FAO Activity Report
by Kanwaldeep Singh
The training experience of Kanwaldeep Singh, international scientist on the vegetable research and extension project, is outlined below. Other international activities can be found at cucurbit breeding. In this program, training of international scientists is customized to meet the needs of each individual.
It is important to get established and begin work quickly if significant progress is to be made in the short (3-month) visits typical of the FAO exchange program in the department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University.
Work With Dr. D. C. Sanders
The training on hybrid vegetable seed production was organized by F.A.O. at NCSU Raleigh, North Carolina (USA). The main objective of this training was to enhance the professional knowledge and skill of trainees who are directly involved in vegetable production.
I, with my two other colleagues, Ramesh Kumar and Sh. Hari Pal Yadav reached Raleigh, NC on 4th June 2001. Next day we attended a meeting with Dr. George Wilson, Coordinator, International Programs and Dr. T. C. Wehner (cucurbit breeder) Professor, Horticultural Science Department, NCSU Raleigh in the Daniels Hall. We discussed the future program of training with them. We also met Ms. Milagro Rumble (Secretary to Dr. George Wilson) regarding our registration at NCSU and for our accommodations. We got registered in the NCSU, Raleigh and our accommodations was settled in Westgrove Tower.
On 6 June 2001, a meeting was held with Dr. D.C. Sanders, our host in charge and Professor (Horticulture) and Dr. T.C. Wehner in the conference room at Kilgore Hall. Dr. Sanders and Dr. Wehner highlighted the tentative training program, in which they included vegetable crops like cucurbits (cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon), tomato and pepper. Emphasis was given on seed production techniques. It was informed that the training in tomato breeding would be at Fletcher Research Station. A meeting of ASHS at Sacramento, California was also the part of training program. Besides it, the participation in some important Conferences/Workshops /Field days was included in the training period. Two groups/teams were formed for the purpose. One group was lead by Dr. D.C. Sanders and second group was lead by Dr. T.C. Wehner. I was in the team of Dr. D.C. Sanders. I was introduced by him at the faculty meeting of the Horticultural Science Department.
Field and greenhouse research
From 7th June 2001, I went with Dr. Sanders to work in the cucurbit production program (cucumber and watermelon) at Kinston and Clayton Research Station. At the research station, Dr. Sander highlighted some breeding aspects of cucumber and watermelon and gave me some literature of production related to cucurbitaceous crops. He and Mr. Kirk (field technician) gave a demonstration on all the techniques i.e. how to prepare the field, lay out the field, sowing of seeds, thinning the plants from the field, collection of data from the field, etc. I was later allowed to perform these entire operations myself at the research station.
Simultaneously, I also did the work at greenhouse. Tammy Ellington, Ag. Res. Tech. III, gave a demonstration on filling of pots with metromix, putting the pots in the greenhouses, sowing of seeds in the pots, watering the plants, pruning the plants and stringing the plants. She also gave a demonstration on extraction of seed of watermelon and cucumber. She gave the demonstration by manual and mechanical mean i.e. by the bulk seed extractor. I later performed these activities myself under the supervision of Ms. Ellington. We extracted a lot of watermelon and cucumber seed at various farms of NCSU with this bulk seed extractor. And than kept that seed with pulp in 50 gallon drums for 24 hours for fermentation. After 24 hrs the seed was washed and put in the dryer for 24 hrs. at 80°F. By this method, a large quantity of seeds can be extracted in short time. After that, the seeds from different lines were placed in small packets and the packets were labeled. The work was done under the guidance of Ms. Ellington. By this method, they kept the seeds of different lines can be stored for next year breeding program. Most of the techniques, which were learned, were on practical aspect of seed extracting.
On 14th June 2001, my colleagues and I went to Salisbury with Dr. D.C. Sanders and attended a field day on tomato crop. There, in the field day, we interacted with many scientists, county agents and farmers and were appraised of various aspects of tomato crop production.
On 28th June 2001, we also attended another field day on cucumber at the Horticultural Crops Research Station Clinton, where various cultivars of slicing and pickling cucumber were shown. We also met with representatives of various eminent seed companies of USA and interacted with them about the techniques being used by them for seed production.
From 1st July to 5th July 2001, we visited the city Washington D.C., the capital of USA. There, we toured the Smithsonian Institution, White House, the Washington Monument, National Capital Building and many other places. On 4th July 2001, we attended 225th Birthday/ Independence Day of the USA. In the night, we enjoyed the fireworks. This tour beside being entertaining, also provided a lot of other information regarding culture of America.
Participate in tours
From 8th July to 13th July 2001, we went to the Mountain Horticulture Crop Research and Extension center, Fletcher (Ashville) with Dr. D.C. Sanders. We met Dr. Randy Gardner, tomato breeder. He demonstrated to us the pruning of tomato plants, stringing of tomato plants in the field. He also demonstrated the harvesting of tagged fruits from the selected lines and grading. After grading, seeds were extracted from the selected fruits. These seeds were washed, dried in the shade and stored for next year’s breeding program.
Mr. Steven (technician of Dr. Randy Gardner), demonstrated the extraction of seed from tomato fruits, washing and drying. I was then asked to perform all these activities myself under the guidance of Dr. Randy Gardner. We also visited greenhouses, apple orchards and many farmers in the Asheville area. We also planted the tomato plants in the research farm and did pruning of tomato plants. We performed stringing of tomato plants. In this way, we learned a lot about the cultivation and breeding of tomato.
From 19th July to 30th July 2001, we went to California with Dr. T.C. Wehner. On 20th July 2001, we visited USDA vegetable research station, Salinas and met Dr. James McCreight. Then, we toured laboratories and greenhouses at the station. Dr. McCreight explained about his research work. Later, we toured Sakata seed company and met Dr. Larry Gautney (director of research). He explained about the activities of the company. Then we visited the greenhouses of the company and learned the techniques of raising plants for seed purposes.
After that, we visited the Harris Moran Seed Company and met Dr. Chester Kurowski (Plant pathologist) and Dr. Steve Magnuson (Senior Plant Breeder). They gave an overview of their company. Then we visited Seminis Vegetable Seeds Company and met Dr. Catherine Thome (Plant Breeder) and Dr. Robert Heisey (Managing Breeder). They explained about their work and activities of the company. On the way to San Francisco, we toured Santa Cruz, stopped at the beach, toured the redwood forests, and drove along the coast highway. On 21st July, we visited the San Francisco city (Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, various beaches, Redwood park, Chinatown, Fisherman’s wharf, Telegraph Hill). We all enjoyed the riding of cable car. In the evening of 21st July 2001, we reached at Sacramento.
From 22nd July to 25th July 2001, we attended the conference of American Society for Horticultural Science at Sacramento Convention Hall. In this conference, we attended various talks on various vegetables and fruits. We also had interaction with various participants during the poster session. This conference provided a great experience and the latest information. We felt proud to be there. We met many Scientists from all over the world and interacted with them.
From 26th July to 27th July 2001, we were taken to a two day post-harvest horticulture tour. On 26th July, we visited the controlled atmosphere (CA) facilities of Driscoll Strawberry Farm, Watsonville. At this farm, we were shown the cultural operations like picking/ harvesting, packaging, storage as well as shipping of fruits. Then we visited CA facilities of Kitayam Brothers, Watsonville, Tanimura & Antle, Inc, Spreckles, and Transfresh, Salinas. At these places we saw the post-harvest technology of various fruits, vegetables and flowers. Than we visited the famous Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey and enjoyed the beach area.
On 27th July 2001, we visited CA of River Ranch, Salinas for fresh cut plants. Then we visited the Mitchell Post Harvest Laboratory, Parlier. In this company, we saw the harvesting and packaging of Peaches, Grapes, Citrus, etc. On the whole, this tour to various CA facilities in USA was beneficial and informative.
Attend field days
On 2nd & 3rd August 2001, we went to Fletcher and attended the tomato field day. We met many farmers and scientists at this field day. We also visited the research station with Dr. Hoyt. He explained about his research on organic farming. On 9th August 2001, we went to Goldsboro with Dr. Barkley Poling and attended the pre-plant strawberry meeting. In the meeting we farmers and scientists, and interacted with them for strawberry cultivation.
From 15th August to 17th August 2001, we again visited the Mountain Horticulture Crop Research and Extension Center, Fletcher (near Asheville) and attended a two day Extension Specialist Workshop. On 3rd day we visited many farmers and visited the Biltmore vineyard with Ms. Diane Ducharme, Assistant agriculture extension agent.
As an extension officer, I gathered a lot of information from these workshop/conferences/meetings. I learned many new techniques and also gained some new experiences regarding holding of such types of workshops with the active participation of farmers association.
During this training program, due to wide tour to USA, attending of conferences and workshops and interactions with scientist and farmers, I gained a lot of experience in the in the field of vegetable production and also strawberry. The advanced techniques which we learned on seed production and organic farming was also of great use. The interactions with scientists, persons from private seed companies, packaging and processing companies enhanced our technical knowledge.
On the whole, this training was very fruitful and useful. It has enhanced my knowledge. As an extension specialist, I will use the knowledge gathered in the field of vegetable and seed production. I am grateful to my Advisor Dr. D.C. Sanders, who had taken great interest in the training program. I acknowledge F.A.O. and Haryana Government also for providing me this opportunity.
Report by Kanwaldeep Singh