Please click on the link below to see to the pdf version of the research trial results.
The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.
The seedless table grape trial at the station, in the garden, began in 2007. Fifteen varieties were planted in early June. We were all optimistic and had great hopes that at least four or five of the varieties would over-winter and produce a great crop of seedless table grapes. The hardiness zones for the grape varieties ranged from Zone 6 to Zone 4. Only one selection was rated at Zone 4. Most fell in the range of 5a or 5b.
Now five years later, we know that 12 of those original 15 varieties have over-wintered, and produced abundant fruit that ripens in our climate, and each has a unique and unusual taste.
Our annual seedless table grape report for 2012 has a detailed account of the varieties that have over-wintered, and a description of each variety. Please check the link below for the annual report.
Each year we trial annual fruits and vegetables. We evaluate new and old varieties side by side. During the season we make careful notation of flowering dates, fruit set dates, and first ripe fruits. In addition we evaluate plant habit, health, insect pressure, and taste. Our goal is to find out what varieties do best under our weather conditions here in Wisconsin.
Our data is used by both the home and market gardener to determine what to grow.
This years evaluations include a brief summary of weather conditions here at the station.
This year our flower trials included 388 cultivars of annual flowers. Three times during the season (Jul. 7, Aug. 6, and Sept. 10) we make careful evaluations of each. We look to evaluate the seed companies claims about the plant. We note consistency of size, habit, flowering, and color. We also note disease issues, insect pressure, and weather tolerance.Our evaluations are compiled with weather data and provided to the individual companies as well as the public.
In addition to our general trials we conduct a specific trial for the CFGW (Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin). With their financial support we trial up to 130 cultivars of one or two types of flowers a year. This year we conducted evaluations on sun loving impatiens and osteospermum. The goal of the trial is to provide this industry group a better understanding of which varieties thrive in conditions here in Wisconsin. This data helps Wisconsin growers provide consumers with varities better suited to our climate and soils.
Follow the links to this years annual flower evaluations:
Each year we conduct trials and research on various fruits and vegetables. After data and seasonal evaluations are completed we donate our produce to local food banks. This year we gave our produce to two local pantries Middleton Outreach Ministry and the Lussier Center-Food from Friends program. In total we gave over 3000lbs of produce over a 5 week period. We are proud to work with volunteers and the organizations to provide the community with healthy food.
On July 26 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard received training at the University Display Gardens. The instruction focused on growing techniques for grapes, apples, and vegetable crops. The training was part of a week long series ‘Agriculture 101’ that was coordinated by the UW Babcock institute. The soldiers were given an overview of many agricultural topics to help prepare them for their service dealing with civilian farmers abroad.
In the past two weeks we have noticed a large populations of many insects in the garden. Along with all the destructive pests, we have also been lucky to have attracted many beneficials. Pictured above is a Tachinid fly. This beneficial insect is parasitic toward caterpillars and larvae of some other pest species including various cabbage worms. We have seen huge populations particularly on perennial herb plants. Spearmint and Oregano seem to be highly attractant to these flies. We are very glad to have attracted these insects to the garden. Even if they provide a minimal degree of pest control we feel that there presence is important to managing our garden sustainably. See link http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/kyf409.html
The dry weather that started last summer has continued through the winter and spring and now into the summer of 2012. Since April 1 we have received only 6.25in of rain. The lack of rain in combination with the high temperatures and strong winds last few weeks has put some of the plants under stress.
At the University Display Gardens we are lucky to have access to irrigation. Our water is from a onsite well. Near the top of the gardens we have connections to a water line. To this we connect a series of 30 ft aluminum pipes, each with an elevated sprinkler head. We connect enough pipes to reach desired beds.
We try to maintain an equivalent of 1.5inches of rain each 7-10 days. With our irrigation system in place this takes approximately 1.5 hrs for each run. We then have to move the pipes to the next rows. All together irrigation is an all day affair. It takes a lot of work. So in essence we are always hoping for rain. There is no substitute for rainwater to make plants grow.
The mild winter and now the recent heat has led to a very early season for our berry crops. The Raspberries are ahead about 3 weeks from last season with the berries being of a smaller size. Varieties currently at or just past peak include Prelude, Encore, and Boyne.
The blueberries are 2-3weeks ahead with what looks to be a good crop. Sugar content and flavor are developing nicely. ‘Duke’ is our earliest variety and has some of the largest berries. So far ‘Ka Bluey’ is the favorite of evaluators. Sugar content on the varieties currently range from 11-18%.