IPM and NPM Programs Honored for Display

John Shutske, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board chair, presents the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Award to Roger Schmidt and Mimi Broeske.

It’s not often that people can have their picture taken with a ten foot tall goat or be able to pose in a pen with pigs and not get dirty, but it was possible for people who visited the University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Nutrient Management Programs (NPM) booth at the 2016 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

Using an iPad and some creativity to run a photo booth where visitors could pose and interact with images of farm animals, IPM/NPM staff demonstrated the computer power that simple mobile devices have and explained how the University of Wisconsin-Extension uses digital technology to be flexible and relevant to the needs of farmers, including developing apps for farmers.

“UW-Extension doesn’t manufacture giant farm machinery,” said Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison, “But we do create research and foster community relationships that help farmers reap bountiful harvests, earn more money and allow people to eat the best food the earth can grow sustainably.”

The IPM and NPM exhibit, which provided information about free smartphone apps developed for agriculture by these two programs, received the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Technology Transfer Award. Individuals recognized for their efforts with this display were Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison and Mimi Broeske, UW-Madison senior editor.

NPM and IPM mobile apps include Wisconsin’s Corn N Rate Calculator, N Price Calculator, Crop Calculators for Corn, NPK Credits – Manure and Legume Nutrient Credit Calculator, Soybean Replant Calculator, and an IPM toolkit. The apps are available for both Apple and Android devices.

The award was presented at the annual Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board of Directors meeting in April 2017.

The Donald R. Peterson Award recognizes outstanding educational effectiveness and impact via an interactive exhibit and activities at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. To receive this award, groups must successfully engage audiences around topics such as: effectively using new management tools, processes, or concepts; incorporating new technologies into a modern farm operation; or issues that challenge contemporary agriculture and our natural resource base.

The Donald R. Peterson Wisconsin Farm Technology (Progress) Days Technology Transfer Award was established in honor of Don Peterson, UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Professor and Associate Dean. Peterson was Chair of the Board of Directors from 1975-1993 and Executive Director of Wisconsin Farm Progress Days from 1993-1998.

The Award memorializes Peterson’s diligent efforts to encourage CALS faculty and staff to convey the fruits of College research and knowledge to the public through Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

This post originally published on the UW Extension Website

Breeding Potatoes for More Calcium

Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato—and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Neither consumers at grocery stores nor chip and fry manufacturers want these low-calcium defects. In addition to the obvious cosmetic issues, these potatoes are more likely to rot.

Most farmed varieties of potatoes have naturally low levels of calcium. So researchers at the USDA-ARS and University of Wisconsin-Madison, including Shelley Jansky, John Bamberg and Jiwan Palta, looked to wild potatoes. Their purpose: to breed new potato cultivars with high calcium levels.

Many wild potato relatives are still present in South America. Their presence means growers’ potato plants in that region often exchange genes with wild species.

“That’s a way they continue to evolve as the climate changes or as disease and pest patterns change,” says Jansky. “But in the U.S. we have removed our potatoes from that environment. We have to breed new genes in from these wild relatives when we want to improve our cultivars.”

These wild relatives are an invaluable resource for scientists across the country.

“If you go down there and drive along the roadside you can see these weedy, wild plants growing along the roads and fields,” says Jansky. “Whenever we have looked for any trait in wild potato species, we have been able to find it.”

And so it was with searching for a high-calcium potato. The team found a wild potato with almost seven times as much calcium as typically grown varieties. The next job was to isolate the calcium trait. Jansky and her colleagues interbred the high- and low-calcium potatoes. The resulting generations showed a molecular marker—a pattern in the plant’s natural DNA. This pattern led researchers to the plant’s calcium trait.

“Finding this marker will allow us—and other breeding programs—to make faster progress in breeding potato plants with high tuber calcium content,” says Jansky. “This has been difficult and time-consuming in the past. You have to grow all the populations, harvest tubers, and then analyze the tubers for the trait you are looking at—in this case, tuber calcium levels. And that’s a long, laborious process.”

A typical breeding program grows and assesses up to 100,000 seedlings every year. It takes 10 to 15 years to release a particular variety of crop plant. However, the process simplifies with known molecular markers.

“We can collect DNA from seedlings and check for these molecular markers,” says Yong Suk Chung, the first author of the study. “If you have the marker present, then you select those seedlings and save a tremendous amount of time and labor.”

Source:  www.potatogrower.com

 

2016 West Madison Field Trials Results

The West Madison Ag Research Station display gardens contained more than 270 annual and 62 perennial flower cultivars that were evaluated monthly for the Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin, Proven Winners, and Ball Horticultural Company. Additionally, more than 61 All-America Selection cultivars were on display in 2016. Vegetables included 12 garlic varieties, eight squash and melon varieties, 11 peppers, six tomatoes, and a few herbs. Under research by the University of Wisconsin’s Horticulture Department were 65 varieties of leafy greens/lettuces evaluated for heat tolerance during summer and cold tolerance in the late fall and 23 onion varieties screened for flavor by local chefs. Seedless table grapes were also evaluated for cold hardiness, vigor, and fruit production.

West Madison 2016 Field Days

The winter of 2015-2016 was relatively mild with the lowest temperature being only -10°F for one day in January. The growing season began warmly with 4 inches of rain (not snow) in March. Except for a brief three-hour dip to 30°F on May 16, it was a warm month with 12 days above 75°F. August and September were especially warm and humid. Rainfall was abundant and frequent (nearly every five days) from April through September, which reduced overhead irrigating to just two events. In July alone, the station received 8.25 inches of rain. With the plentiful rain and high dewpoints, there was increased incidences of fungal pathogens and bacterial disease, including many root rots (Phythium, Rhizoctonia) and Verticillium wilt on verbena. Many melons and squash rotted early. Bacterial wilt on cucumbers was widespread, as was Septoria on tomatoes. However, peppers produced well with harvest peaking in early September.

Several horticultural societies continue to participate in the University of Wisconsin trial gardens. The Wisconsin Peony Society solicited help from our visitors to evaluate its improved genetic collection of 50-cultivars, displayed and maintained at the gardens. The Wisconsin Daylily society promoted its cultivars and plant sale via the University of Wisconsin’s six well-managed nurseries containing nearly 300 cultivars. Likewise, hundreds benefited from a plant sale held at the station this spring by the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society, which included donated plants grown in the display gardens. The hydrangea collection at the University of Wisconsin trial gardens is now up to 23 cultivars, including both paniculata and macrophylla species.

New to the gardens since 2014 is the testing of the Darwin Perennial collection. These plants are monitored for winter survival, pest tolerance, flowering duration, and growth habit. In 2014, 22 cultivars from 10 genera were established. In 2015, 12 more cultivars from 7 genera were added. In 2016, another 15 cultivars from 8 genera were established. Also in the university’s evolving perennial trials was a chrysanthemum evaluation trial with the University of Minnesota. The objective was to evaluate the 20 cultivars for persistence over winter as well as floral quality and pyretherin levels.

Several faculty members used the gardens to promote special topics they wanted to publicly promote: Ceremonial tobacco for the Ojibwe tribe; Seven sisters, a traditional Mexican planting system that includes corn, beans, and squash, was established to highlight the symbiotic benefits that these three species provide when inter-planted; a pole bean breeding demonstration with 12 varieties with both living (corn and sorghum) and man-made trellises was new this year; Quinoa was planted in June and July to compare seed set on this plant that lacks heat tolerance; honey bee and bumble bee hives were set up near the gardens to promote pollinators and the importance of garden habitat for them.

 Top Performers

Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Silverberry’
Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia Improved’
Petunia ‘Picasso in Purple’
Petunia ‘Vista Bubblegum’
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’
Petunia ‘Surprise Magenta Halo’
Petunia ‘ColorRush Blue’
Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’
Salvia ‘Black & Bloom’
Cyperus ‘Graceful Grasses Prince Tut’

Consumer Favorites

Cyperus ‘Graceful Grasses Prince Tut’
Angelonia ‘Angelface Super Pink’
Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’
Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

Source:  GreenhouseGrower.com

Department Personnel at WPT’s 2017 Garden Expo

Julie Dawson, Vegetable Specialist

Amy Freidig, Master Gardener Program

Elin Meliska, Allen Centennial Garden

Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo, in its 24th year, was held February 10-12.  The warm weather invited 10’s of 1000’s to attend.  Horticulture staff who participated include Julie Dawson, Eileen Nelson, Madeline Wimmer, Amaya Atucha.  Also participating: Ben Futa, Elin Meliska and Abby Granite of the Allen Centennial Garden, Johanna Oosterwyk from The DC Smith Greenhouse, Mike Maddox, Susan Mahr and Amy Freidig of the Master Gardener Program.

Are you smarter than an Otter?

On November 23rd, Faculty Associate, Claudia Irene Calderon, and Postdoctoral Fellow, Shelby Ellison, organized a carrot tasting with 12 three to five year olds from the UW Preschool Lab Otter class. The event took place in the DC Smith Conservatory where the children tasted orange, purple, red, white, and yellow carrots and learned about how the carrot color translates into the nutritional benefit it can provide when eaten.

Many of the children were excited to taste the different colored carrots and a few appeared to favor the less traditional purple types. In addition to tasting, the Otters enjoyed carrot themed story time, were able to pick out vegetable stamps, and enjoyed exploring the DC Smith Conservatory. The children returned to the UW Preschool lab with more carrots to sample and a nutritional fact sheet to share with their families.

Photos by Florencia Bannoud

 

Potato industry commits $5M to support research

Sevie Kenyon

Madison — Wisconsin’s potato industry has had a strong, decades-long partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s potato researchers, one that has helped place Wisconsin among the top three potato-producing states in the nation. Now, in order to ensure the ongoing strength of this relationship, the industry has made a commitment to raise $5M over the next 10 years to support the university’s program.

“This support stems from the great value that our growers and our potato industry see in the University of Wisconsin-Madison research team and the related research facilities,” says Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA).

Continue Reading. . . .

Source: Wisconsin State Farmer, Nicole Miller, UW CALS author

Seed to Kitchen

Plant breeders partner with chefs for tastier produce

Have you noticed that more and more restaurants are featuring great-tasting, locally sourced foods on their menus? Now, through a UW–Madison horticulture initiative called “Seed to Kitchen,” chefs on the culinary cutting edge are working with plant breeders to grow produce with specific flavor characteristics their customers will love. –

Antique Apples

Autumn is just around the corner, and instead of lamenting the end of summer, many Wisconsinites embrace cooler weather with fall activities.

One favorite excursion around the state is apple picking, which goes hand-in-hand with cider, donuts and pie. Many Wisconsin pick-your-own orchards and farm stands showcase “antique” or “heirloom” apple varieties, which have been passed down through generations of growers after being found from a chance seedling. Antique apples can have unusual flavors, textures, and aromas, and usually come with an interesting back-story too. Many are of U.S. or even Wisconsin origins.

In recent years, antique or heirloom varieties have become more popular at farmers’ markets and pick-your-own orchards, as consumers are searching for apples that are essentially different from those offered by big supermarket chains. This search for a “different” kind of apple is not only driven by the lack of choice and poor quality of apples offered by superstores, but also by a change in consumer preferences that are a consequence of increasing interest and concern regarding where and how fruit is grown.

Many of these rarer varieties can be found at many Wisconsin orchards and local direct markets, but it may take a little searching to get past the rows of Honeycrisp. Hundreds of varieties of antique apples are available — this list is meant as a starting point only.

Gravenstein is one the first varieties to ripen in the apple season. It originated in Denmark in 1669. The fruit is irregularly shaped with broad red stripes and a sweet-tart flavor. It’s great for eating fresh, or for making into sauces or cider. Ripens late July to early August.

Northfield Beauty originated in Vermont in the early 1800s. The fruit is medium-large, with a tart flavor extremely well suited for pies and sauces. Ripens in late August.

Duchess of Oldenburg is a cold-hardy plant, producing tart red apples, best used for making pies or sauces but also good for eating. A great early-season options, it can be found even in the northern parts of Wisconsin. Originating in Russia in the 1700s, it is naturally resistant to many diseases, reducing the need for pesticides. Ripens in late August.

Chenango Strawberry was discovered in the eastern United States in the early 19th century, and is renowned for its rich apple flavor and aroma, and beautiful mottled appearance. The skin and flesh is soft and juicy. Ripens early September.

Summer Rambo is a tart, crisp, juicy apple that originated in France in the 1500s. The fruit is greenish-yellow with a red blush. It’s good for both eating and for sauces. Ripens in early September.

Holstein Cox has large fruit with an intense sweet/tart flavor with intense citrus and pineapple aroma, and is good for eating or cooking. It is a relative newcomer, being developed in Germany in the early 1900s. Ripens in early September.

Court Pendu Plat was first described in France in the 1600s, but is thought to have been brought there much earlier during the time of the Roman Empire. It has a dense texture, and balance of sweetness and acidity, making it excellent for cider and sauces, but also tasty fresh. Ripens in early September.

Wealthy makes a good eating apple with a mellow, sweet flavor. Having originated in Minnesota in 1868, it is very cold-hardy. Ripens in mid-September.

Pink Pearl is not only a novelty, with bright pink flesh underneath a smooth yellow skin, but is also a flavorful, tart, juicy and crisp apple. A suggested use is to make rosy-pink applesauce. This variety originated in California in the early 1900s. Ripens in mid-September.

Wolf River originated in central Wisconsin, and is an old-time favorite around the state. The large apples are primarily used for baking — supposedly one apple makes one pie! Ripens in late September.

Reinette Gris produces medium-sized sweet, crisp and dry fruit, with a red blush. The trees are very hardy and fruit keep well. It originated in France in the 1600s. Ripens in late September.

Egremont Russet, like other russetted apples, has lost popularity recently to the smooth shiny varieties generally showcased in grocery stores. However, despite its rough appearance, this variety is full of unique flavors, which have been described as nutty, smoky, or with anise undertones, which combined with a pear-like smooth texture makes for a one-of-a-kind apple. It originated in England in the 1800s. Ripens in late September to early October.

Northwestern Greening originated in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. It is the predominant apple-pie apple of the north, but is too tart for eating fresh. Ripens in October.

Arkansas Black is a deeply colored, crisp, and flavorful apple. For best flavor, store at least a month before eating; it can be stored up to eight months in refrigeration. Ripens in October.

Winesap is an old-timer favorite, with high sugar content, a crisp texture and deep red color. This variety originated in the US in the 1800s. Ripens in late October.

Newtown Pippin has a distinctive flavor, and firm, crisp flesh. The skin is light yellow-green with just a slight red blush. It was developed on Long Island, New York in the 1700s. This apple is excellent for eating fresh or for making cider. Ripens in late October.

Black Oxford produces a dark purple, almost black skinned fruit with tart, aromatic flesh. It originated in Oxford, Maine in the 1800s. The fruit keeps well in storage. Ripens in late October.

Source:  Wiscontext, September 23, 2016 http://www.wiscontext.org/picking-holstein-cox-and-other-antique-apples-wisconsin-orchards

Janet van Zoeren is a fruit crops associate with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Amaya Atucha is a fruit crop specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW Fruit Program, and an assistant professor in the UW-Madison Department of Horticulture. This article is adapted from an item originally published in Wisconsin Fruit News, Volume 1, Issue 9, a publication of the Fruit Crops Team 

Breeding for Flavor

On a sticky weekday morning in August, a new restaurant called Estrellón (“big star” in Spanish) is humming with advanced prep and wine deliveries. All wood and tile and Mediterranean white behind a glass exterior, the Spanish-style eatery is the fourth venture of Madison culinary star Tory Miller. Opening is just three days away, and everything is crisp and shiny and poised.

Chef Miller takes a seat with colleagues Jonny Hunter of the Underground Food Collective 2016-09-13_8-47-52and Dan Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat. The chefs are here to lend their highend taste buds to science, and they start to banter about tomato flavor. What are the key elements? How important are they relative to each other?

Despite their intense culinary dedication, these men rarely just sit down and eat tomatoes with a critical frame of mind. “I learned a lot about taste through this project,” says Hunter. “I really started thinking about how I defined flavor in my own head and how I experience it.”

This particular tasting was held last summer. And there have been many others like it over the past few years with Miller, Hunter, Bonanno and Eric Benedict BS’04, of Café Hollander.

The sessions are organized by Julie Dawson, a CALS/UW–Extension professor of horticulture who heads the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative (formerly called the Chef–Farmer–Plant Breeder Collaborative). Her plant breeding team from CALS will note the flavors and characteristics most valuable to the chefs. Triangulating this with feedback from select farmers, plant breeders will get one step closer to the perfect tomato. But not just any tomato: One bred for Upper Midwest organic growing conditions, with flavor vetted by some of our most discerning palates.

“We wanted to finally find a good red, round slicer, and tomatoes that look and taste like heirlooms but aren’t as finicky to grow,” says Dawson at the August tasting, referring to the tomato of her dreams. “We’re still not at the point where we have, for this environment, really exceptional flavor and optimal production characteristics.”

Nationwide, the tomato has played a symbolic role in a widespread reevaluation of our food system. The pale, hard supermarket tomatoes of January have been exhibit A in discussions about low-wage labor and food miles. Seasonally grown heirloom tomatoes have helped us understand how good food can be with a little attention to detail.

But that’s just the tip of the market basket, because Dawson’s project seeks to strengthen a middle ground—an Upper Midwest ground, actually—in the food system. With chefs, farmers and breeders working together, your organic vegetables should get tastier, hardier, more abundant and more local where these collaborations exist.

Please continue reading this story on the Grow magazine website.

Note: The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative is one of the projects that will be featured at the upcoming Horticulture Showcase on Thursday, Sept. 15, and there are still tickets available to a dinner event featuring the work of the Collaborative that will take place immediately after the showcase.

 

Farm to Flavor dinner will feature plant breeding efforts

Farm to Flavor is a signature dinner experience and celebration of Wisconsin food that will be held on Thursday, September 15, 2016 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Mendota Room inside Dejope Hall. It brings together the plant breeders, farmers, and chefs responsible for creating a new local cuisine. These co-creators encompass the motto that food is made at the intersection of seed, farm, and kitchen.

Taste the results of collaborative plant breeding in small plates from Madison’s highly acclaimed chefs including, Jonny Hunter of Underground Food Collective, Tory Miller of I’Etoile, Dan Bonnano of Pig in a Fur Coat and Eric Benedict of Café Hollander. Guest speaker Ken Greene of the Hudson Valley Seed Library will kick off a dinner discussion about the intersection of crop varieties, culture and art. Questions about plant breeding, farming and food systems are welcomed throughout the dinner.

Prior to the dinner, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., a free plant-breeding showcase held at Allen Centennial Garden will give attendees the opportunity to meet leading plant breeders responsible for developing fruits and vegetables adapted for Wisconsin’s organic farms. While sampling the results, attendees will learn how collaborative plant breeding can increase productivity and the profitability of regional organic farms.

The cost to attend the dinner is $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Register athttp://bit.ly/2bh7dtv.

For more information, contact Julie Dawson at dawson@hort.wisc.edu or (608) 609-6165.