Division of Agriculture participates in International Spinach Conference in Guangzhou, ChinaFeb. 12, 2014
Dr. Jim Correll, Professor of Plant Pathology
Fred Miller, Agricultural Communication Services
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture faculty and staff participated in the International Spinach Conference in Guangzhou, China, in December.
The meeting was held in conjunction with the Guangdong Seed Expo, typically attended by more than 20,000 participants annually, said Jim Correll, Division of Agriculture plant pathologist. He said scientists from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia, Japan and China attended the conference.
Among this group, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is recognized as the leading research institution on spinach worldwide, Correll said.
The annual spinach meeting included two days of scientific and production presentations by 30 scientists from around the world who do spinach research, Correll said. The event also included a field day that featured research field plots for more than 5,000 vegetable crops and a vegetable industry-sponsored banquet.
Spinach is grown commercially in the Arkansas River Valley in Arkansas and Oklahoma for canning and freezing, said Craig Andersen, a Division of Agriculture horticulture specialist. Allen Canning Company based in Siloam Springs markets the popular Popeye brand of canned and frozen spinach. California grows the largest amount of fresh market spinach in the U.S. and China grows approximately 90 percent of the crop globally.
The dense foliage of spinach that grows close to the soil creates challenges for managing plant diseases and insect pests, which are focuses of current research in Arkansas. A long-term Division of Agriculture plant breeding program developed spinach varieties with high levels of genetic disease resistance, which has been incorporated into most new varieties, Andersen said.
Personnel from the department of plant pathology and the entomology department assisted in administering the conference.
Division faculty and graduate students attended the conference and represented expertise on pathology, virology, molecular genetics and breeding.