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Hortiscope: The Horticultural Year in Review

Ron Smith answers readers' questions about the world of plants and gardening.

By Ron C. Smith, Horticulturist

NDSU Extension Service

Readers: A little change from my regular weekly column. Since we are just into 2007, I thought this would be a good time to take a look at the accomplishments of 2006.

Flower gardens and grape vineyards were the high points for some horticulturists in 2006. The new NDSU flower gardens at the corner of 18th Street and 12th Avenue in Fargo provided an ample display of color for those passing by. Those who stopped and looked saw former All-America Selections winners and what would be offered to the public during the 2007 growing season.

Barb Laschkewitsch, NDSU horticultural research specialist and manager of the garden, did an outstanding job getting the garden planted and looking good.

"This garden is a way of communicating what will or won’t grow in this part of North Dakota," Barb says.

For those living around the Dickinson and Williston areas, the NDSU Research Extension Centers provided the same visual impact and information about what will or won’t grow in those regions. All three sites were heavily visited during the 2006 growing season.

The efforts of Harlene Hatterman-Valenti and Lisa Gray, researchers for specialty crops at NDSU, continued as their grape growing project for wine production entered its third year. The grape cultivars are being evaluated for winter hardiness, production capability and wine quality characteristics. The research trials are conducted at Williston, Carrington and Absaraka.

This research has attracted a lot of interest in producing grapes as an alternative crop. With per-capita consumption of wine increasing in the U.S., there is a strong interest in consuming locally produced products. There also is interest in using regional wines to promote tourism. Growing grapes has the potential to add extra income for participating farmers, as well as the state’s tax base.

There are 16 grape cultivars being evaluated for winter hardiness, which include juice and jelly grapes, but the majority being evaluated are wine grapes.

Juneberries are being investigated as part of the high-value crops program. Next year, blue honeyberry will be added. Various production practices are being evaluated to assess fruit yield and quality for the fresh market and wine industry.

Susie Thompson, NDSU potato breeder, has found that a white potato, known as Dakota Diamond, is very productive under irrigated and nonirrigated production conditions. During testing, Dakota Diamond often averaged nearly 500 hundredweight per acre under nonirrigated conditions. It also has tested well for long-term storage, which is a characteristic sought by chip processors and producers. Because consumers are choosy about their fries, fry testing and tasting is an important part of NDSU’s potato breeding project research.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Ron Smith, (701) 231-8161,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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