Big Ten schools work to develop environmentally friendly lawns

How much are homeowners willing to pay for a lawn that looks like this and resists drought, disease and wear? Scientists from Rutgers and the University of Minnesota are trying to find out…"We’re trying to make the low-maintenance grass less vulnerable to disease and more wear-tolerant for homeowners’ lawns," said Austin Grimshaw, a research technician at the Center for Turfgrass Science in Rutgers’ New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, who is working with colleagues Stacy Bonos and William Meyer on researching fine fescue.

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Gaining ground: farmers markets turning away vendors

Greg Lewis stood behind a table under a white tent on a hot summer afternoon in July. On the table sat brown paper bags labeled, "Hawaiian 100 percent Kona," "Java Taman Dadar" and "Dos Locos." A woman walked up and greeted him by name, telling Greg she stopped by to get her fix while another customer holding a cloth shopping bag purchased 16 ounces of coffee beans she had yet to try…The Rutgers Garden Farm Market in New Brunswick on Fridays started in 2008 with 12 vendors, said programs and development manager Mary Ann Schrum. It now consists of 28 merchants selling traditional farmers market products and baked goods from local growers. "We try very hard to not have the same products. It’s not fair to the vendors and customers," she said. "So many people contact us, and we feel bad about turning them down."

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How hot is it? The air in NJ might be dangerous

Looking forward to sultry, summer-like weather? Heat has been rare so far this spring in New Jersey. But the mercury, accompanied by uncomfortable humidity, is expected to climb into the 90s in parts of the state today and most areas Wednesday, according to experts…David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University, said "everyone thinks it’s been so chilly and it really hasn’t. I don’t know if it’s an absence of an early season heat wave or people are still reeling from a winter that was severe and took a while to end in March. Again, (it’s) probably a combination of both."

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Pollen count on the rise in New Jersey

For those who experience seasonal allergies, the past week may have felt like the most severe of the year. But while it may seem like the start of one of the worst allergy seasons, allergist Leonard Bielory says the opposite. "The sky is not falling this year," said Bielory, an attending physician at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and professor at Rutgers University’s Center for Environmental Prediction. "This is the first normal season in at least 10 years. The grass is not as high, pollen counts are normal."

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Jersey Shore golf clubs putting harsh winter behind them

The light coating of snow and ice that greeted many at the Jersey Shore when they woke up Wednesday morning served as one final reminder of how tough the winter has been. The first measurable snow fell on Dec. 8, 2013, and through Wednesday some areas of Central Jersey had received upwards of 63 inches of snow from 16 different storms. Those snow totals, along with bitterly cold conditions, will play a role in the type of conditions players will encounter early in the season. It’s not all bad, however. “In some respects, having that cover helped take some of the pressure off the grass and the soil,” said Dr. James Murphy from the Center for Turfgrass Science at Rutgers University. “If there is a lot of play during the wintertime greens and tees can get packed, and when they get compacted like that it’s not good. Come summertime if it gets very hot you can have some problems.”

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N.J.’s great women – on the farm and in the wild

For 2014, Annie’s Project New Jersey of Rutgers Cooperative Extension has announced its offering of a six-week course for greenhouse growers. This national farm business management program educates and empowers local women farmers, and since 2011 has offered specialized programming throughout New Jersey for our current and future crop of women farmers…"Annie’s Project gives New Jersey women farmers the tools to help them succeed by focusing on five areas of farm risk marketing and pricing, production risk, financial management, human and personal risk and legal risk," said Jenny Carleo, RCE Agricultural Agent in Cape May County and co-coordinator of this effort. "Annie’s Project New Jersey is unique in that our women participants focus on creating farm business plans and use social media education for marketing and business development."

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Nor’easter expected to bring rain, flooding to Jersey Shore today and Friday

The nor’easter lingering south of New Jersey is expected to bring another 1 to 2 inches of rainfall – quite a bit less than forecast earlier Thursday, according to a late-day National Weather Service briefing. "I would say right now it’s performed basically as expected," with coastal flooding and winds on target, said David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University. But the storm is "underperforming a little bit" when it comes to rainfall, although that could change, he stressed. "There is still the possibility that a good swath of rain could develop and just dump on us overnight," Robinson, a geography professor, said Thursday.

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Morris County 4-H fair hot ticket despite heat

The Morris County 4-H Fair drew hundreds of families Saturday to Chubb Park, the event’s home since 1984. Hot weather was not expected to diminish the typical final tally of 15,000 to 20,000 annual visitors by the time the four-day fair ends at 4 p.m. today. Certainly heat did not affect fun activities from face painting and musical performances to amusement and hay rides…Participation in 4-H, a part of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County, is multigenerational, because many families continue to volunteer long after their children age out of the clubs, which now number 26 and sport names like Puppy Tails, Wing Nuts, Feathered Friends and Kids 4 Kindness. The newest is Just Kidding Around, a goat club.

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Edible gardens: Buy now, plant later

It’s Mother’s Day – the traditional time of year in New Jersey to plant tomatoes. Before you run to your local garden center, grab your trowel and start digging, stop. With cooler than usual night temperatures this spring, experts say you’d be wiser to wait another week or two…While waiting, prepare the tomato bed, and make sure the soil’s pH is 6.5, said Bruce Crawford, director of Rutgers Gardens, 112 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension office in your county analyzes soil: $20 for a fertility test, $50 for a soil/plant suitability test.

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Rutgers – New Brunswick students call for action on Global Warming

Associate Director of the Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society, Professor Melanie McDermott, NJPIRG Students and other environmental groups gathered on the Brower Steps of College Avenue at Rutgers New Brunswick on Tuesday to call on President Barack Obama to take strong action on global warming. 

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