My research focuses mainly on the cultural/post-harvest aspects of small fruit production.
I work primarily with blueberries and muscadine grapes, but also other fruit crops. I am interested in using cultural practices to optimize the fruit quality and nutraceutical value, as well as increase production. Much work has been done on the nutraceutical value of blueberries and muscadine grapes, but there is much to be learned about increasing these aspects with cultural practices and post harvest treatments.
I have developed a laboratory method to predict rain related splitting in the field. This method is currently used by blueberry geneticist to more thoroughly evaluate their selection stock for possible blueberry releases. This method will help blueberry geneticist to more strenuously test the possible blueberry releases so that growers can be confident that their crop will not be lost or greatly decreased by rain related splitting
Currently we have research projects in the following topic areas:
· Blueberry microstructural physiology relating to incidence of rain-related fruit splitting. This research is done in cooperation with the University of Southern Mississippi.
· Nutrient distribution with blueberry plants.
· Optimization of fertigation rates and timing to increase fruit production, yield, fruit quality, nutraceutical value and shelf life.
· Determination of resveratrol, ellagic acid and other chemical composition of muscadine grape cultivars. Once a baseline is established, cultural practices will be implemented to increase these metabolites.
I greatly enjoy working with the growers, potential growers, general public and especially children. I take every opportunity to educate the children about the need for proper nutrition. Whenever given the chance to speak to groups about the work that is done at the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory, I not only explain what we do, but I also educate them on the need, especially for children, for a healthy diet.