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2017

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.
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.
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.
Widely accepted vision for agriculture may be inaccurate, misleading
February 23, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- "Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population." This truism has been repeated so often in recent years that it has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture. Research published today (Feb. 22) in Bioscience suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The assertion that we need to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by the data, argues Mitch Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy, in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. He says the analysis shows that production needs to keep increasing, but not as fast as many have claimed.
Researchers receive $7 million grant to develop deeper crop roots
January 16, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops. The interdisciplinary team, led by Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant nutrition, will combine a suite of technologies designed to identify phenotypes and genes related to desirable root traits, with the goal of enhancing the breeding of crop varieties better adapted for nitrogen and water acquisition and carbon sequestration.
Researchers receive $3.6 million to study genetics of plant disease resistance
January 9, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A $3.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support a new research project aimed at pinpointing the genes that confer disease resistance in cacao. The ultimate goal of the four-year study is to develop a new approach that plant scientists and breeders can use to identify the genetic basis for disease resistance in a variety of perennial crops, according to lead researcher Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Fifteen named distinguished professors at Penn State
January 9, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs has named 15 faculty members as distinguished professors. College of Agricultural Sciences •Jonathan P. Lynch, professor of plant nutrition
Stearns receives Trailblazer award from Association of Landscape Professionals
January 4, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dan Stearns, J. Franklin Styer Professor in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State, recently was awarded the status of Trailblazer by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Penn State plant scientist appointed to National Organic Standards Board
January 4, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, was appointed to the National Organic Standards Board by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Mortensen will serve a five-year term on the board as a farming systems ecotoxicology expert.