Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How should hops be prepped for winter?

Here and the ALE Lab we just carried out some final plant maintenance to get the hop yard prepped for winter.

We had left some vegetation in the field after harvesting back in August-September. We figured since we have first year plants this would be beneficial as the plants need their leaves to photosynthesize (create energy) to build up their roots systems.

Before we cut the plants down the field looked like this:

We cut the bines down to about 1-2 inches above ground level.

...I didn't take us too long to get the hop yard all cleared out!

Due to the presence of downy mildew we trucked all of the vegetation out of the field, and sent it to be composted.

Many growers will cover their hop plants with mulch or compost after cutting them back.  This is supposed to help protect the crowns from freezes. We decided to go mulch free to find out how that method would work for Ohio hop growers.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Finished my first week!

     Hey everyone! I figured since I have survived my first week in the ALE lab, it was time to introduce myself. My name is Nicole and in the attached picture is Cody. So what's my story? I was in the Navy for a bit, which is how I ended up with Cody. I was stationed in Italy first, then Spain and in Spain we had a kennel on base. It was love at first sight. Cody was about four or five months old when I got him and he's been with me ever since. I moved to North Carolina when I got out of the Navy and there I attended Queens University of Charlotte where I received my BS in biology. I am all set to graduate from Winthrop University, which is in Rock Hill, SC, in December with my MS in biology. If I had to throw a label on myself, it would be molecular ecologist. I really enjoy having a molecular component to my studies. My thesis research involved sampling amphibian populations at a local state park and testing them for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd is a chtyrid fungus that infects the skin of amphibians and can cause the disease chytridiomycosis, which can be fatal in some species. I enjoyed my research and was very grateful to have picked up the skill sets I did, especially all the molecular work, while doing it as this was key to my being chosen as the new research assistant for the ALE lab.

     So what will I be doing here anyways? I was hired on to help with what we're calling the vacant lot study, which is the project Mary recently received an amazing grant for. I am very excited to be a part of this research and am looking forward to getting started on the project. The molecular aspect of the study will involve determining what some of the predators are eating. I hope to start testing protocols for that this winter so that we'll be ready when it's time to start collecting the selected specie and begin testing them. Working with arthropods is new for me and this roughly translates to reading, reading and more reading. Thankfully I actually enjoy learning about anything ecology related.

     Even though my first official work day was Monday, I attended the Stinner Summit last Friday with Mary, Chelsea, Andrea and Carol. It was a great introduction to the area and I loved the concept of the summit. The attendees work together to come up with projects that involve healthy agroecosystems and sustainable communities. There are numerous sessions in which attendees break off into groups to develop and explore an idea for a project by coming up with a mini-proposal that is then pitched to the other attendees and, at the end of the day, the attendees donate "Stinner bucks" as well as IOU's (can be for labor, expertise, money, etc.) to the projects they would like to support. The bucks are turned into funding through the Ben Stinner endowment. It was such a cool experience to see so many different groups of people come together and I think at the end of the day there were about six projects that received funding. My time this week has involved learning where to find things in the lab, learning pinning from Chelsea and Cali and yesterday I took my first trip into Cleveland to help Chelsea get soil samples for another project the lab is collaborating on. It's been a fun week and I am truly thankful that the opportunity to be a part of a lab with such a great group of people presented itself to me. I have had nothing but good feelings and excitement since I received the email from Mary saying that I had gotten the job and I know this will continue throughout my time here.