Search research reports:
New Horicultural and Grain Crop Opportunities for Kentucky
D. Ingram, D. Van Sanford, C. Dillon
Department of Horticulture
Agricultural production is an important part of Kentucky's economy, and tobacco has played a major role. With the termination of the federal tobacco program, a large percentage of tobacco farmers are no longer growing the crop. Kentucky farmers need alternative crops to replace income lost from tobacco. This project will help determine more profitable production and marketing systems for horticultural and specialty grains crops and to aid farmers in adopting those systems.
2010 Project Description
This project involves applied research to develop protocols for the production and marketing of horticultural crops and specialty grains to help Kentucky farmers make their enterprises more profitable.
Crop information and research results are disseminated via the Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center Web site at www.uky.edu/ag/CDBREC, and at field days and meetings. Results were presented at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting in Lexington, the UK College of Agriculture Field Day in Quicksand, and numerous county meetings around the state. Seven new crop and marketing profiles were developed in 2010, while 45 crop and marketing profiles were updated.
The goal of the edamame harvesting project is to develop a scale-appropriate mechanical harvesting system for vegetable soybean production in Kentucky. The harvesting machine used in the study was a Pixall BH-100 (Oxbo Corp., Byron, NY) single row bean harvester. This machine is primarily intended for use in edible green bean harvest; however, the nature of its design allows it to be used in a variety of vegetable crops. Edamame was grown and harvested with this machine, and harvest efficiencies were measured.
In the organic apple production project, 200 trees were planted in March of 2007 using the vertical axis system, in which trees are trained to a 'Christmas-tree' shape with strong, near-horizontal lower scaffold branches and weak, fruitful upper branches. The varieties planted were chosen because they are resistant to major apple diseases such as apple scab, powdery mildew, and fire blight. Three varieties, including Redfree, Crimson Crisp, and Enterprise, were represented in the main experimental area with 12 replicated blocks, each with three tree sub-blocks. A permanent groundcover between rows consists of creeping red fescue, subterranean clover, and a low-growing wildflower mix.
Organic sprays used to control diseases included streptomycin and fixed copper to control fire blight, sulfur to control sooty blotch, flyspeck, and powdery mildew, Kaligreen (potassium bicarbonate) to control powdery mildew, and fixed copper to control rust diseases. Organic sprays used for insect control included Surround (kaolin clay) to control plum curculio, Neem and dormant oil to control mites and aphids, and Entrust (spinosad) to control leaf rollers, leaf hoppers, and apple maggot. Physical exclusion methods of insects and diseases were also tested and included the use of two types of bags, Japanese apple bags and deli-style bags. Bags were placed over the developing fruits when they were 5/8 inch in diameter and left on until 3 weeks before harvest. A thinning experiment using a mixture of liquid lime-sulfur and fish oil was also conducted.
In the organic grain crop project, experiments were conducted comparing three organic grain cropping systems (corn following 18 months of orchard grass/red clover mixed forage; corn following hairy vetch, rotated with soybean following winter rye; and corn following winter wheat and double crop soybean). Another study tested organic no-till production systems.
The edamame harvesting study showed that it is feasible to use a mechanical harvester to harvest edamame, as harvest efficiencies as high as 85 percent were realized. Harvest efficiency was heavily dependent on plant spacing and height, which affected pod location on the plants. Very sparse plant spacing caused pods to be formed lower on the plants, making it more difficult for the stripping reel to reach the pods to remove them without introducing dirt into the product stream. Also, increased biomass of the plant can interfere with machine function. In some of these situations, harvest efficiencies below 55 percent were observed. Proper management of plant density will insure that pods are reachable by the machine without causing machine plugging because of too much biomass material.
In the organic apple project, the most serious insect pests seen in the orchard included codling moth and plum curculio; diseases included fire blight, cedar apple rust, sooty blotch, and flyspeck. The Japanese bags and deli bags provided some control against rust, powdery mildew, fungal diseases, and codling moth. Data are being collected on the thinning experiment, which will be repeated. Conventional apple growers typically use chemical thinners to remove unwanted fruits. Organic apple growers often thin unwanted fruits by hand, which is very labor intensive, so an organic alternative would lower production costs.
Results from the organic grains study showed corn yields to be similar to the average of the conventional hybrid performance trials conducted on the same farm. Soybean yields have been somewhat more variable, generally lower than conventional comparisons. Wheat yields ranged from higher than to lower than conventional comparisons. Results from the second study showed that hairy vetch was a better prior cover crop for no-till corn than was winter rye, in part due to higher levels of available nitrogen in soils. A preliminary test of no-till organic soybean showed that rye residue was very effective in weed suppression as compared with a plowed organic check.
Frey, J., Suarez, A., and Grabau, L.J. 2009. Weed control in no-till organic soybean. Electronic conference proceedings (abstract), American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA. November, 2009.
Scott, D., Williams, M., Archbold, D., Strang, J., and Bessin, R. 2010. Organic Apple Production Update. University of Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Crops Research Report PR-608: 17-18.
Suarez, A., and Grabau, L.J. 2009. No-till organic corn production. Electronic conference proceedings (abstract), American Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA. November, 2009.