Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station 'Research, Impacts & Publications'

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Numbered Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station Publications Abstracts

VAES Information Series 02-2
Weather Data Compiled for Blackstone, Virginia: 1949-2001

W.M. Tilson, C.D. Teutsch, W.B. Wilkinson III
Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Weather data recorded in Nottoway County, Virginia between 1949 and 2001 are presented and summarized. Data were recorded at the Virginia Tech Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Camp Pickett, and the Blackstone Army Airfield. Values for minimum, maximum, and average air temperatures were averaged over the 53-year period and reported on a daily and monthly basis. Daily and monthly precipitation amounts are also reported. Tables for low temperature probabilities, degree unit, and chilling-hour information are presented. Finally, information on hurricane frequency and severity and snowfall amounts for the state of Virginia is included.

VAES Information Series 02-1
Needs Assessment Survey of the Virginia Greenhouse Industry

Joyce Latimer, Holly Scoggins, and Vicky Barden, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061; and Michael Lambur, Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

This report summarizes responses to a survey of the greenhouse and perennial production industry in Virginia. More than two hundred and seventy greenhouse growers or perennial plant producers, ranging from very small operations with no employees to very large ones employing dozens of workers, answered questions regarding the scope of their business, current cultural practices and training interests, and their perception of the primary issues facing their industry.

Analysis of the survey responses reveals that there are far more small operations than large. Small greenhouses, defined as those having less than 10,000 square feet of heated space, made up 58% of the respondents. Nineteen percent of the responding businesses were defined as medium sized greenhouses based on operating between 10, 000 and 29,999 square feet of heated space. Large greenhouses, those with over 30,000 square feet of heated space, made up only 15% of the total. A final 9% of the respondents were categorized as "other," based on the nature of their business rather than size. However, large growers operate a disproportionate share of the production space, employ a disproportionate number of those working in greenhouses, and generate the majority of the revenue earned in this field. Those responding to this survey represent many years of experience in the greenhouse industry. As might be expected, many of the larger operations had been in business longer, but even small operations reported a median of eight years in business under present ownership.

Most respondents produce a variety of crops, and are interested in learning more about crops that they currently produce, as well as crops that they are not currently producing, with interest in learning more about perennials being the most preferred topic. While nearly two thirds of the respondents produce some form of bedding plants, many other floral and vegetable crops are in production. There was a trend toward some flowering potted plants like poinsettias or chrysanthemums being produced in greater numbers by large greenhouses. Some training needs varied with the size of the operation. Large and medium sized growers expressed more interest than did small and other growers in learning about several plant production topics, including automation of greenhouse functions, nutritional management, plant growth regulators and managing wastewater and runoff. Large and medium sized growers were generally more interested in employee management topics. Information regarding training needs is being used to develop research and educational programs planned to meet the identified needs of those in the industry.

Following administration of the survey, three focus groups were conducted in various parts of Virginia. Small groups of growers were given an opportunity to discuss the issues greenhouse growers face in running profitable operations. Recurring themes confirmed the survey results and included attracting and retaining a competent labor force, and marketing to deal with competition. A focus group in which participants were VCE agents discussed how VCE could address the issues facing the industry.

VAES Bulletin 01-2
The Economics of Turfgrass in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Jason Beddow, Eluned Jones, David Lamie, Karen Mundy
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
David Chalmers
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences

This study provides an assessment of the economics of turfgrass in Virginia. Turfgrass production is defined as a demand item, and demand for turfgrass causes various economic activities such as provision of sod, seed, fertilizer, turfgrass equipment, labor, and turf services. Thus, turfgrass is viewed as a demandpull system. An input-output model was applied using the IMPLAN system and data from a 1998 Virginia Agricultural Statistics Service survey. The results of the input-output estimates indicate that during 1998, turfgrass establishment, management, and maintenance activities added over $2.1 billion in economic output and over $1 billion in value added to the economy of Virginia. To put the economics of turfgrass production into a meaningful context, various industry professions were identified and surveyed. The survey to turfgrass professional inquired about past, present, and future trends in turfgrass production, management, and technology. Among other findings, the results indicate that turfgrass production is changing markedly because of increases in quality expectations, labor costs, and environmental and regulatory concerns. Turfgrass production appears to be shifting away from the use of semiskilled labor and is instead developing a smaller, more educated labor force that more extensively employs machinery and other technology. Spatial analysis is used to asses changes in various turfgrass demand factors (for example, population and housing starts) across the Commonwealth. The study results indicate that turfgrass demand has been increasing rapidly in northern and central Virginia while demand has been slowly increasing or even decreasing in the southern and southwestern portion of the Commonwealth.

VAES Bulletin 01-1
Economic Analysis of Virginia Poultry Litter Transportation

Beth Ann Pelletier, James Pease, and David Kenyon
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Over the past 20 years, the poultry industry has expanded rapidly in Virginia, resulting in local surpluses of poultry litter. In 1997, over 550,000 tons of poultry litter were produced in Virginia, containing approximately 35 million pounds of phosphate and an equal amount of nitrogen. In order to minimize water quality impacts of litter applications, public and private entities are analyzing how to properly utilize these nutrients. This study examines one of these alternatives: a litter transport program designed to increase use of poultry litter as fertilizer throughout the Commonwealth. Poultry litter production is calculated on a state, regional, and county basis. Appropriate application rates are developed based on soil test summary data on a crop and county basis. Crop, hay, and pasture nutrient application potential for all counties/cities exceed 7 million tons of litter to meet nitrogen requirements, and 3.2 million tons of litter to meet phosphate requirements. Crop nutrient budgets, travel distances, and transport costs are used to compare the economic value of poultry litter to that of commercial fertilizer. Within the breakeven transport distance for litter and without a subsidy, average per-acre cost savings from using litter on non-legume crops range from $6-$7, including all transport, handling, and application costs. Savings would be higher with multiple-year applications to crop rotations. Over 2.1 million tons of poultry litter could be used within the breakeven transportation distance with 100 percent adoption of poultry litter on crop, hay, and pasture acreage. Nearly 80 percent of such application potential is on hay and pasture acres. Focus groups organized with current and potential litter users indicate that concerns about price, logistics of handling, storing, and spreading litter, performance as a nutrient source, weed seeds in litter; supplemental commercial fertilizer applications, and regulatory concerns could limit adoption of poultry litter for fertilizer. If a reduced adoption rate of 50 percent of corn, wheat, and barley acres and 10 percent of hay and pasture acreage and no transport subsidy is assumed, 374,000 tons of poultry litter would be used within the breakeven distance at a savings of nearly $17 million to litter users. Most litter is currently transported only 50 to 100 miles. A transport program subsidized by a public agency or public/private collaboration would likely increase adoption rates and extend the distance that poultry litter is transported. A potential program that assumes low adoption rates and pays transport costs up to a maximum subsidy rate of $11 per ton could transfer 374,000 tons of poultry litter to a distance of 170 miles at a total subsidy cost of approximately $2.8 million annually or an average of $7.90 per ton. A more restricted program designed to transfer approximately 135,000 tons up to 100 miles would cost approximately $559,000 per year. The cost of such a program would vary depending on participation rates and on changes in production of poultry and poultry litter. Expansion of alternative uses for poultry litter would also decrease the cost of a litter transport subsidy program. Public concerns imply that further research concerning the issues of raw litter transport and alternative uses is warranted.

VAES Bulletin 00-2
Using GIS as an Agricultural Land-Use Planning Tool

Amber L. (Williams) Coleman and John M. Galbraith
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech

Soil survey data and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are important tools in land use planning. Intertwined, they represent an invaluable and underutilized resource. A high intensity soil survey was created for the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SPAREC) in Blackstone, Virginia. The soils information was recompiled from an uncorrected aerial photographic base to a USGS topographic base map. Soils data were added to numerous other data layers and images. Interpretation maps, flooding frequency maps, and runoff maps were created from map unit interpretive records (MUIR). Additional soil and timber data were collected by field visits. The soil based-GIS made the decision-making process more accurate, automated, and efficient. It is a dynamic product that serves to convert verbal communication into visual communication while preventing information overload.

VAES Bulletin 00-1
Perceptions of Manufactured Housing in Virginia

Julia O. Beamish and Rosemary Carucci Goss, Editors
Department of Near Environments, College of Human Resources and Education, Virginia Tech

Manufactured homes are highly affordable alternatives to both site-built single-family houses and apartments. The bulk of the demand for manufactured housing comes from low- to moderate-income families who are otherwise a close cross-section of households in Virginia in terms of age, household size, family type, and mobility. Some communities still prohibit manufactured homes in agricultural districts even though state legislation had mandated that double-section manufactured homes must be permitted in these districts. Community officials and residents have viewed manufactured housing and the people who reside in them as homogeneous but different from other types of housing and households.

When attitudes of non-residents about manufactured housing were assessed, double-section units were more accepted than were single-section ones. Non-residents showed a more negative attitude than residents did about the impact of placing manufactured housing in their community. Comparing residents of single-section homes and residents of double-section homes, respondents in double-section homes reported greater satisfaction with their housing than did residents of single-section manufactured homes.

The Industry faces some stiff obstacles, including design and construction issues, as well as public relations with consumers, community officials, and non-profit housing groups. Manufactured housing poses many challenges to public policy at the local, state, and national levels. Policy makers should look toward integrating the manufactured product line into the mainstream of America's housing, rather than impeding the progress of the industry toward a more acceptable and highly affordable housing choice.

VAES Information Series 99-1
Operations Manual for the McCormick Grist Mill

Charles W. Wade, Jr., Consulting Miller
Raphine, Va.
Gerald L. Jubb, Jr.
Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Tech

The McCormick Grist Mill located at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Education Center of Virginia Tech in Steeles Tavern,Virginia, was rehabilitated and stabilized to operational condition in 1997. The mill is a two and one-half story log structure built around 1800 by the McCormick family. It is powered by a 5.2 m diameter (17 ft.) overshot water wheel. Two sets of stones are located on the second level of the mill, one for grinding corn and barley and one for grinding wheat. Both sets of stones have a quarter dress (the arrangement of grooves in the bed stone and the runner stone). Water for powering the mill is supplied from an impoundment of Marl Creek 160 m (525 ft.) above the mill and delivered through an underground smooth bore pipe raceway. This operations manual was prepared to serve the volunteer millers who operate the grist mill at selected times during the year. Further, this manual will serve as general introduction to those interested in basic grist mill operations.

VAES 99-1
Limited Arm-Rotation Shift-Trellis (LARS) and Primocane Management Apparatus (PMA) for Raspberries and Blackberries (Rubus cvs. or crops)

H.D. Stiles
Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center
March 1999

One-sided shift-trellising (OSST) and related training systems were originated as means of accommodating the biennial growth phases and habits of summer-fruiting raspberries and blackberries (Stiles, 1995a, 1995b, 1996). These systems manipulate the plant's canopy so that floricanes and primocanes are spatially separated from each other and their intra-canopy competition for sunlight is essentially eliminated. This manipulation also isolates the fruiting zone to one side of the trellis where fruits are readily accessible and easily harvested. Through such changes in the plant's configuration, air circulation within the fruiting zone and foliar canopies is freer so that fungus or bacterial diseases and fruit rots may be inhibited. With proper orientation of trellises and fruiting zones, certain OSST systems can be used to reduce sunscald and minimize the amount of "field heat" in harvested berries (Stiles and Tilson, 1998 abstract; Tilson and Stiles, 1998 abstract).

VAES 98-2
Southwest Virginia Shipping-point Market Project Phase Two

Paul Trupo, Charles W. Coale, C. Gene Haugh, Dixie W. Reaves, George Norton
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech
February 1998

The focus of this report is to identify specific issues related to planning, organizing, and managing a horticultural cooperative in Southwest Virginia. This publication draws on the experiences of other horticultural cooperatives. The study is based on previous research that examined the feasibility of organizing a horticultural co-op in the region. This publication, a result of two years of research, should provide the cooperative organizers and management with important information to consider in their decision making process. The information includes production volumes, estimated operating expenses, volumes of produce passing through the facility, per unit costs of marketing produce, and expected return to co-op members.

VAES 98-1
Roots of Economics, Ecology and Ecumenism: Foundations of the Land-Grant Household

Mike Ellerbrock
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
February 1998

Universities worldwide face a basic academic question: Is their purpose to use people to build knowledge, or vice versa? Each institution faces this question. Some make a clear choice and excel at research or teaching, respectively, while many institutions perpetually vacillate in painful ambiguity about their mission. This paper offers an answer to this fundamental question. It will be argued that Land-Grant Universities in particular have a unique and sound perspective on the issue.

We shall proceed by looking at what three core disciplines - economics, ecology and ecumenism - have in common. Often perceived as philosophic enemies, the disciplines have common roots in the ancient Greek notion of a household - oikos (Meeks 1985; Young 1992). First, we shall examine some complementary and competing principles among the disciplines regarding proper management of our earthly household. These principles uncover some larger commonalities between science and religion, which support the holistic wisdom of the Land-Grant System's mission. Exposing the roots of economics, ecology and ecumenism reveals a tri-partite household that is empirical, theoretical and transformative -- the foundations of a Land-Grant University.

VAES 96-1
Horticultural Shipping-point Market Study for Southwest Virginia

C. Coale, P. Trupo, L. Colavito, G. Norton, and D.W. Reaves
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
August 1996

Community leaders and farmers in Southwest Virginia have expressed the need to establish a shipping-point market facility where fresh horticultural products can be cooled, graded, and packaged. These products can then be marketed to larger distribution centers which have the ability to purchase large volumes of produce and offer competitive prices. This report represents the results from the first part of a two-phase study sponsored by the USDA. The study is designed to assess the viability of, and to develop strategies for the establishment of a shipping-point market for the nineteen county Southwest Virginia region. This first phase indicates that there is potential for the successful establishment of the shipping-point market in the study region, if farmers and shipping point market management address several key constraints.

VAES 95-2
Shift-Trellises for Better Management of Brambles (Rubus cvs.)

H. D. Stiles
Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech
October 1995

This publication describes several "one-sided shift-trellises" and associated training techniques for summer-fruiting raspberries and blackberries developed at the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Blackstone, Virginia. These trellises allow producers to effectively manage the placement and configuration of the plant's fruiting zone. Such control can be used either to increase the manual-harvesting efficiency or to improve the physical condition of machine-harvested berries. These trellises and techniques permit spatial isolation of the vegetative and fruiting canopies so that their light environments are improved. Spatial isolation of the two types of canopies with certain of these trellises may contribute to 1) improvements in their microenvironments, 2) better targeting of pesticides, 3) more timely harvesting of mature berries, and 4) prolongation of daily intervals during which fruits remain at moderate temperatures. Thus, proper use of these trellises may inhibit the development of diseases, or fruit-rots, and strengthen the efficacy of integrated insect and disease management programs. Sunscalding of berries was greatly reduced by isolation of berries on the western sides of westward-leaning trellises. Perspective drawings, construction diagrams, color photographs, lists of materials, and costs of materials are presented for two categories of one-sided shift-trellis. The SBF (Stiles Bent Fence) is cheaper to construct and easier to operate than is the SSST (Single-Sided Shift-Trellis), but the latter provides opportunities for larger size of the fruiting zone and more distinct effects upon intra-canopy microenvironments.

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