HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2014 SUMMER TOUR

This summer the Maryland State Horticultural Society visited central and southern Maryland. The first stop was USDA-ARS Station in Beltsville, MD where we were greeted by Dr. Kim Lewers. She is the strawberry breeder there. Her current research runs the gamut from matted-row breeding to incorporating new genetics and technology into the development of alternative production systems. We were introduced to a new growing system for day neutral strawberry varieties utilizing low tunnels to extend the harvest season. These low tunnels are also resulting in good disease control. Dr. Lewers is selecting for Anthracnose and Botrytis resistance in her breeding plots. Dr. Lewers latest strawberry variety release is Flavorfest. Flavorfest has excellent flavor, good size, Anthracnose resistance and it harvests mid-season. The next stop was the Upper Marlboro Research Station of the University of Maryland. We were greeted by Dr. Jerry Brust and Frank Allnutt. This used to be the “Tobacco Farm” and it was quite pleasing to see all the changes taking place. There is research on vegetables, hops, blueberries, beach plums, wine grapes, and seedless table grapes. We were treated to an outstanding lunch using local meats and vegetables. After lunch, Allison, Guy, Ryan, John, James and Bruk did a great job integrating the sustainability goals of the Terp Farm and the opportunities offered through new management technologies. After that, our trip down to the future packing facility offered a nice chance for folks to see more of the property. Then Frank, Allison and Donna talked about inexpensively integrating environmental design and sanitary changes needed for developing a post-harvest handling facility struck a chord with the growers. After that, we all managed to find Miller Farms where Phil, Sandy and Adam hosted us for a great tour of their field operations, packing area and farm market. While many on the tour knew the family, most had never visited their farm. The Millers’ commitment to agricultural production, produce quality and friendships—plus their great ice cream!!—was a nice ending to the day. Luckily the thunder and lightning held off until we were safely sitting in the shade outside their bakery eating their wonderful ice cream. The tour was well attended and enjoyed by all. Please join us next year. I know you will have a good time and learn something new!

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