Beating the Bugs in the Bogs: Postdoctoral Student Studies Cranberry Resistance to Gypsy Moth

Elvira de Lange wrapping a cranberry plant with newly hatched gypsy moth larva.

Elvira de Lange wrapping a cranberry plant with newly hatched gypsy moth larva.

The gypsy moth is a destructive insect pest infesting New Jersey’s forests, destroying thousands of acres of trees. In the New Jersey Pinelands, the gypsy moth is also an occasional pest of cranberries. Gypsy moth caterpillars will readily eat the plants in outbreak years, when they are abundant in the Pinelands, like in 2007. The caterpillars prefer to feed on oaks, but when they encounter cranberry plants, their presence can have a devastating effect. Fortunately, since 2007, the caterpillars have rarely been seen in the New Jersey Pinelands. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared for their eventual return. Also, studying cranberry resistance against gypsy moth will teach us about the resistance of the plants against other important pests as well.

At the Rutgers Marucci Cranberry and Blueberry Research Center in Chatsworth, NJ, studies led by postdoctoral student Elvira de Lange are currently testing the insect resistance of seven varieties of cranberry, including the widely used Stevens variety and newer varieties such as Crimson Queen and Demoranville. De Lange started off wrapping the different plants in white polyester sleeves and adding a number of gypsy moth larvae that just hatched from the egg. A week later, she retrieved the larvae from the plants and weighed them, to evaluate whether or not they grew well on certain plants. Also, she scored the damage the gypsy moth evoked, as a measure for plant resistance. She is still evaluating the data, in order to know if certain cranberry varieties are more resistant than others. [Read more...]

Climate: Arctic sea ice third-lowest on record for May

Arctic sea ice extent in May was about a quarter of a million square miles below the 1981-2010 average, ending up as the third-lowest on record for the month, according to the latest update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center…Elsewhere in the Earth’s frozen realms (called the cryosphere by scientists), the Rutgers Global Snow Lab documented another rapid spring meltdown of the northern hemisphere’s snow cover, in line with the recent trend of low spring snow cover extent.

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Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe: Sex and the Single Asparagus

asparagus-Pete51In the land of asparagus, it’s a male dominated world where the female just can’t catch a break. Not weighed down by seed, the male asparagus not only out-yields the female, but ironically is more tender and sweet. Read more on how males take the lead in hybrid asparagus production in the latest “Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe.”

Understanding Future Sea Levels for New Jersey

Core samples being collected by the Rutgers research teams

Core samples being collected by the Rutgers research teams

Rutgers scientists from the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences have been looking to the past to understand our future here in New Jersey. Over the last few years, Rutgers has assembled an international “dream team” of sea level scientists and they have been working to understand the past sea levels of New Jersey. Their recent work has shown that geological and historical sea-level records show a significant rate of increase in sea-level rise since the nineteenth century. In New Jersey, it is extremely likely that sea-level rise in the twentieth century was faster than during any other century in the last 4.3 thousand years. Accounting for regional and local factors, the team projects sea-level rise in the mid-Atlantic U.S. most likely to be about 38-42” over the twentieth century, but possibly as high as 66-71″. This has significant implications for future generations and the infrastructure investments required to ensure the societal and economic strength of New Jersey.

Revised from Rutgers Oceanography newsletter, Issue 16, April 2014

The Berry Best for New Jersey

NJAES strawberry variety trial at Rutgers Snyder farm

NJAES strawberry variety trial at Rutgers Snyder farm

Strawberries from California and Florida can typically be found in supermarkets throughout the year, but Jersey Fresh strawberries only make a brief appearance in the spring. New Jersey’s strawberry season is now–late May to mid-June. Pick-Your-Own farms can be found throughout the state and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture provides tips on selecting the best berries and keeping them fresh.

Not many people realize that strawberries are native to New Jersey. The wild strawberries that once were found throughout the state were small, seedy and not as sweet as today’s modern varieties. While many New Jersey farms are currently growing Chandler strawberry, a California variety, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) is currently testing several new strawberry varieties on New Jersey farms. These varieties developed at NJAES offer great flavor and perform well in New Jersey’s climate. [Read more...]