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Farmers in Angonia, Mozambique, happy with the performance of new varieties of common bean developed by an international partnership of plant scientists that included researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
November 29, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In the culmination of more than a decade of research on root traits conducted by Penn State plant scientists, about three tons of seed for common bean plants specifically bred to thrive in the barren soils of Mozambique will be distributed there Dec. 11. Farmers, nongovernmental organizations and seed companies in eight villages across the central region of the country in southeast Africa will receive seed for bean plants that possess an enhanced ability to acquire the essential nutrient phosphorus. The distribution is a joint event led by the Mozambican Institute of Agrarian Research (IIAM), with support from Penn State, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the McKnight Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Soybean was a logical crop on which to conduct the research. It is the most widely grown legume in the world.
November 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — By temporarily silencing the expression of a critical gene, researchers fooled soybean plants into sensing they were under siege, encountering a wide range of stresses. Then, after selectively cross breeding those plants with the original stock, the progeny "remember" the stress-induced responses to become more vigorous, resilient and productive plants, according to a team of researchers. This epigenetic reprogramming of soybean plants, the culmination of a decade-long study, was accomplished not by introducing any new genes but by changing how existing genes are expressed. That is important because it portends how crop yields and tolerance for conditions such as drought and extreme heat will be enhanced in the future, according to lead researcher Sally Mackenzie, professor in the departments of Biology and Plant Science at Penn State.

Researcher Cameron Stephens, a former graduate student in plant science, is shown in the laboratory with dollar-spot fungus isolates from Pennsylvania golf courses. Researchers tested isolates from more than 40 Pennsylvania golf courses to assess fungicid
October 25, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dollar spot — the most common, troublesome and damaging turfgrass disease plaguing golf courses — is becoming increasingly resistant to fungicides applied to manage it, according to Penn State researchers. An aggressive and destructive disease caused by the fungal pathogen Clarireedia jacksonii, dollar spot overwinters in plant tissues, often re-emerging in multiple epidemics throughout the year over the spring, summer and fall. The symptoms on highly maintained, closely mown turf typically consist of small patches of bleached plants that are unsightly and can affect playability of putting greens or fairways.

Penn State graduate Curtis Frederick is enjoying a career as a senior agronomist at Sterman Masser Inc., a large, family-owned potato company, in Sacramento, Pennsylvania.
September 25, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Curtis Frederick really digs potatoes. And that's a good thing considering that the 2009 graduate of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is enjoying a career as a senior agronomist at Sterman Masser Inc., a large, family-owned potato company, in Sacramento, Pennsylvania. "Having grown up on a potato and grain farm in Pennsylvania, I had a long-held interest in a combination of science and agriculture, but my exact career path was not clear," said Frederick, who majored in horticulture with minors in biology and agronomy. "Penn State provided the opportunity to explore options in many ways."

Mark Guiltinan, J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany.
September 21, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was named the J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany. The Styer Professorship, created in 1990 by an endowment from late Penn State alumnus J. Franklin Styer, is intended to supplement departmental support for outstanding faculty and further the scholar's contributions to teaching, research and service.

Both conservation scenarios simulated in the research decreased nitrous oxide emissions by reducing denitrification, but the scenario that included manure injection, shown here, retarded 91 percent of the nitrogen volatilization that occurred in the broad
September 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — If the majority of dairy farms in Pennsylvania fully adopt conservation best-management practices, the state may be able to achieve its total maximum daily load water-quality target for the Chesapeake Bay, according to researchers. That is the conclusion of a novel assessment of the simulated effects of implementing a conservation dairy-farming system on all dairy farms in the Spring Creek watershed, a small drainage in Centre County. In the simulations, the conservation dairy-farming systems — which have been developed and tested by Penn State researchers over the last decade — produce the majority of the feed and forage crops consumed by their cattle, use no-till planting, have continuous diversified plant cover, and have one system to employ manure injection.

Hannah Hunsberger, a senior majoring in plant sciences, spent 10 days in Ireland studying agriculture there as part of an embedded course she took last spring.
August 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Growing up on a dairy farm in Mifflintown, Hannah Hunsberger never thought much about agriculture beyond America. That all changed during a mission trip to Haiti with her church. "While I was in Haiti, I met with a number of local farmers, and it really opened my eyes to the world of agriculture outside of the U.S.," she said. "It made me realize that I wanted to do something in a field I’m passionate about and make a difference for farmers at home and abroad." That ambition led her to Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, where she is a senior majoring in plant sciences with minors in international agriculture, agronomy and horticulture.

A smallholder farmer harvests Acacia pennata (Cha-om) shoots from her "living fence" in Cambodia.   Image: Penn State
June 7, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In a perfect world, everyone would have access to nutritious, affordable food. However, as Rick Bates knows, there is no such thing as utopia when it comes to food security, as millions of people around the world have limited food resources. One of those places is Cambodia in Southeast Asia, one of the world's poorest countries, where the rural poverty rate is 24 percent, and 40 percent of children younger than 5 are chronically malnourished, making them vulnerable to significant health problems.

Rob Crassweller, professor of horticulture and extension tree-fruit specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
May 22, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rob Crassweller, professor of horticulture and extension tree-fruit specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, has received the 2018 American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Extension Educator Award.

Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, has been named the 2018 winner of the Dennis R. Hoagland Award.
May 16, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, has been named the 2018 winner of the Dennis R. Hoagland Award for his work in improving scientific understanding of crop productivity and plant nutrition to improve production and food security.

Image Credit: Andrew Fister/Penn State
May 16, 2018

Use of the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 could help to breed cacao trees that exhibit desirable traits such as enhanced resistance to diseases, according to plant scientists. The cacao tree, which grows in tropical regions, produces the cocoa beans that are the raw material of chocolate. Reliable productivity from cacao plants is essential to the multi billion-dollar chocolate industry, the economies of producing countries and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder cacao farmers.

Erin L. Connolly, Ph.D.   Professor and Head
May 16, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Department Executive Officers (DEO) Program has gained five additional Fellows from the Penn State ranks. The BTAA is the academic consortium of the Big Ten universities. Through its leadership program, participants who have demonstrated leadership ability through University administrative assignments or through other significant leadership positions in public, private or professional organizations, are aided in further developing their leadership and managerial skills. Erin Connolly, head, Department of Plant Science, College of Agricultural Sciences.

April 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron presented 11 awards to more than 30 graduate students in recognition of outstanding achievement during the annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon held April 25 at the Nittany Lion Inn. The following students received awards. Articles about this year’s award recipients are linked below, by award category. Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award: Kirsten Lloyd, doctoral student in horticulture.

April 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric Barron presented 11 awards to more than 30 graduate students in recognition of outstanding achievement during the annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon held April 25 at the Nittany Lion Inn. The following students received awards. Articles about this year’s award recipients are linked below, by award category. — Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award and Distinguished Doctoral Scholar Medal: Mitchell Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy.

Differences in bean plant growth observed by researchers were striking. Image: Jonathan Lynch Lab / Penn State
January 19, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Bean plants that suppress secondary root growth in favor of boosting primary root growth forage greater soil volume to acquire phosphorus, according to Penn State researchers, who say their recent findings have implications for plant breeders and improving crop productivity in nutrient-poor soils. The increase in the length of the root is referred to as primary growth, while secondary growth is the increase in thickness or girth of the root. Because root growth confers a metabolic cost to the plant, bean plants growing in phosphorus-depleted soils that send out longer, thinner roots have an advantage in exploring a greater volume of soil and acquiring more phosphorus.

December 1, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Elliot Redding, a junior in landscape contracting, is taking full advantage of his time at Penn State to dig into the world of agriculture and find a career he is passionate about. From landscape competitions to networking to mountain biking, Redding is getting hands-on experience doing what he loves. Redding’s interest in landscape contracting began with a job he held between high school and college with Boyer Nurseries and Orchards Inc., a small family-owned business in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. “Working for Boyer helped me realize that I really did want to go into horticulture as a career,” said Redding. He had the opportunity to work with a group of people who were always willing to answer his questions and help him learn about the industry. It also gave him a wide range of experiences including working with design plans, observing day-to-day operations and spending time in different parts of the company.

December 1, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State was recognized for its leadership among land-grant universities for its work in entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development at the recent annual meeting for the 237-member Association of Land Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington D.C. At the meeting, Penn State President Eric Barron was named the new chair of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP). Penn State Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey was acknowledged as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (ICEP) University Award finalist. Sharkey was a featured speaker, sharing institutional strategies driving the success of the Invent Penn State initiative.

October 30, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A test to determine whether bitter pit — a disorder that blindsides apple growers by showing up weeks or months after picking — will develop in stored Honeycrisp apples was developed by a team of Penn State researchers, promising to potentially save millions of dollars annually in wasted fruit. While Honeycrisp is not yet the most popular apple in the U. S., trailing Gala and Fuji in sales, more Honeycrisp trees have been planted in recent years than other varieties, according to researcher Rich Marini, professor of horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences. That is because consumers prefer Honeycrisps and they typically wholesale for 30 to 40 cents more a pound than other varieties, he said.

Marvin Hall, professor of forage management
October 19, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Marvin Hall, professor of forage management in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was lauded by his alma mater, Bluffton University, for his professional accomplishments. Hall was a recipient of Bluffton's Professional Achievement Award, an honor given to alumni and faculty who have reached milestones in their professional career. He received the award during a ceremony in Bluffton, Ohio, on Oct. 7.

Dr. Bruce Bugbee
October 11, 2017

Dr. Bruce Bugbee's Seminar will be held on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 10:30am in 101 Agricultural Science & Industries Building, University Park Campus. His seminar is titled " Turning Photons into Food: on Earth and on Mars”, or “What Mark Watney Would Have Learned from a Horticulture Degree at Penn State.”