Friday, August 31, 2012

Humulus lupulus research at OSU!

I got some good news yesterday from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The grant titled: "Hop production to enhance economic opportunities for farms and brewers" I submitted a few months ago with  Brad Bergefurd was funded!  

The goal of our project is to develop a new Ohio industry for commercial hops production to capture the estimated $4 million dollars in hops and related jobs currently sourced out of state. Ohio supports an expanding brewing industry with over 70 licensed beer manufacturers and this number is increasing yearly. Historically hops were produced in Ohio; however disease and insect pressure shifted production to the Pacific Northwest by the 1920s. With better knowledge and tools to manage these threats, Ohio is poised to re-claim this high-value crop. Recently, a survey of Ohio and Northeastern states found that over two-thirds of brewers reported interest in buying regionally-produced hops. Respondents were also willing to pay up to 10% more for locally-grown hops. 

Our project will evaluate both the production and marketing of hops by Ohio specialty crop growers. We have three main objectives: 1) Evaluate the production and quality of commercially viable hop cultivars under Ohio growing conditions to develop a best-practices production protocol for growers, 2) Conduct a marketing analysis and expand marketing tools and programs for fresh and processed Ohio hops to improve grower profits, and 3) Provide training on all aspects of hop production through field days, development of an extension bulletin, and a project website.

Our project will begin this fall with the construction of hop trellises at both the OSU South Centers in Piketon, OH and the Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster OH.In the spring we will plant hop rhizomes and begin research to address our objectives.

We have some great collaborators who supported our application including Valley Vineyards, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and The Ohio Brewers Guild. We look forward to working with these stakeholders and others who are interested in growing hops or brewing with Ohio hops over the next two years! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Semi-great Pumpkin Harvest!

Ben and I spent the past two days counting and harvesting his pumpkins...

If you need some pumpkins counted give us a call. We are experts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

ALE Lab Research in the SEEDS Progress Report

SEEDS: The OARDC Research Enhancement Competitive Grants Program supports projects that are managed by both Faculty and Students. SEEDS give scientists an opportunity to collect preliminary data needed to compete for larger national grants.

The ALE lab has received funding from SEEDS for many of our projects. Recently our lady beetle work was in the SEEDS annual progress report. (Click the picture to zoom in)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Late summer pumpkin flowers

This morning was one of the last days in the field for me and Chelsea came to help. I am laying in the strip of alyssum flowers that I started in the greenhouse and transplanted to the field. We thought they were going to die in the heat and drought this summer, but we watered them often. Look at them now! Above my head are female pumpkin flowers, which I collect at 4 different times throughout the morning bloom to determine pollen deposition. However, the mornings have been getting cooler and squash bees are reaching the end of their short and active lives. Once they're gone bumble bees and honeybees will be the main pollinators until the plants die. The summer goes by fast!
Ever been to a you-pick pumpkin farm for an autumn trip with the family? In the coming weeks, Chelsea and I will visit 14 separate sites around the state to count and pick some pumpkins for an economic analysis.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Enjoying the nice weather!

It's not so unbearably hot anymore and Ben found some great lab space in Wooster!

He's enjoying the weather and washing pollen off his pumpkin flowers for a measurement of pollination services.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Congratulations to Chelsea!

 Last Sunday, August 12 the ALE LAB graduated its first student!!  Chelsea Smith received her M.S. in Entomology at the Ohio State University Summer Commencement. Chelsea did an amazing job in all aspects of her M.S. program. Her research focused on the decline of the native Convergent Lady Beetle. Chelsea examined whether exotic lady beetles were contributing to this decline by consuming native lady beetle eggs. She found that native lady beetles do incur significant egg predation in the field, but surprisingly this was not due to feeding by exotic lady beetles. Instead, a diversity of predators including harvestmen, slugs, and grasshoppers fed on the eggs of the native lady beetle. Chelsea has presented her work at multiple state and national meetings. At the 2011 Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting she was awarded runner up in the Student Competition for the Presidents Prize for her talk titled "Evidence refuting the interference competition hypothesis for native lady beetle decline".

Chelsea has also contributed significantly to undergraduate teaching here at OSU. She worked as a teaching assistant for the Center for Life Sciences where she taught Biology 101 for three quarters. She has also advised undergraduate students who have successfully completed research projects in the lab. She has also been very active in Extension, developing and presenting at multiple meetings and field days throughout her graduate career.

Chelsea has accepted a position as our Laboratory Technician so you will continue to see her blog posts in the future!  Congrats Chelsea, you should be very proud of all you have accomplished!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bug Mania at Blue Pike Farm

This past Saturday the ALE lab presented a workshop at the Blue Pike Farm in Cleveland ( We talked about beneficial arthropods and cucurbits (melons, squash, cucumbers, etc), and then Scott and Caitlin discussed the research they have been conducting in Cleveland.

Thanks for letting us present Carl!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lab day!

Today is the last day of work for a majority of our undergrads, and they are keeping busy in the lab!

Paul is busy pinning bees...
 Andrea and Alec are sorting samples...
And Shawn got stuck with washing the dishes.
Someone's gotta do the dirty work...Thanks Shawn!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Melon Harvest 2012.

It's that time of year again when the entire Entomology building smells like musk melons for two weeks.

Mary, Paul, and I spent a good chunk of this morning harvesting melons from one of our field sites. We separate the marketable from the unmarketable fruits and weigh them to get our yield data.

It is likely that many members of the OARDC-Wooster campus are going to be sick of musk melon after these next couple weeks. Start getting the fruit salad ingredients ready!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tour of our sites in Cleveland with the OARDC Associate Director

Today we gave Bill Ravlin, the Associate Director for OARDC, a tour of our field sites in Cleveland. He was very interested in the research being conducted by our graduate students. We visited one of the vacant lots which typically consist of mowed turf, weeds, and the occasional tire.
Some ornamental plants remain behind as a reminder of the homeowner who once lived on the lot. After the homes are empty the city knocks them down, the basement is filled in, and the turf is planted which then needs to be maintained at an immense cost to the city. Cleveland has a goal of demolishing 25 vacant homes every week.
We took some time to visit the urban gardens which are on land that had previously been vacant lots. Our research is mainly focused on how the re-purposed vacant lots change the arthropod community as well as the ecological services they provide. Some of these gardens are maintained by Green Corps who bring in high school kids from the surrounding area to work and learn about farming, running a business, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many of these kids are then inspired to go to College and earn degrees where they can use these skills. Mike, a high school student working at one of the gardens, gave us a tour and told us about his plans to double major in landscape architecture and mechanical engineering.

We got a chance to meet up with Caitlin during a busy day in the field. She described her project involving spider activity in the vacant lots, urban garden, and grassland sites across Cleveland.
Overall the trip was a success! Bill got a chance to learn about research funded partly by the SEEDS grant foundation, which he is very involved in. We had a chance to showcase issues in Cleveland, practices done to manage all the vacant land, and how our research is helping the city further understand the impact these changes are having on the ecology of the area.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Bill!