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
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
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
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.
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.