Commodities

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Getting the Most Sap from Each Tap in Black Walnut Syrup Production

MCDOWELL, Virginia – Long before the Civil War, land on the mountainous slopes of the Allegheny Mountains in western Virginia had been cleared for logging and cattle grazing. Today, agriculture is still prominent, but in the form of syrup tapped from hardwoods – maple, hickory, elm, black walnut – that have retaken the landscape. Syrup […]

Using Native Plants as a Cover Crop for Soil and Vegetable Production Benefits

SANDSTON, Virginia – Patches of partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) dot Patrick Johnson’s permaculture farm, still holding on to their yellow summer flowers while setting pods to drop seed in the coming colder temperatures. Johnson is excited to see the native plant growing wild on his Airport Food Forest Farm; he believes the legume will make […]

Using Aerated Compost Tea as a Fertilizer Alternative in Organic Vegetable Production

LEESBURG, Virginia – With the rising costs of fertilizers, farmers are seeking alternative options to supplement soil health for crops. One microgreens farmer in Virginia is testing the validity of aerated compost tea as a viable option for small-scale vegetable growers, especially for those who wish to pursue organic production practices. In a two-year Southern […]

Exploring Algal Blooms as Biofertilizer in Vegetable Production

MIAMI, Florida – Algal blooms, which can grow excessively on lakes and other slow-flowing bodies of water, are an environmental, ecological, economic, and social problem. But Florida International University (FIU) researchers are seeking to reverse those issues by using the microscopic organisms as biofertilizer in agricultural crops. Agroecologist Krish Jayachandran and Earth and Environment post […]

Zeroing in on Nutritional Needs to More Effectively Manage Citrus Greening

FORT PIERCE, Florida – Maintaining optimum tree health has become the top management strategy for Florida citrus growers in combating citrus greening, and University of Florida researchers are working to hone in on a tree’s nutrient needs for more timely and targeted fertilizer applications. Lorenzo Rossi, a plant root biologist with University of Florida Indian […]

Warm Season Limpograss Bridges the Forage Gap for Fall Grazing in Florida

MARIANNA, Florida – For Southeast ranchers interested in grazing their beef cattle year-round, winter is the most challenging season for finding supplementing feed after warm-season grasses, like bahiagrass, decline in the fall, but before cool-season forages (oats or rye) are ready in the winter. University of Florida researchers have found a perennial grass that will […]

Vanilla Could Be the Next Big Crop for Small Farmers in Southern Florida

HOMESTEAD, Florida – Florida is on the cusp of a new agricultural crop that could give small farmers in the southern region of the state a high-value alternative to vegetable and fruit production. University of Florida researchers at the Tropical Research and Education Center have embarked on a comprehensive evaluation of vanilla – from developing […]

Exploring a Biological Control Method for Organic Rice in Southern Florida

BELLE GLADE, Florida – For nearly a century, farmers in southern Florida have been using parasitic wasps, rather than pesticides, as the go-to pest management method in sugarcane. Now University of Florida researchers are hoping to perfect the use of biologicals in organic rice production. In the Everglades Agricultural Area, confined around Lake Okeechobee, sugarcane […]

Pest Exclusion Systems for Pest Management in Vegetable Production Across the Southeast

In organic vegetable production, and in situations where farmers are seeking to reduce chemical applications, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies are recommended to exclude pests in both opens fields and in high tunnels. The principles of pest exclusion involve separating the insect pest from the host plant and protecting the crop at a specific growth stage. Careful planning of both materials selected and management design are important to keeping pests out of a cash crop. This bulletin provides data and information from on-farm demonstrations on the use of pest exclusion systems. Pest exclusion systems use shade cloths as a barrier around high tunnels, low tunnels and hoop houses to exclude insect pests.

Identifying Pollen to Improve Honeybee Health

HUDSON, North Carolina – Honeybees forage their nutrition from two key plant sources: nectar and pollen. And while nectar is important, it’s the quality of pollen that is linked to colony health and growth, and may be the key to managing some of the major pollinator health issues like varroa mites and Colony Collapse Disorder. […]

Woven Shade Cloths Part of IPM Strategy to Exclude Pests from High Tunnels

DOTHAN, Alabama – Vegetable producer Sheena Bain, of Bain Home Gardens, sees the black woven shade cloth permanently installed on her high tunnel as a game changer in controlling a whole host of crop pests. “We’ve had success in managing pests in the high tunnel that we normally would not have, compared to the level […]

Drought-tolerant Feed Alternatives for Small Ruminants in Arid Texas

MARFA, Texas – Visitors to Big Bend Country in far West Texas come for the desert mountain views, mystery lights in the sky, a burgeoning art culture…and Malinda Beeman’s goats. Beeman and her partner Allan McClane run Marfa Maid Dairy – a 25 dairy goat herd operation where they sell artisan cheeses and give weekly […]

Texas Beekeeper Rethinking Bee Hive Boxes for More Honey and Better Bee Health

MABANK, Texas – Texas beekeeper Daniel Brantner has a simple and economical solution for increasing honey production and improving the health of honey bees: redesigning the industry-standard bee hive boxes. Brantner, owner of Texas Honey Company and a certified Texas master beekeeper, is using his skills as an architect to turn the typical standard 16”X22” […]

Studying the Impact of Conservation Plantings on Insect Pests and Their Predators

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Conservation plantings, through various stewardship programs, do well to provide a myriad of benefits. These range from controlling erosion, to improving water quality, to promoting healthy soils. However, the impacts of such strategies on cash crop pests and the natural enemies that target them is less known. Louisiana State University researchers, […]

Farmers Testing Elderberry Varieties for Florida Cultivation

CHIEFLAND, Florida – Elderberry, internationally utilized and popular for centuries for its perceived medicinal and health benefits, may have potential as an alternative crop in Florida. Farmers Heather Martin and David Jarnagin of Hyldemoer + Co. in north central Florida have been testing elderberry (Sambucus spp.) varieties for the past several years for commercial production. […]

Diversifying Small Farms with Cereal Grains

FOREST, Virginia – Virginia farmer Michael Grantz is testing what it takes to incorporate cereal grains into a small-scale, diversified vegetable and cut flower farm for soil health as a cover crop and a value-added product for local markets. Grantz has managed a quarter acre plot of wheat and rye on he and his wife’s […]

Mississippi Farmer Optimizing Animal/Crop Production in a Unique Integrated System

KILN, Mississippi – The damage brought about by Hurricane Ida in 2021 was a light bulb moment for Mississippi farmer Stephen Wyatt, who was looking for ways to maximize production of his two high-demand cash crops: strawberries and rabbits. With the storm came massive flooding, disease and predators. In less than one season, most of […]

Louisiana Farmer Using Drone Technology to Maximize Nitrogen Efficiency in Row Crops

LAKE PROVIDENCE, Louisiana – Corn and cotton crop producer Nolan Parker is taking to the skies to decrease nitrogen runoff from commodity farms along the Mississippi River. The young farmer, who is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified remote pilot and works routinely with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), combined drone technology with variable rate nitrogen […]