The economic importance of bees is significantly undervalued, according to a European study released this week.
Strawberries pollinated by bees were of far higher commercial value than fruit that was self-pollinated or pollinated by the wind, researchers in Germany reported Wednesday.
Bee pollination strongly increased the commercial value of strawberries by producing well-shaped fruit of increased weight, according to the study.
In addition, it increased shelf life, enhanced coloring and lowered sugar-acid ratios of most varieties of strawberries.
The study, by a team at the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Göttingen in Germany, comes on the heels of a 2011 report by the UN Environment Program that showed that pollination by bees and other insects contributed about a little more than $204 billion, or 9.5 percent, of the total global value of food production.
But the most recent analysis offers evidence that the 2011 estimate could have substantially devalued the agricultural impact of the bees.
The Germany team conducted its study by planting nine commercial strawberry varieties in an experimental field. Plants were either covered with special gauze bags to allow pollination by the wind or other parts of the plant, or were left open for visiting by bees.
A recent drive through rural South Carolina shows evidence of a healthy cotton crop, albeit one that was late to mature.
Cotton pickers and module builders are just now ramping up in the Carolinas, Georgia and many other parts of the Deep South, the result of a growing season slowed by unusually large amounts of rain this year.
Much of South Carolina, for example, has received 50 or more inches of rain in 2013, anywhere from 8 to 18 inches above average precipitation levels. The same appears to be the case across the region.
In years past, lack of rain has been an issue for cotton farmers, particularly in Texas, a major cotton-growing area, so why is excessive rain an issue?
It’s a factor for several reasons, according to Mark Crosby, Emanuel County (Ga.) extension coordinator:
Heavy rainfall caused excessive erosion on sloping fields and in places in fields where the water puddled, the cotton plants stood in water. The worst fields had areas where the cotton drowned, but, in much of the cotton land, the plants stood in soggy, wet soil for weeks and weeks.
Examination of the crop roots showed very little tap root development and shallow feeder roots. Shallow feeder and tap roots limited the plants ability to take up fertilizer because of a lack of oxygen in the soil.
As soils become more and more saturated and eventually became waterlogged, the effects on cotton plants included yellowing, reduced shoot growth, reduced nutrient uptake, altered hormone levels, and other problems. Some fields of cotton had symptoms of reddening leaves and stems being too wet, as well as typical nitrogen deficiency symptoms.
If one does any bit of traveling it becomes apparent that most any region of the world has its positives and negatives. Your perspective often, but not always, depends on your financial wherewithal.
It’s usually the case that the more money you have at your disposal, the more you’re able to enjoy that which a foreign country has to offer.
However, there ain’t enough lipstick in the world to pretty up some pigs. Case in point is Mauritania, which seems like an utterly miserable locale.
Among other selling points, the West Africa nation has the world’s highest proportion of people in slavery.
An estimated 140,000 to 160,000 of the nation’s 3.8 million people live in slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation.
Many of the enslaved inherited that status from their ancestors, according to the charity’s Global Slavery Index.
Other estimates are higher: Up to as much as 20 percent of the nation’s population, or nearly 700,000 people, are enslaved, according to CNN.
The burgeoning US-China agriculture-trade relationship was evident late last week when the first-ever bulk shipment of American grain sorghum reached the Asian nation.
The 2.36 million bushel shipment, the first of several scheduled for China this year, reached the port city of Guangzhou, the south China city historically known as Canton, on Oct. 18.
The cargo is designated for animal feed and demonstrates the continued modernization of China’s feed industry, according to Bryan Lohmar, US Grains Council director in China.
“The Council believes US sorghum has significant potential to become a regular feed ingredient in China,” he said. “Sorghum imports from the United States can help keep food prices low and improve China’s overall food security.”
Sorghum, a grain, is among the most efficient crops in conversion of solar energy and use of water. It is known as a high-energy, drought tolerant crop, according to the National Sorghum Producers.
Sorghum was planted on approximately 6.2 million US acres in 2012, with Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota the top five-Sorghum producing states.
Dumas’s father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, was a French nobleman and his mother a black slave. Thomas-Alexandre joined the French army, served with distinction in the French Revolutionary Wars and was promoted to general by age 31.
However, he, like many, he fell out of favor and by 1800 sought a return to France. During his voyage back, Thomas-Alexandre’s ship put in at Taranto, in the Kingdom of Naples, and he and others were held as prisoners of war under trying circumstances, a situation that would continue for two years.
By the time Alexandre was born, his father’s health was broken and he was impoverished. Thomas-Alexandre died in 1806 when his son was just 4 years old.
His widowed mother could not provide her son with much of an education, but the young Dumas read everything he could and taught himself Spanish.
In addition, stories of his father’s bravery during the campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars inspired the boy’s imagination. Although poor, the family had their father’s distinguished reputation and aristocratic rank.
In 1822, after the restoration of the French monarchy, the 20-year old Alexandre moved to Paris and was able to obtain a position at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
Among the benefits of living in an agriculture-rich area is the ability during much of the year to drive along most any stretch of back road for no more than a few miles without coming upon someone selling produce from the bed of a pickup.
Not only are the fruit and vegetables invariably fresh, but the price is almost always less than what comparable items sell for in a supermarket.
Nice ripe watermelons, for example, tend to go for $3 or $4 each, while a basket of peaches can be had for between $5 and $7.
One imagines there aren’t a lot of roadside vendors in Japan. The country, in fact, appears to have a fixation with perfectly formed fruit, to the point musk melons can sell for as much $18,000 and cantaloupes for $16,000.
And this past July, a single bunch of “Ruby Roman” grapes reportedly sold for $4,000, meaning each individual grape was worth $110.
While the above are unusual cases, top-grade fruit is a valuable commodity in the Japanese world of business and as a seasonal gift. It is used to indicate how much importance the giver attaches to a relationship, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
The boutique fruit industry has remained strong in the face of Japan’s sluggish economy, according to the wire service.
It appears pecan lovers can expect to pay more for their treasured treat.
Record soggy weather in many parts of the Southeastern US has left pecan orchards vulnerable to Cladosporium caryigenum, more commonly known as scab, a fungal disease that scars the husks of pecans, cuts yield and hurts quality.
“We’ve had some wet years before, but not like it has been this summer where it has rained all summer long,” Tom Stevenson, a south Georgia-based pecan orchard manager, told Southeast Farm Press.
The heavy rains which have only abated in the past couple of weeks, hit Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas – among the nation’s main pecan-growing states – particularly hard.
Georgia, the top producer of pecans nationwide, has half of its approximately 150,000 acres of commercial orchards planted in pecan varieties that are susceptible to scab, according to Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.
To try to reduce the risk of scab, farmers such as Stevenson have increased spraying of fungicide, according to Southeast Farm Press.
A trip to the tiny town of Lone Star, SC, is a journey not so much into the past, but into oblivion.
The unincorporated community, located in Calhoun County just a few miles from Lake Marion, is just a few notches above ghost town status.
Its downtown, once a bustling small-town locale, now features four abandoned buildings: An old freight depot, a general store and two old-style gas stations. Nearby is an active African Methodist Church. A few homes and cotton farms can be seen in the surrounding area.
Lone Star was on the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, between Rimini and Creston, another pair of communities that are all but gone.
The railroad line, now owned by CSX, still runs through the town, but there’s no longer any need to stop in Lone Star.
It’s apparent that the freight depot at some point was pulled away from the tracks and relocated on the other side of the road that runs through the town.
It sits silent, padlocked, with a sign that warns visitors that “Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden,” and that violators will be prosecuted.
A decade ago, Southern tobacco auctions appeared set to go the way of mule-and-plow farming.
For more than a century, the sign-song chant of auctioneers had wafted through tobacco warehouses from Virginia to the Carolinas and beyond, as buyers and farmers did business in towns big and small across the region, the sweet aroma of cured tobacco ever-present as crop and cash changed hands.
That began to change in the 1990s as tobacco companies increasingly entered into contracts directly with growers to grow the crop.
By the early- to mid-2000s, tobacco auctions were no more. It seemed the late-summer ritual that was as much a part of the area as NASCAR and fish camps was gone for good.
Now, however, the tobacco auction appears to be making a comeback.
Auctions have been held this year everywhere from Danville, Va., to Wilson, N.C., to Lake City, S.C.
The auction provides a broader marketplace for growers to bring their tobacco bales without worrying about big tobacco company regulations, auctioneer Jim Lynch told the Florence (SC) Morning News.
“The main thing is they don’t care about what the moisture is, how much it weighs and those are some of the hoops big tobacco is making them jump through,” said Lynch, of Carolinas Tobacco Auction in Lake City. “Just like we have 32 bales right here that the moisture was I think one tenth of a percentage high and they expected him to haul it all the way back home and go through it and then bring it back.
Low-grade unprocessed cotton could prove an effective cleanup tool following oil spills at sea, according to recent research.
A study published in the most recent issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research reveals that one pound of low-micronaire cotton can absorb more than 30 pounds of dense crude oil, according to research conducted at Texas Tech’s Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory.
In addition, the natural waxiness of raw, unprocessed cotton fiber keeps water out, making cotton an efficient and effective material for addressing ocean-based oil spills, according to the publication, published by the American Chemical Society.
“The new study includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed cotton’s use as a crude oil sorbent,” according to Southeast Farm Press.
About 10 percent of the cotton grown in West Texas is low micronaire, according to Seshadri Ramkumar, lead author of the study and manager of the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech.
“It doesn’t take a dye well, so it has little value as a textile fiber. However, because it is less mature, more of it can be packed into a given area,” he said. “We show through sophisticated testing that low-micronaire cotton is much finer and can pick up more crude oil.