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Students earn competition awards at Society for Horticultural Science conference

Posted by struscott | August 23, 2019
Huan, at podium, in front of presentation screen.
Presenting at Scholars Ignite, student Huan Zhang took first place for his talk on plastic mulches for the raspberry industry.

Students in the WSU Department of Horticulture won awards in competition at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science, July 21-26 in Las Vegas.

Doctoral student Huan Zhang took first place in the Scholars Ignite three-minute talk competition, presenting his research on plastic mulches for the raspberry industry.

Washington leads the country’s production of processed red raspberries, used in everything from pies and fillings to smoothies. Zhang’s research explores the use of plastic mulches, both conventional and biodegradable, and he has found that these ground covers can help suppress weeds, save labor, increase plant growth and boost yields.

Growers have been quick to adopt these mulches, and Zhang said the team is continuing to evaluate their long-term impact and explore ways to manage plastic waste.

In addition, Erica Casagrande Biasuz took second place in the doctoral student poster competition. Biasuz’ research looks at how dwarfed rootstock affect growth and water use in grafted fruit trees.

Growers graft scions onto rootstocks to cultivate new apple trees. Dwarf rootstocks help ensure plants don’t grow too tall, concentrating their energies on fruit. However, these rootstocks may limit trees’ ability to draw in water.

Working with the Honeycrisp apple, Biasuz was able to identify how rootstocks affect tree vigor, helping reveal key factors for growth and water use.

Learn more about the American Society for Horticultural Science here: https://ashs.org

Biasuz, standing in front of research poster.
Erica Casagrande Biasuz took second place, showing research on dwarf rootstocks