June 21st, 2017
July 3, 2015
As many of you know, the farm bagan a milkweed project this summer to help with the dwindling monarch butterfly population, and one of the farm staff was out in the milkweed plot and snapped some great pictures.
June 26, 2015
The farm received 500 Alder seedlings for a winter hardiness trial that is being conducted here at the research station. The crew had their hands full getting all of the plants in the ground, we had to lay weed barrier and then cut holes to plant into. We were able to get the planting and irrigation set up all in one day, thanks to the whole farm crew working hard to ensure its completion.
June 19, 2015
We've got hops!
The hops have arrived and are going in the ground, we received the two different types of hops for the cultivar trials. The two cultivars that we have are Cascade and Chinook, most of the data is going to be for hardiness trials.
Also this week I was wandering around in the high tunnel and snapped some pictures of the delicious tomatoes that should be ready in the next few weeks. The project in the high tuennel is lead by Dr. Ajay Nair, and they are looking at the comparison of grafted and non grafted tomato plants. We have an heirloom variety called cherokee purple, which are a large, super flavorful eating tomato. The other cultivar is mountain fresh, which is a hybrid tomato that is the most widely grown slicing tomato throughout the east and midwest.
June 12, 2015
The turf department here on the Research Station is undertaking an extensive project that will allow researchers the ability to experiment with different soil types and a variety of cultural practices to benefit the sports turf industry. A buldozer was used to move 5,000 to 6,000 cubic yards of soil to create turf areas that will replicate midwestern sports turf. The main focus for this research will be high foot traffic, looking at its effect on the health and quality of the sports turf. For more information on this project, visit the link below.
June 5, 2015
Student Organic Farm
The student orgainc farm is looking great this season, the managers, workers and volunteers have done a great job keeping up with the weeding, scouting and harvesting, along with all the other work that it takes to grow food crops in an organic production setting. The images below as well as all the delicious produce they provide for the website so we can sell to our customers here show how their hard work is paying off.
May 20, 2015
Milk weed Project underway
As many of you know, the monarch butterfly population has been on a declining trend. There are many speculations that have tried to explain why the monarchs are disappearing, but habitat loss seems to be the biggest contributing factor. Milkweed is the only source of food that monarch catipillars ingest, the milkweed contain toxins known as cardiac glycosides that cause the catipillars to be poisonous to most predators. Field habitats are being mowed for residential neighborhoods and the milkweed population is being diminished by urban sprawl. Due to the declining population of monarchs and their native habitat, the Research station has taken the initiative to plant and maintain a plot of milkweed to provide a habitat and food source for monarch eggs and larvae.
Recap from the winter season
Constructing the hops trellis was a new endeavor for the research station. We needed to enlist the aid of Steve Jonas and his tele-handler to unload and move the 25ft posts for the hops trellis. The Horticulture station also needed to rent a specialty in-loader with a grapple to safely set the trellis posts
Steve’s handy driving skills allowed us to safely access and prep the posts for cable 25ft in the air.
The season has begun
Construction on the new hops trellising system has begun to take shape this spring. The 5/16 aircraft cable installation took a large crew, a fleet of equipment, and specialty tools to successfully complete the project. Once the cable tension is set and the soil is prepped the trellis and hops yard will be ready for planting.
The research station has a large number of different projects ranging from fruit and vegetable projects, to ornamental crop studies but also reptile and avian studies. The Station has a large selection of crab apple cultivars, and they were all in full bloom this spring and extremely beautiful.
Construction of a new nursery and plant storage area began early in the season, this offers a centralized location for researchers to store and grow crops prior to planting in the field. Apple, peach and cherry trees will all be stored and grown here before the site is prepped for planting.
Ray Cruise, a graduate student under Dr. Ajay Nair, is seen here planting his popcorn crop on the north end of the research station. This year we will be offering popcorn for sale on the website.
It’s that time of the year again, apple harvest has begun! Apple harvest season is most of the farm employees’ favorite time of the year. Lots of apple harvest means lots of apple eating! This week alone we harvested five different cultivars of apples that are all ripe early in the season.
The horticulture research station is a teaching facility and openly welcomes visitors of all ages. Tours of the horticulture station are a great way to learn about what we do. Tours are available to any group just call the station ahead of time to set up a tour date. This week we had a group of 3rd graders come tour the farm. They got to learn about cover crops, high tunnels, turtles, and even wasps. These 3rd graders had the privilege of seeing a wasp being fed and learning about the nesting patterns of wasps.
This week on the farm we combed the grapes and put netting on all of the red grapes. Netting is put on grapes to stop the birds from eating the fruit. The netting will stay on the grapes until the grapes are harvested.
The horticulture research station is home to many diverse research projects. One unique project works with four ponds we have here at the research station to research turtles. This week the ponds were drained and refilled and turtles were released into each of the four ponds. The turtles will live in the ponds until winter when they will be removed. This research is done by the Janzen lab in the department of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology which looks at many aspects of turtle behavior, especially sex-determining mechanisms.
This week on the farm we have two field days! Field days are hosted on the farm and allow researchers or the general public to come see all the work we do here at the Station.
The first field day is the Home demonstration garden field day this Wednesday, July 23rd at 6:00 p.m. This event is free to the public. No registration required. The field day will feature purple vegetables, sun-loving impatiens, the effects of biochar on a garden, and the student high tunnel project.
The second field day is the Turfgrass field day which will be held this Thursday, July 24th at 8:00 a.m. Registration is required. For more information http://www.iowaturfgrass.org/events.htm
The first raspberries of the season are here! After all the hard work to dig the trench around the raspberries we were able to enjoy some of the “fruit” of our labor.
This week we had all hands on deck to dig a trench to put in tiling around the raspberry mini tunnels. The raspberries are in an area where water collects and causes damage to the raspberries with heavy rainfall (like we have had this year!) Tiling is when a network of long tubes with perforations is installed below the surface of the ground to allow water to drain into them and flow to a lower area. This will hopefully ensure that we have an abundance of raspberries for many years to come!
This week on the farm these golden beauties are ready for harvest! These tomatoes are Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. They are sweet and flavorful and burst in your mouth. They are easy to eat by the handful. These tomatoes grow on an indeterminate plant meaning that they will continue to grow in length and produce fruit all the way up until they are killed by frost. Growing them in the high tunnel increases their growing season even more! Hopefully we will continue to have Sun Gold’s all through the rest of the summer!
A brand new asparagus plot was planted this spring at the horticulture research station. However, this asparagus plot won’t be ready for full harvest for another three years. In order to allow asparagus to become well established it is not recommended to harvest any in the first 2 years after planting. In the third year it is acceptable to harvest at the very beginning of the season until mid-June. Once the asparagus plot is ready for harvest it will produce good yields for 15-20 years!
This week on the farm we combed and cluster thinned our newest vineyard. This vineyard was planted in 2010 and contains white wine grapes. First, we combed the vines spreading them out and creating a “curtain” along the trellis. This allows for better air circulation and allows light to reach the grape clusters. Then, we thinned the vines so that each shoot contained only one cluster. Thinning the clusters does yield less fruit but the fruit is of much higher quality in the end.
This week on the farm we had very eventful weather! We have had a total of 12 inches of rain fall in June. At the station we normally receive on average 30 inches of rain in a year. This means that we received almost half our average yearly rain fall in June! We had a tree get blown over by strong winds and flooding in low areas. Due to the excessive rainfall we had to dig a trench to allow accumulated water to drain from around the raspberries in the mini-tunnels. Overall, everyone at the station was safe and only minor damage occurred. Now that the rain has finally stopped there is lots of work to be done!
This week the cabbage is ready! The Hort/Ag EdS 465 class planted a variety of produce products this spring in their 30 x 96 ft. high tunnel. In order to learn about companion planting they planted cabbage along with thyme. Thyme is thought to have some insecticide properties and to deter cabbage worm. The students found that planting the thyme in between the cabbage heads did help to reduce insect damage to the plants.
This week at the Horticulture Research Farm, a photography crew, hired by the ISU Department of Horticulture, came out to the farm to get some shots of students, faculty, and staff with the research projects on the farm. A photo session is not a regular occurrence at the station but we were happy to participate and show the beautiful landscape we have along with the cutting edge research that takes place. The pictures will be featured on the Horticulture Department's new website.
This week at the Horticulture Research Station we began harvesting strawberries! The strawberries are sweet, juicy, and perfectly ripe! They are so good that it is hard not to eat more than we pick. These seasonal fruits won’t be available for long so get them while you can!