Assessing Suitable Production Techniques for Ramps in Appalachia

Project Overview

GS20-232
Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2020: $14,660.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. John Munsell
Virginia Tech - Department of Forest Resources and Environmental

Commodities

  • Additional Plants: ramps

Practices

  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming

    Proposal abstract:

    Appalachia faces several economic and social challenges given losses in manufacturing, a waning coal industry and accompanying poverty and drug use. Although the region’s steep topography limits its use for traditional agricultural production, its natural beauty and unique plant resources could serve as springboards to a brighter future. Sustainable forest farming practices, in particular, could generate new economic opportunities for the region by leveraging its people’s long-standing connections to forest plants. While Appalachia’s people have a rich history of utilizing native non-timber forest products such as ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, and black cohosh, the primary means of supply has been through “wild harvest”. This extractive approach has long-term negative effects on product sustainability and economic potential. Sustainable forest farming can create greater product value while both reducing pressures on natural populations and meeting the demands of global markets. This project will expand economic opportunities in Appalachia by developing and expanding forest farming of ramps. We will collect ramp bulbs and seeds from five unique environments on private and public (including USFS) lands in Virginia and North Carolina and compare these ecotypes for above- and belowground productivity. We will also evaluate their response to inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Along with these production measures, we will create a regional habitat suitability map for potential ramp farmers. This project will enhance ramps production and promote the sustainability and resilience of forest farming practices in Appalachia.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will compare the development and production of unique ramp ecotypes collected from several sites across Appalachia and determine if inoculation with AMF can improve ramp productivity. This project also will lead to the creation of site assessment tools, ramp production guides and development of planting stock to support forest-farmed ramp production in the Appalachian region of Virginia. To accomplish this, we will:

    Objective 1

    Evaluate diverse ramp lines (selections) collected from different woodland habitats in Virginia and North Carolina.

    Objective 2

    Determine whether and to what degree, inoculation with AMF supports ramp growth

    Objective 3

    Conduct outreach efforts to support adoption of sustainable ramp production practices and increase awareness of ramp economic potential. Extension efforts will include:

    1. A field day demonstrating ramp research to growers in the region.
    2. Development of a habitat suitability map for ramps and provide that as a tool to the producers.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.