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Becky Sideman
Extension Professor/Specialist, Sustainable Horticulture Production


Becky has worked at UNH since 2004 under a split appointment as an associate professor of plant biology (20 percent) and a Cooperative Extension sustainable horticulture specialist (80 percent extension/applied research). Before coming to UNH, she worked as a plant geneticist and lettuce breeder with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Salinas, California. She grew up with plants and agriculture on a diversified New England farm in Vermont.

Current Research

  • APPLIED RESEARCH Like the typical highly diversified New England farms I work with, my research interests incorporate a wide variety of crops and research topics. Sustainable production of fruit and vegetable crops in N.H. requires growers to minimize production costs and ecological impacts, while producing economically viable yields of high-quality crops. I choose applied research projects to help New Hampshire growers select crops and growing practices that will reduce inputs and increase farm profitability.

  • Season Extension Prolonging the relatively short New Hampshire growing season can help farmers harvest crops over a longer period and allow them to plant crops that take a longer time to mature than we normally have. Season-extending techniques growers currently use in New England include unheated tunnels (similar to greenhouses) and ground-warming mulches and row covers made of different materials. We need to research the best ways to use these season extension technologies, and to determine in which situations and for which crops they will prove most cost effective.

  • Colored Sweet Bell Peppers (2005, 2006) Ripe (colored) sweet bell peppers have superior flavor and are more nutritious than their unripe (green) counterparts. Ripening requires an additional two or three weeks after fruits are mature green. During this time, fruits become increasingly susceptible to pests and other production problems. In 2006, the second year of sweet pepper trials at UNH, we grew 26 varieties of sweet peppers at the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm - the 12 varieties we tried during 2005, plus 14 new varieties. The goal was to identify varieties that produced high yields of quality colored (red, yellow or orange) fruit early in the season.

  • Sweetpotato (2006) Sweetpotatoes have potential as a niche fall specialty crop for New England growers. I use the term sweetpotato (all one word, rather than sweet potato) to avoid confusion with regular (Irish, or Solanum) potatoes. Consumer appeal for sweetpotatoes is increasing, due to awareness of high nutrient content, flavor, and keeping quality. In a preliminary trial in summer 2006, we grew and harvested 18 varieties of sweetpotato at UNH. Varieties differed for marketable yield and quality characteristics. Despite a late planting date due to wet spring, we obtained high yields for several varieties. The goal was to find varieties that produced high yields of good quality medium-sized tubers with fairly uniform and attractive root shapes. As a specialty crop, varieties with unique flesh and skin colors may be particularly interesting. Because good eating quality is also essential, we also conducted a taste test using 40 untrained tasters at UNH after harvest.

Educational Background

  • 1999. Ph.D., Plant Genetics, Cornell University

  • 1994. B.A., Biology, Dartmouth College

Program Specialty Areas

  • AREAS of EXPERTISE: Sustainable agriculture, vegetable and small fruit production, plant breeding and genetics, plant disease resistance and pathogen interactions, plant pathology and disease management

  • EXTENSION: As Extension Specialist in Sustainable Horticulture, I work with county-based extension educators to provide up-to-date information about the most sustainable production techniques for commercial vegetable and small fruit growers throughout the state. This means developing and delivering educational workshops, making site visits to farms around the state, and conducting applied research (see below!). I also publish the NH Vegetable and Fruit Newsletter. Please email me or call (603)862-3200 if you would like to be notified when new issues become available.

  • TEACHING: Plant Biology 405, Organic and Sustainable Food Production. Next offered: Fall 2012
    In this course, students learn the scientific and biological principles used to develop organic farming techniques and methods, and explore the shared responsibility of producers and consumers for defining how food is grown. The class includes field trips and the opportunity for hands-on learning. It satisfies the Environment, Technology & Society Discovery requirement.

Select Publications

  • Martin CM and Sideman RG. 2012. Survival and yields of fall-planted winter sprouting broccoli grown in high tunnels for spring harvest in the Northeastern United States. HortTechnology in press.

  • Simko I, Hayes RJ, Subbarao KV and Sideman RG. 2010. SM09A and SM09B: Romaine lettuce breeding lines with resistance to dieback and improved shelf-life. HortScience 45(4):1-3.

  • Takeda F, Demchak K, Warmund MR, Handley DT, Grube R, and Feldhake C 2008. Rowcovers improve winter survival and production of Western trailing ‘Siskiyou’ blackberry in the Eastern United States. HortTechnology 18(4):575-582.

  • Hayes, RJ, Vallad, GE, Qin, Q-M, Grube, RC and Subbarao, KV. 2007. Variation for resistance to Verticillium wilt in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Plant Disease 91:439-445.

  • Lebeda A., Ryder E.J., Grube R., Dolezalova I., Kristkova E. 2007. Lettuce (Asteraceae; Lactuca spp.), pp. 377-472. In: Singh R.J.(Ed.): Genetic Resources, Chromosome Engineering, and Crop Improvement, Vol. 3, Vegetable Crops. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, USA, 2007.

  • Vallad, G. E., Qin, Q-M, Grube, RC, Hayes, RJ and Subbarao, KV. 2006. Characterization of race-specific interactions among isolates of Verticillium dahliae pathogenic on lettuce. Phytopathology 96:1380-1387.

  • Grube, R.C. and Ochoa, O.E. 2005. Comparative genetic analysis of field resistance to downy mildew in the lettuce cultivars Iceberg and Grand Rapids. Euphytica 142(3):205-215.

  • Grube, R. C., Wintermantel, W. M., Hand, P., Aburomia, R., Pink, D. A. C., and Ryder, E. J. 2004. Genetic analysis and mapping of resistance to lettuce dieback, a soilborne disease caused by tombusviruses. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 110 (2):259-268.

  • Grube, R. C., and Ryder, E. J. 2004. Identification of germplasm with genetic resistance to drop caused by Sclerotinia minor. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 129 (1):70-76.

  • Grube, R. C. and Ryder, E. J. 2003. Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) breeding lines with resistance to lettuce dieback. HortScience 38 (4):627-628.

  • Grube, R. C., Brennan, E. B. and Ryder, E. J. 2002. Characterization of a lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) mutant, weary, that exhibits reduced gravitropic response in hypocotyls and inflorescences. Journal of Experimental Botany 54 (385):1259-1268

  • Ben-Chaim, A., Grube, R. C., Lapidot, M., Jahn, M. K., and Paran, I. 2001. Identification of quantitative trait loci associated with tolerance to cucumber mosaic virus in Capsicum annuum Theor. Appl. Genet. 102:1213-1220.

  • Ben-Chaim, A., Paran, I., Grube, R. C., Jahn, M. K., van Wijk, R., and Peleman, J. 2001. QTL mapping of fruit-related traits in pepper (Capsicum annuum ). Theor. Appl. Genet. 102:1016-1028.

  • Grube, R. C., Radwanski, E. R., and Jahn, M. K. 2000. Comparative genetics of disease resistance within the Solanaceae. Genetics 155:873-887.

  • Grube, R. C., Blauth, J. R., Arnedo, M. A. and Jahn, M. K. 2000. Identification of a dominant potyvirus resistance gene cluster in Capsicum, Theor. Appl. Genet. 101:852-859.

  • Grube, R. C., Zhang, Y., Murphy, J. F., Loaiza-Figueroa, F., Lackney, V. K., Provvidenti, R. and Jahn, M. K. 2000. New source of resistance to cucumber mosaic virus in Capsicum frutescens. Plant Disease 84(8):885-891.

  • Jahn, M. K., Paran, I., Hoffmann, K., Radwanski, E. R., Livingstone, K. D., Grube, R. C., Afergoot, E., Lapidot, M., and Moyer, J. 2000. Genetic mapping of the Tsw locus for resistance to the tospovirus tomato spotted wilt virus in Capsicum spp. and its relationship to the Sw-5 gene for resistance to the same pathogen in tomato. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 13 (6): 673-682.

Contact Information

Spaulding Hall
38 Academic Way

Durham, NH 03824-2617 View Map

Phone: 603-862-3203
FAX: 603-862-2717
E-mail: Becky.Sideman@unh.edu