University of Alaska Fairbanks tests which vegetables grow best in the Interior
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) agricultural department has been testing which vegetables grow best in Interior Alaska.
According to Glenna Gannon, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems for UAF, the trials have been going for several years. “We have been trialing a number of different crops, as well as several cultivars of each of those crops since 2017. This year in 2021 we are trialing bush beans, beets, corn, carrots, fennel, brussels sprouts, sweet corn, hot peppers, and winter squash - and of each of those, we’re trialing anywhere from five to 14 different varieties. This year we’re having some really nice warm weather and having great results with actually warm season crops like the winter squash and the corn.”
According to Heidi Rader, Associate Professor of Extension for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the trials are a great help determining which varieties of plants that traditionally don’t fare well in Interior Alaska have a better chance. “The variety trials here in Fairbanks are really important. We’re testing a bunch of different types of vegetables. That’s important because down in the lower 48, things are going to grow a lot more differently. We have the midnight sun, we have a short growing season, we have hot days, cold days, and so not only crops can grow better. Like corn, it can be tricky to grow, but which varieties grow best? So that’s kinda what we’re trialing here is trying to figure out which types of corn, or artichokes, or spinach do best in our midnight sun.”
According to Gannon, the trials have already produced some fascinating results. “Going into our fifth year of variety trials, we haven’t necessarily trialed all of those varieties for the entire period. So for example, winter squash, we just started trialing last year. Artichokes is another one that we just started this year and they’re having a great summer, but we don’t have any finding on those yet as this is the first year that we’ve trialed them. We do have some really solid results for bush beans, beets, and carrots. Those are the things that we started trialing back in 2017. Historically those crops have done really well in the Fairbanks area; however some of those standard gold classics for Fairbanks are no longer commercially available. Nelson carrot is a really good example of that. So now after looking at over 16 varieties of carrots, we’ve determined that there’s a few good alternatives such as napoli and yayal.”
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