Agricultural research has produced numerous benefits for modern living. The U of A research station north of Clarksville concentrates its efforts on improved varieties of fruit. The research center south of Booneville studies improved approaches to modern farming. Where would we as a nation be without the studies and research of the Department of Agriculture? Let’s look at some examples.

Research into carrots has produced a vegetable that now has more than twice the beta carotene as earlier varieties. Carrots used to be processed for transport to market, covered with a film to slow spoilage. Now the peeled carrots are dipped in a citric acid bath for 30 seconds, then plunged into cold water. Benefits consumer and producer as the process is simple, fast, inexpensive and additive-free.

The ARS (Ag Research Service) gene bank houses more than 2,000 lettuce types. Breeding has resulted in a plethora of leaf colors and lettuce head sizes.

The Department of Agriculture conducts the only pecan breeding program in the world. We all know how important nuts are in our diet - pecans contain protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and even calcium. The nut’s fat content is 95 percent unsaturated. But growers have to deal with a lot of disease issues in their orchards. The variety Pawnee, released in 1984, touts being both insect - and disease-resistant.

ARS research made it possible to raise highbush varieties of blueberries in the southern states. More than 10,000 acres are now in cultivation in the South.

Research into watermellons led to the development of the Charleston Gray, with its oblong shape and hard rind, making it easy to stack and ship. This melon produced reliable yields and was resistant to most melon diseases. Most of today’s watermelon crop can trace their genetic heritage in part to the Charleston Gray.

And what about the development of those thornless blackberries that our local research station has had a hand in.

I could go on but the point’s been made. Ongoing research, whether it’s in plant genetics or animal breeding or land management, is necessary to keep the improvements coming and the quality of living at its optimum in our country.