NCSU scientists discover how cotton plants determine leaf shape

by Dee Shore, NC State University

Any child who has assembled a leaf collection can prove that plants come with an astounding array of leaf shapes, and researchers know that this variation can mean big differences in a farmer’s bottom line. Now, a new discovery gives plant breeders key genetic information they need to develop crop varieties that make the most of these leaf-shape differences.

In a paper published Dec. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NC State researchers and colleagues from the Danforth Plant Science Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cotton Incorporated describe how they used genomic and molecular tools to find the location of the DNA sequence that determines major leaf shapes in upland cotton. Continue reading

Resistance breeding for evergreens is beginning to yield results

by Dee Shore, NC State University

At the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, N.C., postdoctoral researcher Ben Smith patiently tends thousands of evergreen seedlings. His goal: to find at least a few that will tolerate two tiny but troublesome pests.

Part of NC State University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Smith works for the nonprofit Forest Restoration Alliance. His experiments have implications not only for important area industries but also for the fate of forests threatened by invasive insects. Continue reading

USDA Announces $5 Million in Funds for Smart Technology Innovations in Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced the availability of up to $5 million for research to strengthen the science behind the next generation of internet-connected agricultural implements and resources through the Cyber Physical Systems program. Funding for this program is made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Data driven analytical tools throughout the food supply chain—from production through processing, transportation, and food storage—will allow us to make smarter decisions that can promote efficient food production, reduce food waste, and increase food safety,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “These investments in cyber physical systems will improve efficiencies across the agricultural industry.” Continue reading

Webinar: Transitioning Small Grain Production to Organic

What will you learn?

Join this webinar to learn about the transition from conventional to organic small grain production and related management practices. Learn more…


  • Diana Roberts, Ph.D., Professor and Regional Extension Specialist, Washington State University Extension, Spokane, WA

Session Details: Feb 7, 2017 3:00 pm US/Eastern     Duration: 01:00       Export Event to Calendar Continue reading

Assistant Extension Professor & Extension Plant Pathologist, University of Maine

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension invites applications for a full-time, fiscal-year, continuing contract eligible faculty appointment as Assistant Extension Professor – Extension Plant Pathologist, effective July 1, 2017.  This position will be housed at the University of Maine in Orono and will affiliate with the Maine Food & Agricultural Center on campus.  This position will develop and conduct educational programs and applied research projects throughout the state with an emphasis on identifying, preventing and managing plant diseases.  The agricultural industries in Maine which this position will address is comprised of small fruit, tree fruit, vegetable and grain producers, the ornamental horticulture industry as well as clients involved in consumer horticulture.  An Assistant Extension Professor works with other Extension faculty, advisory boards and commodity associations to offer programs addressing the educational needs of Maine farmers, growers and gardeners.

Continue reading

GMO crops are better for environment, farmers say

In Southwest Farm Press

Most U.S. farmers and ranchers believe biotechnology and genetically-modified crops increase crop production efficiency and agricultural sustainability, according to survey results from a poll conducted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and the National Corn Growers Association.

The survey of 280-plus U.S. farmers gleaned their thoughts on the value of GMO crops. They weighed in on the impact of GMO technology on the environment, yields, pesticide use, and other issues. Continue reading

Kudzu-bug-resistant soybeans in development at the University of Georgia

By Merritt Melancon, University of Georgia

Kudzu bugs are not native to Georgia, but in the past seven years, they’ve made their homes in soybean fields across the southeastern U.S.

While they don’t cause damage every soybean season, they can cause yield losses of between 20 and 60 percent. That can create a big loss for farmers who tend the approximately 80 million acres of soybeans grown in the U.S. each year. Fortunately a team of University of Georgia researchers may be on the verge of a solution. Continue reading

Texas A&M announces three postdoc openings

A postdoctoral position is available at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, Weslaco, Texas. The successful candidate will contribute to research studying multiple aspects of mosquito-borne virus transmission on projects funded by multiple federal sponsors. The candidate will help lead a field research team studying socio-ecological factors of mosquito-borne virus transmission, evaluating different forms of vector control intervention, and conducting enhanced biosurveillance for Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika virus. The field sites are focused in the Lower Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border.

Candidates should have a PhD in biology, ecology, entomology, or related fields.  Desirable skills and experience includes one or more of the following: field vector sampling, mosquito identification, molecular diagnostics, social science, geographic information systems, spatial analyses, and statistics. Candidates should demonstrate a good track record of publications and have strong organizational, written, and oral communication skills. Candidates will need to work independently and as a senior member of a multidisciplinary collaborative team. Fluency in Spanish is preferred but not required. The position will be supervised by Dr. Gabriel Hamer and Dr. Ismael Badillo-Vargas and will be based at the AgriLife Research Center in Weslaco, TX ( Continue reading

Study Provides Evidence on Movement of Potato Famine Pathogen

by Mick Kulikowski, NC State University

New North Carolina State University research delves into the movement and evolution of the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, which set down roots in the United States before attacking Europe.

To track the evolution of differing strains of Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen responsible for the Irish potato famine and a major cause of late-blight disease on potato and tomato plants around the world, NC State plant pathologists studied 12 key regions on the genomes of 183 pathogen samples – historic and modern – from across the globe. Continue reading

Texas A&M garners $10 million grant to establish center, fight vector-borne diseases

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas A&M AgriLife recently received a substantial monetary boost to bolster its aggressive fight to stem the spread of vector-borne diseases for the public good, said Dr. David Ragsdale, Texas A&M University entomology department head at College Station.

Ragsdale said the $10 million five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used to establish the Western Gulf Coast Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases. Continue reading