Iowa State University

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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, manager,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

Agriculture, veterinary medicine and natural resources news from Iowa State University


November 2004

New report looks at old-time favorite: Muscatine melons

Georgia may be home to the sweet Vidalia onion, but Iowa can boast some of the sweetest, juiciest melons. In a special project, Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture looked at the Muscatine melon, its 120-year history of production in southeastern Iowa and the potential to capitalize on the geographic identity of one of Iowa's most popular crops. According to the project's report, two areas in Muscatine County are well-suited for growing melons--the Muscatine Island area along the Mississippi River that is protected by levees built in 1845, and along the Cedar River valley near Conesville. The soil is sandy and well-drained, groundwater is close to the surface and the melons and other produce grown there are sought-after throughout Iowa and beyond. In 1921, 750 carloads of watermelons grown on 2,000 acres of land and 100 carloads of muskmelons grown on 500 acres were shipped from Muscatine County. The 2002 Census of Agriculture showed only 12 commercial growers producing muskmelons and watermelons on 107 acres in Muscatine County. The report looks at ways to support these remaining producers in a fast-changing market. "Muscatine Melon: A Case Study of a Place-based Food in Iowa," is available online at: Contact Rich Pirog, Leopold Center program leader, (515) 294-1854; Susan Futrell, consultant and report author, (319) 337-7770; Craig Chase, ISU Extension farm management specialist and report author, (319) 234-6811; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center communications, (515) 294-5272.

Pork industry celebrates PRV eradication;
reflects on lessons learned

Success through cooperation was the theme for a celebration of the eradication of pseudorabies (PRV) in Iowa held Nov. 17 in Ames. Hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), the event brought together representatives from the agencies, institutions and associations that worked for 20 years to rid the state's swine herds of the contagious, costly disease. Dr. Michael Gilsdorf, director of the National Center for Animal Health Programs/Eradication and Surveillance Team, presented the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Certificate of Eradication to Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Brent Hallings. Plaques of appreciation were presented to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, IPPA, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, ISU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The event also focused attention beyond the eradication of one disease to the threat of others, said ISU Extension veterinarian Dr. James McKean. "Of all the lessons learned over the years of fighting PRV, the most important one is cooperation. The industry and the state can build on this model to prepare for disease challenges on the horizon," he said. "From surveillance through research and control measures, we can't let down our guard." Contact McKean, (515) 294-8792 or 294-6301; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Professor works where nutrition and statistics intersect

An Iowa State University statistics professor is advising the Colombia Ministry of Family Wellbeing on the design and analysis of that country's first national dietary intake survey. Alicia Carriquiry traveled to Medellin, Colombia, Nov. 9-13. The work is supported by the World Health Organization. She has done extensive research work on nutrition and dietary assessment in the United States and other countries. In this country, she helped develop guidelines for the uses of the new Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) established by the National Academy of Sciences. The new DRIs replaced the old Recommended Daily Allowances. Carriquiry says that nutrition policy, as it relates to public welfare and public health, is receiving attention from policy makers and researchers in a variety of fields, including economics, nutrition and epidemiology. Originally from Uruguay, Carriquiry completed a doctorate at Iowa State in statistics and animal science in 1989. Contact Carriquiry, (515) 294-7782; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications Service, (515) 294-0705.

Hunting leases could generate income

As fall turkey, deer, pheasant and duck hunting seasons open, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) at Iowa State University reminds value-added agriculture producers that leased hunting may be a way to gain additional income from the land. For the landowners, farmers and ranchers, hunting leases are a way to generate additional income from wildlife resources sustained through their crops and habitat maintenance. The additional income can be used for general habitat improvement (planting wind breaks, shelter belts or food plots; providing water resources or feeders). Land, wetland and stream habitats, and wildlife resources are increasingly valuable as hunters become more willing to pay for access to trophy animals, exotic species, maintained numbers of stocked birds, or a more exclusive or quality outdoor experience. Formal lease agreements may take many forms--seasonal, year-round or by the day or week. Revenue usually is directly related to the quality of the habitat, species availability and the overall quality of the outdoor experience. For more information on leases and sample contract agreements, visit the AgMRC Web site at Contact Dan Burden, AgMRC specialist, (515)294-9520; or Christa Hartsook, AgMRC communications, (515) 294-4430.