Fresh From the Field, April 4, 2019

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Fresh From the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by partners supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                 April 4, 2019

Success Stories 

Cucumber picture. USDA photo by Lance Cheung. USDA NIFA Impacts.

Organic Plant Breeding Yields Superior Varieties for Cucurbit Growers

Farmers looking for disease-resistant cucurbits now have more choices thanks to the release of new cucumber and melon varieties by Cornell University—the result of years of research by public plant breeders and organic farmers. The new cucurbits exhibit exceptional resistance to evolving diseases as well as production and culinary characteristics important to organic farmers.

“Our approach to plant breeding involves a close collaboration with farmers, regional seed companies, and other researchers to test varieties in the environment of their intended use,” Michael Mazourek with the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University said. “In the case of these cucurbit varieties, they were all bred with the needs of organic farmers in mind.”

To read the article about improved cucumbers and melons, visit the Carolina Farm Stewardship website.

NIFA supports this research through the Organic Research and Extension Initiative.

News Coverage

Fruits and vegetables. Photo courtesy of iStock. USDA NIFA Fresh From the Field. NIFA Impacts.

Produce Life and Quality

Fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy diet and can decrease risk of chronic disease. Despite the widespread availability of fresh fruit, many Americans eat less than the recommended five servings per day. One of the biggest deterrents to consumption is poor quality. Storage, shipping, and handling can lead to bruising, browning, rot, and deterioration of texture and flavor, making the fruit unappealing to consumers and causing major losses for the industry. Researchers at land-grant universities are working with government partners in the United States and Canada to address these concerns and find effective ways to protect fresh fruit shelf life and quality.

Researchers tested new tools and methods for protecting fruit quality during storage. Findings have helped the industry decide whether to invest in certain technologies. In particular, non-chemical ways to protect fruit quality have provided options for organic growers and export markets with chemical use restrictions and for small-scale farmers who may not be able to afford chemical treatments. Improving storage durability and extending shelf life in these ways enables growers to sell high quality fruit when and where prices are best. The ability to transport fresh fruit long distances without damaging quality also allows more consumers access to a wider variety of fruits.

Learn more at the Multistate Research Funds Impacts webpage.


Grain bins on Display. USDA photo by Lance Cheung. USDA NIFA Fresh From the Field. NIFA Impacts.

North Carolina Extension Demonstrates the Dangers of Grain Bins

You can die in a grain bin in less than 60 seconds. Watch how quickly something can happen and take protective steps to protect you and your children.

NIFA supports the North Carolina State Extension Service.

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