Missouri State University
Agriculture Blog

Plant science grad students publish in industry newsletter

This summer, Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang’s graduate students, Daniel Adams and Surya Sapkota, began sampling berries for juice analysis from vines resulting from their grape breeding work. They want to relate berry and wine quality to particular genes in grapevine.

In the past, we have observed differences in juice analysis results between species related to the processing technique used. We decided to run a simple trial looking at three berry processing methods and four types of grapes. It is important for the analysis results to represent the juice that would result from actual pressing at the winery. This trial is of interest to grape growers and was recently published in the Iowa State Wine Grower News #345.

The Wine Grower News has a circulation of over 1,700 in 11 countries and is a great way for our students to help the grape and wine industry with their findings.

Surya Sapkota collects berry samples from Norton grapevines. It is important to collect an equal number of berries from each side of the trellis.
Surya collects berry samples from Norton grapevines.  The students tested Vitis aestivalis ‘Norton’, Vitis labrusca ‘Catawba’, Vitis vinifera ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ and the mixed hybrid ‘Chambourcin’.
This is the stomacher machine - one of the three methods used to process juice. The other two were hand pressing in a ziploc bag and hand pressing then wringing through cheesecloth.
This is the stomacher machine – one of the three methods used to process juice. The other two were hand pressing in a ziploc bag and hand pressing then wringing through cheesecloth.
Daniel and Surya analyze the juice processed by three different methods for sugar content, pH and acid content.
Daniel and Surya analyze the juice processed by three different methods for sugar content, pH and acid.


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Plant science students visit the Mountain Grove Campus

Dr. Melissa Remley’s Plant Science class visited the Mountain Grove Campus to tour the facilities and meet our group. Jennifer Morganthaler presented an overview of our programs which was followed by a tour of the MSU Winery and Distillery led by C. J. Odneal. We then toured the field and research plantings. Susanne Howard and Surya Sapkota talked about their work in plant genetics and breeding at the genomics vineyard. Then we stopped by the high tunnel to talk about the raspberry trial. It was great to meet this class and introduce them to opportunities at our station!

C. J. Odneal led the tour of the MSU Winery and Distillery for the students.
C. J. Odneal (right) led the tour of the MSU Winery and Distillery for the students.
The production and marketing of our products were discussed.
The production and marketing of our wine and distilled products were discussed.
Jennifer talked about the raspberry project and then the group harvested some berries.
Jennifer Morganthaler talked about the raspberry project and then the group harvested some berries.
We really enjoyed this visit and were happy to show the student what our campus has to offer.
We really enjoyed meeting the students and were happy to show them what our campus has to offer!
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Fall mushroom cultivation workshop

The Mushroom Cultivation Workshop held on Saturday, September 4 at the Darr Center was interesting and fun. We learned about Shiitake mushroom cultivation and actually got to inoculate our own oak log for production. It takes a year for the fungi to grow into the log before they will produce mushrooms. The log may produce up to 5 years! Dr. Goerndt of Missouri State partnered with the UMC Center for Agroforestry to offer this event.

Dr. Goerndt, right, helps Susanne Howard, horticulturist at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, drill holes in an oak log for innoculation with spawn.
Dr. Goerndt (right), MSU Agriculture forestry professor, helps Susanne Howard (left), horticulturist at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, drill holes in an oak log for inoculation with spawn.
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Greenhouse and High Tunnel Workshop Aug 3 -4, 2016 at Mountain Grove

One of the features of the workshop will be an on-site tour of the State Fruit Experiment Station greenhouses and high tunnel.
One of the features of the workshop will be an on-site tour of the State Fruit Experiment Station greenhouses and high tunnel.

All are invited to a two day workshop on greenhouses and high tunnels Wednesday and Thursday, August 3 and 4, 2016 at the State Fruit Experiment Station at Mountain Grove.

Topics include hydroponics, greenhouse and high tunnel crop production, insect and disease management and more. Cost is $40 per person and includes lunch on both days.

For more information and to download the registration form, go to


This workshop is a collaborative effort involving Missouri State, the University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University.

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Home Wine Making Workshop July 26, 2016 at Mountain Grove

We are having a Home Wine Making Workshop at Mountain Grove on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

Pressing grapes for home wine.
Pressing grapes for home wine.

The workshop is designed for beginning and experienced home winemakers.

Cost is $40 for lunch and wine kit.

Class is limited to 25 participants.

For more information see http://mtngrv.missouristate.edu/mtngrvcellars/HomeWinemaking.htm


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Make starting a garden quick, easy

Missouri’s rocky soil can make it difficult start a garden. According to Dr. Clydette Alsup-Egbers, associate professor of agriculture at Missouri State University, there’s a quick and easy way to overcome this obstacle. “One of the easiest ways I have found to establish a new garden is to basically create an instant raised bed,” said […]

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Hope for Haiti


By Laura Wolf, Missouri State alumna

Haiti: the most impoverished country in the world. As the students and professors journeyed from village to village, is was obvious that help had come, but it hadn’t stayed. At one time, a huge influx of support had begun reconstruction on infrastructure and buildings in Port au Prince, the country’s capital. Now, efforts to help exist on a much smaller scale, providing assistance one family or one village at a time.

In Pignon, the group’s destination, a few organizations are working with locals to improve their quality of life. Home of Hope orphanage, operated by members of a congregation in Kansas City, Missouri, provides housing and care to children, and has open dormitories for the visitors.

Project Hope, an organization also based in Kansas City, Missouri, is just across the road. A large building is under construction, which will one day house workers and visitors from abroad, as well as provide seminar and demonstration space for the staff agronomist and visiting experts. Surrounding the construction site are seven acres of donated farmland, which is where our story begins.

Living the public affairs mission

Five Missouri State University Darr School of Agriculture students and two professors, as well as a few Project Hope volunteers, settled in to their dormitory at the orphanage. Other collegians had checked in to luxurious hotels for their spring break adventures, but this group had different goals in mind.

They had prepared seminars on a wide range of topics, from water conservation and composting to human nutrition. Students came from a variety of agricultural backgrouIMG_0964nds to learn about the communities in central Haiti and bring their knowledge to farmers in the area.

“You don’t have to be an agronomy expert to help,” said Melissa Remley, an associate professor from Missouri State. “The main thing was to have that desire to learn about their culture and have that interaction – to want to be there and help.”

The agricultural land next door provides an opportunity for demonstrations and projects to benefit farms and families in surrounding villages. Mike Burton, the lead professor on the trip, said initial projects will likely include testing water retention systems on the landscape with terracing and diversions as well as trials of other practices that will increase long term profitability.

Students presented their seminars in two local villages. Outreach to the rural communities was facilitated by contacts previously established with the orphanage. The seminar audiences were farmers relying on agriculture not as a career, but as a subsistence effort to support their families.

“What we find is that through what we consider pretty typical practices that we would talk about in the soil conservation class or the sustainable agriculture class or plant nutrition and fertility, are all skills that are readily and desperately needed in those villages,” Burton said.

Facing challenges in Pignon

Even something as simple as treating a crop before a rain was a challenge for the communities they visited. The visitors faced challenges because of their assumptions about the tools and education available to villagers.IMG_0954

People might have cell phones, Burton said, but they don’t have calendars, and they don’t necessarily know what the temperature is outside. Most have never seen a radar weather map.

“In a developing nation, everything is more difficult when you don’t have the right tools or materials, even for simple things,” said Ben Rodabaugh, a natural resources student from Lowry City, Missouri, one of the students in the group. “It takes a lot more work to do it by hand and by improvising.”

The trip was eye-opening for students and advisers alike. Remley said the most poignant experience for her was seeing all the communities and churches there to help build an infrastructure and improve people’s lives.

“It’s basic human rights that we’re trying to give these people – proper food, clothing safety,” she said. “So it’s really humbling to see how joyous they are as a people and how helpful they are to one another despite what they don’t have.”

At one village location, students presented seminars on recycling nutrients in compost and saving water. When they gave the audience time for questions, it became clear that it wasn’t water for crops that was their concern. “Their main concern was to have enough drinking water,” Remley said. “As one man put it, ‘I can have crops, I can have food, but I have no water to cook my food in.’”

Silas Myrick, a senior agriculture student from Blue Springs, Missouri, spoke about human nutrition for his seminar. It’s really difficult, he said “telling somebody that they need to drink a certain amount of water every day and then having them reply that often they go days without water because it is difficult to get.”

An ongoing commitment to serve

A common sentiment from participants was one of humility and help. Myrick said the group’s goal was to find needs and try to amend them in any way they could. Remley said it was eye-opening to go there and see with their own eyes how people lived and provided for themselves.

“It’s the public affairs mission at its finest,” Remley said. “I was amazed by these students. We were literally in huts in the middle of these villages talking with people about their issues, going out and seeing their farms and seeing what they’re doing and talking about ways we can give them improvements.

“We learned more than we were telling them, and that gave us a really good idea of what we should go back and research on so we could come back with some helpful answers for them.”

They were also eager to return and continue helping the people they met. “For most of our students, they had never been someplace where they are the minority. And certainly, they had never been someplace where they were not only the minority, but they also couldn’t speak the language,” Remley said.

Between deforestation, poverty, and unpredictable rain, he said Missouri State students and faculty need to go back. “Not to shock our students, but to help where we can and for our student to learn all they can about what might be done,” Remley said.

Students in the Darr School of Agriculture will likely have the opportunity to visit Haiti in coming semesters, as Missouri State is developing a partnership with the University of Haiti to facilitate agricultural improvements, which will soon allow Haitian students to study at Missouri State and Darr students to study for longer periods in Haiti, whether it’s a semester-long Study Away program or master’s research.

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High Tunnel Workshop

Are you interested in learning more about high tunnel production practices? If so, mark your calendar for Thursday, July 23. The State Fruit Experiment Station is hosting a high tunnel workshop in Mountain Grove from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sessions include:

  • High Tunnel Construction with Norman Kilmer, Morgan County Seed
  • Tomato Production in High Tunnels with Patrick Byers, MU Extension
  • High Tunnel Raspberry Production in High Tunnels with Jennifer Morganthaler and Marilyn Odneal, Missouri State School of Agriculture
  • Discussion Panel Luncheon with Craig Jennings of Three Oaks Farm, Deborah French and Wayne Simpson of Simpson’s Family Farm, Randy Stout or Jeremy Emery of Missouri State School of Agriculture, as well as the program speakers.

After the presentations participants will visit the research and demonstration plantings in the high tunnel at the Fruit Experiment Station. An optional tour of the winery/distillery will be featured after the event.

Registration is $5.00 and pre-registration is required. You can download the registration form here.

Please visit our website for the complete schedule.

The Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station address is 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Mo.

Funds for this workshop were provided in part through the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

For questions about your registration, please contact Leslie Akers (LeslieAkers@MissouriState.edu or 417/547-7516).

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We’ve Been Busy!

The end of the semester is always busy for students, faculty and staff. This year was no exception. However, for many the crazy schedule did not stop after classes ended, so we wanted to take a minute to share a couple exciting things people have done the last couple of weeks.

China Study Away

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Landon Bax, Joshua McCormick, and Jesse Carroll peeking out from the Great Wall. Photo courtesy of Melissa Remley.

Shortly after graduation Dr. Melissa Remley travelled to China with five students. For the first five days they worked with researchers and

students at the Ningxia Forestry Institute (a botanical garden/plant research center). Remley said the group visited the institute’s Laboratory for Seedling Bioengineering, germplasm resource garden and field experiments. The institute produces a lot of wolfberries (i.e. gogi berries) and they harvest the berries and young shoots for tea and edible greens. They also grow many other plants, including grapes, and produce wine.

Remley said the best part of the trip was getting to know the researchers and students, bonding over a bon fire and karaoke, making traditional Chinese dumplings and having cultural exchange presentations. “We are still constantly communicating with our friends in China through WeChat (China’s version of Facebook),” Remley said.

The last week of the trip the group was in Beijing.  They spent 3 days touring some historical sites, such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace. The timing of the trip allowed them to attend an MSU alumni event in Beijing. Remley said they also took in a Kung Fu Show and Chinese Acrobatic Show, which were both amazing.

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Joshua McCormick, Christopher Cahill, Michael Kovens planting seeds in a propagation greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Melissa Remley.

Brazil Study Away

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Missouri State and UniCesumar agriculture students visit the UniCesumar farm and research facilities. Photo courtesy of Mike Klem.

On May 17 students from UniCesumar University in Maringá – PR, Brazil, arrived at Missouri State to spend a week learning about agriculture in Missouri. The group’s schedule included: listening to lectures from School of Agriculture faculty; observing animal science demonstrations at the Darr Center; touring the Fruit Experiment Station, an ADM facility, and the Monsanto research facility in St. Louis; and visiting the Arch.

At the end of the week when the Brazilian students departed, so did eight Missouri State students and two faculty members, Samantha Warner and Mike Klem. Warner said the unique design of the Brazilian study away program allows students from UniCesumar and Missouri State to build relationships and learn about agriculture and culture in both countries.

In Brazil, the schedule included listening to lectures about agriculture in Brazil; touring the University’s farm, a biodiesel facility and an agriculture cooperative; experiencing Brazilian coffee; and visiting Iguaçu Falls. Warner said watching students fall in love with the Brazilian people, culture and landscape was the best part of the trip.

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Missouri State students visited the Iguazu Falls during their study away experience in Brazil. The falls are recognized as a natural wonder of the world. Photo courtesy of Mike Klem.

Transfer Student Practicum

June 4-6 we held our second transfer student practicum. The practicum is funded by a capacity building grant for non-land grant colleges through the USDA. The purpose of the program is to expose community college students to opportunities for continuing their education in the agricultural sciences through a combination of lectures, hands-on activities and exposure to current research projects. This year 12 students and one advisor from OTC attended.


Other events we’ve hosted at the Bond Center recently include:

  • Missouri FFA LEAD – 250 high school students participated
  • MFA, Inc. Southwest Missouri Sales Training Workshop
  • Darr Family Foundation Grant Award Presentation

And the summer has just begun! Stay tuned for more updates on the exciting things our students, faculty and staff are doing on their summer break.

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