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January 6, 2011- Presentation at TAFVGA Winter Meeting
    January 6, 2011 marked the annual winter meeting for the Toledo Area Flower and Vegetable Growers Association (TAFVGA).  This day-long event was organized to help fulfill the association's mission to "cultivate friendships and networking among our members, to foster education, to improve practices, while selling the beauty of gardening to better our communities".
    Along with updates from Ohio State Extension, Maumee Valley Growers Association, and the University of Toledo, Dr. James Locke, Research Plant Pathologist, was invited to present current on-going research at the Toledo USDA-ARS facilities.  The basis of Dr. Locke's update had originated at last year's TAFVGA winter meeting, with a local grower's question of the use of wheat straw as a locally available and sustainable amendment to peat and pine bark-based  media.
    Since that 2010 meeting, ARS personnel have evaluated the effects of replacing various percentages of standard media with ground wheat straw, as well as several other grasses and available materials.  To date, studies have been conducted on multiple crops, across several types of growing systems (bedding, hanging pouches, nursery, etc.).  ARS staff members have observed both positive and negative effects on plant growth and quality, and will continue to run trials to determine the potential of using these amendments.
    Deanna Bobak, ARS technician, discussed current nutritional studies involving plant recovery from nitrogen deficiency.   The objective of these studies is to determine how long a plant can withstand nitrogen deficient conditions, and how long, if at all, it takes to recover from those conditions and become a marketable plant.  
    More information on ARS research can be requested by contacting Dr. Jim Locke at jim.locke@ars.usda.gov.

Wheat straw incorporated in soilless media.

Nutrient studies in the ARS greenhouse.

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