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News from the Media

  • Disease guide: A head start on healthy turf

    March 11, 2015

    Amherst, Mass--M. Bess Dicklow, recently retired extension plant pathology specialist, reports on Northeast turf issues. Across the country, the first months of the calendar year offer a slower pace for green industry businesses (unless you’re plowing, of course). But now is the time to keep disease on the radar. There’s no real hibernation in landscaping. Diseases crop sooner than you might think.Here is your guide to weed and disease issues for the first quarter of 2015. (3/10/15 Lawn & Landscape)

  • 'Nature's Medicine Cabinet' helps bees reduce disease load says Lynn Adler, Evolutionary Ecologist

    February 18, 2015

    AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in plant nectar.

    In this early and most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Dartmouth College studied hundreds of eastern bumblebees, Bombus impatiens, and their intestinal parasite Crithidia bombi, using eight separate toxic chemicals known as secondary metabolites produced by plants to protect themselves against predators.

    They found that toxic chemicals in nectar reduced infection levels of the common bumblebee parasite by as much as 81 percent by seven days after infection. UMass Amherst evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler says, “We found that eating some of these compounds reduced pathogen load in the bumblebee’s gut, which not only may help the individual bees, but likely reduced the pathogen Crithidia spore load in their feces, which in turn should lead to a lower likelihood of transmitting the disease to other bees.  (, 2/18/15; Entomology Today, 2/18/15; Science Newsline,2/18/15;, 2/18/15;The Independent [U.K.], 2/18/15;, 2/17/15; News Office release, 2/18/15)

  • “Excipient foods” show promise in enhancing nutrient bioavailibility, reports David McClements, Food Science

    January 14, 2015

    David J. McClements, food science, says recent studies show that “the bioavailability of certain nutraceuticals can be increased by consuming them with other foods.” The story says excipient foods show promise in increasing the bioavailability of functional nutrients. (, 1/14/15)

  • Winter onions? UNH and UMass-Amherst scientists show they can grow them

    January 13, 2015

    In response to high demand for year-round local produce, University of New Hampshire researchers, in collaboration with UMass-Amherst Extension collegues, Amanda Brown and Ruth Hazzard,  report they have successfully grown bulbing onions planted in fall for a spring harvest with the aid of inexpensive low tunnels.

    The new research, funded by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) and Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education), may provide additional marketing opportunities for growers in cold climates. Some of these growers have been trying to meet the demands for fresh, year-round, locally grown produce. (Foster's Daily Democrat 1/13/15, HortTechnology 12/14)

  • Foods contain fewer health nutrients than in the past, Decker comments

    January 12, 2015

    Eric Decker, food science, comments in a story about how many foods contain fewer health nutrients than in the past. He says, for instance, that salmon is still one of the best sources of omega-3, but not as much as it contained a decade ago. He says the way to overcome this is to eat more salmon. (Shape magazine, 1/8/15)

  • Jon Clements, UMass Extension, says top issue facing apple growers in 2015 could be market volatility.

    January 7, 2015

    It’s a new year – what issues are going to have an impact on your business in 2015? Clements remarked, " The top issue facing apple growers this year is the unknown challenges and the pitfalls of marketing a large apple crop. Consider the recent Seattle dockworkers strike, which has slowed exports in a year of a record-breaking apple crop in Washington state. The global economy has expanded the apple business dramatically, but volatility in that market and/or infrastructure issues could make a big impact on U.S orchardists. And of course China — is it possible we could get out of the apple growing business and let China supply all our apples? It has happened in the electronics industry." (Growing Produce 01/06/15)

  • Preventing Agroterrorism story quotes Dean Steve Goodwin

    January 1, 2015

    Steven Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, comments in a story about efforts to prevent agroterrorism. Goodwin says public land-grant universities play an important role in insuring food security. He also says efforts to develop urban agricultural activities have begun to complement the wider efforts to promote food production. (University Business January 2015)

  • Funky flavors lift seasonal fizz factor, UMass Professor Eric Decker comments

    December 16, 2014

    WORCESTER —Rolling out new versions of an existing product, a business strategy known as line extension, can be lucrative but also tricky, said Eric A. Decker, professor and head of the food science department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

    Seasonal seltzer flavors at Polar Beverages, a family-owned Worcester maker of bottled sodas and drinks, knows the power of adding special flavors in summer and winter.  The company produces seltzer year-round in 18 core flavors, but twice a year it digs into food blogs, social media and its own executives' informal tastings to come up with limited-release seltzers. (12/16/14 Worcester Telegram)

  • How Global Warming May Impact the Evolution of Arctic Animals

    December 13, 2014

    In the last 40 years, Arctic temperatures have risen at over double the pace as for the whole planet. As a result, numerous species of whales, walruses, fish, bears and seals are beginning to migrate into new habitats. In these new habitats, they encounter similar species that have not co-existed for thousands of years and interbreeding occurs, reports Nautilus.

    Hybrids that mate with each other form a hybrid swarm. So, the original species disappear.  Basically you've swapped out the genome that has been fine-tuned by evolution for thousands of generations," said Andrew Whiteley, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. (12/13/14 Design & Trend)

  • USGA recognizes Vittum's career in pest management

    December 9, 2014

    Patricia J. Vittum, Stockbridge School of Agriculture and interim director of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, has been named the recipient of the 2015 United States Golf Association Green Section Award recognizing her distinguished service to the game of golf. 12/9/14, USGA 12/8/14

  • City Cancels UMass Lease

    December 2, 2014

    The UMass Amherst Design Center in Court Square has had its lease cancelled by the City of Springfield to make way for new development. The Center is directed by MIchael DiPasquale, extension assistant professor in the University's Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Channel 22/WWLP December 2, 2014.

  • UMass Cranberry Station Offers Support to Local Growers

    November 24, 2014

    Carolyn DeMoranville has been leading a team of scientists and researchers at the UMass Cranberry Station for the last 30 years. The goal here is to improve on anything and everything related to cranberry production.

    “Anything that would be involved in producing the crop, from nutrient management to water management to pest management,” DeMoranville said.

    DeMoranville cites the unique relationship between local growers and the scientists who work at the Station. (11/24/14 WCAI)

  • UMass Extension, New Bedford demonstrate healthy choices at small markets

    November 23, 2014

        NEW BEDFORD — At Amaral's Market on Belleville Avenue on a busy Saturday afternoon, the aroma of spiced fish filled the air as nutritionist/chef Alison Miller of the UMass Extension demonstrated how it's possible to eat well on a budget and obtain healthy foods at the corner market. Small markets often can create what nutritionists call "food deserts," in which fresh, wholesome fruit and vegetables are hard to come by. (11/23/14 South Coast)


  • Massachusetts Sen. Stanley Rosenberg seeks information on what effect Tennessee Gas pipeline could have on conservation land

    November 11, 2014

    AMHERST - State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg is seeking data on state-owned conservation land that could be affected by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s 128-mile route across the state, reports the Greenfield Recorder. Rosenberg has asked the University of Massachusetts' Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment to conduct an analysis of the conservation land impacts of the proposed natural gas pipeline from Richmond to Dracut. 11/11/14 MassLive)

  • UMass preparing reports on pipeline effects

    November 10, 2014

    The University of Massachusetts is reviewing the state’s environmental resources that could be affected by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s proposed 128-mile route across the state.

    The University’s Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment plans to issue a series of reports beginning early this month that will put the environmental effects of the company’s proposal in context, according to Scott Jackson, associate professor of environmental conservation. (11/10/14 Recorder)

  • Pumpkin smashing good time

    November 3, 2014

    SHELBURNE — The age-old tradition of pumpkin smashing is usually considered to be the realm of Halloween vandals, hooligans and mischief-makers, but Pumpkin Smash 2014, held at Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne Saturday afternoon, proved the practice can be used for good as well.

    According to WHAI general manager Dan Guin, all of the proceeds from the event will be donated to local 4-H clubs and all of the pumpkin scraps would be composted. Tom Waskiewicz, a 4-H educator from UMass Extension, said the event is a great way to raise money for the rapidly growing 4-H program. (11/3/14 Recorder)

  • Mount Tom forest mayhem has an upside — greater biodiversity

    October 13, 2014

    EASTHAMPTON — Once overshadowed by swaths of soaring, leafy-green trees, the road into Mount Tom State Reservation from Route 141 now offers sweeping vistas after last week’s microburst wreaked havoc on the mountain landscape. 10/13/14 Gazette)

  • Assuring Good Nutrition for Astronauts

    October 8, 2014

    AMHERST, Mass. – Maintaining the nutritional value of astronauts’ food in space over long periods without refrigeration is a challenge, particularly for the essential vitamins. Now University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientists Hang Xiao and colleagues have received a three-year, $982,685 grant from NASA to investigate the degradation of essential vitamins over time in spaceflight foods, and develop strategies to minimize loss. (10/8/14 UMass News Office)


  • Rice is growing in Franklin County

    October 7, 2014

    It may not sound entirely astounding, since Franklin County agriculture yields everything from hops and barley and wheat to barramundi, but rice, a crop that’s believed to have little historical precedent in Massachusetts, has been alive and well as a crop here for decades.

    Sue Bridge, who created an edible permaculture garden surrounding a home she built in Conway about seven years ago to demonstrate sustainable living practices, has about 450 square feet of rice ready for harvest probably sometime this week. (Recorder 10/7/14)

  • For the DeMoranvilles, cranberries run in the family

    October 5, 2014

    WAREHAM — UMass Amherst's Cranberry Station in Wareham is full of DeMoranvilles. That's the name of a variety of cranberry grown there and named after the station's former director, Irving DeMoranville.

    Though Irving died in 1998, his daughters are keeping the cranberries in the family, working at the station on One State Bog Road. His eldest daughter, Carolyn, has directed the station since 2002. Nancy, his younger daughter, currently works as a technician combatting predatory weeds at the bog.

    "He was pretty happy when I decided to work here," Carolyn said. "He liked having us close to home." ( 10/5/14)