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Residential Citrus Growers: Help Us Stop the Spread of Citrus Disease

Example of citrus greening leaves.

Example of citrus greening leaves.

If you are like millions of other Americans, there’s a chance you have a citrus tree or two growing in your yard. As a residential citrus grower, it is very important to check your trees regularly for signs of disease.

A diseased tree in your yard may seem like no big deal; however, it can easily spread disease to other nearby trees and make its way to large commercial groves where significant damage can be done. If citrus disease were to spread out of control, it has the potential to destroy the entire U.S. citrus industry, causing the loss of billions of dollars and millions of jobs. Read more »

First Winter Crop Deemed a Success with New High Tunnel

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs, of Marianna, Ark., wasn’t looking for bragging rights when she installed her new seasonal high tunnel, last year, but that’s what she earned this spring after harvesting her first winter vegetable crop.

“We had the best salad green mix in the region,” says Griggs.

With the high tunnel, Griggs was able to extend her fall growing season of fresh produce into the winter months. Her harvest included lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and greens. Read more »

Lower-fat French Fries? You Bet!

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Americans love, love, love their spuds:  In 2010, per capita consumption of potatoes in the U.S. hit almost 114 pounds, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. One of our favorite ways to dish up this versatile veggie is in the form of French fries.

Of course, deep-frying those potato slices to golden crispness adds extra calories from the oil.  But what if you could indulge your French fry craving with fewer calories? And what if the technique to achieve that was more environmentally friendly than conventional fry preparation? Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Promising Results

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. And when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits, including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors and manufacturers.

Good news: these healthy habits are taking root all across the country.

USDA released today results from a nationwide Census of farm to school activities. We found that 43 percent of all public school districts have an existing farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of school districts surveyed are committed to launching a farm to school program in the near future. With purchasing local food as a primary farm to school activity, in school year 2011-2012, schools purchased and served over $350 million in local food. Read more »

Alaska’s Chugach National Forest Provides a World-Class Training Ground for Olympic Hopefuls

Ski athletes come from all over the world to train on the Chugach National Forest, spending 25 to 30 hours a week in the challenging, variable conditions found on Eagle Glacier. The Alaskan Pacific University operated seven camps, each with about 20 athletes this summer. (Courtesy U.S. Ski Team Women’s Coach/Coach Matt Whitcomb)

Ski athletes come from all over the world to train on the Chugach National Forest, spending 25 to 30 hours a week in the challenging, variable conditions found on Eagle Glacier. The Alaskan Pacific University operated seven camps, each with about 20 athletes this summer. (Courtesy U.S. Ski Team Women’s Coach/Coach Matt Whitcomb)

America’s elite, Olympic-bound Nordic skiers have a high-altitude secret they hope will give them an edge in Sochi, Russia, during the 2014 Winter Olympics in late February.

Team members take a 10-minute helicopter ride from sea level up to Eagle Glacier on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, the most northern national forest in the U.S. The environment there mimics what they expect to find in Sochi.

The glacier, 5,500 feet above Girdwood, Alaska, is home to the Thomas Training Center operated under permit by the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center. The ski center was established in the late 1990s as a model for creating international success in American Nordic skiing. Read more »

One Seed at a Time: Plant Materials Center in Los Lunas, New Mexico Helps Restore the Grand Canyon’s South Rim

Grasses grown from the NRCS Plant Materials Center in Los Lunas line the edge of Mather Point in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Grasses grown from the NRCS Plant Materials Center in Los Lunas line the edge of Mather Point in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

For more than 20 years, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been growing seeds for the Grand Canyon National Park and other national parks.

When the National Park Service renovated the Grand Canyon’s South Rim visitor center in 2008, they looked to the NRCS Plants Materials Center in Los Lunas, N.M. to produce the seed needed to restore native grasses in the area.

Now, driving along eight miles of twists and turns of the South Rim, you can see the bright green grasses surrounding the parking lots, roads, and popular viewpoints including Prima Point, Hermit’s Rest and the Bright Angel Trailhead. Read more »