Peanut Turns Out Finished Beef
Rhizoma peanut is a popular forage for cow-calf producers on the Gulf Coast.
A new ARS study shows an additional benefit: Cattle may gain enough weight from
rhizoma peanut to go directly from pasture to slaughter without the usual
cost-adding stint in the feedlot. Fat color and off-flavor problems often
linked with forage-finishing apparently don't occur when steers eat rhizoma
peanut. However, producers interested in rhizoma peanut may want to choose a
cattle breed with greater genetic potential for lender meat. That's because the
scientists found that meat from animals fed only on rhizoma peanut may be
slightly darker colored and less tender than meat from steers fattened on
Agricultural Research Station, Brooksville, Florida.
Fruit Flies May HideBut May Not Arrive Alive
Can tropical fruit flies hitchhiking in sealed shipments of fresh produce be
doomed by an altered mix of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide coupled with
controlled temperatures? ARS scientists in Texas will investigate this novel
pest control approach. It may provide an alternative to some uses of methyl
bromide, a chemical pesticide. Tests have begun under a 3-year cooperative
research and development agreement (CRADA) between ARS and TransFRESH Corp. of
Salinas. California. The goal is to perfect in-transit treatments to protect
citrus, mango, avocado, and other fresh fruit from pests such as Mediterranean,
Mexican, Caribbean, and other fruit flies. Keeping shipped U.S. produce free of
the pests is essential to maintain and expand markets here and elsewhere, such
as in Pacific Rim countries. Approved treatments face a tall order: They must
kill 99.9968 percent of the pests. Methyl bromide, the principal postharvest
fumigant, is scheduled for removal due to environmental concerns. Currently
quarantine treatments can also interrupt marketing. when they must he done
before shipping. That is true for many fumigants and for nonchemical treatments
such as lethal hot or cold temperatures. Scientists aim to develop new
technology for use during the typical 1- to 3-week shipping period for produce.
Studies will focus first on treating grapefruit for infestations of Mexican
Immature corn ears.
Mangan, USDA-ARS Crop Quality and Fruit Insects Research Unit, Weslaco,
Texas, phone: (956) 447-6316.
Silky Weapon Against Worms
Cornsilk may hold a key to cutting insecticide spray on sweet corn by up to
85 percent. ARS scientists discovered that certain lines of field cornthe
type that yields large, rough kernels normally used for animal feedresist
the corn earworm. The cornsilk of these tines makes natural compounds that
discourage the worms, which normally would crawl through the silk and then
burrow into the ears to munch corn kernels. This pest costs U.S.
growerswho may spray insecticide 25 to 40 timesmore than $100
million annually. Now, under a CRADA, ARS scientists will use plant breeding
techniques to transfer pest resistance in the field corn to sweet corn lines
developed by the Rogers Seed Co. of Nampa, Idaho.
USDA-ARS Insect Biology and Population Management Research Laboratory,
Tifton, Georgia; phone (912) 387-2341.
Could Beans Clean Up After Pigs?
Green tools for preventing water pollution may come from a study beginning
this spring in North Carolina. ARS and North Carolina Stale University
scientists will examine the capacity of soybean plantsincluding one very
unusual varietyto cleanse soil of nitrogen from swine waste. Many farmers
recycle this waste as a cost-free natural crop fertilizer. In some areas,
however, more waste is produced than crops can use, and the excess nitrogen has
potential to pollute surface and groundwater. The researchers believe soybean
plants may outperform other crops in removing excess soil nitrogen. Compared to
corn, for example, a soybean plant turns relatively more nitrogen into
high-protein seeds removed at harvest. And relatively less nitrogen winds up in
unharvested husks and stems whose decay returns it to the soil. One soybean
variety in the test has a deficiency that may make it even better at removing
excess soil nitrogen. It lacks root growths or nodules that enable other
soybeans to use gaseous nitrogen present in air. But this variety must draw all
its nitrogen from soilwhere swine waste can supply it aplenty.
Israel, USDA-ARS Soybean Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit, Raleigh, North
Carolina; phone: (919) 513-3031.
"Science Update" was published in the
issue of Agricultural Research magazine.