2009: Year in Review

Photo: Late blight infestation of a tomato.

Late Blight Infestation of Tomatoes

The New Jersey tomato and potato industries were on high alert during the summer of 2009 due to the outbreak of late blight, the same disease responsible for the Irish potato famine in the 19th century. While late blight normally occurs sporadically in the Northeast, the cool summer and frequent rainfall led to conditions ideal for the development of the disease, with devastating impact. Andy Wyenandt, extension specialist in vegetable pathology at Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton, led faculty and staff in a robust response to the outbreak. This included developing recommendations and training sessions to deliver timely information for commercial growers and the home gardener in the state and throughout the Northeast that helped minimize the damage.

Photo: New Brunswick Community Farmers Market.

New Brunswick Community Farmers Market

The New Brunswick Community Farmers Market was launched on July 10 as a cooperative effort of Rutgers University, Johnson & Johnson, and the City of New Brunswick. The market provides New Brunswick residents with affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods while supporting local farmers and small businesses. The New Brunswick community has welcomed the market and the opportunity to purchase fresh, quality produce. Vendors accept SNAP (food stamps), WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers, making the market an affordable option for local residents. The market has also become a convenient venue for education and outreach on a variety of topics, especially those related to food, nutrition, and health.

Photo: Stacy Bonos.

Plant Breeding Awards

New plant varieties with higher yields and better agronomic characteristics are critically important to New Jersey's agriculture and landscape industries. Professors Stacy Bonos and Tom Molnar have carried on the tradition of plant breeding excellence at Rutgers. Molnar collaborated with the National Arbor Day Foundation, the University of Nebraska, and Oregon State University to win a $1.4 million USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant for hazelnut research, genetic improvement, and extension. Bonos won the inaugural Early Career Excellence in Plant Breeding Award presented by the multistate Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee, now USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Bonos also leads a multiinvestigator $1 million SCRI grant for switchgrass improvement.

Photo: Master Gardener intern cuts tomatoes.

Great Tomato Tasting

In August, a record–breaking 1,700 people attended the annual Great Tomato Tasting at the Clifford E. and Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm. Tomatoes were plentiful and New Jersey families enjoyed beautiful weather as they learned about sustainable farming practices. A special 20th anniversary ceremony was also held to acknowledge the Snyders' donation of their 390-acre farm to Rutgers University. Congressman Leonard Lance and his family were recognized for their stewardship of the Snyders' dream to transform their traditional farm to the sustainable and scientific agricultural research facility it is today. Snyder Farm student intern alumni were recognized for their career achievements and over 100 master gardeners volunteered to make the event a success.

Photo: Bed Bug Infestation in Mattress Seam.

Bed Bug Monitoring

Rutgers' urban entomology program works closely with pest management professionals, chemical companies, public health workers, county extension agents, property managers, and the general public to evaluate new pest-control methods, identify best pest management practices, educate the public, and provide technical assistance. Current research on insect behavior, monitoring, insecticide resistance, novel control techniques, and integrated pest management aims to find the most effective and least toxic strategies that can be used immediately by the public. Led by Assistant Extension Specialist Changlu Wang, program staff have developed an effective and inexpensive bed bug monitoring tool to help residents of New Jersey, especially in low-income communities, to handle the alarming increase in bed bug infestations.

Photo: Operation Military Kids.

Operation: Military Kids (OMK) of New Jersey

Operation: Military Kids (OMK) of New Jersey supports military families in the Garden State before, during, and after a loved one is deployed. Led by NJAES 4-H Youth Development, in collaboration with community partners, OMK works to ensure educators understand the unique needs of students in military families and informs the general public about the impact of deployment on families and communities as a whole. New Jersey OMK creates community support networks and provides recreational, social, and educational programs for military youth. In September, the first OMK Family Camp was held to give families the opportunity to reconnect in a safe, outdoor environment while enjoying traditional camping activities.

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences