Plant Health students receive scholarships

(February 10, 2015) – Two Fresno State senior plant health students from the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology recently received noteworthy scholarships in competitions sponsored by weed science organizations.

On Monday, senior Sarah Parry was announced as one of 10 undergraduate research award winners selected by the Weed Science Society of America at its annual conference in Lexington, Kent.

The senior from Sonora and nearby Summerville High School will receive a $2,000 grant to conduct a study this spring examining the weed-free period in organic lettuce and effects on crop yield, economics and quality.

“I’m honored to receive the award, especially since it’s a very competitive national contest,” Parry said. “As a plant science career I’m interested in helping manage pests organically so this is a great opportunity to get a head start. There’s already similar data about conventional lettuce, but not organic, so hopefully we can gather more information and write a paper on our findings.”

Sarah ParryThe study will compare different weed control cycles to determine the critical window when weeds most affect organic lettuce’s growing cycle. This data will help farmers save money and time to weed only when necessary.

She worked on a similar study last fall with Fresno State professor Anil Shrestha and student Ryan Cox. Students from the plant science and horticulture programs and nursery technician Calliope Correia also helped with the harvest and weed control that included removal by hand and hoe.

“In the fall we saw that the most critical weed maintenance period was four weeks after transplanting,” Parry said, “so we want to see if that holds true again. I’m also interested in comparing the weed species types and reactions between the fall and spring.”

The organic lettuce was sold at the Gibson Farm Market and to local restaurants.

In January, an oral presentation detailing her fall study results placed second in the student research competition at the California Weed Science Society Conference in Santa Barbara.

Last Thursday, senior Charlie Garcia was one of two students who received a $750 scholarship from the American Society of Agronomy California Chapter at its annual conference in Fresno.

Half of the criteria was based on his essay focusing on new technologies and skills that California agriculture workers will need in coming decades.

The Exeter native and Exeter High School graduate was also selected based on an application that included leadership, scholarship and extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation and a resume of his agricultural work experience.

Charlie Garcia“I am truly honored and thankful to the American Society of Agronomy for their generosity,” Garcia said. “I am looking forward to graduate school with a focus in Plant Pathology. It's nice to know that there are groups and organizations like them out there that strive to help students continue their desired career paths.”

Garcia was honored at the association’s 43rd annual convention attended by growers, consultants, suppliers, educators, and governmental organizations.

More organization information is available at http://calasa.ucdavis.edu .

The conference included technical sessions on a wide range of topics including: nutrient management in annual and perennial crops, salinity management in crop production, water and drought management, pest management, waste water and manure management issues, soil quality and the effect of agricultural practices