• 70°

Research station trying to cut costs for winter squash

Workers at the Piedmont Research Station are looking to save farmers money and boost the number of locally grown squash available for fall festivals.
The research station planted multiple varieties of winter squash directly after strawberry harvest, using used plastic covering for the plants and other materials.
Piedmont Research Station Superintendent Joe Hampton said the study could greatly reduce costs to farmers, depending on how tests go. It’s the first year the research station has examined the idea.
“The idea is that farmers can use their resources an additional time, which reduces the cost per unit,” he said.
He said that on one acre of land, farmers could spend $8,000 to $10,000 on materials alone.
Danielle Cutting, a local food and horticulture agent with the Cooperative Extension, said the study went well but needs additional attempts. Cutting said the station plans to continue the squash study next year.
“Some of them have done very well and some not so well, but it was to see which varieties would perform,” Cutting said. “They definitely had some disease problems. We determined that yes it works, but we still have to decide whether it’s worthwhile for the farms to do it.”
The squash were planted in mid-July. The first harvest was Sept. 18.
Besides a cost benefit, Cutting said growing squash immediately after strawberries could help with fall festival activities at local farms. She said some Rowan County and nearby farms buy squash for fall festivals rather than growing their own.
“Most of them are not growing their own,” she said. “It might be a better option than having to buy and re-sell, because that’s what farms are doing now. They are buying all of their product and having it shipped in.”
After looking over results, she said the research station may plant the squash at an earlier date next year to see if they grow larger and are more resistant to diseases.
One of the diseases that affected this years crop was powdery mildew, which like its name creates pale-white blotches on the plant’s leaves.
Pam Jones, a horticulture agent in Davie County who is helping with the squash study, said the research station is also analyzing shelf life. At 30, 60 and 90 days the station will cut open a squash and conduct a sugar test. Some squash will be stored at room temperature. Others will be stored in a refrigerated environment.
Besides analyzing how the squash looked after harvest and shelf-life tests, the research station also enlisted the help of Rowan County’s master gardeners. The master gardeners were at the research station on Friday and helped to test the sugar content and weight of the squash. Master gardener Randy Cox said the group tested 10 varieties of acorn squash and 10 varieties of butternut squash.
“It was interesting to test all of the different varieties for sweetness, because I was just used to a few varieties,” Cox said.
The gardeners also helped to round up squash for a soup that will be presented at an Oct. 8 workshop at the research station. The workshop is open to the public.
Cutting said the research station would also talk about results of its study at the workshop. She said 10 to 12 people had already registered for the workshop and some of the butternut squash was sent to the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis to test the nutritional value.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Man faces kidnapping, assault charges after woman escapes at Webb Road Flea Market

Local

Natoli promoted to assistant county manager, will retain human resources director title

Education

Attendance restriction lifted for RSS graduation ceremonies

Business

Rowan Chamber of Commerce will host in-person Power in Partnership on Thursday

Business

Rowan EDC will undergo name change, alter board requirements with updates to bylaws

Nation/World

Israel strikes Gaza tunnels as truce efforts remain elusive

Nation/World

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Nation/World

Biden boosting world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May