- Vegetables: cucurbits
- Crop Production: organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
- Pest Management: biological control
- Production Systems: general crop production
Karen Strickler of Parma will use her grant to determine how harvest frequency and harvest size affect the total weight and marketability of summer squash. Strickler, who sells her produce at the Nampa Farmers Market, says most market and home gardeners pick squash only once or twice a week, resulting in large fruit. The key to maintaining small fruit, and to spur the plants to produce new fruit, is daily picking. But picking daily can be time consuming and may result in a lower volume of fruit. While her smaller, colorful squash sell well at the market, she’s wondering about her pricing. Having found no research that answers her questions, she will conduct a customer preference survey of summer squash size and a field experiment with four squash varieties – two zucchini and two patty pan types – at two harvest frequencies to see how yield is affected. She’ll develop a production and marketing model from her data that others can use.