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Plant sciences students honored at agronomy society conference

Photo of Jesse Puka-Beals

Jesse Puka-Beals

Photo of Alex Wittenberg

Alex Wittenberg

NDSU Department of Plant Sciences master’s degree students Jesse Puka-Beals and Alex Wittenberg received awards in the Graduate Student Oral Presentation Competition at the 2019 American Society of Agronomy annual meeting held in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 10-13.

Puka-Beals won first place in the Organic Management Systems division with his presentation,Combining Cover Crops, Strip Tillage and Novel Mulches to Manage Weeds in Carrot.” His research looked at weed response to different weed control strategies. One strategy uses cover crops to compete with weeds to reduce their number and size. A second strategy uses mulches to create a physical barrier on top of the soil surface to prevent weeds from germinating and emerging. Both strategies were effective, and a newspaper-based mulch was noteworthy because its biodegradability and low cost may be useful to small-scale vegetable growers in the Red River Valley.

Puka-Beals is from Lexington, Massachusetts. He is advised by Greta Gramig, associate professor and weed biology and ecology project leader.

Wittenberg was awarded third place in the Bioenergy Systems division with his presentation, “Sowing Date Affects Winter Camelina Stand Establishment.” He presented preliminary research on the effect of fall sowing dates on fall stand establishment, reduction in residual soil nitrate levels in the fall and subsequent spring, spring stand, and ultimately grain yield or winter camelina.

Wittenberg is from Valley City, North Dakota. He is advised by Marisol Berti, professor and forage and biomass crop production project leader.

The American Society of Agronomy meeting is held in conjunction with the Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America meetings.

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