Arizona Science Desk

Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ:

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Amanda Solliday-KAWC

Fusarium wilt - a lettuce disease caused by a soil-dwelling fungus - is becoming a more common problem in fields. The disease causes lettuce to droop and turn brown, making it unsuitable for sale.

Typically, when lettuce wilt appears, the grower would then rotate to another crop like broccoli or cauliflower. But one farmer in Yuma dedicated three acres of his troubled field to research led by the University of Arizona.

University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

Fifty farms in Arizona grow more than $4.5 million in vegetable seeds, according to the latest statistics from the US Department of Agriculture.

Coordinating where those crops are grown requires some careful planning and a little distance.

To grow vegetable seeds, fields with similar crop varieties or even plants within the same family need to be spaced at least two miles apart. This is called the isolation distance.  

National Weather Service-Phoenix

The National Weather Service relies on trained citizens to collect data during heavy rainfall, such as the record-setting storms seen in southwestern Arizona Tuesday.

A Somerton resident’s rain gauge collected more water during Tuesday’s storms than the area sees on average during an entire year.

Moisture from Hurricane Linda – now off the coast of Baja California – created what’s called a gulf surge. In the middle of the resulting severe storms in southwestern Arizona, a resident trained by the National Weather Service collected 4.6 inches in her rain gauge.

Amanda Solliday - KAWC

Blythe, California will soon become home to a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility. The desert town of 20,000 people sits just west of the Colorado River, across from the Arizona border.

The Renewable Resources Group, an asset management firm, will oversee the building process.

The solar farm will sit on roughly five square miles of private land and supply energy to an estimated 145,000 homes in southern California.


NASA tested the parachute system of the Orion spacecraft using a mock capsule at the Yuma Proving Ground on Aug. 26, 2015. The 11-parachute system will slow the vehicle during the last phase of descent after a mission, ensuring astronauts can land safely.

Read more about the test here: