UPDATED February 16, 2007

     

    Hessian fly back on top after 10,000 years of competing with wheat

    Boiler could make switchgrass biofuel a boon for farmers

    No more airborne organic for UK consumers?

    You have to know your (vegetable) colors to eat them

    Berry good news

     

Hessian fly back on top after 10,000 years of competing with wheat

The world's most destructive wheat pest, the Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor), is westward bound and with a new twist. Despite more than a decade of reprieve from overwhelming infestations due to aggressive breeding for resistance, changes to the flies' genetic makeup are allowing them to infiltrate the wheat fields of Indiana and Missouri.

ARS scientists now have enough gene markers to cover the entire Hessian fly genome. These and a nationwide genetic sampling project for the flies are part of the scientific effort to regain the genetic advantage.

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Boiler could make switchgrass biofuel a boon for farmers

The Wye Research and Education Center (WREC) has developed a boiler that runs on switchgrass, the latest "it" biofuel. The switchgrass is harvested and baled with standard equipment used for hay. Then the bales are tossed into boilers designed to burn cereal grain. Although imperfect, this method is the best way to use the grass for energy now.

"Switchgrass has the potential to be an economic energy source for Maryland farmers and also help them meet increasing local demands for reduced nutrient losses, as well as contribute to solutions of national and global problems related to use of fossil fuels,” says research associate Dr. Ken Stave.

The Center is working on effective ways to pelletize the switchgrass to move from batch feeding of bales to automatic feeding driven by thermostat.

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No more airborne organic for UK consumers?

Environmentalists have recently voiced concerns over imported foods' contribution to global warming and the Soil Association, the UK's main organic certifier, is taking note. They've proposed a ban on air-freighted food under the organic label.

Patrick Holden, the association's director, said they would consider different labeling options or carbon-offsetting plans, but the implication is that the lucrative business of shipping organic products into the UK would become less so under the new proposal.

Full story


You have to know your (vegetable) colors to eat them

Now’s the time to gather information for your customer newsletters you want to publish during the growing season, especially for CSA groups. Dividing vegetables into color groups—where varieties often share nutritional constituents and general human benefits is one way to help eaters know how to incorporate whole vegetables into their diets.

“Eat Your Colors” shows the major fruits and vegetables marketed in North America divided into five color groups, with nutritional features of each listed. It was published by Growing for Market in August 2004 as a copy-ready handout for market gardeners to give customers. Highlighting the flier are nice sketches of vegetables from each group. Growing for Market is a monthly publication about small-scale farming, sustainable agriculture and farm-direct marketing.

For more information


Berry good news

A study funded by the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and by the California Strawberry Commission has found strawberry extract had a significant effect on slowing the growth of colon cancer cells. The researchers tested blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry and red raspberry extracts in addition to the strawberry extract. While all six berries slowed the growth of oral, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells, strawberries high levels of phytonutrients performed above the pack on both oral and colon cancer.

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