By Daniela Soleri, University of California, David A Cleveland, University of California, Steven E Smith, University of Arizona
In early September 2017, the fall equinox was approaching, and things were different in our garden. The heat-loving basil plants that should have been slowing down as the days shorten and cooler weather usually arrives, were showing no sign of changing. The fruit on both varieties of our persimmon trees were turning deep orange at least one month earlier than in previous years. The unusually warm, dry summer of 2017 in much of the western US contributed to similar experiences for many gardeners.
That autumn was an example of how the timing and duration of plant life cycles, and our garden activities, are changing from what we are familiar with, and like other gardeners and farmers, we need to figure out how to respond.
Citrus is one of the most important exported fruit crops. Large plantings in countries bordering latitudes 20 south and north and in-between provide fresh and processed citrus for the more populated northern European and American countries as well as other large populations around the world. Citrus has also been a cultivated crop in southeast Asia for thousands of years. Its genetics are unique in that stable hybrids naturally propagated through polyembryony have been recognized as species. New molecular techniques have clearly elucidated the true genetic background of citrus.
By Glen L. Creasy, Sabrosia Winegrowing Services, France
Grapevines are an amazingly versatile plant. They survive in many and varied climates, they can be cut back and trained in many different ways (on a yearly basis if need be), and they produce a fruit that is made into a wide range of products that make up part of our daily diets.
You can find evidence of their adaptability by looking to the past: in their natural state, vines use sturdier plants like trees for support, growing rapidly up through the shady understory to the tops of the trees where there is plentiful light for making fruit. During the dormant season you can see how the canes of the wild grape (Vitis riparia in this case) over-run the tree it’s using for support.
Would you eat a carrot with three roots or an overly curved cucumber? The contribution of "ugly" fruit and vegetables to food wastage is not a new problem but one that has moved in and out of the spotlight for several years. A new BBC production "Hugh’s War on Waste", fronted by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, aims to reduce the amount of waste that Britain produces and is probably the first program in which a huge pile of parsnips made viewers very angry. In the Program, Hugh visited a family ran farm that supplied Parsnips to a major UK supermarket. The strict policies imposed by the supermarket on how the parsnips should look meant that up to 40% of the farm’s root veg, equating to 20 tonnes of parsnips -or enough to fill nearly 300 shopping trolleys -never made it to the shelves. That was just one week’s wastage.