UGA Tifton Horticulture: Celebrating 100 years

Music playing The best thing about working here to me is is the people that you get to interact with That’s one thing I think about being on this campus versus the main campus is it’s much more laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, and the people here as I think as a result of that are just much more friendly and easy going and just a pleasure to work with. I enjoyed the work, the daily work because I felt like it was something that was trying to be achieved that would help the farmers in the future. In Athens on our main campus we have a very strong ornamentals program, and so with Michael Durr, Allan Armitage, John Ruter, Carol Robacker all those individuals, we have a tremendous impact in the ornamental world. Then you know we have Peggy down here who’s a leader in the peanut genomics and so forth. Then I I hope at least my small program here and in applied vegetable work complemented with Dr. Juan Carlos down here does a lot of applied work I hope that this helps us stand out as one of the top programs in the southeast. Our interaction has been significant through the years. Dr. Nesmith has been a plant breeder for a number of years and has given the industry quite a few varieties like rebel and also Alapaha, which was a rabbit-eye variety. And since I’ve come here I have worked on irrigation projects on trying to develop an app. So that growers will have a way to gauge how much water they’re putting onto their plants there and when to put the water on through the plants considering environmental conditions and the age of the plants and how many plants are in the stand. I’ve also worked with a number of different products and have shown that things like calcium really don’t have a great tremendous benefit to blueberries themselves. The environment has a greater impact. I’ve also looked at other micronutrients being applied on to the plant and shown that the uptake is not significant, generally dropping. A lot of growers now are reconsidering using micronutrient programs as a spray program and are generally putting a lot of the micronutrients on the ground, so that’s available to the plant. So that means we’re getting a greater impact that way and the Hort Department has been right in the middle of it. I knew about the Coastal Plain Experiment Station when I was doing my masters in India. Dr. Glenn Burton came and gave a talk there so I knew Coastal Plain Experiment Station before I knew UGA. That’s one; Second thing, after I came in here and as the time went by, we got into, like I mentioned to you about conservation tillage But then I was working on the carrots type trying to find out why we don’t go carrots in Georgia, and if you take a look at that, we are now number four carrot producing state in the country. Music playing… Certainly the work that’s done on the pecans here goes back much further than me. Ray Worley who was a horticulturist, research horticulturist here for many years, did a lot of great work. He would do really long-term experiments on pecans, and that’s one thing that pecans really need because as a long-lived perennial crop as they are, it can sometimes take a few years to really see if what you’re trying to get that tree to respond to is actually working. And he did experiments for 20 years or so and really generated some great data to give you information on some of the fertility research things that he did. Even before I came, the important accomplishments include the use of control atmosphere in onion storage, which made a very important research impact on allowing the establishment of the very strong industry which is the Vidalia onion industry. Having the ability to store onions for longer periods of time, that really put the industry, the Vidalia onion industry in a very important position to compete and to be as strong as a business, But a lot of scientists are here locally in Athen,s Other locations in the U.S. and several foreign countries were involved in sequencing the peanut genome. So what that means is we now apply this molecular tools to facilitate breeding and cultivar improvement. I think our research particularly has a very broad impact because we are leading in the marker selection, which will tremendously reduce the time to breed peanuts and this is really the goal for all peanut breeding program that they wanted to adopt to translate the genetic information into the actual breeding program, and to make you know, the better peanut quicker. So I think that’s just a tremendous gain in a way that we are actually routinely using markers in the breeding program. We actually already produce cultivar because of the selections. It’s really encouraging and we still have quite a few more in the pipeline that can be used for this multi-state test or anything like that to be released. So I think the impact is huge because peanut, you know has a lot of issues and then if we can create the best gene into peanut the quickest, that’s the way to go. We had the best scientists in the world here with UGA, USDA-ARS, we always had a really diverse group of scientists. There’s been a lot of different like sweet potato varieties released here, blueberries, muscadine grapes a lot of variety work, well varieties that the farmer grow in this area came from the work that we’ve done here at this station. You think about it years ago, vegetables were produced on bare soil and the transplants that were produced in the soil directly, and we as a department helped establish the technology to allow the production in seedlings in trays, the use of plastic mulches, which make a tremendous benefit in improving the quality and the yield of the vegetable crops; the use of drip irrigation as well. All those have great impacts to help the vegetable industry in the state. I think Tifton has played an instrumental role in that.

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