Enhancing Orchard Sustainability and Product Consistency through Improved Crop Load Management Practices
December 5, 2011
- A common question we receive from individuals who are growing fruit trees in the home landscape is “Why are my apples (or peaches) so small?” Growing large fruit can also be a challenge for commercial fruit growers. Fruit size is influenced by cell numbers, cell size and intercellular air spaces. Plant physiologists are currently looking more closely at the processes involved in fruit growth and learning more about the pathways that control those processes. Potential implications for the fruit industry are increased product consistency and enhanced orchard sustainability. (Photo : In 2011, area orchards experienced dry conditions during the growing season and record-breaking precipitation, including a snow storm, in the fall. In preparation for the 2012 season, commercial growers are invited to participate in a Penn State Extension Crop Load Management Workshop to be held at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resources Center on December 20th.)
Securing the Future of Adams County Agriculture through Entrepreneurship and Innovation
August 29, 2011
- As the summer begins to wind down, in preparation for the fall and winter months, my time as an intern at the Penn State Extension Center is coming to an end. The future is only a question mark for me, but for Adams County Agriculture the future has many good tidings. Earlier this year, community and agricultural leaders held an Ag Innovations Summit to explore ways of securing the future of Adams County agriculture through entrepreneurship and innovation. The organizations involved in the Summit meeting are taking steps to ensure that local farms remain competitive in the field and helping farmers find the next new niche in the ever-evolving agriculture sector.
Pillars of Support for Beginning Farmers
August 23, 2011
- Elaine Lemmon, a young farmer from East Berlin, Pennsylvania began her farming operation eight years ago with a pumpkin patch on a plot of her father’s land. With a background in archeology, Elaine switched her focus from digging in the soils in search of ancient artifacts, to planting seeds and harvesting fruits and vegetables.
Ag Education in Support of the Future of Agriculture in Adams County
August 23, 2011
- Community leaders representing Penn State University, Harrisburg Area Community College, the Gettysburg Adams Chamber of Commerce, Gettysburg High School, the Adams County Tech-Prep Program, and the Penn State Extension Young Grower Alliance recently held a preliminary round table discussion on the current and future climate for formal education in agriculture. The planning session was an outcome of the Adams County Ag Innovations Summit, where agricultural producers expressed the need for locally integrated ag production and business management training to support the future of agriculture in the county. The hope is that an Ag Innovations Education Committee will be formed and that many others will become involved in developing and implementing an action plan to address the growing need for young farmers and farm employees to learn about cutting edge agricultural technologies and business management practices.
Sustaining Farmland Productivity and Ecology
August 23, 2011
- In the 1930s, North America experienced a period of widespread ecological and agricultural damage due to decades of farming practices that created erosion. The harm inflicted on the Mid-West caused the great Dust Bowl Effect, which was characterized by severe drought and horrible dust storms. In response to this ecological disaster, the USDA established an organization to directly address the soil, water, and air issues that came out of the “Dirty Thirties” as a result of agricultural practices. At its initiation the organization was known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) but they have since expanded to become a conservation and stewardship leader for all natural resources, and henceforth became known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS. Since 1935 the NRCS has made it their mission to help America’s private land owners and managers to conserve and restore their soil, water, and other natural resources in order to prove more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change. “Over the years, we have developed hundreds of different practices to address different farming issues, so just about any problem there is, we have an ecologically responsible approach to resolve the issue,” said Jim Gillis, District Conservationist for NRCS in Adams County. “Our goal is to ensure the productivity of the land through the maintenance of a healthy environment.”
Real-Time Energy Monitoring Program to Promote Energy Conservation in Horticultural Enterprises
August 4, 2011
- The ever-rising cost of electricity and fuel has highlighted an important issue within the agricultural realm: the effects of energy usage on the sustainability of an agricultural operation. According to an USDA report, approximately 15 percent of agricultural costs are related to energy consumption, and this percentage is higher for horticultural enterprises. Unfortunately, information regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives for these types of operations is scarce.
Mobilizing to put More Farm-Direct Produce into the Hands of a Greater Number of Consumers
August 4, 2011
- “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” These wise words, spoken by Plutarch many centuries ago, remain true today: a dichotomous imbalance appears most strikingly in food issues, like food security, where one group has the ability to purchase an abundance of nutritious foods, while the other socioeconomic sector goes hungry because of the inability to afford enough, or the right foods. In Adams County alone, 20 percent of the population is considered food insecure, and an additional 30 percent are suffering from obesity and other food-related diseases linked with poor nutrition. Food security is a necessity of life and is universally recognized as “a condition in which all community residents must be able to obtain a safe, and culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community through self-reliance and social justice.”
Cutting Edge Innovations Demonstrated at Penn State FREC Field Day
July 20, 2011
- On July 13, 200 or more local producers, scientists, and community leaders alike congregated at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in Biglerville, PA to participate in a grower field day program that served as a wonderful educational opportunity for those in attendance. This field day provided attendees with the opportunity to view some of the most cutting edge agricultural innovations in development today by covering important research topics within the fields of entomology, horticulture, nematology, plant pathology, and agricultural engineering.
Stimulating Innovation in the Next Generation of Specialty Crop Producers
July 14, 2011
- The Young Grower Alliance, or YGA, serves young farmers as a valued social network and educational symposium for agricultural practices. It is instrumental in fostering successful farm transitions from one generation to the next by equipping young specialty crop producers with useful educational and social tools and also helps to solidify a positive future for agriculture by providing encouragement and support to young farmers. It is a support system that provides numerous educational opportunities, like farm tours, workshops, and demonstrations to the scions of the farming industry. On June 30, a group of young farmers from the Young Grower Alliance (YGA) traveled to Maryland for two such enlightening farm tours of some of the most innovative farming operations on the East Coast, Butler Orchards in Germantown and Catoctin Mountain Orchards in Thurmont. The trip proved to be highly educational in that it exposed the young growers to new agricultural practices and operations, as well as served as a forum for discussion.
Agritourism—Connecting with your Local Farmer
July 14, 2011
- Within the last decade, the USDA has introduced the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign, also known as the KYF Initiative, with the objectives of creating new economic opportunities for farmers, strengthening rural communities, promoting healthy eating, and protecting natural resources. The USDA, through the KYF initiative, deems it an urgent task to preserve the farmers’ role in the local economy, because buying products from local farmers markets and participating in agritourism helps circulate more money through the local economy, increasing the general quality of life of an area. This not only strengthens the rural community, but also fortifies a stronger bond between producer and consumer.
After All that Rain, How Can it be Dry?
July 11, 2011
- Remember earlier this spring when you weren’t dressed until your umbrella was in hand? Now you almost need earplugs to quiet the noise of crunching grass. How long does it take to move from flood to drought anyway?
In Defense of Land Conservation in Adams County
June 27, 2011
- Theodore Roosevelt once wisely cautioned, “To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them.” Adams County’s prosperity is tied to the cultivation of the land, but urban development has increasingly threatened agriculture in this region. Thus, the protection of the land from urbanization has become ever more important in the Adams County region, mostly for the future sustainability of our community.
Ag Innovations Summit Ignites a Wave of Rethinking About the Fundamental Importance of Agriculture
June 10, 2011
- Civilization, as we know it today, began with agriculture. Centuries ago, the first humans were hunters and gatherers. Eventually, they settled the land and became environmental engineers, manipulating terrestrial habitats to grow useful plants and animals, and creating their own ecosystems suited to their own purposes. Ever since, the face of the human race has changed forever. Villages, towns, and then cities began to crop up; they either floundered or flourished, based largely on food security, or the availability of food and access to it. Knowledge, forms of governance, the arts, technology—these emerged from human settlements that had started, fundamentally, with agriculture.
Penn State Ag Research and Global Food Security
May 23, 2011
- University research on new agricultural technologies and sustainable practices benefits US farmers who are focused on increasing economic and environmental sustainability and also farmers in developing countries who strive to produce increased yields for food insecure communities.
Marcellus Shale Natural Gas: What the ‘gold rush’ Means for Us
May 16, 2011
- What is Marcellus Shale and is it coming to our area?
May 3, 2011
- Basil has been known and grown since ancient times. Learn how to grow this "king of herbs" to use in your everyday cooking.
Insect Pests to Watch Out for in Field Crops 2011
April 28, 2011
- There are always plenty of different kinds of insect pests that will attack field crops in any growing season. Some are seen every year, some seem to come in cycles and every so often a new pest finds its way into our area that we have not been familiar with before.
Sorting Through the Food Confusion
April 19, 2011
- With the start of the farmers market season, do you know what the terms used to describe our food system's products really mean?
Water and Iraq
April 14, 2011
- Our Educators do a weekly news column for the local papers. Below is the column for the Week of April 4, 2011