2016 ISU  Fruit and Vegetable Field Day
15 August, 2016, Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University


The Department of Horticulture in partnership with Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (IFVGA), Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture organized the 2016 Fruit and Vegetable Field Day at the Horticulture Research Station, Ames IA on 15 August, 2016. The event was coordinated by Drs. Ajay Nair and Diana Cochran, Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture. The field day attracted 125 participants that included growers, extension personnel, county horticulturists, post docs, and graduate students. The field day provided research-based information on a variety of topics including high tunnel pepper production, tomato grafting, hops production and harvest, strip tillage for melons, and organic melon and squash production.

The event started at 2 pm with a welcome note from Drs. Nair and Cochran Mr. Nick Howell (Farm Superintendent). This year the field day hosted Mr. Brian Nordschow from Windridge Implements Inc., a company that specializes in small farm implements. Brian demonstrated several tools and equipment and addressed grower questions and queries. One of the highlight of the field day was the booth setup by the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic. Drs. Laura Jesse, Lina Rodriguez, and Donald Lewis spoke about key pests in vegetable and fruit systems and recommended several Integrated Pest Management strategies to manage pests in a sustainable way. Eric Franzenburg (President, IFVGA) and Ms. Liz Kolbe (Horticulture Coordinator, PFI) also attended the field day and interacted with growers. The Field day gave growers an opportunity for a real time assessment of new, innovative, and sustainable research initiatives in the area of fruit and vegetable production. The first stop was the high tunnel pepper project. Dr. Ajay Nair highlighted the study which was investigating the effect of shade material and microclimate modification (temperature and light) in high tunnel colored pepper production.

The second-high tunnel experiment participants visited highlighted the benefits of grafting in tomato production. Ms. Kristine Neu, graduate student in the Department of Horticulture, discussed the potential of grafting to provide disease tolerance and enhance crop productivity, in high tunnel crop production. Several aspects such as cost, construction, maintenance, and production methodologies in high tunnel crop production were discussed.

Dr. Diana Cochran showcased the recently planted hops orchard and provided an overview of hop production. She also discussed ongoing research investigating the effect of irrigation and fertility management in hops production. Bryn Takle, graduate student, and Kenneth McCabe, Ag. Specialist, in the Department of Horticulture demonstrated the working of hops harvester, an equipment to efficiently remove hop cones from the vine. Dr. Mark Gleason and Hayley Nelson demonstrated the use of a new insect netting called Protek net used to manage cucumber beetle and bacterial wilt in squash and melons. John Krzton-Presson, a graduate student in sustainable agriculture and horticulture, discussed his research on utilizing cereal rye cover crop for strip tillage planting of melons and potential use of rolled and crimped cereal rye residue to reduce food borne pathogens on melon fruit.

The field day provided graduate students an opportunity to actively participate and engage growers in their research projects. The afternoon session of the field day was followed by supper at the farm. After the supper growers mingled with farm staff, researchers and graduate students and had discussions on needs and challenges for the fruit and vegetable industry in Iowa.