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Posts tagged: North Carolina

Breeding a Tastier Tomato

ARS researchers have compiled a comprehensive set of rankings for flavor traits for tomatoes to give breeders a better chance to improve the taste of supermarket tomatoes.

ARS researchers have compiled a comprehensive set of rankings for flavor traits for tomatoes to give breeders a better chance to improve the taste of supermarket tomatoes.

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.

If you want to stir consumers’ passions about produce, just mention tomatoes. There’s no shortage of outrage about those supermarket tomatoes that look as pretty as a picture, but sometimes aren’t much tastier than the carton in which they’re shipped.

It’s not like consumers aren’t willing to give store-bought tomatoes a try; tomatoes are a $2 billion crop in the United States.  But there’s a tug of war between large-scale producers and consumers: The producers need firm tomatoes that can withstand long-distance shipping and long-term storage, while consumers want that garden-fresh taste. Read more »

PLANTS Database Provides Answers for Vegetative Questions

Daucus:  Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia.  Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Daucus: Top-view of the flower structure of Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s lace or wild carrot, Bedford County, Virginia. Doug Goldman, USDA-NRCS-NPDT

Recently the PLANTS website crossed a milestone with the uploading of its 50,000th image. The database, managed by the National Plant Data Team at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East National Technology Support Center, hosts images of plants that grow in the U.S. and its territories.

The PLANTS site is one of USDA’s most frequently visited websites.

Besides images, PLANTS provides basic information on plants, including scientific names and distribution. It is used worldwide by scientists, educators, conservationists, students, farmers, horticulturists and others. All of this information assists people in identifying plants with the correct scientific names. Read more »

Stop Stink Bug Project

The brown marmorated stink bug, a winged pest from Asia that is eating crops and infesting U.S. homes. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are launching a campaign to ask volunteers to count the number of stink bugs in their homes. USDA-ARS photo by Stephen Ausmus.

The brown marmorated stink bug, a winged pest from Asia that is eating crops and infesting U.S. homes. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are launching a campaign to ask volunteers to count the number of stink bugs in their homes. USDA-ARS photo by Stephen Ausmus.

Calling all insect enthusiasts and frustrated gardeners!  USDA scientists need your help in documenting Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) in your home. Beginning September 15th through October 15th, we’re asking citizens across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to record daily counts of this pest on the exterior of their homes, along with their location and the time of each count. While USDA scientists are focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region, any data they can get from other U.S. regions would also be helpful to their research.

The quest to find out just how many stink bugs there are, and how they behave, is the brainchild of a consortium of researchers from USDA, the University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the Northeastern IPM Center, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, Cornell University, the University of Delaware and Washington State University. This project is represented on the website, “Stop BMSB (www.stopbmsb.org),” which was launched in 2011. Read more »

Partnering with Cooperative Extension to Support Farm to School

Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)

Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)

Kids are headed back to school and so are county Extension agents.

As schools continue to teach kids where their food comes from and bring local and regional products into the school cafeteria, one group they may want to partner with on their farm to school activities is their local or regional Cooperative Extension office. Cooperative Extension Systems are administered by each state’s Land-Grant University System. Programs are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and most states have local or regional Extension offices that are staffed by one or more experts, often referred to as Extension agents or Extension educators.

Nationally, more and more Cooperative Extension Systems are devoting key resources to supporting farm to school activities. Of the 68 fiscal year 2013 USDA Farm to School Grants distributed, 25 percent included partners from Cooperative Extension. State Extension Systems such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois have already dedicated resources and personnel to leading their states farm to school programs. And at the upcoming national Extension conference, farm to school and local foods are sure to be a major themes discussed. Read more »

Woodpecker Condos Bring Endangered Bird Back from the Brink in South Carolina

A Red-cockaded woodpecker flies from its natural nest cavity on the Francis Marion National Forest in September, 2009. (Photo credit: Martjan Lammertink)

A Red-cockaded woodpecker flies from its natural nest cavity on the Francis Marion National Forest in September, 2009. (Photo credit: Martjan Lammertink)

Many stories emerging from the Francis Marion National Forest share a common genesis in Hurricane Hugo, the massive storm estimated to have knocked down nearly a billion board feet of timber on the coastal South Carolina forest in 1989.

But in a comeback success story, there was no knock-out for the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Before Hugo, the Francis Marion had the densest, second-largest, and only known, naturally increasing population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in the country. Prior to 1989, an estimated 475 breeding pairs lived on the forest. Read more »

Back to Healthy School Meals: USDA Congratulates Six States for Nearly 100% of Schools Meeting New Meal Standards

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

School cafeterias across the country are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids.

As we continue to combat childhood obesity in America, I am proud to say that this Back to School season our school cafeterias are at the heart of offering great nutrition for our kids. Students and schools are embracing the healthier lunches offered through the National School Lunch Program that, together with the healthier breakfasts offered through the School Breakfast Program beginning this school year and the recently announced “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards that kick in next year, continue our children on the path towards future health and happiness.

So how are school cafeterias faring with all the meal updates across the nation? Like I said, they are putting their hearts into it. Read more »