fly back on top after 10,000 years of competing with
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.
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.
No more airborne organic for
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.
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.
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.