Department of Plant Science

Offering Penn State degrees in agroecology, golf course turfgrass management, horticulture, landscape contracting, and turfgrass science.

Plant Science News

Penn State researchers hope to extend berry growing season in Northeast
May 18, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — June marks the start of what many here in the Northeast believe is the sweetest part of summer — berry season. It's a time ripe with strawberry festivals, pick-your-own-berries and local farmers' markets. For berry lovers and local farmers, the season is much too short — usually about one month of strawberry harvest and another for fresh, local raspberries — a span of time researchers at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are working to extend. "National demand for fresh strawberries and raspberries is strong and growing, but most domestic production occurs in select regions of the United States with the most suited climate," said Kathleen Demchak, senior extension associate in the Department of Plant Science. "Growers in the Northeast are in a great position geographically to supply more berries to consumers. But our growing season is short, temperatures are variable and rainy weather during harvest can be a big problem." Demchak and colleague Bill Lamont, professor of vegetable crops, are among a group of researchers examining how the use of high and low tunnels and plastic coverings extend the growing season for strawberries and raspberries, and as a result, increase yields while also reducing pesticide use and improving berry quality and shelf-life. Their goal is to help local farmers improve productivity, profitability and product while increasing the quantity and quality for consumers.
Harrison Fritz working to hardscape the trash cubby at Stormbreak House, a halfway house for girls in State College.
Student landscaping team builds outdoor space for local Stormbreak house
May 9, 2017
Penn State’s landscape design and landscape construction classes are known for their incredible community projects. But with this year’s undertaking, the courses have gone above and beyond.
Centre County to be included in statewide hemp research
March 23, 2017
STATE COLLEGE - A few years ago, the federal government changed its regulations that allowed people to do research on industrial hemp. The state passed legislation last year that made that possible in Pennsylvania. On Friday, the Department of Agriculture announced that 16 teams from across the state were approved to conduct studies on the plant. Penn State Professor Greg Roth is the head of one of those research teams.
Farmers roll a hairy vetch-triticale cover crop into a thick mat which serves as a mulch and weed-suppressant. Photo credit Clair Keene.
American Society of Agronomy -Magic Cover Crop Carpet
March 3, 2017
Organic farmers have to make hard choices between protecting soil from erosion and controlling weeds. For example, large-scale organic farming relies heavily on tillage. Tilling breaks up the soil to kill weeds and prepare for planting. But intense tillage can compact soil, cause erosion, and deplete nutrients. As a result, some organic farmers are turning to cover crops for weed control.