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New Crop Opportunities, Phase IX
D. Ingram, D. Van Sanford, C. Dillon
Department of Horticulture
Tobacco has played a major role in Kentucky's economy, and many of Kentucky's family farms have been highly dependent upon tobacco as a primary source of income. But in 2007, Kentucky tobacco cash receipts totaled approximately $300 million, down from $674 million in 2000. Many of Kentucky's farms are small, averaging 163 acres, well below the U.S. average of 449 acres. Of the 84,000 farms in Kentucky in 2006, 63 percent had sales of less than $10,000 per year.
As income from tobacco has declined, interest in alternative crops, including horticultural enterprises, has risen dramatically. This interest continues to increase because of the tobacco quota buyout. Horticultural crops offer Kentucky growers potential alternatives, as the state trails neighboring states Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and Virginia in produce and nursery crop acreage. A number of farms have successfully initiated commercial vegetable enterprises. Other farms are seeing the potential success of horticultural crops, but most lack the technical knowledge and management skills for immediate success with the required production/marketing systems.
Kentucky's grain crop producers are actively searching for ways to improve the market value of the crops they grow. An emphasis on bioenergy has increased the value of corn, and research is needed to determine which hybrids are best for ethanol production. Research is also needed to look at potential energy production utilizing other crops, including switchgrass. Other potential specialty grain types include green vegetable soybean and organic corn, wheat, and soybeans. Twelve horticulture and specialty grains projects will be conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky as part of this overall New Crop Opportunities, KY, project. The New Crop Opportunities Center will feature a Web site for 24-hour access to information on new crops for Kentucky, including the horticultural and specialty grains crops that are the focus of the Center's research. Center staff will answer questions from Extension agents and farmers, and will distribute new crop information at field days and conferences. The Center will facilitate the packaging of information from its field research and other sources for dissemination. The expected outcomes/impacts of this project will be an increase in knowledge among Kentucky farmers and county extension agents about production and marketing systems for a variety of new crops. This increase in knowledge should allow farmers to make informed decisions about which new crops to try, and how to market those crops, based on information available on the Center's specific research projects, as well as through its Crop and Marketing Profiles. The anticipated benefits include greater profitability for Kentucky's farmers as they successfully transition to a variety of crops that are new to them.
2009 Project Description
This project focuses on applied research to develop protocols for producing and marketing horticultural crops and specialty grains. Products include 16 new and 39 revised Crop Profiles, which provide information on marketing, production, and profit potential. Results and other information are disseminated via the New Crop Opportunities Center Web site at www.uky.edu/ag/newcrops. Information has been disseminated at: Robinson Station Field Day; Horticulture Research Farm Field Day; Plant and Soil Sciences Field Day; Kentucky Women in Agriculture Conference; Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy Meeting; Princeton Field Day; and the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting. Information was in the form of presentations, research reports, and crop profiles. The audience included farmers and Extension Agents.
The first season of a project involving an organic production system to control cucumber beetles in cucurbits focused on using row covers for extended periods of time with bumblebees as the pollinators for muskmelon production. A control and typical uncovered and covered organic production practices were used as a comparison to longer row covered production methods. The second season is incorporating biological aphid control as well as natural pollinators.
In an irrigation systems project, five treatments were tested for tomato production (standard, manually operated drip irrigation; fully automated tensiometer based drip irrigation system; pulsed irrigation using 100% of the water of the automated system; pulsed irrigation using 80% of the water of the automated system; and pulsed irrigation using 60% of the water of the automated system).
In a grape project studying sustainable pest management for Japanese beetles, vines received one of three spray regimes: carbaryl every 7 or 14 days during Japanese beetle flight period, or no treatment. Treatments within each of five cultivars were harvested on the same day and evaluated for number of clusters, yield, cluster and berry weight, and berries per cluster. In a related study, green June beetle (GJB) flight was monitored with traps, and numbers of beetles present on all clusters on each vine were counted at least weekly in a vineyard consisting of six cultivars. Representative berries were sampled weekly and analyzed for toughness and total soluble solids.
In a soybean project, 23 novel varieties were tested in 2008. After harvest, each variety was analyzed for protein and oil content. In a corn for ethanol project, 32 varieties were planted at four locations with three replications in 2008.
In an organic grain cropping systems project, three systems were utilized in 2008: low grain intensity - corn followed by 18 months of orchard grass/red clover forage; moderate grain intensity - corn followed by winter rye cover crop, then soybean followed by hairy vetch cover crop; and high grain intensity - corn followed by winter wheat (for grain) followed by double crop soybean.
In a switchgrass for ethanol project, switchgrass samples were collected in November and March and analyzed for cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and ash content.
Expected impact includes improved organic production techniques. The 2009 Organic Industry Survey showed sales of organic foods jumped almost 16% in 2008, totaling $22.9 billion. Phase IX research includes projects on organic production of muskmelon and grains. Growing organic muskmelon is challenging because cucumber beetles spread Erwinia tracheiphila bacteria, which can cause severe damage. Aphids caused extensive damage to the extended row covered plots in 2008, making comparisons between treatments difficult.
In the irrigation project, no change in yield or quality was observed among the systems tested with tomato, despite using 40% less water in the 60% pulsed treatment than the fully automated treatment. Stem water potential did not differ significantly among treatments at either of two sampling times, suggesting the plants under the low water regime were not stressed compared to other control treatments. Pulsed irrigation could save farmers a significant amount of water and money without affecting yield, and could save fertilizer through reduced leaching.
In the grape project, Concord vines sustained little Japanese beetle defoliation, and neither the weekly nor biweekly spray regimes increased yield. Both spray regimes significantly increased yield in Norton, but there was no difference between the spray treatments. Results indicate growers can reduce cover spray frequency by half and suppress defoliation by Japanese beetle below economic injury levels. Most clusters on Foch, Jupiter, and St. Croix had less than 4% marketable clusters because of GJB feeding. Norton, the latest-ripening cultivar, had 100% harvestable clusters. Data indicate GJB can destroy early-ripening cultivars of grapes in KY if sprays are not used.
NS ASGROW AG36-22V (low linolenic) at 44.5 bushels per acre was the highest yielding novel soybean variety in maturity groups II and III. SCHILLINGER SEED 448 F.HPC (high protein) had the highest yield among maturity group early IV at 42.3. In the corn project, DEKALB DKC61-73 (YGCB/RR2) was the highest yielding variety at 218.0 bushels per acre, and led the 32 varieties tested with 567 gallons of ethanol per acre. Results at Lexington and Princeton showed that organic no-till corn averaged similar yields to organic tilled corn. Because the hairy vetch cover crop was killed and corn was planted in a single pass, fuel and equipment expenses in the no-till system were minimal compared to the tilled system. An organic no-till system for a corn and soybean rotation could be economically and environmentally valuable.
In the switchgrass project, the cellulose content of samples taken in March were between 38.1 and 40.0% for KanLow, Alamo and Cave in Rock. Alamo had a significantly higher hemicellulose content (37.8%) versus 30.5 and 32.1% for Cave in Rock and KanLow, respectively. Samples collected in November had a significantly higher cellulose and hemicellulose content, likely due to soluble sugars that remained in the plant and were transported into the roots by March. The heating value of the samples was statistically the same but was approximately 5% higher in March.
Hammons, D.L., Kurtural, S.K., and Potter, D.A. 2008. Impact of Japanese Beetle Defoliation on First-Season Crop Yield and Berry Quality. University of Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Research Report PR-572: 15-16.
Hammons, D.L., Kurtural, S.K., and Potter, D.A. 2008. Phenological Resistance of Grapes to Green June Beetle Damage. University of Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Research Report PR-572: 16-17.
Lacefield, E., and Pfeiffer, T. 2008. 2008 Kentucky Soybean Performance Tests, Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Progress Report, PR-570. http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/pr/pr570/pr570.pdf
Pearce, W.L., Curd, R.W., and Lee, C.D. 2008. 2008 Kentucky Hybrid Corn Performance Test, Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Progress Report, PR-569. http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/pr/pr569/pr569.pdf