A University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture researcher has been named a young professional to watch by the publications Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News.
Amanda McWhirt, an extension commercial horticulture specialist, was named one of the 2019 Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40. The honor recognizes professionals making an impact in the agriculture industry and in research.
“It is an honor to be named as a member of this group and to receive this recognition,” McWhirt said in a statement. “I am very proud to represent the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture among this dedicated group of people working to grow the fruit and vegetable industry.”
In 2017, researchers at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Fruit Research Station began exploring a new trellis system designed to increase blackberry production in Arkansas. McWhirt serves as the primary investigator for the project, which she said is expected to last approximately five years.
The trellis system, according to McWhirt, is designed to provide an almost horizontal platform for the blackberries that can be rotated.
“The idea is that you can rotate it onto one side, so that the flowers come out on the top side,” McWhirt said. “Once flowering is complete, you rotate it 100 degrees, so that all the berries are then on one side of the trellis.”
McWhirt also recently received the 2019 Young Minds Award for best presentation from the International Society for Horticultural Science. Her presentation, on the rotating trellis arm project, was entitled “Effects of Rotating Arm Trellis on First Year Blackberry Yield, Fruit Quality and Pest Pressure.”