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New Crop Opportunities, Phase X
Houtz, R., 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. Many of Kentucky's family farms have been highly dependent upon tobacco as a primary source of income. But the number of farms growing tobacco in Kentucky declined 72% from nearly 30,000 in 2002 to 8,112 in 2007. The market value of tobacco sold in Kentucky in 2008 was $382 million, down from $674 million in 2000. Many of Kentucky's farms are small, averaging 164 acres, compared to the U.S. average of 418 acres. There were 85,300 farms in the state in 2008. According to the 2007 census, 67 percent of all Kentucky farms sold less than $10,000 worth of agricultural products.
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. A number of farms have successfully initiated commercial vegetable enterprises. Other farms are seeing the potential success of horticultural crops, but many lack the technical knowledge and management skills for immediate success with these production/marketing systems.
Kentucky's grain producers are searching for ways to improve the market value of the crops they grow. Examples of potential specialty grain types include edamame (green vegetable soybean) and soft white winter wheat. An emphasis on bioenergy has increased the need for research on a variety of crops that have potential for energy production, including hulless barley, sweet sorghum, and biomass crops such as switchgrass.
Growth in the organic food industry has led to a need for research on organic production of both horticultural and grains crops. This project is designed to develop and deliver Kentucky farmers the knowledge they need to assess new crop opportunities.
Eleven 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 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 research projects, as well as through its crop and marketing profiles. Anticipated benefits include greater profitability for Kentucky's farmers as they successfully transition to a variety of crops that are new to them.
2010 Project Description
This project focuses on applied research to develop protocols for producing and marketing horticultural crops and specialty grains. Products include six new and 45 revised crop profiles, which provide information on marketing, production, and profit potential of various crops. 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: the Horticulture Research Farm Field Day (Lexington); the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting (Lexington); the Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability Field Day (Jackson); and at producer meetings throughout the state. Information was in the form of presentations, research reports, and crop profiles. The audience included farmers and extension agents.
In an onion production system project, a trial was conducted at the Horticulture Research Farm in Lexington during the spring and summer of 2010. Nine onion varieties were tested in raised beds covered with black plastic mulch with two lines of drip tape. Plants were harvested on July 23. Yield data were calculated based on a plant population of 53,612 plants/acre (spacing used in this study).
In a Marketing Nutrition for Kentucky Produce project, thorny and thornless blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, yellow raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and table grapes were harvested from cultivar trial plots at the Horticulture Research Farm. All plots were managed by conventional techniques. In 2009, 'Caroline' red raspberries were also harvested from both the open field and under a Haygrove tunnel on the certified organic section of the Research Farm.
In 2010, strawberries were harvested from the field of a Lexington-area berry grower. Total phenolics and anthocyanins were measured, as was antioxidant activity.
The Annualized Perennial Production: An Untapped Opportunity for Kentucky's Greenhouse Growers project was initiated in 2009 with production of select first year flowering perennials from seed. More than 20 varieties of perennials have been identified that can be produced from seed in Kentucky without supplemental lighting for the spring garden market. Landscape trials of these promising varieties began in 2009. In both 2009 and 2010, more than 100 varieties were trialed in the greenhouse and the landscape. Field days were held in Lexington in 2009 and 2010. Results were presented at the Kentucky Turfgrass and Landscape Short Course in Louisville, and at the Central Kentucky Ornamental and Turf Association Annual Conference in Lexington in 2010. Results have also been disseminated online at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Horticulture/trialgarden/gardenhome.html
A hulless and hulled barley grain yield study builds on the findings of a previous project involving hulless barley and nitrogen fertility. The previous project showed that barley can achieve maximum yield potential at substantially lower nitrogen fertilizer rates than are currently recommended. The current study looks more precisely at what level of nitrogen fertility barley yields can be maximized using a more detailed nitrogen response curve.
Fresh market onions are a potentially lucrative crop for KY. The 2010 season was challenging for onion growers. The incidence of two bacterial diseases, sour skin (Burkholderia cepacia) and center rot (Pantoea ananatis) increased significantly due to unusually warm weather. Fungal diseases such as purple blotch (Alternaria porri) were prevalent due to wet spring weather. Despite regularly scheduled sprays, this trial was heavily impacted by sour skin. Total marketable yields were lower than expected. Red Wing, Red Beauty, and Red Burgermaster produced the highest marketable yields. Mars and Red Burgermaster produced primarily large bulbs with 5,224 and 4,296 pounds of large bulbs per acre, respectively. Both Red Wing and Red Beauty were noteworthy for producing round bulbs, with Red Wing having a particularly hard outer skin, likely making it suitable for storage. Percentages of bulbs culled ranged from 40% to 65%. This was likely due more to disease pressure than from inadequacies of these varieties.
In the nutrition study, black raspberries had the highest phenolic and anthocyanin content among the brambles. These were followed by blackberries, red raspberries, and yellow raspberries. Both black raspberries and blackberries generally had the highest antioxident activities. 'Caroline' red raspberry showed similar values for phytochemical traits whether from conventional, organic, or tunnel production. All blueberries had high phenolic and anthocyanin content. The values were generally equal to or higher than those for black raspberries and blackberries. Antioxidant activities varied among cultivars. 'NC1827' stood out with high phenolic and anthocyanin content and the highest antioxidant activity. Strawberry cultivars showed a range in phenolic and anthocyanin content. The anthocyanin content was similar to that for red raspberries. Total antioxidant activity was lower than for most brambles and blueberries.
Locally grown 'Camerosa' and 'Sweet Charlie' strawberries had greater phytochemical content than strawberries purchased at local retailers. Antioxidant activities did not differ between the two groups. Grapes with higher phenolic and anthocyanin content also had higher antioxidant content. Overall, antioxidant activities were comparable to strawberry and lower than most brambles and blueberries.
Results of the perennial project show many varieties marketed as first year flowering may produce a few flowers but are far from first year blooming. This information helps growers select the best crops.
In the barley project, yields for all 4 varieties tested were maximized with a single spring nitrogen application rate of 80 lbs/acre. Growers can substantially reduce barley production costs compared to the current practice of two applications, using a total of 120 lbs N/A. Excessive N could find its way into ground water and stream runoff. Winter barley production offers a source of early summer income, and provides a financial hedge against uncertain environmental conditions affecting corn and soybeans. Barley provides a winter cover crop that scavenges residual nitrogen fertilizer from the previous corn crop and reduces soil erosion.
Archbold, D., Roy, S., Strang, J., Poston, A., and Smigell, C. 2010. Kentucky-grown Berry Crops are Rich Sources of Health-beneficial Phytochemicals. UK Fruit and Vegetable Crop Research Report (in press).
Bruening, B., et al. 2010. 2010 Kentucky Small Grain Variety Performance Test. Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Progress Report, PR-604, p 14. http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/pr/pr604/pr604.pdf
Coolong, T., Hanks, L., and Pfeiffer, J. 2010. Kentucky Red Onion Variety Trial 2010. UK Fruit and Vegetable Crop Research Report (in press).
Schnelle, R. 2009. Kentucky statewide bedding plant trial garden program. Nursery Views, Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association. November, 2009.
Schnelle, R. 2010. Annualized Perennials for Kentucky: Report on 2009-2010 Selections. UK Nursery and Landscape Program Research Report (in press).