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Thousands of Pounds of Produce Donated from Research Plots

Two North Dakota State University students, Jacob Kluza and Austin Espe, are responsible for growing more than 4000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo, ND during the 2016 growing season. The vegetables donated were grown in two research projects for the Department of Plant Sciences High Value Crops Project, which is led by Dr. Harlene Hatterman-Valenti. The donations were organized through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project.
 
 

November 28, 2016

Two North Dakota State University students, Jacob Kluza and Austin Espe, are responsible for growing more than 4000 pounds of fresh produce that was donated to the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo, ND during the 2016 growing season. The vegetables donated were grown in two research projects for the Department of Plant Sciences High Value Crops Project, which is led by Dr. Harlene Hatterman-Valenti. The donations were organized through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project.

Kluza is working on his M.S. degree in Plant Sciences and is advised by Hatterman-Valenti and Dr. Esther McGinnis, Extension horticulturist and assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. Espe is a senior majoring in Microbiology and is advised by Janice Haggart.

Kluza’s project, which is part of his graduate research, involved comparing how well cut flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers grow inside and outside high tunnels. High tunnels resemble greenhouses but are much more economical and easier to build. High tunnels are constructed of simple framing materials covered by a single layer of plastic. High tunnels shelter vegetables and flowers from disease agents and extreme environments, thus, extending the growing season significantly.

High tunnels were constructed in three locations with funding provided by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. They were located at Absaraka, ND, at the NDSU Research Extension Center at Williston, ND and at the Dakota College Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture in Bottineau, ND. The Absaraka high tunnel was managed by Kluza and the Williston facility by Kyla Splichal, another M.S. student in the Department of Plant Sciences. Kluza said that the high tunnel helped extend the growing season in Absaraka by more than six weeks, and plants in the high tunnel were protected from a catastrophic hail storm in August.

Espe was awarded the 2016 Department of Plant Sciences Fellowship Research Grant to work for Hatterman-Valenti during the summer. The purpose of his research was to study the effects of biostimulants on cucurbit production. Cucurbit crops included in his study were cucumbers, summer squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin and winter squash.

Espe presented this research as a poster during the 2016 NDSU EXPLORE Undergraduate Excellence in Research and Scholarly Activity event on November 1. The NDSU EXPLORE event is administered by the Office of Research Development. Austin will graduate in May and plans to pursue a graduate degree in Plant Pathology.  

Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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