Horticulture

UGA Griffin Young Scholars Program welcomes 20 students for 2018

Posted on
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 2018 Young Scholars Program kicked off on Monday, June 4th at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus with 20 students participating in the six-week internship program. High school students from the region were selected from a pool of 86 applicants to participate in YSP where they will spend the summer working alongside world-renowned research scientists at UGA Griffin.

This year we have eight returning young scholars: Austin Duncan, Tamara English, Mary Grace Johnson, Maddox Jordan, Sheilendria Rawls, Jolie Ryff, Martha Sikora and Sarah Smyly. Joining YSP for the first time are: William Anong, Samuel Cross, Joshua Duffey, Taaseen Khan, Yuheon Lee, Lauren Moyer, Meghan Rogers, Emily Shi, Melanie Wagner, Robert “Lee” Wall, Dean Watson and Caroline Zhang. The students will spend Monday through Thursday working with their mentors and on Fridays they will have exploratory site visits to various areas on campus and work-shops from insightful presenters about college/life skills.

UGA RESEARCHERS TRAVEL DOWN UNDER TO COLLECT RASPBERRY AND PEACH SEEDS

Posted on
Friday, May 4, 2018

University of Georgia horticulturists Rachel Itle and Dario Chavez recently traveled to Australia to collect seeds from wild raspberries and peaches to bring back to the UGA Griffin campus. As scientists in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Itle and Chavez research Georgia-grown fruit.

High school students complete one-year mentorship program at UGA-Griffin

Posted on
Friday, April 28, 2017

Last summer, seven seniors from Pike County High School (PCHS) in Zebulon, Georgia, with an aptitude for science made a commitment to work alongside University of Georgia Griffin campus scientists three days a week for the entire school year. This month, they will complete their yearlong partnership.

The students, Courtney Bagwell, Dylan Blohm, Abigail Chasteen, Nikki Dodson, Megan Pitts, Taylor Thomas and Talisa Watts, are the first group to take part in the off-campus internship. 

"The beauty and the flexibility of the (Pike County STEM) Academy is that we have a lot of standards, but we can pick and choose the ones that fit with science and math, and then add in the technology and the engineering through agriculture," said Greg Waits, the program's coordinator and the agriculture education teacher at the high school. 

Students are selected for the program based on their test scores in math and science. Then they take advanced classes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas during their freshman, sophomore and junior years before participating in the off-campus experience at UGA-Griffin. 

Formally, the students earn Advanced Placement science credits for participating. They also gain a wealth of information and personal experience. 

Native prairie grasses bred as colorful landscape plants, wildlife habitats

Posted on
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Landscapers can soon add a bit of Georgia’s historical Piedmont and native prairies to their designs thanks to the creation of three new little bluestem perennial grasses, released through a University of Georgia and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partnership.

Little bluestem grasses are native to North America and are a major component of the tallgrass prairie. They typically produce green to blue-green foliage. With names that conjure up thoughts of the ‘70s, the new little bluestem varieties are much more colorful than their traditional parents. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has a red-burgundy glow, ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has a lavender glow and ‘Good Vibrations’ is a mix of colors: red-purple with green-yellow foliage.

The idea to breed the colorful grasses came from USDA scientist Melanie Harrison. Harrison curates more than 500 different species of grasses and safely cold stores them in the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit facility on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia. Most of these grasses will never be grown in home landscapes, but their genes may be used to breed specific characteristics into new grass varieties.

Looking at little bluestems day after day, Harrison began to notice ornamental characteristics.

“My job is to conserve close to 500 different species of grasses, so there’s a lot of variety,” she said. “I thought they were pretty, but I’m not a plant breeder, so I asked Carol (Robacker) what she thought.”

Planting a fall cover crop will benefit your spring garden

Posted on
Thursday, August 25, 2016

If you decide not to plant a fall garden, consider planting a cover crop to give your garden a neat appearance while helping to protect the soil from erosion.

Cover crops also add rich, organic nutrients when they are tilled in the spring. A combination cover crop of a small grain (wheat, rye or oats) mixed with a legume (clover or Austrian winter peas) works well. The small grain serves as a nurse and protects the slower germinating clover or peas.

Clover is a very small seed, so mixed with wheat, it takes a pound or less to cover the average garden. Clover must be inoculated if it is not inoculated when you buy it. Inoculation covers the seed in black, powdered bacteria that helps digest the seed coat and increases germination.

The best way to inoculate seed is to combine the seed and a bag of inoculant in a small bucket with a little soft drink. Hand-mix the seed, inoculant and soft drink so that the seed is thoroughly combined with the black powder and soft drink. Use just enough soft drink to help the bacteria stick to the seed. Next, mix in a few pounds of small grain, such as wheat, and spread the mixture with a hand spreader on a tilled garden.

New varieties provide a host of bloom colors, plant sizes

Posted on
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fall is the perfect time to admire blooming shrubs and trees. In many areas of the state, people take great pride in adorning their landscape with spectacular shrubs that exhibit color, shape and texture.

Some people would love to have a better-looking landscape, but are fearful of picking out the proper plants. By making careful selections, you can enhance your landscape and add showstoppers that create curb appeal.

It is essential to first take a good inventory of your existing landscape. Educate yourself on your landscape’s sunlight exposure, slope, drainage and soil type. All of these factors can have a huge effect on what you can successively grow. By nature, some plants prefer shade, while others thrive in full sun. Some plants adapt to either location. Some plants prefer moist environments, while others must have impeccable drainage to survive.

It is also important to pay attention to the mature size of the plants. There is nothing worse than placing a small, 1-gallon container plant in an area where there is no room for expansion, especially if the shrub will ultimately grow to a mature height and spread of 15 to 20 feet.

New generation of researchers helps peach growers and consumers

Posted on
Thursday, July 21, 2016

Two years into the job, University of Georgia peach specialist Dario Chavez is pleased with the development of his research program. The new research peach orchard in Griffin, Georgia, is filled with over 130 different peach tree varieties, several newly grafted potential varieties and a host of trees for irrigation and fertilization studies, all in an effort to help growers of the crop that gave Georgia its nickname — the “Peach State.”

In addition to the new orchard in Griffin, Chavez travels to Bryon, Georgia, to work with U.S. Department of Agriculture rootstock breeder Tom Beckman and to meet with Georgia peach growers. There are currently more than 10,000 acres of Georgia land devoted to growing peaches, and Georgia ranks third in U.S. production of the fruit.

“At the end of the day, the growers are comfortable with what they are doing,” Chavez said. “They are planting new orchards every year and it’s a stable production system. They are making money and supporting the economy.”

Chavez says Georgia peach growers offer a “really high quality” peach and are typically second- and third-generation farmers. “There’s a lot of tradition and a large knowledge base in growing Georgia peaches,” he said.