch a glimpse of its celebrated fall foliage may have been a little disappointed so far in seeing more green than blazing orange, scarlet and gold. This year's foliage season was delayed slightly because of weather conditions but is likely to end up being just as spectacular. Paul Catanzaro, an extension assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts explains. (Hawaii Tribune 10/18/15; New York Times, ABC News, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Daily Mail [U.K.], Yahoo Singapore [all from AP], 10/14/15)
Whether the apples in your pie bake into tender, well-defined slices or turn shapeless and mushy is built into the fruit’s DNA. What gives apples a firm texture is the structure and thickness of the fruit cell walls, says Wesley Autio, professor of pomology and directorof the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. (Boston Globe 10/7/15)
Cheatgrass could vie for the title of the most successful invasive species in North America. The weed lives in every state, and is the dominant plant on more than 154,000 square miles of the West, by one estimate. When it turns green in the spring, “you can actually see it from space,” said Bethany Bradley, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who studies biogeography, the spatial distribution of species. (New York Times 10/5/15)
BRIDGEWATER - At Peterson’s Farm Greenhouse on South Street in Bridgewater, the farm stand is lit up by a display of blazing orange due to the dozens of pumpkins for sale at the stand.
“In a lot of ways, it was an ideal growing year,” said Katie Campbell-Nelson, a vegetable specialist for the UMass Extension School’s Center or Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The dry weather meant certain diseases were less prevalent in pumpkin plants. (Enterprise News 10/5/15)
Stephen M. Rich, UMass microbiologist and director of the Laboratory of Medical Zoology, comments in a story about lone star ticks on Martha’s Vineyard. He says the insects have been present for a couple of years and now are well established on at least part of the island.
University of Massachusetts Amherst professor and entomologist Joseph Elkinton is working to curb the high numbers of winter moths in New England with a very specific fly called Cyzenis albicans.
“If you had them in your yard, you would never even notice them,” said Elkinton, and you definitely want them in your yard. “They only attack winter moths, which is a real advantage. We don’t want them on our native moths or butterflies.” (Sippican Week, 9/27/15)
Craig Nicolson, environmental conservation, took part in a panel discussion of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change held Sept. 21 in Northampton. “No matter who you are and where you come from, this is an encyclical that is for you,” he said, noting that the pope directed the message to every person on the planet. (Gazette, 9/22/15)