Jane Sooby's picture

Researchers Develop Organic Disease Controls for Strawberry Growers

Fungi love strawberries for the same reasons humans do: they are sweet, juicy and delicious fruits. Verticillium wilt fungus is particularly fond of strawberries, and a persistent threat to California’s $2.6 billion strawberry industry. But a team of Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) research partners at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) have developed an effective, organic system for fighting this soil-borne threat.

Karen Adler's picture

Seeds and Breeds - Where it All Begins

It’s hard to comprehend the magnitude of the loss of agricultural biodiversity that has taken place over the past 60 years. The recently released Proceedings of Summit on Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century Agriculture, cites estimates of 50 percent. One half of the biodiversity that human life has depended on for more than 10,000 years, gone in less than one century.

Maria Gaura's picture

Researcher Enlists Honeybees as “Flying Doctors” Against Crop Disease

Strawberry fields in Finland are plagued by grey mold, a fungus that quickly transforms scarlet berries into shaggy grey blobs, wrecking 20 percent of the country’s annual crop, on average.

But Finland’s organic fruit farmers have a swarm of new allies in the battle against grey mold. Dr. Heikki Hokkanen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, has enlisted bees to carry biological treatments from flower to flower, warding off disease as they pollinate.

“Bees have body hairs that pollen sticks to, so it gets carried from flower to flower,” said Hokkanen. “They can also carry treatments such as microbes or fungi, providing dual ecosystem services for healthier organic crops.”

Hokkanen has studied the use of bees in fighting crop diseases at farms in Finland, Italy and Estonia. He presented his research at the international Innovations in Organic Food Systems for Sustainable Production and Enhanced Ecosystems Services conference held in Long Beach, CA, Nov. 1-2.

The biological agent used to fight grey mold in berries is a naturally-occurring soil fungus, gliocladium catenulatum. G. catenulatum works by harmlessly colonizing the strawberry flower, and preventing the grey mold from taking hold.

Celebrity Chefs Reunite for OFRF 25th Anniversary Luncheon at Expo West

Chef Donna Prizgintas, who presided over OFRF’s very first Annual Luncheon at the Natural Products Expo West trade show in 1998, is re-uniting with longtime colleague du cuisine Chris Blobaum to help celebrate our Foundation’s 25th anniversary year.

This year’s luncheon, the 18th we have celebrated at Expo West, takes place March 5th 2015, outdoors on the sunny Grand Plaza of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Chef Donna, a 15-year volunteer for OFRF, will be flying in from her home in Ames, Iowa, where she co-hosts the DonnaLonna Kitchen cooking show on public radio, and creates sumptuous all-organic menus for special events. Chef Chris, a nationally-known executive chef who has volunteered in the Expo West kitchen for about 14 years, will be making the trip from Atlanta, where he currently runs ten restaurants in five upscale hotels.

Karen Adler's picture

More Broccoli, Please!

Organic broccoli is in high demand these days, and a recent market survey by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association revealed that broccoli tops the list of organic produce items that are in short supply in the Southeast. Broccoli can be produced most anywhere in the spring and fall, but summer production is limited to cooler growing areas. As it turns out, Western North Carolina provides this type of climate due to its Appalachian Mountain terrain. Researcher Jeanine Davis and her team of farmer and research collaborators will soon be starting Phase II of a three-year OFRF/Seed Matters-funded project, Participatory Screening of Broccoli Varieties for Summer Production in Organic Systems in Western North Carolina, which will feature on-farm trials.