It’s great fun when we humans can wear our flip-flops and shorts in December. That thick jacket with the fur-trimmed hood is just a short trip to the closet away when winter inevitably wallops us… Lena Struwe, a plant biologist at Rutgers University, has been noticing the weeds, because that’s what she studies. “In the last couple weeks, have you seen all these dandelions flowering?” she asked. She’s never seen so many at this time of the year. There are thousands on the university lawn. “There are all these fluffy balls right now,” she said. She’s also seeing hairy cress, which usually comes out in April, and veronica. Because these plants are fast growers, they may be able get in an extra growing season, spreading extra seeds for the spring… Struwe is worried about how plants that have adapted over thousands of years to our seasons will ultimately respond to our warming, more unsettled climate. Plants that like warmer weather are already migrating northward. Kudzu, an invasive vine, has made it to Delaware and southern Pennsylvania.
Whither Winter? Warm For Now, But El Nino Remains Wild Card
We’ll be surprised if November doesn’t come in as the warmest November on record worldwide in the official federal database. It already is No. 1 on the satellite list. Likewise, we expect December to finish at or near the top, and 2015 is a lock to bec…
Talking Oyster Farming With Lisa Calvo
This article interviews Lisa Calvo, Aquaculture Extension Program Coordinator at the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory… One recent afternoon, the oysters (and a few clams) were making their star turns at Oyster House on Sansom Street – a mouthwatering postscript to a South Jersey shellfish story all but ended by a stunting parasite in 1950… The occasion was part exhibition, part celebration of the region’s hard-won revival of farmed oystering, now boasting its own buzzword: merroir, the watery equivalent of what winemakers call terroir. But this hasn’t been an overnight success. We talked to Lisa Calvo, one of the pioneers, about rough winters, brightening prospects, and the fear of flies in Port Norris… “The big problem is that, in summer, things like to settle on the oysters. Worms weave these beehives of mud tubes. You need to wash the ambient seawater over the bags, spray the mud off. Then you’ve got the splitting of the bags, counting out the market orders. You work the whole tide. You can get in five hours,” said Calvo.
Jersey Tomato’s Spirit Ripens
The quintessential Jersey tomato is the one you can taste even decades after its flavor first burst on your tongue. It’s that indelible, summer-defining tomato you picked up at a farmstand on the White Horse Pike in Hammonton in 1960 and have been trying to buy, or grow, ever since… “We constantly hear the question, ‘What happened to the Jersey tomato?’ ” says horticulturist Tom Orton, noting that aesthetics, shelf life, and sliceability long ago eclipsed flavor in importance among mass market vendors… Since 2010, they’ve been breeding a better version of the famous “Rutgers” variety, which became synonymous with the Jersey tomato for decades after it was released to the public in 1934… Despite its fame and popularity, the Rutgers was never patented, and was so frequently crossbred by various seed companies that it ultimately lost its distinctiveness.
New Addition to Weather Team at CBS3
Lauren Casey, a Pennsylvania native and Rutgers graduate, joins the CBS3 Eyewitness News weather team next month… Prior to joining the Philly station, Casey worked at sister station, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, where her boss, Brien Kennedy, has already …
A Few Good Eggs in Haddon Township?
Haddon Township may soon find out whether chickens make good neighbors. The densely developed Camden County suburb is considering a pilot program to allow up to 25 households to each raise up to four hens (no roosters allowed)… “There’s definitely a movement toward [non-rural] agriculture,” says Joseph Heckman, a soil specialist with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension service… “It’s about getting a better egg,” adds Heckman, who lives on a Hunterdon County farm and has done research into backyard chickens. “Eggs from chickens who go out and graze are more nutritious and better-tasting.”
Community Greenhouse a Growing Effort in Camden County
The late July heat is blooming inside the Camden County Community Greenhouse, but the volunteers seem unfazed… The once-abandoned greenhouse at the Lakeland complex in Gloucester Township will yield 15,000 flowering plants this year to beautify the county’s park system and public buildings… “We’re growing most of the annuals for the parks, and we’re starting to do perennials, too,” says Becki Szkotak, a program associate with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County… The extension is the county’s partner in programs at the greenhouse; since it reopened in March 2014, the facility has become a centerpiece of the Sustainable Camden County program… Rutgers oversees the Master Gardeners program statewide. Pitching in at the greenhouse is a way for participants to fulfill certification requirements.
It’ll be a Peachy Season for Peaches – If Weather Holds Up
At Circle M Farms in Salem, grower Santo Maccherone has trouble containing his enthusiasm these days. His peach trees – covering more than 100 acres – are absolutely laden with fruit… In 1982, New Jersey had 14,600 acres of the peaches, said Jerry Frecon, a consultant for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council and professor emeritus of Rutgers University who specialized in agricultural extension work. Today, the state has the 4,600 acres of peaches plus about 600 acres of nectarines… “There are also other reasons” for selling land, Frecon said. “Sometimes, their children don’t want to go into the business or they don’t have heirs and have to sell.”
Seeking Mates, Fish Switch Sex
When mating prospects are grim, certain females in Jersey Shore waters appear to have developed a clever strategy: changing sex. That is what Rutgers University scientists think is happening with black sea bass, apparently in response to declining numbers of males… “You don’t need that many males in a population,” said Rutgers biologist Olaf Jensen. “But you do need some.”… Gender gibes aside, the knowledge that scientists have gleaned so far is expected to be useful next year when federal regulators set catch limits for this important commercial species. Last time they did so, the sex-changing ability was not taken into account, and boat captains felt the resulting limits were too restrictive.
Jersey Shore Oyster Industry Growing Again
Lying 50 yards off the shore of a remote cove along a stretch of mud flats on the Delaware Bay – where prehistoric man once cultivated oysters with a kind of primitive aquaculture – modern-day researchers and aqua-farmers have been working hand in hand for more than a decade to seed and grow New Jersey’s beleaguered oyster industry… Ultimately, it took more than 40 years and many tries by the late Rutgers biologist Harold H. Haskin to develop a disease-resistant strain of oysters that is now the industry standard from Maine to Florida. So remarkable was Haskin’s research and ultimate success in helping revive the oyster species here and elsewhere that after he retired in 1984, Rutgers named its Shellfish Research Laboratory in Port Norris after him. The research Haskins began continues today at the lab, according to Kathryn Ashton-Alcox, a field researcher there… “It’s so important to continue the research of the species and the management of it, so that the industry continues to grow,” Ashton-Alcox said. “We’ve merged the resources of Rutgers, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the industry-growers to successfully work together to recover this important industry.”