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New Horicultural and Grain Crop Opportunities for Kentucky
R.L. Houtz, 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.
2011 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, research results and price reports are disseminated via the Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center Web site at www.uky.edu/ag/CDBREC, and at field days and meetings. Information was disseminated at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting in Lexington, the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy Meeting in Bowling Green, the Organic Association of Kentucky annual meeting in Bowling Green, the Kentucky Women in Agriculture Meeting in Lexington, and numerous county meetings.
Eight new crop/marketing profiles were developed, while 29 crop/marketing profiles were updated. In addition, a series of four profiles designed to aid growers interested in adding value to their crops was developed.
In the organic apple production project, 200 trees were planted in March of 2007 on the certified organic section of the UK Horticulture Research Farm. 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, was used. The varieties planted, Redfree, Crimson Crisp, and Enterprise, were chosen because they are resistant to major apple diseases such as apple scab, powdery mildew, and fire blight. The varieties were represented in the main experimental area with 12 replicated blocks, each with three tree sub-blocks.
The project has five objectives: comparing shallow tillage to selected ground covers; evaluating a mixture of liquid lime-sulfur and fish oil for thinning fruit; assessing the effectiveness of sulfur-bearing and non-sulfur materials for management of sooty blotch/flyspeck and cedar apple rust; comparing physical techniques for controlling codling moth, plum curculio and other pests; and assessing fruit quality at harvest and after eight weeks of cold storage.
Physical exclusion methods of controlling insects and diseases included the use of two types of bags, Japanese apple bags and deli-style bags.
The Crop Diversification & Biofuel Research & Education Center Web site received 17,399 hits from 8,450 visitors during 2011. The price reports page for Kentucky's produce auctions received the most hits, followed by the crop profiles page, the home page, and the Kentucky farmers market price reports page.
In the organic apple project, progress was made in controlling pests organically. Codling moth pheromone traps were used, and a codling moth granulosis virus was applied. Japanese bags and deli bags both provided some control against cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, sooty blotch, and flyspeck, as well as codling moth and plum curculio.
An organically approved spray of liquid lime sulfur and fish oil used during apple bloom stage worked well to thin fruit. 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 indicate it is possible to grow apples organically in Kentucky. As it develops, this system will help guide production decisions for the state's apple growers interested in organic production.