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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Development and Physiology of the Stomatal Complex in Grasses

Water is an increasingly scarce resource for agriculture thus engineering plants that use water efficiently is a primary goal forscientists. A recent approach in achieving water-efficient crops is to breed or engineer plants that can rapidly open and close their stomata in changing environments (Lawson and Blatt 2014, Raven 2014). During the day, plants may become shaded or enjoy a sudden but transient increase in sunlight as sun angles change (or are reflected) or as clouds and/or other obstacles block the sun.

Exploring the Feasibility of a Massachusetts Shared-use Dairy Processing Facility

Small dairy farms face particular challenges as costs of production often exceed the set federal price for fluid milk. However, consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for local dairy products, providing emerging market opportunities for small dairy farms. In Massachusetts, a significant barrier for dairy farmers hoping to capture this premium is lack of access to scale-appropriate fluid milk processing facilities. This project engages stakeholders to identify operational feasibility, market potential, and barriers to access institutional markets.

MDAR Acidified Canned Food Products

Producing shelf-stable acidified canned foods can help to add value to produce and introduce new markets, extend the agricultural season, and reduce waste. However, to successfully sell and distribute shelf-stable products, such as salsas, sauces, and/or acidified pickled products, processors must comply with the Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR114).

Improving Access and Motivation for Small and Medium Processors in the Northeast to be in Compliance with FSMA’s Preventive Controls Rule

Many small and medium producers and processors are affected by the recent implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation as the existing training does not address how to determine compliance and assumes that small and medium food processors (SMPs) begin training with a base level of food safety knowledge that many SMPs do not have. This project develops accessible, scale-appropriate, motivational mixed-media content to provide SMPs with the information they need to better understand how to implement Preventive Controls (PC) in their food businesses.

Evaluation of New Hybrid Cranberry Cultivars with Improved Yield, Fruit Quality and Disease Resistance Under Massachusetts Growing Conditions

Cranberry production has a long history in Massachusetts (MA) that adds important economic and aesthetic value to the region.  About 30% of US acreage and the two largest cranberry handler companies are located in Massachusetts.

Identifying the Genes that Control Unisexual Flower Development in Maize

This proposal describes a next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based approach to identify genes that control unisexual flower development in Zea mays (maize). Maize develops separate male flowers in the tassel and female flowers in the ear (Klein etal., 2018). The development of unisexual flowers is important for hybrid crop production - separate tassel and ear flowers allow humans to very easily make controlled crosses (Phillips, 2010).  Many cereal crops related to maize, like rice and wheat, have unisexual flowers, hampering hybrid seed production (Kellogg, 2015).

Understanding and Mitigating Risk Factors Associated with Food Production

The safety of the food supply is a continuing issue for agriculture, with an estimated 81 million instances of foodborne illnesses in the USA annually, with an estimated cost of $152 billion dollars per year to the US economy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 46% of these illnesses were due to produce - thus food safety is very much an agricultural issue.

Harnessing Chemical Ecology to Address Agricultural Pest and Pollinator Priorities

In recent years, there has been interest in low-cost, reduced-risk materials that could be used for attract-and-kill of the invasive pest, spotted-wing Drosophila Drosophila suzukii. This pest causes heavy economic damage to soft fruits in many countries. In a series of behavioral and physiological studies, we will quantify the effects of using Concord grape juice either, alone or incombination with borax, boric acid, and salt on (1) male and female D.

Increasing Forest Resiliency

Forest resiliency is not just an ecological challenge. To increase forest resiliency, we must inform the decisions of those that own and control the forests. Family forest owners (FFOs) control 263 million acres (or 35%) of U.S. forests. In the eastern U.S, FFOs own 43% of the forest and in Massachusetts they control more than 70% of the forests (Butler, 2008).


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