Volume 16, Issue 25 - June 19 - June 25, 2008

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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Frank Gouin

Growing a Future Horticulturalist

Bay Gardener nurtures another young Bay-wise scientist

This year’s recipient of the University of Maryland Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant is Julia Harshman, of Owings in Calvert County. Julia is a reader of Bay Weekly, but I had to tell her I was the Bay Gardener.

She is a transfer student from Calvert who is interested in horticulture crop genetics. Under project advisor Dr. Christopher Walsh — on the left in the photo — she will be evaluating the second generation of short stature, genetic-dwarf apple trees. This project was begun in 1991 but laid aside because of lack of support.

The goal of the research has been to develop genetic dwarf apple trees by crossing a McIntosh-Wijick with a Gala, resulting in a Compact Gala Macs with seedlings that are tolerant to late spring freezes and fireblight. Many of the resulting seedlings are so dwarf that most of their fruit can be picked without stepladders. Researchers anticipate that these genetic dwarf trees can be grown on their own roots and will not have to be grafted onto dwarfing roots, as is common.

Julia will be evaluating each seedling for internode length, tree vigor, branching angle and top dominance. Some of the more popular varieties included in the second generation crosses are Pink Lady, Fugi, Braeburn, Gold Rush, Commander, York and Red Yorking. She has several hundred trees to evaluate.

She’ll present her observations at the International Society of Horticultural Science in Geneva, New York, in August. To support her efforts, the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Grant will pay her $1,000 for her work and another $1,000 to travel to the horticulture meeting.

Bay Weekly is a major contributor to the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant.

If you enjoy Bay Gardener in Bay Weekly, consider making a contribution to the scholarship fund. Send a check made payable to the University of Maryland (indicating FRS4-34800) in the lower left corner) to Ms. Marie Brier, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-4452.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

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