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Red Raspberries, Weather, Nutrition

Posted by | March 21, 2007

It’s a Fact

Washington state is the nation’s leading producer of red raspberries. In 2006, growers produced more than 55.5 million pounds of the berries with a value of more than $31 million. Since 1980, U.S. per capita consumption of red raspberries has more than doubled; while most of that consumption is processed, fresh raspberry consumption has also trended strongly upward over the past 10 years.

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

“Decisions, Decisions” Just Got a Little Easier (And More Accurate)

Imagine: it’s wet outside and you’re agonizing over whether to spray your crop to prevent a mildew infection. Cutting-edge decision-making help is just a couple clicks away, thanks to WSU’s new AgWeatherNet. A wireless network of 120 weather stations distributed throughout the state is analyzing near real-time data to aid growers in pest- and disease-control decisions. Ag WeatherNet was developed and deployed by a group of WSU researchers and staff led by Gary Grove, a plant pathologist at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

Behind the handsome Web-based interface, AgWeatherNet is crunching through years of pest and disease research to give growers up-to-the-minute information about pests and diseases associated with particular climatic conditions.

The system currently has models for codling moth, oblique-banded leafroller, Pandemis leafroller, Western Cherry fruit fly, apple maggot, San Jose scale, Campylomma bug, Lacanobia fruit worm, fireblight, and storage scald. Models for peach twig borer, cherry powdery mildew, apple scab, and shot hole of stone fruits will soon be added. Pesticide application models are also incorporated into the system’s database.

Users will need to register to access AgWeatherNet, but that’s easy and free to the public. Start here, and then check out the short tutorial on registering for access.

For more information, check out this article in Good Fruit Grower (you may need to register for access).

Future Folate

WSU researcher Sanja Roje is working to understand–at the genetic level–how plants produce and use folate, the water-soluble B vitamin linked with prevention of birth defects and heart disease. “Once we understand that,” said Roje, an assistant professor in WSU’s Institute of Biochemistry, “we can manipulate the genetic material to help plants produce more.” Most plants do produce folate, but not in significant enough amounts to be practical for use as a source of the vitamin by humans and other animals. Consequently, a synthetic form of folate–folic acid–is manufactured for supplements and fortified foods. The synthesis process is less than environmentally friendly.

“Currently, we have to chemically synthesize folic acid in a process that produces a large amount of toxic waste,” Roje said. “If we can develop plants that provide enough of the vitamin without synthesizing it, it would eliminate some of the production costs as well as the environmental costs.”

For more information, please visit Dr. Roje’s site.