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Apples, Pumpkins and Stink Bugs… Oh my! (Sep 03, 2013)
By Sara Gavin,
Apple- and pumpkin-picking season are right around the corner and that’s why on a recent warm August night, researchers from the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) gathered at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville, Md. to update growers from across the region on results of studies currently underway that could directly affect their livelihoods. The twilight tour is one of many that take place at the university’s Research and Education Centers across the state connecting producers and consumers with the latest scientific data.
For instance, researchers from both the College of AGNR and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are testing the effectiveness of stink bug traps at WMREC. The traps sit atop a pyramid base and use an odor that lures stink bugs to climb inside where they can’t escape. The traps may be useful to fruit and vegetable growers who need to gauge how many stinkbugs are buzzing around their crops before making decisions about treatment.
Meanwhile, pumpkins are currently ripening in the patch and Katheryn Everts, a professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture and Extension specialist in vegetable plant pathology, is testing several varieties of pumpkins and strategies for combatting disease. Everts says heavy rainfall in parts of this state this summer caused a significant amount of fruit rot on many crops. She’s also waiting to see if the recent, unseasonably cool weather will have an adverse effect on the gourds.
Chris Walsh, a professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture, continues a decades-long project at WMREC in which he is trying to engineer apples trees smaller than those found in conventional orchards that would potentially require less maintenance. Walsh said he’s been pleased with how the project has developed over the last several years and is hopeful he’s narrowing in on a new variety of apple tree. “I’m trying to create grower-friendly trees that are smaller and don’t require a lot of pruning,” said Walsh.
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