UW Extension Research May Help Wyoming Vegetable Gardeners

May 25, 2012
Unidentified vegetable
UW offers bulletins that describe the nutritional content of garden-raised vegetables.

Research by the University of Wyoming Extension may help gardeners in the state select varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beets and carrots based on yield and nutritional content.

"Two years of studies on vegetables may provide some help for Wyoming gardeners," says the project's director, UW Extension Horticulture Specialist Karen Panter. "Yields, as well as nutritional information gained from laboratory analyses, may be valuable to vegetable producers and consumers alike."

The research also examined the benefits of season-extension systems, including high tunnels and row covers. It also analyzed various fertilizers, weed-control methods and insect damage on vegetables grown under different fertilization schemes.

Results are detailed in three UW Extension publications: RJ-216, Vegetable yield evaluations and nutritional contents; RJ-217, Vegetable production and nutritional content in season-extension systems; and RJ-218, Weed controls and insect pest evaluations.

The publications are available for free download. Go to www.uwyo.edu/ces  and click the "Publications" link on the left side of the page. Click "Search Bulletins," and type RJ-216, RJ-217 or RJ-218 in the publication number field. Click on the title to open.

Nutritional parameters of total flavonoids, total phenols and antioxidants were assessed, as these are important in overall human health, Panter says.

Flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, act against cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, viruses, arthritis and other ailments. Antioxidants and phenols, which are strong antioxidants, help eliminate free radicals from the body, which can cause cancer.

Research at the Sheridan Research and Extension Center in 2009 and 2010 found that high tunnels and row covers extended the growing season by up to five weeks. In 2010, the last harvest of field tomatoes was Sept. 10, while the final harvest of tomatoes grown in a high tunnel was Oct. 17.

Panter says the researchers found that barriers -- such as clear plastic, black plastic or polyethylene fabric provided effective weed control; however, the materials may need to be replaced at the beginning of each growing season because of cracking and disintegration.

Hand weeding and flame weeding also were effective but took considerable time, Panter says.

From the information gathered over the two seasons from sticky trap counts, she says, growers can be warned about what types of insects to expect and can plan management strategies in advance.

Former UW Research Associate Adrienne Tatman performed field work, while Panter oversaw data analysis.

The research was funded by a grant through the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The project's goal was to develop and promote sustainable horticultural practices for Wyoming, Panter says.

For more information, contact Panter at (307) 766-5117 or kpanter@uwyo.edu.

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