research On Our Farm
We’ve performed several on-farm research projects to develop better organic farming techniques. This page is for other farmers who would like to learn about what we have done.
Branching In Nursery Apple Trees
With funding from a USDA-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, we compared organic methods of promoting branching in nursery apple trees raised in a high tunnel. Manually removing young leaves near the growing point of the tree increased branching slightly, and spraying trees with a seaweed extract high in cytokinins reduced branching slightly. In addition, there were strong differences between varieties in branching and there was much variation among individual trees in both height and branching. The cost in materials and labor for raising a tree in this system was approximately $11.95-$12.08, excluding overhead costs and costs of facilities and equipment; the different treatments to promote branching had minor effects on the overall cost of raising a tree.
Maypops, A New Fruit Crop?
With funding from a USDA-SARE Farmer Rancher grant, we evaluated maypops (a species of passionflower) as a new fruit crop for hoophouses in the upper Midwest. The vines gew vigorously. There were differences between plant sources in flavor, yield, and growth pattern, suggesting that breeding and selection might develop improved varieties. Inadequate insect pollination appeared to limit fruitset. Juice yield was extremely low (about 2.5 quarts of juice from 120 plants) and a much higher yield is needed to justify the costs of growing the plants: about $1400 of supplies and labor was needed to grow these plants. Maypop juice caused stomach sickness to several people, and we could not recommend the fruit.