Macfarlane Greenhouse

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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NHAES and the Macfarlane Greenhouse are in the process of finalizing an agreement with the MPS international sustainability certification organization. We are the first U.S. research greenhouse to be included in this program, which speaks very highly to our ongoing comittment to sustainable operations. The relationship provides a set of benchmarks within which we will work to document our success and progress toward attaining greater achievement in this area. As an important part of our overall operation, sustainability is also a part of our outreach focus. As such, we hosted the Growing a Green Generation Conference in May for seventy educators from across New England who came to UNH – and the Child Study and Development Center – for a day of learning about sharing the joys of the natural world with young children through gardening.

In addition, we hosted the NH session of the annual Tri-State Greenhouse IPM Workshops, a collaborative event involving growers, state Departments of Agriculture and Extension systems in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. And last spring, we collaborated with Strawbery Banke’s Curator of Historic Landscape, John Forti, to grow a variety of heirloom ornamental and vegetable plants for use in their gardens.

We welcomed upwards of 3000 combined visitors to two of our most popular events: the annual Spring Open House, a two-day event in March, and the Poinsettia Open House, a three-day event in near the beginning of December. This year, we hope to count you among our visitors to the upcoming Poinsettia Open House that takes place from November 29th to December 1st.

Last November, NHAES-funded plant breeder and geneticist Brent Loy was awarded the University’s inaugural Innovator of the Year Award for his research program and its impact on UNH’s commercialization efforts. His breeding work has resulted in more than fifty new varieties of tomato, squash, pumpkins, gourds, and melons sold in seed catalogs throughout the world. And he’s responsible for fifty percent of the University’s cumulative royalties valued at $1.1 million since 1999. NHAES is proud to have provided Loy with funding for his research and the remarkable facilities to carry out his studies that have been so successful over the years.

This past year, Loy worked with Ph.D. student Jake Uretsky on a project, Developing Interspecific Hybrids for the Pumpkin Processing Industry, to improve the vigor in one of the new hybrids. This resulted in a phenomenal forty percent increase in fresh weight yield over current open-pollinated strains, equally approximately 64 tons per acre.

Loy continues to experiment with the breeding and genetics of cucurbits and tomatoes. The use of the Macfarlane Greenhouse makes it possible for him to have three crop breeding rotations (two in the greenhouse, one in the field), thereby more rapidly developing hybrids within one and a half to two years.

In addition to Loy’s research, other project highlights include:

  • Generating hybrids of the Japanese strawberry species Fragaria iinumae, a diploid ancestor of the octoploid cultivated strawberry.
  • Selecting promising new hybrid cultivated strawberries as a step toward the development and release of new strawberry varieties bred specifically for adaptation to regional conditions.
  • Studies of foliar application of nitrogen as an effective method of fertilization, and the efficiency changes in nitrogen assimilation with different nitrogen sources
  • The development of two new varieties of cherry tomatoes for hanging basket production, “Rambling Rose” and “Rambling Ruby.”
  • An examination of the influence of hybrid striped bass stocking density on plant growth in an aquaponic system.
  • The development of genomic resources for barberries and cultivars for hardy kiwi that can be grown in New England.
  • Gathering data from the Blue Hills Foundation weed seed bank study in order to inform land-use decisions for choosing the most appropriate agricultural operation for hay fields managed by the Blue Hills Foundation in Strafford County.
  • Creating alternative management strategies for the suppression of apple scab and improvement of scab forecasting models.
  • Examining the characterization and distribution of fungi associated with White Pine Needle Damage in the northeast and the effects of climate on this disease’s development and spread.
  • Determining how to preserve the Butternut through population genetic studies of the tree and the butternut canker fungus.
  • Measuring the root cold tolerance of woody shrubs.
  • Examining the adaptation of the Pour-Thru Media Monitoring System for controlled release fertilizer.
  • Evaluating growth regulators as tools to reduce stem elongation in cut tulips and the use of controlled release fertilizers in the post-production of greenhouse hanging plants.
  • Determining the sufficiency ranges of nutrients in poinsettia leaf tissue throughout the crop cycle.
  • Examining the adaptation of controlled release fertilizers to greenhouse Cyclamen, pot Chrysanthemum, and Gerbera production.

As always, teaching remains an integral part of the greenhouse’s mission. Last January, we welcomed Andrew Ogden who joined the faculty of the college as a Lecturer in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems degree program. Andrew will be teaching Food Production Field Experience, a new class this spring that will take place at both the greenhouse and the new high tunnel facility at the Fairchild Dairy. Other courses that take place throughout the year at the Macfarlane Greenhouse include Fruit Crop Production, Culture of Vegetable Crops, Introduction to Horticulture Lab, and Greenhouse Management and Operation.

Last month, we mourned the loss of our dear colleague, David Lane, who worked at the Biological Sciences Library for 27 years as biological sciences librarian and associate professor. David also maintained an extensive carnivorous plant collection at the Macfarlane Greenhouse conservatory for most of those years. His collection of carnivorous plants, miniature orchids and gesneriads, bromeliads and club mosses has been given a permanent home here at the Macfarlane Greenhouses and is dedicated in his memory.

If you would like to make a gift toward the care and feeding of David Lane's carnivorous plant and orchid collections and the Macfarlane Greenhouse tropical conservatory, please send your donation to the attention of Stephanie Gillen, University Advancement, Elliott Alumni Center, 9 Edgewood Road, Durham, NH 03824.  Checks should be made payable to UNH Foundation, with Hort Gift Fund 1GB197 in the memo line.