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New Crop Opportunities, Phase X
Houtz, R., D. Van Sanford, C. Dillon
Department of Horticulture
Agricultural production is an important part of Kentucky's economy, and tobacco has played a major role. Many of Kentucky's family farms have been highly dependent upon tobacco as a primary source of income. But the number of farms growing tobacco in Kentucky declined 72% from nearly 30,000 in 2002 to 8,112 in 2007. The market value of tobacco sold in Kentucky in 2008 was $382 million, down from $674 million in 2000. Many of Kentucky's farms are small, averaging 164 acres, compared to the U.S. average of 418 acres. There were 85,300 farms in the state in 2008. According to the 2007 census, 67 percent of all Kentucky farms sold less than $10,000 worth of agricultural products.
Interest in alternative crops, including horticultural enterprises, has risen dramatically. This interest continues to increase because of the tobacco quota buyout. Horticultural crops offer Kentucky growers potential alternatives. A number of farms have successfully initiated commercial vegetable enterprises. Other farms are seeing the potential success of horticultural crops, but many lack the technical knowledge and management skills for immediate success with these production/marketing systems.
Kentucky's grain producers are searching for ways to improve the market value of the crops they grow. Examples of potential specialty grain types include edamame (green vegetable soybean) and soft white winter wheat. An emphasis on bioenergy has increased the need for research on a variety of crops that have potential for energy production, including hulless barley, sweet sorghum, and biomass crops such as switchgrass.
Growth in the organic food industry has led to a need for research on organic production of both horticultural and grains crops. This project is designed to develop and deliver Kentucky farmers the knowledge they need to assess new crop opportunities.
Eleven horticulture and specialty grains projects will be conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky as part of this overall New Crop Opportunities, KY, project. The New Crop Opportunities Center will feature a Web site for 24-hour access to information on new crops for Kentucky, including the horticultural and specialty grains crops that are the focus of the Center's research. Center staff will answer questions from Extension agents and farmers, and will distribute new crop information at field days and conferences. The Center will facilitate the packaging of information from its research and other sources for dissemination.
The expected outcomes/impacts of this project will be an increase in knowledge among Kentucky farmers and county extension agents about production and marketing systems for a variety of new crops. This increase in knowledge should allow farmers to make informed decisions about which new crops to try, and how to market those crops, based on information available on the Center's research projects, as well as through its crop and marketing profiles. Anticipated benefits include greater profitability for Kentucky's farmers as they successfully transition to a variety of crops that are new to them.
2011 Project Description
This project focuses on applied research to develop protocols for producing and marketing horticultural crops and specialty grains. Products include nine new and 30 revised crop profiles, which provide information on marketing, production, and profit potential, as well as four new and five revised marketing profiles, which offer information about marketing systems.
Results and other information are disseminated via the Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center (formerly New Crop Opportunities Center) Web site at www.uky.edu/ag/CDBREC. Information has been disseminated at the: Robinson Center Field Day (Quicksand); Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy meeting (Bowling Green); Horticulture Research Farm Field Day (Lexington); Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting (Lexington); and at field days and producer meetings around the state. Information was in the form of presentations, research reports, and crop profiles. The audience included farmers and extension agents.
In an Evaluation of Natural Sprays for Control of Economically Important Foliar and Fruit Diseases of Tomato and Cucurbits project, five essential oils, three bicarbonate salts, eight commercial products and chitosan were tested to investigate their potential disease control against the pathogen causing anthracnose of cucumber (Colletotrichum orbiculare). Antifungal activity was evaluated to measure mycelial growth. Treated plants were inoculated, and disease severity was recorded using Assess Image Analysis Quantification Software 2.0.
In an onion production project, a trial was conducted to determine the impact of set size and variety on yield of spring onion. Growing onions from sets is uncommon in Kentucky and there is little information available regarding performance of available varieties as well as the impact of onion set size on yield. A plasticulture production system was used as many onion growers utilize plastic mulches. Three varieties of onion sets, 'Forum,' 'Talon,' and 'Sherman,' were selected. Sets from each variety were planted according to size (diameter): 10-14, 14-17, 17-21, and 21-24 mm.
A hulless and hulled barley grain yield study builds on the findings of a previous project involving hulless barley and nitrogen fertility. The previous project showed that barley can achieve maximum yield potential at substantially lower nitrogen fertilizer rates than are currently recommended. The current study has been looking more precisely at what level of nitrogen fertility barley yields can be maximized using a more detailed nitrogen response curve.
In the Evaluation of Natural Sprays project, bicarbonate salts showed more than 50% inhibition, while Bordeaux, Kocide 2000 and SoilGard 12G provided more than 70% inhibition in vitro. Horticultural lime sulfur completely inhibited spore germination at 2.5 ppm. Chitosan showed more than 65% inhibition. In vivo, NH4HCO3, Serenade Max, Bordeaux, Kocide 2000, SoilGard 12G, horticultural lime sulfur and chitosan showed more than 85% disease control. None of the essential oils provided a significant reduction in disease development. These results suggest that there is potential for use of several of these organically certifiable fungicides and natural compounds as part of a management program to control anthracnose disease in cucurbits. Also, three field experiments on tomato were completed and copper-based products showed the best results in all experiments.
In the onion project, the incidence of two bacterial diseases, sour skin (Burkholderia cepacia) and center rot (Pantoea ananatis), normally of minor importance, increased significantly due to unusually warm weather. Other fungal diseases such as purple blotch (Alternaria porri) were prevalent due to wet spring weather. The high disease pressure resulted in significant loss in the field. The high percentage of loss observed was almost entirely due to disease. The percentage of loss was not significantly affected by either cultivar or set size, and there was no interaction between the two variables and bulbs not harvested due to disease. Total marketable yields were lower than expected. Typical yields for Kentucky onion growers using a similar plasticulture production system generally range from 25,000-30,000 pounds per acre; in this study, yields were roughly one-half to one-third of that. 'Talon' was the highest yielding variety, with much of the yield coming from a relatively large number of medium size bulbs. Although not significant, the percentage of loss of 'Talon' due to disease was less than the other varieties and it is likely that this led to significantly higher yields. Average bulb size was greatest for 'Forum' and lowest for 'Sherman.'
In the barley project, yields for all four varieties tested were maximized with a single spring nitrogen application rate of 80 lbs/acre. Growers can substantially reduce barley production costs when compared with the current practice of 2 applications, using a total of 120 lbs N/A. If excessive N is not being used by the plant, it will likely find its way into ground water and stream runoff, a serious environmental issue. This research has the potential to decrease the input costs for barley production and provide environmental benefits. It is important for growers in Kentucky, where winter barley production offers a source of early summer income and provides a financial hedge against uncertain environmental conditions, such as drought, affecting corn and soybean production. From an environmental standpoint, barley production provides a winter cover crop that naturally scavenges residual N fertilizer from the previous corn crop and reduces soil erosion between corn and soybean crops.
Feliciano-Rivera, M. 2011. Efficacy of organically certifiable materials and natural compounds against foliar hemibiotrophic and necrotrophic fungi in cantaloupe and tomato. Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 225. http://uknowledge.uky.edu/gradschool diss/225