2016 Research and Educational Projects … Multiple Learning Opportunities

  • By Gary Shafer

Albert Einstein stated, “Once you stop learning, you start dying”.. That being the case, then we’re pleased to announce that we are still very much alive!

This coming season we have a variety of projects that will aid in solidifying our position as a premier source for agricultural and horticultural information.  We’ve discussed this several times during the past years, but a large part of our research efforts initiate from your questions.  You ask, and if we haven’t had actual field experience we will eventually start a project(s) to help answer your questions.  So what’s up for this summer? Let’s get started.

Strawberry Variety and Fertility Trials

This is a project that was initiated last June outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan.  We have ten varieties, with each variety being planted in nine plots.  The Ten varieties are AC Valley, Allstar, Annapolis, Chandler, Earliglo, Flavorfest, Honeyoye, Itasca, Jewell and Lamour.  Although there are some single row planted plots, the primary project was planted in double rows 18” apart, with the plants in the row also 18” apart.  Some runners were allowed to root so that our final spacing was 3 rows per bed, on a 9” square.  All plots received identical fertilizer prior to planting, as well as supplemental nutrition applied through the drip lines.  Three of the plots were randomly designated as control, with no MetaboliK HV-1 or foliar applied nutrient.  Three had MetaboliK HV-1 topdressed over the bed, and three had HV-1 plus two foliar applications of six pounds of soluble plant food (2 lbs. 28-16-7, 3 lbs. 10-20-20 and 1 lb. 9-14-24 on a per acre basis.)

Last summer there was a noticeable improvement in overall growth between the control plots and those receiving MetaboliK HV-1 and HV-1 plus foliar nutrient.  This is illustrated in the photos at right and was documented by the number of runners being initiated last summer.  On nine of the ten varieties, all runners that were rooted at least 1/4 “ into the soil were either pinned into place where we desired to fill-in the rows, or were removed from the plant.  These were counted and recorded from each plot, with the MetaboliK HV-1 plots showing a 50.17% increase in runners, the HV-1 + foliar plots showing a 44.89% increase.

We removed the straw several weeks ago and regrowth has initiated.  Another application of MetaboliK HV-1 was applied on the treatment plots, and the foliar plots received the HV-1 plus 28-16-7 (3 pounds per acre equivalent).  This project will continue one additional season, as we want to study yield of two-year old plants, and weather its feasible or economical to keep your plants a second year.  We will of course record the number and pounds of berries picked off each plot, as well as testing for brix levels.  We might even do an old-fashioned taste test as well!

Nematode Study

This is a five-year study to observe the response that MetaboliK HV-1 and PhytoGro Xtra has upon the populations of parasitic nematodes.  The location is east of Vincennes, Indiana, and the soil is a very light sand.  Several species of parasitic nematodes are present in excess of treatment levels, with numbers being provided through lab nematode counts and analysis.

In numerous instances during past years, observations were made that nematode damage to the crop was less where either one or several of our biostimulants was applied.  This project is the first where we plan on studying the nematode effect, as well as the potential crop response.

Blueberry Trials

We have been getting a lot of requests concerning caneberry and blueberry, so apparently these are crops that many of you are starting to establish.  We have done a significant amount of work with the caneberries; all colors of raspberries, blackberry, marionberry, and some boysenberry.

Blueberry experience has been limited, so this will be a good opportunity to learn.  We will be involved with several blueberry projects in western Michigan.  These will include trials with new plantings and young plants, as well as more mature plants.  Research will look at various aspects of plant vigor, fruit set, yield, and of course flavor and other quality aspects.

This season most of the trials will be small plot work, with larger trials being added in subsequent years.  We have also initiated contact with blueberry growers in northern Florida and southern Georgia.  We will add projects in this region next season.

Tomato/Pepper Trials

We have several projects involving tomatoes and peppers, with projects in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, South Dakota, and Minnesota.  Here is a list of what Steve is doing in Pennsylvania;

2016 is going to be another exciting year for nutrient related research projects sponsored by ISP Tech.  We’ve got four projects set to go at the Penn State Southeast Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SEAREC, AKA: The Landisville Farm), Manheim, PA.  ISP will be placing a research intern at the farm to oversee day to day activities on these projects.  As always, our goal is to better understand nutrients and their applications to improve yields and packouts on working farms.  Here’s a little about each of the projects:

High Tunnel Determinate Tomatoes: Biostimulants such as MetaboliK SB and HV-1 have demonstrated huge potential to improve yields, quality and packouts.  We’re going to push Red Deuce and Red Bounty to see just what can be done using soil testing, tissue testing, and the latest materials from ISP to fill more boxes with great tomatoes.

High Tunnel Bell Peppers: We’ll take the same program as we use in the high tunnel tomatoes and use it on the peppers.  Since peppers are planted at twice the density of tomatoes, they generally do extremely well using a tomato-based program.  We’re using the varieties Vanguard and Revolution in this program.

Field-Grown Bell Peppers: We have strong ideas as to what kind of yields should be expected from peppers grown in the field.  In this project, we will try out various versions of those programs to see exactly how high those yields can get.

Field-Grown Processing Tomatoes: Machine harvested paste-type tomatoes are increasingly important to Eastern production as the Far West continues to experience water shortages.  Typically, per acre yields for these tomatoes are much lower in the East.  We’re going to use the latest materials and programs from ISP along with tissue testing to see if we can consistently get 50, 60 or even 7 tons per acre.

If you’d like to see any of this work as it is occurring, please contact Steve to let him know when you will be in the area and he’ll arrange for onsite tours of the work.  You can be sure that the results of this work will be included in all post season information from ISP.

We again have the opportunity to support Horse Progress Days with their produce exhibits.  The main thrust of this project is to show a number of tomato varieties, both indeterminate and determinate; in a greenhouse as well as outside.  Outside also includes two different mulching systems; plastic & straw.  On a smaller scale, we also have three varieties of onions, potatoes, and a selection of pepper varieties.  All will be grown with a high-management approach.

In South Dakota and Minnesota, we will also have tomato variety trials, Since we are not involved in marketing seed itself, you may wonder why we perform so much variety research.  The answer is that there are new varieties coming out every year.  This work allows us to study growth habits is so that we’re able to make more accurate recommendations for you.  We know that your goal is to continually increase marketable pounds from your operation, and provide high quality produce at the same time.  You want produce that is high in that “WOW” factor so you can market at premium prices, and this knowledge helps us support you in that goal.

We are also supporting a small project in New York with wine grapes, studying the impact of MetaboliK SB and HV-1 on new plantings.  This project will involve an assortment of varieties and product rates to determine how we can best impact early vigor.  Finally we do have a couple of corn trials using HV-1 and PhytoGro Xtra broadcast preplant, and SB as part of the row place fertilizer.  These trials are all in southern Indiana.

There are several other projects we are working on, but all in all it’s going to be an exciting year.  As these and other projects progress, we will keep you informed.  We do enjoy learning … and sharing the information.

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