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)
News from the Media
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. (UPI.com, 2/18/15; Entomology Today, 2/18/15; Science Newsline,2/18/15;ChinaTopix.com, 2/18/15;The Independent [U.K.], 2/18/15; Phys.org, 2/17/15; News Office release, 2/18/15)
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. (Nutraingredients.com, 1/14/15)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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. Turfnet.com 12/9/14, USGA 12/8/14