Yi Wang is an assistant professor with a research focus on potato and vegetable sustainable production. The goal of her research and extension program is to conduct science-based applied research and collaborate with the potato and vegetable growers and processors to improve the resource use efficiency and sustainability of vegetable cropping systems in Wisconsin. Her major research areas are:
- Investigate new irrigation technologies to improve the water-use sustainability of vegetable cropping systems;
- Develop production recommendations for new varieties with higher water and nitrogen use efficiency;
- Develop useful growth modelling tools to predict crop yield, quality, water balance, and nitrogen balance.
Yi got her B.S. in Biological Science from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, her Ph.D. in Potato Physiology from UW-Madison. She worked as an assistant professor at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center, University of Idaho before rejoining the Department of Horticulture at UW-Madison.
MADISON — Lorre Kolb: Master Gardener Volunteers, learning about plants and making a difference in their communities. We’re visiting today with Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and I’m Lorre Kolb. Mike, what is the Master Gardener Volunteer Program?
Mike Maddox: The Master Gardener Program is a program in which we’re training community members, interested in gardening, some of the foundational topics that any horticulturist would need to know. But, in return for this learning, we’ve asked for them to go out into their communities and help us extend that knowledge to other community members.
Lorre Kolb: So, what is the connection between Master Gardeners and UW-Extension?
Mike Maddox: Well, the Master Gardener Program is a UW-Extension program. It has a 40-year history connected with Extension. It started with an Extension educator in Washington state, in which he trained individuals to help him answer questions, because the amount of new questions they had coming in from the developing suburbs at the time was more than what his role was able to do. It came into Wisconsin in the late 70s, early 80s, primarily to train individuals to help respond to the growing number of questions coming in from the public. But, it has evolved over that time to very active participation in the communities. They are using gardening to make some sort of difference in their communities.
Lorre Kolb: How do communities benefit from Master Gardener Volunteers?
Mike Maddox: To understand the role Master Gardeners are now playing in their communities, we also have to start with the role plants have in our communities. Research now shows there are economic, environmental, and health benefits of having plants in the places we live, work, and play. So, community gardens, urban forestry, downtown beautification projects – all this plays a role in making our communities healthy, happy places to live. Master Gardeners are now playing a lot of that role in providing that greening. They’re coming in and are the forces to do that school community garden or taking charge in making your city like a tree city USA and all the benefits that come with an urban forest. They also have that traditional role of helping respond to the questions that come in, helping people make informed, educated decisions – making the right plant for the right place kind of choices. So, hopefully reducing the number of invasive species we’re introducing to the environment. They’re having conversations with people on how many trees to put in, or where to plant them, or how to plant them correctly so you get the long term environmental benefits.
Lorre Kolb: If someone wants to become a Master Gardener Volunteer, what should they do?
Mike Maddox: You should start by visiting your local county UW-Extension office. Training consists of about 36 hours and as part of that you are expected to return a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer service in your community on select projects.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and I’m Lorre Kolb.
— Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin, Master Gardener Program and Lorre Kolb, UW-Extensio
Source: Morning Ag Clips, June 19, 2017
When Hannah DePorter’s plant breeding and genetics lab at UW-Madison grows beets, only a fraction of what the students harvest winds up being used for research.
Some of the rest goes to local food pantries and to students such as DePorter, who takes beets home to cook and give to friends. But there’s always plenty left over.
“So many of the beets were left in the field to compost,” she said.
DePorter, who will be a senior this fall, wants to change that, so she has started a new program that aims to address twin problems: The food waste that occurs when researchers in agriculture programs throw out or compost the excess produce they grow and the food insecurity that leaves some low-income college students hungry.
Her solution is called the Campus Food Shed, and it will take the form of four refrigerators stationed around UW-Madison that will be stocked with left-over produce for anyone who needs or wants free, nutritious and locally grown fruits and vegetables.
The first location opened in the Student Activity Center on Friday.
In an interesting juxtaposition, the refrigerator sits right next to a bank of vending machines — giving students a choice, DePorter said, between “fresh vegetables for free” and “processed foods that cost money.”
There should be plenty of produce to supply the refrigerators. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alone has a dozen research stations around Wisconsin where faculty grow crops. F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture, a campus group DePorter is a member of, also has a two-acre plot, and researchers grow produce on space they rent from private farms as well.
The needs of research projects vary, said Irwin Goldman, a professor in the Department of Horticulture, but in some cases they only require half of what fields produce, if not less.
Without a formal system for what’s left over, researchers often just leave piles of free produce on tables in the halls of the Horticulture Building, Goldman said.
He credited DePorter for saying, “Let’s do something with this.”
Goldman said six researchers have signed on to contribute their crops to the Campus Food Shed, and he and DePorter are looking for others who will join the effort.
‘Great, local food’
Along with the Student Activity Center, on the third floor of 333 East Campus Mall, refrigerators will be stationed in Science Hall, 550 N. Park St.; Moore Hall, 1575 Linden Drive; and the Allen Centennial Garden, 620 Babcock Drive.Campus Food Shed,
Labels will tell visitors what the food is and when it was picked, DePorter said, and volunteers will make the rounds to toss any produce that goes bad.
The refrigerators are open whenever the campus buildings are, and are available to students or anyone else who wants the free produce, she said. There’s no limit to what people can take, and the new initiative won’t reduce how much produce goes to local food pantries, DePorter said.
“We’re hoping that this reaches as many people as possible,” she said.
The fact that they are stocked with locally grown produce means the fridges won’t have much to offer when they first open, since it’s still early in Wisconsin’s growing season, and will probably be less full during the depths of winter.
But organizers say the produce will provide a source of free and healthy food on a campus in which students have directed more attention to the plight of less wealthy peers who sometimes struggle to find enough to eat. A campus food pantry, The Open Seat, opened last year on a floor above the first Campus Food Shed refrigerator.
“It’s relatively small,” Goldman said of the effort, “but it’s great, local food.”
Dr. Claudia Calderón, assistant faculty associate in the Department of Horticulture, received a $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to develop a new study abroad program in Guatemala. The Innovation Fund aims to increase study abroad opportunities between the U.S. and the rest of the western hemisphere. Dr. Calderón’s proposal, developed in partnership with the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, outlines an innovative model of study abroad between the two universities and will include a faculty-led field study, service-learning and international internships. In addition, the Morgridge Center for Public Service awarded Claudia $4,500 to support the community-based learning component of the course proposal.
The three-credit course, Community Based Learning and Sustainable Food Systems, will include service-learning projects involving local community partners to promote participatory approaches to environmental stewardship while international internships will reinforce academic learning through practical applications of world issues pertaining to food systems. An analogous program will be coordinated through Universidad Rafael Landivar. Dr. Calderón is currently the Program Leader/Instructor for UW Tropical Horticulture in Costa Rica and Panama, a two-week program offered during winter break which provides a framework for discussion of issues related to tropical horticulture, such as sustainability, cropping systems, climate change, food security, global health, nutrition and traditional medicine.
How Discoveries And Accidents Led To Winemaking In Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s wine industry is modest in scale, but has roots as old as the state itself. A Hungarian immigrant named Agoston Haraszthy planted the state’s first vineyard in 1846 on the east bank of the Wisconsin River and founded the community that would become Sauk City. He headed west three years later, establishing the famous Buena Vista Vineyard in Seminole, California, and became known as the father of Californian winemaking. In Wisconsin, Haraszthy’s vineyard lands would later become the site of Wollersheim Winery.
The wines produced in Wisconsin’s unlikely climate are the result of centuries of selection, cultivation and hybridization of many grape varieties, said Amaya Atucha, a fruit crop specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and assistant professor of horticulture at UW-Madison. With only 80 to 180 frost-free days across different parts of the state in an average year, Wisconsin’s cold climate and soil pH is not particularly hospitable to many wine grapes. Atucha discussed the history and difficulties of viticulture in the state in a July 8, 2015 talk for the Wednesday Nite @ the Lab lecture series on the UW-Madison campus, recorded for Wisconsin Public Television’s University Place.
“It’s very challenging to grow grapes here,” Atucha said. “And this has been a lot of science and a lot of discoveries and accidents that have taken us through this journey to be able to have Wisconsin wine.”
Variants of a grape species first cultivated in western Asia thousands of years ago, Vitis vinifera, are grown to produce 99 percent of the world’s wine today. While male and female flowers grow separately on wild grapes, Vitis vinifera was bred to have what are called perfect flowers, which have reproductive structures for both sexes. This morphology greatly increases fruit yield, supplying enough juice to produce wine.
Many grape species are native to the Americas, including Vitis riparia, Vitis berlandieri and Vitis labrusca. Wine production did not begin in the Western Hemisphere until the 1500s, though, when Spanish conquistadors and missionaries planted vineyards in hospitable regions using cuttings of Vitis vinifera. The lower fruit yields of North American grape species proved unfavorable for wine production, and the flavors of their wines discouraged cultivation for that purpose.
“For me, coming from Chile, never having these grapes… [i]t just tasted very chemical, like this foxy taste,” Atucha said of her first experience with juice made from Concord grapes, which is cultivated from Vitis labrusca, and left her believing the taste was artificial.
“Afterwards, they took me to a vineyard where there was Concord grapes and they gave me some of the grapes to taste, and I was like ‘wow, it tastes just like the juice,'” she said.
Much of North America is inhospitable to Vitis vinifera, leading to failed attempts at establishing vineyards in the British colonies along the Atlantic Seaboard during the 1600s and 1700s. European grapes faltered in the climate, and they were also more susceptible to insects and disease American grape species had evolved to resist.
It was not until the 1740 discovery of the Alexander grape in Philadelphia that North American wine production became feasible. A natural hybrid, this variety combined the hermaphroditic flowering traits of Vitis vinifera with the hardiness of a native species. The new, viable variety sparked an interest in hybridization, resulting in grapes capable of flourishing and producing wine in Wisconsin a century later.
“So the solution to the problem was actually not to try to make the vinifera grow, but to find a grape that would survive, that would yield enough, and that would make wine decent enough that they could sell and that people could drink,” Atucha said.
- Modern viticulture has its roots in the soils of the southern Caucasus Mountains, a region that now includes portions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and northern Iran and Iraq. The first evidence of wine production dates to around 7,000 years ago, when the burgeoning viticulturists of the Neolithic era found particularly fruitful Vitis vinifera vines, grew these grapes along the shores of the Caspian and Black seas, and began fermenting the juice. Viticulture spread to Mesopotamia, Egypt and on to regions around the Mediterranean.
- Over time and through trade, the rise of the Roman Empire and the growth of Christianity, Vitis vinifera eventually found a new, favorable climate in the high pH soils of southern Europe. Romans advanced grape cultivation and wine production, but the monks of the medieval Catholic Church developed many of the techniques used in the present day.
- While Native Americans fermented fruits like apples and other plants to produce alcoholic beverages, there is no archeological evidence to suggest grapes were used to produce wine, despite the fruit’s prevalence in North America.
- In the 1620s, King James I declared wine production mandatory in Virginia. He sought to supplement supplies from France, Italy and Spain by meeting the growing British taste for wine with a domestic product, so as to lessen dependence on imports from these rival nations.
- Several North American wild grape species contributed to the hybridization of Vitis vinifera. Vitis riparia, found from Canada to Texas and between the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, is cold hardy and resistant to fungus and disease. Vitis berlandieri, native to central Texas and eastern Mexico, grows well in high pH soils and aids in breeding of grapes for a variety of soil types. Vitis rupestri, a nearly extinct species, lent disease and fungal resistance to some modern varieties. And Vitis labrusca is a vigorous vine known as the Northern Fox Grape; its cold hardy variants have a distinct flavor, the Concord grape the most famous among them.
- New Englander Ephraim Bull created the Concord grape, named for his hometown in Massachusetts, after testing millions of seedlings and selecting based on desired traits. The grape’s distinct, sour taste makes it a popular choice for jams, jellies and juices, but aficionados generally consider it an undesirable flavor for wine.
- The eventual success of wine grape cultivation in the United States led to the export of North American hybrids to Europe in the mid-1800s. European botanists sought to study and collect these varieties, but unintentionally introduced diseases and pests like the grape phylloxera, devastating the continent’s grape vines. Nearly 90 percent of European vineyards collapsed, and wine production fell to 20 percent of previous levels. Although hybrids were the source of the invasive species, they were also key in ending the 20-year die-off; Vinis vinifera was grafted on to North American root stock, maintaining the properties of European varieties with the resistance of imported hybrids.
- Scientists play a role in contemporary viticulture. While working for a University of Minnesota grape breeding program, Wisconsin native Elmer Swenson developed a number of cold resistant varieties that also produce good wine, releasing many to the public upon his retirement in 1980. More recently, the Northern Grapes Project is a collaboration between a dozen Midwestern and Northeastern universities that seeks to develop new varieties and growing techniques that work well in colder climates.
WisContext produced this article as a service of Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and Cooperative Extension.
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
Professor Irwin Goldman, along with undergraduate assistant Iszie Tigges-Green, recently grew and harvested tobacco plants from seeds provided by Jeff Metoxen of Oneida Farm. The plants were germinated in Goldman’s greenhouse and then transplanted to the West Madison Agricultural Research Center.
Patty Loew, Professor in the Department of Life Sciences communication was instrumental in organizing the collaboration. Student members of Wunk Sheek will save the seeds to plant again this year. The impetus for the project was and is to grow tobacco to be used as a gift to elders and tribal partners when UW-Native nations collaborations take place.
Dr. Jeff Endelman, Assistant Professor in the UW Dept. of Horticulture received the Researcher of the Year award at the recent at the recent Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association meeting held February 8, 2017, in Stevens Point. Dr. Endelman has an emphasis on potato breeding and genetics. He brings a unique set of skills and experiences to his position, including two sets of advanced degrees. First, he earned degrees in physics and bioengineering. Then, after participating in a Community Supported Agriculture program, he fell in love with farming and completed two year-long apprenticeships on small farms in California. This inspired him to go back to earn a Master’s Degree in Plant Science from Utah State University and a Ph.D. in Crop Science from Washington State University.
At the University of Wisconsin, a major focus of Jeff’s research and extension program is to produce improved potato varieties. In recent years, Jeff’s research has helped Wisconsin release several outstanding varieties including Red Endeavor, Oneida Gold and Hodag. Jeff has also been instrumental in making improvements to the Rhinelander Agricultural Research Station as well as the SpudPro commercialization program.
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.”
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.
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.
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’
Cyperus ‘Graceful Grasses Prince Tut’
Angelonia ‘Angelface Super Pink’
Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’