Michael Havey named fellow of ASHS

Michael Havey, horticulture professor and USDA research geneticist, was recently named a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). Election as a Fellow of the Society is the highest honor that ASHS bestows on its members in recognition of outstanding contributions to horticulture and the Society.

Havey’s research program is focused on the breeding, genetics and genomics of the Alliums (onion and garlic) and cucurbits (cucumber, melon and watermelon). Specific projects involve molecular tagging of major quality attributes and disease resistances in the Alliums and cucurbits.

Article first appeared in ECals 

Dutch elm disease claims “Elmer,” a campus tree more than a century old

The elm tree in 2012, with the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemistry Building. PHOTO BY STEVE HALL

The University of Wisconsin–Madison campus is saying goodbye to a beloved natural landmark. An elm tree that has stood for more than 100 years fell victim to Dutch elm disease and is in the process of being removed from the Hector F. DeLuca (HFD) Biochemical Sciences Complex by UW–Madison grounds staff.

The tree – often known informally as Elmer – has a rich past with the Department of Biochemistry and surrounding departments in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), such as the Department of Horticulture. Thousands of students who have taken biochemistry courses or frequented that area of campus have gazed up at the old elm or enjoyed breaks in the shade it provided.

Many staff members and scientists on the upper floors of labs or offices overlooking Elmer have spent decades watching the seasons through the tree – leaves falling in autumn, snow coating its sturdy branches, leaves returning in spring. They’ve watched birds come and go, including famed campus hawks, and some students say finches, perched among Elmer’s limbs, watched them work in lab.

When construction on buildings in the HFD Biochemical Sciences Complex took place in the late 1990s and again in 2012, crews took extreme care not to disturb the tree to which so many students, faculty, and staff had become attached.

“In our two major recent projects, I think that protection of the tree was the first item in the program, and it was discussed at the first construction meeting before the contractors got to work,” says Biochemistry Professor Mike Cox, who was faculty leader for much of the construction. “It is more than sad to see it go.”

Elmer dates back to a time well before the HFD Biochemistry Laboratories, when the area was covered with greenhouses, says Horticulture Chair Irwin Goldman. For decades, the tree was used as a teaching tool and was even a stop on a campus tree walk for students.

“Our department is 129 years old, one of the four original departments in CALS, and since it started we have used the tree to teach students about woody plants,” Goldman says. “I’d bet that tree was there from the beginning, although we aren’t sure exactly when it was planted.”

Please continue reading this story here.

Building the perfect beet: Seed to Kitchen brings chefs, farmers and plant breeders to the table

Solveig Hanson wants to make a flavor wheel for beets.

As she described it on Wednesday morning to a group of 10 local chefs, the wheel would resemble a flavor wheel for wine, with axes for earthiness and sweetness branching out into more detailed descriptors.FOREQUARTER

Hanson, a plant breeder and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wants to answer an important question for famers who grow the beets and the chefs who buy them: What makes a Badger Flame different from a Chioggia or a Touchstone Gold, other than color? And if chefs could choose qualities in a beet, what would they pick?

“I’m excited to see what people come up with,” Hanson said quietly as chefs set to work, blind tasting eight kinds of beets at the Forequarter bar.

Read the complete article found in the Capital Times: 

 

 

Claudia Calderón receives Global Health Institute travel award

Claudia Calderón, assistant faculty associate in the Department of Horticulture, was selected to receive a Global Health Institute 2018 Faculty and Staff Travel Award. The award will cover travel costs associated with her project, “Assessing mycotoxin levels in maize in the highlands of Guatemala.”

Maize is a dietary staple in Guatemala and is often consumed to the exclusion of other food commodities. Previous studies have found that people relying on maize often consume high levels of toxic metabolites produced by fungi (mycotoxins). This has significant implications for food safety, food security and international trade. Calderón’s project will focus on 50 small-scale farmers in the western highlands of Guatemala and will support research on the quality of maize and provide recommendations on food safety. The overall goal is to devise effective and sustainable mechanisms to educate, monitor and reduce exposure to mycotoxin contamination.

The Global Health Institute Faculty and Staff Travel Awards are available for UW-Madison faculty and staff to undertake international travel related to educational and research activities. Several grants of up to $2,500.00 are awarded for a duration of one year.

Originally posted here: https://ecals.cals.wisc.edu/

Faculty Honors

Jeff Endelman is the recipient of this year’s Early Career Scientist Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders. The award will be presented at their meeting in Guelph, Ontario this month.

Mike Havey has been selected as a fellow in the American Society for Horticultural Science and received his award at their annual meeting in July in Washington, D.C.

Jed Colquhoun has been named as the Friday Chair for Vegetable Production Research. This appointment is given for a five-year term and provides support for research.

UW field day to showcase organic vegetables at West Madison Ag Research Station

Vegetable farmers are invited to attend the Organic Vegetable Variety Research Showcase, a field day at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s West Madison Agricultural Research Station, set for 3-5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20. This free, interactive event highlights the many organic vegetable variety trials being conducted on the station’s 30 acres of certified organic land.

“This is a great opportunity for vegetable growers to see new varieties out in the field,” says event organizer Julie Dawson, a UW–Madison assistant professor of horticulture and UW-Extension urban and regional food systems specialist. “They can talk with plant breeders and seed company staff to learn what’s in development and express their priorities and preferences for new varieties.”

The field day is also an opportunity to learn about the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, a UW–Madison-led collaboration of local chefs, farmers, and plant breeders that is working to develop full-flavored vegetable varieties with high culinary quality. Also featured will be trials for sweet corn, bell peppers, acorn and delicata squash, cabbage, and tomatoes grown as part of the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) project, as well as potato variety trials for organic systems, and tomato trials under organic high tunnel, caterpillar tunnel and field management. Attendees will have to opportunity to help select beet varieties for high or low “earthy” flavor, and learn about breeding efforts to improve carrots for organic systems and culinary corn breeding.

West Madison Agricultural Research Station is located at 8502 Mineral Point Road in Verona, Wisconsin. For more information about the field day, visit dawson.horticulture.wisc.edu. Questions can be directed to Julie Dawson at dawson@hort.wisc.edu.

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will make a reasonable effort to provide accommodations for participants with disabilities when notified in advanced. To request a disability accommodation, please contact WMARS superintendent Janet Hedtcke at (608)-262-2257 or janet.hedtcke@wisc.edu at least 10 days in advance of the event. Efforts will be made to meet same-day requests to the extent possible.

Original article created by Michael P. King at https://news.cals.wisc.edu

Ancient Method Helps Feed Present-Day Communities

In remote villages and rural towns from Guatemala to Costa Rica, horticulture professor James Nienhuis and his former grad student Erick Gutiérrez MS’17 are improving countless lives, one tomato seedling at a time. Their goal is to combat the region’s agricultural afflictions (viruses and soil pathogens) to ease the hardships of growing food and earning a living. They’re doing this with a technique older than the ruins of Tikal.

The roots of the initiative go back about eight years when Nienhuis established Seeds of Hope with a USAID grant. His goal was to combat the whitefly-transmitted geminivirus in Central America by developing genetically resistant cultivars that are still beautiful and flavorful.

Erick Gutiérrez teaches grafting to farmers in the small Guatemalan village of San José Sigüila. Photos: Brenda Dawson, UC Davis

Erick Gutiérrez teaches grafting to farmers in the small Guatemalan village of San José Sigüila. Photos: Brenda Dawson, UC Davis

Nienhuis produced the cultivars he needed to withstand the virus, but other soil pathogens — fungal, bacterial, and parasitic — continued to spoil tomato crops, slashing yields and decreasing the income and nutrition levels among the rural poor.

“Ralstonia (a bacterial wilt) kills the plant once symptoms develop. It causes serious yield losses,” says Gutiérrez, a native of Honduras. “It is very hard to eradicate.”

Matthew Kleinhenz PhD ’96, Nienhuis’ former student, asked if he had tried grafting as a possible solution. Seeing merit in the idea, Nienhuis shifted focus and launched a new program called Seedlings of Hope. The idea was to unite the upper portions (scions) of his virus-resistant cultivars with soil pathogen-resistant rootstocks. Solanum habrochaites, a wild tomato plant that thrives in diseased soil, was a prime candidate to serve as the rootstock.

Please continue reading this story on the Grow magazine website.

Seed to Kitchen Collaborative – Farm to Flavor Dinner

Veggie lovers of all stripes will converge on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus to celebrate tasty, local vegetables at the fourth annual Farm to Flavor dinner on Sept. 26. During the event, which runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Discovery Building, participants will have the opportunity to sample chef-designed dishes showcasing top vegetable varieties identified through the university’s Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, as well as listen to a panel discussion featuring chefs, farmers and plant breeders involved in the project. See below for ticketing information.

The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative connects plant breeders with Wisconsin farmers and chefs interested in developing delicious organic vegetable varieties with high culinary quality that are well-adapted for the area, with the goal of supporting local food systems. More than 20 plant breeders from UW–Madison, other universities, seed companies, non-profits, and independent farms have contributed numerous varieties of 12 different crops to the project. Trials are conducted at the university’s West Madison and Spooner Agricultural Research Stations to compare crops for flavor, productivity, disease resistance and earliness.

“The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative is working with plant breeders to develop varieties that perform well for direct-market growers in the Upper Midwest, with a focus on flavor,” says project leader Julie Dawson, a UW–Madison assistant professor of horticulture.

Every month, a group of Madison-based chefs gather to taste the produce from the trials and provide information to breeders about flavor. Participating chefs include: Eric Benedict and Yusuf Bin-Rella of UW–Madison’s Four Lakes Market; Daniel Bonanno of A Pig in a Fur Coat; Sean Fogarty of Steenbock’s on Orchard; Jonny Hunter of Underground Food Collective and Forequarter; and Tory Miller of L’Etoile, Graze, Sujeo and Estrellon.

“It is a great experience being part of this collaboration because not only do we get to have personal input in the taste of crops we are looking for, but we get to learn more about the growing and research processes, which really expands our knowledge base as chefs,” says Bonanno.

Early bird tickets for the Farm to Flavor dinner are available for $25. After Aug. 16, the price goes up to $30, and same-day tickets are $35. To purchase tickets, go to: https://go.wisc.edu/farmtoflavor.

For more information about Farm to Flavor, contact Julie Dawson at dawson@hort.wisc.edu.

Seed to Kitchen Collaborative partners include the Department of Horticulture and Department of Agronomy at the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the college’s Agricultural Research Stations, UW-Extension Cooperative Extension, local growers, and local chefs.

Original article created by Michael P. King at https://news.cals.wisc.edu

Save the Date: Giant Pumpkin Regatta on Saturday, October 13, 2018

GIANT ‪PUMPKIN REGATTA!
Saturday, October 13th @ 12pm
Lake Mendota Memorial Union Terrace
Sponsored by: UW-Madison Department of Horticulture & UW Hoofer Sailing Club
https://www.facebook.com/events/1864722753833244/

Pumpkin Regatta 2018

Wisconsin Fruit Production 2017

Cranberry prices have been below the cost of production, which has led many growers to upgrade their beds, Atucha said. “Some of the growers are taking out of production older varieties and that basically means that, by renewing, you have a couple of years where you don’t have any production,” Atucha said. (Wisconsin Department of Agriculture via Flickr)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin apple growers had a productive year in 2017, but cranberry and tart cherry producers faced more challenges.

Recent data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service found apple production increased almost 20 percent in the state between 2016 and 2017, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The 2017 spring weather helped apple growers recover, producing 49 million pounds (22 million kilograms) of apples, said Amaya Atucha, a fruit crop specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Production could continue to rise this year, she said.

“A lot of the orchards are going through the process of renovation and changing their production systems to a more high-density system, which are much more productive,” Atucha said.

But Wisconsin produced 12 percent fewer barrels of cranberries last year than in 2016. The state’s tart cherries also saw a 17 percent decline.

Production levels dropped due to a 2016 spring frost, Atucha said. Cherry producers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. are also battling an invasive pest called the spotted wing drosophila, she said.

Cranberry prices have been below the cost of production, which has led many growers to upgrade their beds, Atucha said.

“Some of the growers are taking out of production older varieties and that basically means that, by renewing, you have a couple of years where you don’t have any production,” Atucha said.

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

— Wisconsin Public Radio via The Associated Press