News

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Food Science and Technology
  • Griffin Campus
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The University of Georgia Department of Food Science and Technology’s Kevin Mis Solval and his team of researchers have secured a nearly half-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to aid in creating safe food ingredients from cannonball jellyfish.

Harvested on the southeast coast of the U.S., cannonball jellyfish, commonly called jellyballs, have become a prominent catch for fisheries located within the region, and a way for shrimpers to diversify their catch during the off-season for shrimp. But history has shown that there has never been a domestically sustainable market for jellyfish food products.

“Large amounts of jellyfish are harvested on the coast of Georgia,” said Mis Solval, a food process engineer specializing in developing novel food ingredients in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “But what is harvested is sold almost entirely to Asian markets. A big challenge in creating a more domestic industry will be building the demand by creating a product that people can use in their everyday lives.”

  • Entomology
  • Griffin Campus
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Modeling clay isn’t limited to art classrooms and sculpting studios. University of Georgia researchers developed a tool to track beneficial insects in turfgrass systems using clay models. Tracking these good predators can help develop eco-friendly pest management techniques for both home lawns and commercial sod growers.

In a recently published article in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, UGA scientists determined that beneficial predator insects will interact with and leave distinct markings on clay models that resemble their prey, in this case the larvae of turfgrass pests. This study was led by entomology doctoral candidate Fawad Khan under the guidance of Assistant Professor Shimat Joseph in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus.

“We want to know who the predators are and what kind of impressions these predators will create on these clay models. Before we do anything in the field, we need to have a sense of what that looks like,” said Joseph, a turfgrass entomologist.

Though the clay model approach has been used in other disciplines to observe predator activity, Joseph and Khan found no previous use of the method in turfgrass research. This study developed clay models as a tool to aid in future research.

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Griffin Campus
  • Horticulture
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To prune or not to prune, that is the question. Pruning is an important part of maintaining plant health and maximizing plant productivity. This is often a topic that brings fear and confusion, but pruning is, in fact, a beneficial and routine task.

Ornamental plants in the home landscape are pruned for several reasons, including maintaining a desired size or shape; promoting healthy, vigorous growth, flowering or fruiting; and removing sections damaged by insects, disease or weather. Each plant in the landscape has its own growth habit and different requirements for pruning. Some shrubs have dwarf growth habits and may never require pruning, while vigorous, large-growing shrubs may require frequent pruning. Anyone can prune, but not everyone prunes properly.

Improper pruning, or pruning at the wrong time of the year, can result in misshapen plants, reduced flowering or plants that are more likely to be damaged by insects, diseases or winter cold. Because flowering ornamentals form their flower buds at different times of year, pruning times must be adjusted accordingly.

Many spring-flowering plants such as azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron set flower buds in the fall, so pruning during the fall or winter months eliminates or decreases their spring flower display.

  • Griffin Campus
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The University of Georgia Griffin campus recently named Beth Horne and Marie Miller as the 2020 Classified Employees of the year. The designation was made at the 31st Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony held on Tuesday, September 29.

 

Ten employees were nominated for the Classified Employee of the Year Award- Clay Bennett (Crop and Soil Sciences), Brett Byous (Entomology), Faye Chatman (Academic Programs), Jill Cunningham (Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit), Beth Horne (Center for Urban Agriculture), David Mann (Center for Food Safety), Marie Miller (Finance and Administration), Daniel Nordstrom (Field Research Services), Carol Picard (Plant Pathology) and Ilea Rockwell (Facilities Management Division).

 

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Griffin Campus
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Three new wheat varieties released this year by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ wheat breeding program are the product of more than a dozen years of work by breeders on the UGA Griffin campus.

When it comes to cultivating new varieties of wheat, patience is key, as it takes an average of 10 to 14 years to breed a new variety of the grain that has been around as long as mankind. Researchers put in many years of work to see the fruits of their labor, and this year Mohamed Mergoum, the Georgia Seed Development-UGA Foundation Professor in Wheat Breeding and Genetics at the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, and his research team are seeing the results of work begun in 2005 by wheat breeder and Professor Emeritus Jerry Johnson.

The three varieties being released this year — known as '17E8', '17E11' and '17LE16' — are all soft, red winter wheat and will be used to make flour for crackers and cookies. To determine what each wheat variety is best used for, researchers test the flour by making baked goods such as cookies or bread during the breeding process. This also allows for the product to be better marketed to both the farmers who grow the wheat and the milling and baking companies that purchase it.

  • Community
  • Griffin Campus
  • Horticulture
  • Master Gardener
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You may have relied on advice from a Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer in the past. Now they want your input to make plans for the future.

A number of novice gardeners, or gardeners who haven’t gotten their boots in the dirt recently, have reached out to Master Gardeners for recommendations during the pandemic. These new gardeners may also have tuned in to Master Gardener webinar presentations or connected via social media to stay engaged with other gardeners.

“People turn to plants and gardening because it makes them happy, it can provide a source of food, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and it’s something they can do alone or as a family,” explained State Master Gardener Coordinator Sheri Dorn, who is based at the University of Georgia Griffin campus.

The volunteer program, coordinated by UGA Cooperative Extension, reached its 40-year milestone in 2019. Now Dorn and other program organizers want public input as part of their comprehensive strategic planning process to shape the next decade.

“Citizen participation is critical to Extension,” said Dorn. “Plants and horticulture have been huge this year due to the pandemic, and people may not know that we have this unique volunteer program. People with enthusiasm for gardening can partner with us to increase their knowledge and also help others, so we’re looking for people who may be interested to give us input for future Master Gardener program development.”

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Griffin Campus
  • Research
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded nearly $1.6 million in research funding to University of Georgia’s Jack Huang to research cost-effective treatments to remove per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water, wastewater and biosolids to ensure safe water for drinking and agricultural application in rural areas. Huang, a professor in the department of Crop and Soil Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus, is one of only three research teams to receive funding from the EPA.

  • Center for Urban Agriculture
  • Cooperative Extension
  • Griffin Campus
  • Horticulture
  • Women in Agriculture
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Ellen Bauske is a boundary spanner — she’s known as a person who brings people and organizations together on national, regional and local levels.

It’s one of the many reasons she received the American Society of Horticultural Science’s 2020 Extension Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes an educator who has made an outstanding contribution to extension education in horticulture for more than 10 years.

Bauske serves as a program coordinator for the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She has helped develop innovative programming in a variety of disciplines, including integrated pest management, water, consumer horticulture, Master Gardener Extension Volunteer training, community gardens, landscape and tree care worker safety.

"Ellen Bauske is a doer,” said Dan Suiter, who is chair of the center’s faculty advisory committee. “Her formal training is in plant pathology, but she has been very adaptable in the many years she's been with the Center for Urban Agriculture. She, like no one I've known, can get people to move as a group in the direction of accomplishment. It's a rare skill."

Harald Scherm, head of the Department of Plant Pathology, agrees. “Ellen has consistently reinvented herself and her Extension programming during the past 15 years,” he said. “She has been remarkably responsive to emerging needs and opportunities.”

  • Center for Food Safety
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Griffin Campus
  • Research
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A literature review by University of Georgia researchers has helped identify the most effective antimicrobial agents for preventing the spread of COVID-19 within the food supply chain.

As COVID-19 began to spread throughout the U.S. earlier this year, Govind Kumar, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and a faculty member in the UGA Center for Food Safety, Laurel Dunn and Abhinav Mishra, assistant professors in the Department of Food Science and Technology, and Center for Food Safety Director Francisco Diez collaborated to determine ways they could contribute to the knowledge base for members of the food industry regarding the novel coronavirus.

“Meat manufacturing plants began to shut down because so many people in these industries were getting sick. We are not virologists, but this is a medical problem that definitely affected the food chain,” Kumar said.

With information and scientific studies about the virus being released at a rapid rate, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers decided to examine relevant studies to identify and share practicable information for use in the food industry. The research team looked at studies on a range of biocides effective in eliminating or reducing the presence of coronaviruses from surfaces that are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils and furniture, as well as skin, mucous membranes, air and food contact materials.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Horticulture
  • Research
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University of Georgia researcher Dario Chavez has been named to the Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2020 by Fruit Growers News. The prestigious honor places Chavez within a small group of young professionals who are making remarkable contributions within the industry.

A native of Riobamba, Ecuador, and part of an accomplished farm with a lineage spanning four generations, Chavez began his stint at UGA in 2014 as a researcher and UGA Cooperative Extension specialist.  He has since implemented groundbreaking research focusing on plant production and environmental sustainability with a focus on one of Georgia’s key crops — peaches.

“The UGA peach research and extension program in the Department of Horticulture had been vacant for almost eight years before my hire,” said Chavez. “One of my major accomplishments is the setup and establishment of a functional research and extension program from scratch.”

At age 36, his achievements in the peach industry have been remarkable and deserving of the important award, which he describes as “an honor and a great recognition.” His peers at UGA have since echoed the praise.