Mayaguez Lab Helps Farmers, Consumers AlikeBy
Improved banana production, disease-resistant beans and hardier
sorghum are some of the recent research achievements coming from the
Agriculture Research Station of USDA's
Service in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Gonzalez, USDA Under Secretary for
and Economics, will be visiting the station next week to meet
with scientists to discuss their research.
The ARS lab, established in 1902, helps farmers and consumers in the
United States, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean basin. Scientists there
develop and improve various tropical crops ranging from the
ever-popular, potassium-enriched banana to the not-so- common taro
root thats becoming a popular potato chip in health food stores.
Hawaiians cook the starchy, potato-like vegetable in their native poi
The Mayaguez laboratory recently embarked on a major project to
develop tropical exotic fruits such as papaya, mangosteen, mamey,
sapote, rambutan, sapodilla, longan and lychee for commercial
production. This is a long-term research effort coordinated with ARS
Fla., and Hilo,
Hawaii. Plantain, banana, avocado and mango research will still
Scientists at Mayaguez recently released six new edible dry bean
germplasm lines-- including black, white, red, pinto and pink--that
are resistant to common bacterial blight, a major disease of dry beans
in humid U.S. regions. All six lines have good yield potential in both
tropical and temperate climates.
They also found that applying small amounts of water frequently with
drip irrigation increases banana and plantain production and conserves
water. Banana growers in mountain regions who supplement rainfall with
drip irrigation can increase their yields by almost 60 percent--thats
about $6,000 per acre in gross sales and savings that could mean
better prices for consumers.
ARS Germplasm Introduction and Research Unit in St. Croix,
Virgin Islands, is part of the Mayaguez station. New germplasm from
other parts of the world is grown here first to ensure its viability,
productivity and safety before being brought to the U.S. mainland.
Scientific contact: Ricardo Goenaga, ARS
Agriculture Research Station, P.O. Box 70, Mayaguez, PR 00681,
phone (787) 831-3435, fax (787) 831-3386,