CFAES Impact: July/August 2022

  1. Wheat in demand

    With wheat prices hitting a 14-year high this year, more Ohio farmers plan to plant more of the grain. 

    That’s according to Laura Lindsey, a CFAES field crops expert. Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with OSU Extension, said she’s fielded numerous calls, emails, and Twitter messages from farmers statewide about the feasibility of planting wheat this year. Most of the wheat Ohio farmers grow is soft red winter wheat, which is planted in fall and harvested the next spring. This is the kind of wheat typically used in pastries, cakes, cereals, crackers, and cookies.

    However, while spring wheat can be planted in Ohio, Lindsey said, it doesn’t grow as well as winter wheat. And spring wheat yields are significantly lower than winter wheat yield.

    Laura Lindsey, soybean and small grains specialistWhile in Ohio we usually plant winter wheat, with the commodities market the way it is, more farmers are saying they want to try and capitalize on the record prices. However, although wheat prices are high, spring wheat is probably not the best option in 2022 due to the low yields, high input costs, and uncertainty surrounding selling the grain and its quality.”

    Wheat prices are surging globally in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, prompting farmers nationwide to consider planting more wheat. About 14% of the global wheat supply is produced in Ukraine and Russia, according to Gro Intelligence. The two countries supply nearly 30% of all wheat exports, according to the agricultural data analytics firm.

    Wheat prices are surging even higher as the conflict raises questions about Russia’s and Ukraine’s ability to continue exporting, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wheat Outlook for March.

    “U.S. prices have been particularly underpinned by this development, with quotes for hard red winter (wheat) and soft red winter (wheat) commanding the largest price increases—up more than 80% from last year—as these classes are the most directly in competition with Russian and Ukrainian wheat,” the USDA said.

    Ohio farmers are on track to harvest 610,000 acres of winter wheat this year, up 5% from the previous year, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Ohio Field Office. 

  2. Science in 60 seconds

    Ever wonder what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder?  

    Or how about the difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated juice? Have you ever questioned why foods and beverages come in different colored bottles?

    In 60 seconds or less, food scientist Brittany Towers Lewis takes complex scientific information and boils it down into understandable terms. She then posts the resulting videos on TikTok and Instagram, where 63,300 followers now learn about science from her, The Black Food Scientist.

    A graduate of CFAES, Towers Lewis started posting food science videos in 2021 to get science information out to the public in quick, relatable ways to lessen the mystery of science and to make learning about it fun.

    "Science is often perceived of as a bunch of words that most people can’t understand, but using common language makes it more approachable,” she said. “Plus, food is a great way to get the word out about science because food is relatable to everyone.”

    Brittany Towers TikTokAnother goal of her TikTok and Instagram videos is to promote the idea of careers in food science to younger people, including those in minority groups generally underrepresented in science-related careers. Food science as a career isn’t well known to many people,”

    Towers Lewis said. “I love working with middle school and high school students and seeing their eyes spark when they realize you can be in the science field and work with food at the same time.” Towers Lewis didn’t even know about food science as a career until she attended Ohio State. In fact, it was CFAES food science classes that made her realize that “food science was the career for me.” She now works as a senior manager of product development for Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based health and wellness company.

    “In the first CFAES class that I took, we made ice cream—and then got to eat it,” she said with a laugh. “Being able to translate science concepts into something that you can see, feel, and eat helps to understand the science better. You can see the scientific reaction happening while a loaf of bread is baking.” 

    Brittany TowersIt’s that excitement that Towers Lewis strives to recreate in each video she posts. And it seems to be working because she went viral on her fourth post.

    “I was surprised because I didn’t think so many people would be interested,” she said. “One of my mom’s friends is a teacher and shows the videos to her students, which I really love. Many people message me saying they wish they’d known that food science was a thing, and others send me messages simply thanking me for providing science in a digestible way.”



  3. CFAES nearing completion of new greenhouse research complex

    CFAES’ new Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex (CEARC) is 75% complete. It’s expected to open this fall. And while that’s good news for CFAES and the scientists who’ll be working there, it’s even better news for Ohio’s big-and-getting-bigger greenhouse industry. 

    Inside the complex, research will take place in settings like those of the most advanced commercial greenhouses, says CFAES’ Chieri Kubota. That means findings from the studies will be relevant to, and can be used directly by, industry growers. Kubota is professor of controlled environment agriculture in the CFAES Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. She’s also director of CFAES’ Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

    The state-of-the-art complex will “eliminate the technological gap between academia and industry” when it comes to performing greenhouse research, Kubota says. It will support new partnerships among CFAES, greenhouse growers, and other colleges and universities, she notes, and will give CFAES students the most up-to-date training possible for jobs in a growing industry.

    Chieri Kubota That technology will include, for instance, the most advanced type of roofing system—one that transmits the full spectrum of sunlight—energy-efficient LED lighting, carbon dioxide enrichment, microclimate heating “grow pipes,” and precision nutrient management.

    The design of the complex’s two greenhouses follows the industry standard, the Venlo type, with 23-foot-high sidewalls to ensure good light transmission and effective natural ventilation.

    Research compartments within the greenhouses will be able to support experiments on tall crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and hemp; short-stature crops, such as strawberries, bedding plants, and potted ornamental plants; and crops grown by hydroponics, or water culture, such as leafy greens.

    The facility owes much of its cutting edge to greenhouse-related companies including GE Current, Priva, the Hawthorne G Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complexardening Company, and Ludvig Svensson, which gifted equipment and technology to the project. Support from these partners made the “installation of modern technologies possible,” Kubota says.

    Located at CFAES’ 261-acre Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory on the Ohio State Columbus campus, the complex is part of a major revamping that also includes the Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building, which opened in 2019, and the Multispecies Animal Learning Center, now in planning and fundraising stages.

    Learn more at


  4. The Dean’s Charity Steer Show returns to the Ohio State Fair

    Celebrate Ohio agriculture, communities, and children at the 2022 Dean’s Charity Steer Show Aug. 2 at the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair. Celebrity exhibitors will team up with media personalities, experienced Ohio 4-H youth, and a steer in the show ring.

    All proceeds will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. For more information, visit deanscharitysteershow.

  5. New on YouTube: How to have water for everyone in Ohio

    “Clean water is the backbone to any great society. You’re not going to have healthy humans without it. You’re not going to have a healthy economy without it.”

    So begins …And Water for All, a documentary film that premiered March 22, World Water Day, at a program hosted by CFAES’ Environmental Professionals Network.

    Written and directed by Ramiro Berardo, an associate professor in the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources, the film explores issues around water in Ohio including interviews from Toledoans who experienced the city’s 2014 water crisis, and the need to rebuild public water systems and public trust to provide affordable, safe water for Ohioans.

    Watch it at




  6. Farm Science Review

    The 60th Farm Science Review is Sept. 20–22 with the theme, “Embracing Time and Change.” The agricultural trade show offers educational talks from experts with CFAES, which hosts the event at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio.

    Presale tickets are $10 online and at Extension county offices and participating agribusinesses, or $15 at the gate. Children ages 5 and under are free. The FSR app is available for Apple and Android smartphone and tablet users, and it offers interactive maps, a schedule of events, and show information. It’ll be available by download from the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for “FSR 2022” or by directing your mobile browser to

    The show hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20–21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.

  7. Bonus Reads

    Learn the latest on crop production research via CFAES’ Knowledge Exchange.

    Discover tips on how to grow food through the Growing Franklin blog.

    Check out how to market fruit crops to Ohio wineries.