Ken Able – Marine Field Station
Mike Haberland, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County
Peach ice cream – fresh-dipped and fabulous – will be featured at the 2016 Gloucester County 4-H Fair this year. But there won’t be a Peach Bake-Off, or a Little Miss Peach competition. And a 2016 Peach Queen will not be crowned, either… This spring’s weather hit local growers hard. An unusually warm spell in late March – which encouraged early varieties of peaches to blossom – was followed by a deep freeze the night of April 4 and into the morning of April 5. “The temperatures ranged from 17 to 25 degrees,” notes Hemant Gohil, agricultural agent at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Gloucester County.
Even before there was a Basking Ridge, NJ, there was the oak tree. George Washington picnicked in its shade. Gen. Jean Baptist de Rochambeau and allied French troops marched past it on the way to the Battle of Yorktown, Va. Thirty five Revolutionary War veterans are buried beneath its branches… “We had great hopes,” Pastor Dennis Jones told the Post. “All eyes were on the tree to see how it would green.” When it didn’t last month, when even more of its upper branches stayed bare, other experts were consulted. They tested the soil, probed the tree’s roots, checked for beetles and disease. Jason Grabosky, an ecologist at Rutgers University, inspected the tree in mid-June and declared it to be “in a spiral of decline.”
If you were bitten by a mosquito last summer, or the summer before that, chances are it was an Asian tiger… “This is an odds situation,” Scott C. Crans, a field researcher at Rutgers University’s Center for Vector Biology, said by email. So far, 273 people in the U.S. are known to have picked up Zika, all linked to travel outside the country… Dina M. Fonseca, a Rutgers professor of entomology, has been studying Asian tiger behavior in different places. DNA analysis of blood from trapped mosquitoes found that albopictus was nearly 50 percent more likely to feed on humans in suburban Monmouth County than in inner-city Trenton. Her team surmised that the pit bulls kept in the city’s low-income neighborhood offered a preferable meal.
Shoppers once chose supermarkets for convenience, cost, customer service and quick checkouts. But a recent study found 83 percent of consumers pick only retail outlets that look clean to them, according to supermarket guru Phil Lempert. A full third of the people he surveyed have turned around and fled stores that seemed less than pristine… “Making food safe costs money,” said Donald W. Schaffner, food safety expert and a professor of microbiology at Rutgers University. “If you’re an upscale chain, you know your customers demand it. It comes through diligence and staffing.”
In 1793, the Aedes aegypti mosquito carried yellow fever from the tropics to Philadelphia, killing 10 percent of the population and forcing much of the rest – including President George Washington and his entire government – to flee… “It has adapted to humans, just like the rats and cockroaches,” said Randy Gaugler, a professor and director of Rutgers University’s Center for Vector Biology.
Researchers at Rutgers University say they have perfected an improved and juicier version, not found in supermarkets, that will delight discerning taste buds of tomato lovers…”It’s what you think of when you think back to the tomatoes you had when you were younger, and they came right off the vine into your house and you cut into them, and they were red and the flavor was bursting,” horticulturist Tom Orton told Rutgers Today, a university newsletter… “The Rutgers 250 has that traditional Jersey tomato flavor with a little bit of bite and complexity,” Peter Nitzsche, an associate professor and agricultural agent for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, told Rutgers Today. “We are hoping it mimics the same flavor people remember from the original Rutgers tomato, but from a new variety with a better plant and fruit quality.”
Tide gauges show that average sea levels have been steadily rising since the late 1800s, a worrisome trend that scientists blame on emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But what about the centuries before then, when those gauges were mostly nonexistent? Part of the answer, a team of researchers reported this week, lies in the salt marshes of South Jersey… “It clearly illustrates that we’re living in an unusual time,” said Rutgers University professor Benjamin P. Horton, one of the authors. “The paper also shows we’re the cause of this.”