What is in this article?:
- North Carolina growers looking to cash in with biotech crops
- Big yield increase needed
- Broccoli is promising crop
• Technically, biotechnology is a toolbox in living cells and molecules used to make products that solve problems.
• At a time when the country was mired in a recession and unemployment topped 10 percent in many Southeastern states, jobs in biotechnology in North Carolina increased by 6.3 percent.
• Using biotechnology to take better advantage of light and oxidation and other factors that contribute to the rapid breakdown of raspberries is the key to making this and other crops more valuable and more viable as a high value crop for rural economies of the state.
Big yield increase needed
By 2025 corn growers will need to produce 230 bushels per acre to meet the growing food, feed and energy demands for corn products. Biotechnology is pushing yields up, but the upward trend has to go faster to meet world demands and more dependence on biotechnology is the only way to get there, Heiniger said.
“In the future we are going to have to learn how to manage crops that produce pharmaceutical compounds that improve human health or nutritional qualities that help overcome shortages in human nutrition around the world,” he added.
“And, of course we will have to manage crops that contribute to biofuels. Food crops in a biotechnology era will be more than products used to feed humans and livestock.”
Penelope Veazie, a fruit and vegetable post harvest specialist at North Carolina State University, says applying biotechnology to harvesting, storage and transportation of fruit and vegetable crops can enhance the economic and human health value of these crops.
For example, raspberries grown in western North Carolina, can produce a net profit of $50,000 per acre. The challenge, Veazie says, is that raspberries, especially in the South, have a shelf life of no more than two days.
“Rapid loss of color, or darkening of the skin, of raspberries and botrydis, a common disease of fruit are primary factors in reducing the value of the crop in the Southeast. Fungicides and cold storage have been the primary tools to fight this loss, but they aren’t the answer, Veazie contends.
“Using biotechnology to take better advantage of light and oxidation and other factors that contribute to the rapid breakdown of raspberries is the key to making this and other crops more valuable and more viable as a high value crop for rural economies of the state,” she concludes.
Allan Brown, an assistant professor at North Carolina State’s Plants for Human Health Institute, says making healthy crops like broccoli more desirable to consumers is likely to be driven by one factor — taste.