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Spotted Lanternfly webinars

In conjunction with the New York State IPM Program and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Northeastern IPM Center will host a collection of webinars, titled “Spotted Lanternfly Basics.”

Each webinar will focus on, and be tailored to, a specific commodity group:

  • Spotted Lanternfly Basics for Hops, Berry, and Vegetable Growers (Feb. 26, 2019, 10:00 a.m.)
  • Spotted Lanternfly Basics for Grape and Apple Industries (Feb. 26, 2019, 1:00 p.m.)
  • Spotted Lanternfly Basics for Christmas Tree Growers (Mar. 4, 2019, 10:00 a.m.)
  • Spotted Lanternfly Basics for Nursery, Greenhouse, and Landscape Industries (Mar. 4, 2019, 1:00 p.m.)

All webinars will follow a similar format that covers spotted lanternfly biology, identification, and hosts, monitoring and management strategies, and a regulatory update. While the content may be relevant to audiences throughout the Northeast, management practices covered will be specific to New York. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions.

For more information and registration links, go to:

Pesticide Decision-Making Guide to Protect Pollinators in Tree Fruit Orchards now available

guide coverA Pesticide Decision-Making Guide to Protect Pollinators in Tree Fruit Orchards

This comprehensive  easy-to-use provides at-a-glance perspectives on best choices for protecting tree fruit crops while protecting pollinators.

Other publications and future guides in this series can be found on the Cornell Pollinator Network Grower Resource Page.

Pollinator Conservation Short Course Nov. 7

Pollinator Conservation Short Course
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Basom, NY
Wednesday November 7th, 2018
9:30 AM – 3:00 PM

This full day workshop will focus on concepts around protecting and enhancing populations of pollinators, especially bees, in agricultural landscapes. The course will provide an overview of bee natural history and farm practices that support pollinators, such as protecting and creating habitat, modified horticultural practices, and advice on how to manage pests while protecting pollinators.

Introductory topics include the principles of pollinator biology and integrated crop pollination, the economics of insect pollination, basic bee field identification, and evaluating pollinator habitat. Advanced modules will cover land management practices for pollinator protection, pollinator habitat restoration, incorporating pollinator conservation into federal conservation programs, selection of plants for pollinator enhancement sites, management of natural landscapes, and financial and technical resources to support these efforts. Throughout the short course these training modules are illustrated by case studies of pollinator conservation efforts across the country.

Registrants will receive the Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Toolkit which includes Xerces’ book, Attracting Native Pollinators. as well as habitat management guidelines and relevant USDA-NRCS and extension publications.

The Xerces Society is offering similar Pollinator Conservation Short Courses, as well as Conservation Biological Control Short Courses across the country. Visit our online events page to view up-to-date short course information.

More information.



The Emerging Industry of Hard Cider

Greg Peck

Greg Peck

From Cornell Research website:

From the earliest days of the American colonies, hard cider was a common staple. European settlers brought their cider-making skills with them, along with apple cultivars especially suited to the process. Yet, after prohibition ended in 1933, cider making in the United States was all but forgotten—until now. “Since 2011 the growth of the cider industry has been astronomical,” says Gregory M. Peck, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture. “There’s been more than a 900 percent increase in the volume of cider produced in the U.S. New York has more individual producers than any other state in the country. Right now, we have about 85, and that number is growing constantly. I’m always getting emails and calls for help from new businesses.”

Peck is perhaps the foremost scientific expert in the country on cider apples and cider making. He is at the forefront of the cider renaissance and a large part of his research revolves around this emerging industry. “Cider apple growers and producers need a lot of technical support,” he says. “They need research to help them figure out which cultivars make the best cider, how to grow them, how to harvest them, how to store them. Those are the questions I’m trying to answer for the industry.”

Read the whole article.

Growers in pursuit of precision agriculture

Mario Miranda Sazo

Mario Miranda Sazo

From Good Fruit Grower [2017-09-19]:

As New York growers seek to expand fresh market production of high quality fruit, they are looking for ways to maximize performance of high-density apple plantings and recoup the investments of new orchards faster.

Luckily, Cornell University researchers continue to learn how to optimize horticultural practices in the region’s signature tall-spindle systems, and they shared their findings on irrigation, nutrition and chemical thinning with growers at a summer field day at five farms in the Lake Ontario fruit belt.

Although it’s been a wet season so far, growers haven’t forgotten the drought of the previous year, with losses of 47 percent for those without irrigation, according to a Cornell study.

More growers are investing in irrigation systems said Mario Miranda Sazo, extension educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Lake Ontario Fruit Program.

“When I came here in 2009 and started talking about irrigation, you all said, ‘You don’t know our weather here,’” Miranda Sazo joked with the tour group. “But we should be putting irrigation on these new plantings and little by little, growers are installing it. You have to baby-sit these trees from the get-go.”

Read the whole article.

Cornell Orchards Apple Spectacular October 1

Sunday, October 1, 2017
1:00pm to 5:00pm
Cornell Orchards, 701 Dryden Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Come join the Cornell Orchards Store, Cornell Catering, and the Cornell Hard Cider Program Work Team for a family friendly Finger Lakes Cider Week event celebrating all things apples and cider!

Cornell is a leader in hard cider research and outreach, and even teaches an undergraduate course on hard cider production!  We will have a wide selection of specialized cider apple varieties available for tasting and participants can create their own cider blends using freshly pressed apple juice.

Starting at 1:00PM and 3:00PM, The Peck Lab will lead walking tours of high-density cider apple research orchards. There will also be hard cider tastings from local producers along with delicious food pairings, and of course plenty of apples and sweet cider from Cornell’s research farms to purchase and take home.

Map, more information.

Extension, NYS Apple Growers Partner on Innovation

By R.J. Anderson, reposted from CALS News 2017-05-19]:

Jason Woodworth operates a tractor-mounted Darwin string thinning machine to thin apple blossoms on a fruit wall at the Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York. Lamont Fruit Farms participated in a recent Cornell study examining mechanical alternatives to chemical blossom thinning. Photo by R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Jason Woodworth operates a tractor-mounted Darwin string thinning machine to thin apple blossoms on a fruit wall at the Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York. Lamont Fruit Farms participated in a recent Cornell study examining mechanical alternatives to chemical blossom thinning. Photo by R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension.

For optimal yield and fruit quality, apple growers in the United States have long relied on chemical solutions to generate spring blossom thinning to promote the growth of larger, higher-quality fruit by giving them less competition for carbohydrate. However, in the last couple of years, one of the apple industry’s go-to thinning chemicals, carbaryl, has come under fire from some retailers, which are prohibiting the chemical’s use on produce sold in their stores.

Equally alarming for growers, says Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Mario Miranda Sazo, an orchard management and mechanization specialist with CCE’s Lake Ontario Fruit Team, are continued whispers of potential U.S. ban on carbaryl. The carbamate insecticide has been outlawed in Europe since 2008.

“Growers in the Northeast are especially dependent on carbaryl – nearly all of them chemically thin in the spring using carbaryl in combination with either naphthaleneacetic acid or benzyladenine,” said Miranda Sazo. “Because of this region’s humid climate, removing a key contributor like carbaryl from current management practices could create obstacles for growers and make them less competitive.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension Orchard management and Mechanization Specialist Mario Miranda Sazo examines apple blossom prior during a mechanical string thinning study conducted at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York. Photo by R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Orchard management and Mechanization Specialist Mario Miranda Sazo examines apple blossom prior during a mechanical string thinning study conducted at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York. Photo by R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Such concerns prompted New York apple producers, CCE educators and Cornell researchers to team up for a recently completed three-year study examining a mechanical blossom-thinning alternative to carbaryl.

Published in the winter 2016 issue of New York Fruit Quarterly, research led by Miranda Sazo and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) scientists Poliana Francescatto, Terence Robinson and Jaume Lordan Sanahuja tested mechanical string thinning on Gala and Honeycrisp apple varieties at Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York.

Mounted on the front of a tractor, the Darwin string thinner resembles a large weed whacker crossed with a feather duster. Featuring rotating flexible 2-foot-long injection-molded plastic spindles, the machine whips away a third to a half of a tree’s blossoms. What remain theoretically will grow into bigger, healthier fruit.

“With this study, we wanted to identify the ideal thinning parameters while monitoring and mitigating potential spread of fire blight (a destructive and highly contagious fruit tree disease exacerbated when tree tissue is wounded),” said Miranda Sazo, who received funding for the study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and New York Apple Research and Development. “While measuring return bloom and potential yields for each tree, we looked at supplementing mechanical thinning with other chemical treatments.

“It was probably the largest research project focused on mechanical blossom thinning undertaken in North America thus far,” Miranda Sazo added.

For the project, Lamont Fruit Farms committed approximately 2.5 acres of mature Honeycrisp and Gala trees. Rod Farrow, one of the farm’s three owners, became intrigued by the technology after seeing it five years ago while visiting orchards in Europe.

“When I returned from Europe, we started some very basic and very small trials,” Farrow said. “Then Mario approached us about conducting a larger three-year project. My partners Jason Woodworth, Jose Iniguez and I were more than happy to collaborate.”

The first year of the study ended in frustration as they struggled to pinpoint optimal rotation speeds for the Darwin spindles and ground speed of the tractor. “The fruit size ended up being too small that year, and we lost a considerable amount of money compared to grower standard for that acreage,” Farrow said. “The second year we lowered the revolutions per minute of the spindle and improved our yield a little, and then in the third year we slowed the spindle speeds even more and found what we think is a sweet spot.”

For Lamont Fruit Farms’ narrow fruit wall, in which trees are spaced two feet apart with 11 feet between rows, the optimal spindle speeds lie within a range of 180 and 200 rpm. The ideal tractor speed is 5 miles per hour.

“With Mario’s help, we really dialed those metrics in, which has been huge,” said Woodworth, who operates the Darwin machine. “We also found that spraying with a benzyladenine product immediately following string thinning improved fruit quality and yield. And return bloom of the blossoms that were mechanically thinned last year has been more than acceptable.”

The encouraging data prompted Lamont Fruit Farms to use the process on additional acreage this spring. “After the study, we felt very comfortable trying it out on a more commercial scale,” Farrow said. “And at the conclusion of this growing season, we should be able to glean enough real-world yield return data to analyze mechanical thinning’s true potential for our operation.”

Still, the potential spread of fire blight, a disease that can spread quickly and significantly impact a farm’s entire harvest, has pushed Miranda Sazo to conduct more research. This past April, he partnered with Kerik Cox, CALS associate professor of plant pathology, on a one-year trial at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, aimed at assessing and minimizing the threat of fire blight following mechanical thinning. It is running concurrently with a similar study at Washington State University.

Woodworth believes Miranda Sazo’s research has already helped Lamont Fruit Farms better position itself should carbaryl exit the industry. “If it goes away, we’re in a good place to react and hopefully remain profitable,” Woodworth said. “And Mario has been a big reason for that. His expertise and energy has made a big impact.”

Miranda Sazo believes mechanical thinning could become a game-changer for apple growers in New York and the Northeast. “We’re on an accelerated learning curve,” he said. “They’ve been testing and using these techniques for several years in Europe – what we’ve done in three is really exciting. It goes to show how much can be accomplished when you pair researchers with highly skilled, forward-thinking growers who are willing to take a risk.”

R.J. Anderson is a writer/communications specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.


Cornell hard cider in the news

Greg Peck

Greg Peck

Hard cider research, teaching and extension efforts of Greg Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, have been featured in recent articles in the Cornell Chronicle:

For more information about Peck’s work and the work of the  Hard Cider Program Work Team (PWT) — a multi-disciplinary group of Cornell researchers, instructors, and extension educators and industry stakeholders — visit  the Cornell Hard Cider Resources website.

Peck teaches grafting to students in Ecological Orchard Management (PLHRT 4450).

Peck teaches grafting to students in Ecological Orchard Management (PLHRT 4450).

Karl, Wojtyna receive Cider Association support

Two projects in Greg Peck’s Lab in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Sciences received grants from the United States Association of Cider Makers.

Horticulture graduate students, Adam Karl and Nathan Wojtyna, wrote the grants and will be leading projects on the effects of nitrogen fertilizer on orchard productivity and fruit and cider quality and phenotyping the USDA-PGRU collection for novel apples to use in cidermaking.

Read more

New Tool Gives Apple Farms Hope in Fight Against Spring Freezes

By Blaine Friedlander, reposted from CALS news [2017-02-24]

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

This February’s warm weather is nice in the Northeast, but apple farmers may pay a price if winter roars back. To help growers assess precarious temperatures in turbulent springs, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has developed a new Apple Freeze Risk decision tool.

“I think the warm weather we’re seeing this week may push the apple trees into vulnerable stages,” said Art DeGaetano, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and director of Cornell’s Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Apples are an important cog in New York’s agriculture industry, which produces over 29 million bushels of apples annually, employing over 10,000 people directly and 7,500 indirectly.

Apple trees need dormancy and cold weather so that springtime buds develop properly. When early spring temperatures rise consistently above the low 40 degree mark, the trees get ready to bud, said DeGaetano.

Through their phenological stages in warming weather, the apple trees develop silver tips, green tips, and then bloom.

“They become less and less tolerant of cold, and if a freeze hits after a warm spell, that’s when apple producers begin to see bud damage – and that takes an economic toll,” said DeGaetano, who with Rick Moore, research support specialist, built the new risk-assessment tool. Development of the tool was made possible thanks to Federal Capacity Funds and funding from the New World Foundation.

The Apple Freeze Risk tool shows minimum temperatures for the most recent 30 days, provides a 6-day temperature forecast, and shows the current stage of development in tree varieties. Apple trees are currently dormant, and only a sustained period of 25 below zero temperatures can damage this season’s crop. But as days warm, the buds’ tolerance for freezing lessens.

“The benefit of this tool is that a farmer can access information about a specific location anywhere in the Northeast, and can get detail to within a 2.5-mile grid of their orchard,” said Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. The institute established the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) program, which is developing tools to support individualized, real-time, and data-driven management, through what’s known as “Digital Agriculture.”

“With climate change already occurring, our winters are getting warmer, and farmers are asking us for specific tools and information about what they can do to reduce the risks on their farm, including from freezes,” Chatrchyan said. “The apple tool was built based on stakeholder input, and with the help of our NYS CSF Extension Team, which is training farmers about climate risk and adaptation.”

One likely user of this new tool will be Mark Doyle, manager of Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York, which grows apples, peaches, nectarines, currants, and cherries. He is concerned about early warm weather and freezing weather afterward, as he examines factors such as temperature inversions (warm air above cold air) and whether to employ either mechanical or thermal methods to heat the orchard on frigid nights.

Said Doyle: “Along with other factors, I will be looking at this tool to understand the weather situation in front of me and the freeze risk facing our apple trees.”

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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