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Cornell research points the way to better hard cider

Gregory Peck. (Photo: Lindsay France/Cornell Marketing Group)

Gregory Peck. (Photo: Lindsay France/Cornell Marketing Group)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-09-26]

Consumer interest in hard cider in North America has blossomed in the past five years, and apple growers are racing to catch up. Cornell research is revealing ways in which apples grown with specific orchard management practices can produce more desirable hard cider for consumers in this surging market.

Gregory Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, found standard orchard conditions for apples grown for consumption – the vast majority of orchards in the U.S. – are very different from the ideal conditions for hard cider apples.

Apples grown for raw consumption are thinned on the trees to a low-crop load, so that each apple grows bigger, juicier and sweeter. But for hard cider, a heavier crop load, with smaller, bitter fruits may be better, according to Peck’s research published in the September issue of HortScience. That’s because the smaller apples have a higher concentration of polyphenols, or tannins, which affect astringency and bitterness in the cider.

In wine production, there’s a body of research on how to influence tannins and flavor compounds, including which varieties to plant, how much sunlight and fertilization to provide, and preferred crop-load density. Peck is trying to apply the lessons learned by winemakers to the budding hard cider industry.

Read the whole article.

Cider tasting and more at Cornell Orchards Oct. 2

Cornell Hard Cider Working Group Presents @ The Cornell Orchards
709 Dryden Rd. (Rt. 366), Ithaca, NY 14853
Sunday October 2, 12:00-4:00pm, with walking tours at 1:00pm and 3:00pm

Ever wonder what makes an apple variety desirable for cider production? Or, why there are so many different flavors in cider? Then you won’t want to miss this tasting opportunity at the Cornell Orchards.

During this Finger Lakes Cider Week event, children and adults can taste dozens of different apple varieties, including traditional European hard cider varieties. Participants will be able to create their own cider blends made with freshly squeezed apple juice from these apple varieties. Regional cider producers including, Black Diamond CiderGood Life CiderRedbyrd Orchard CiderRootstock Ciderworks, and South Hill Cider will share tastings of their ciders and discuss how Cornell’s research and outreach efforts have aided their business.

The day will also include talks from Cornell researchers and educators and walking tours of a new high-density hard cider research orchard.

Greg Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Come taste cider apple varieties and juice and learn more about Cornell’s research on cider apple varieties from Greg Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

More events featuring Cornell people during cider week:

More information:

Seminar video: The WVU Organic Farm – 15 years of research and education

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, The WVU Organic Farm – 15 years of research and education  with SSven Verlinden, Associate Professor, Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, West Virginia University, it  is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Picture Cornell

Among the images in the latest collection at Picture Cornell are these by  Lindsay France, Cornell Marketing Group:

Dilmun Hill Student Farm's pepper bounty, Sept. 1.

Dilmun Hill Student Farm’s pepper bounty, Sept. 1.

Graduate students and their families enjoy a breakfast at the Big Red Barn hosted by the Graduate School, Sept. 10. Pictured: Graduate Field of Horticulture student Ali Al Farqani.

Graduate students and their families enjoy a breakfast at the Big Red Barn hosted by the Graduate School, Sept. 10. Pictured: Graduate Field of Horticulture student Ali Al Farqani.

Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, stops by the Dilmun Hill farm stand during the Ag Quad Farmers Market, Sept. 1.

Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, stops by the Dilmun Hill farm stand during the Ag Quad Farmers Market, Sept. 1.

Archer, newest Cornell strawberry, hits the sweet spot

Courtney Weber, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York. Photo: Rob Way/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Courtney Weber, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York. Photo: Rob Way/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Cornell Chronicle [2016-09-12]:

Strawberry fans, rejoice. The newest Cornell strawberry variety concentrates intense flavor in a berry big enough to fill the palm of your hand.

Topping out at over 50 grams, Archer, the latest creation from Cornell berry breeder Courtney Weber, is comparable in size to a plum or small peach. But this behemoth stands out in ways beyond just its proportions: the flavor and aroma exceed what you’d expect from a strawberry of such unusual size.

“Archer is an extraordinarily high-flavored berry,” said Weber, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “It has an intense aroma, so when you bite into it you get a strong strawberry smell, and it’s very sweet, so you get a strong strawberry flavor that really makes an impact.”

Weber says the combination of large fruit and strong flavor hits the sweet spot for local growers who sell in farmers markets, u-pick sites and roadside stands. Archer ripens in June and holds its large size through multiple harvests for two to three weeks.

Read the whole article.

In September 12 Horticulture Section seminar, Weber explains the long road he had to take to bring ‘Archer’ to market:

View full seminar.

Tomato production in high tunnels workshop Sept. 10

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High stakes: Tomato production in hoop houses

Hosted by Dilmun Hill Student Organic Farm, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Saturday September 10 at 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Extending the New York growing season with unheated greenhouses (also called high tunnels or hoop houses) is a growing technology with organic vegetable farmers. At this workshop led by one of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s vegetable specialists, we will discuss the production of tomatoes in high tunnels, strategies to manage soil and plant nutrient levels, tomato disease management, and other topics in Dilmun Hill’s new moveable high tunnel. All knowledge and experience levels are welcome.

More info.

Time lapse video: Victoria lily flowering

Reposted from the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory blog:

The bloom begins turning purple the afternoon after opening. Click image for larger view.

The bloom begins turning purple the afternoon after opening. Click image for larger view.

It figures. The Victoria lily (Victoria x ‘Longwood Hybrid’) began its dramatic two-day flower display — its first since being moved to the new water feature in the Palm House this summer — just as the Conservatory was closing for the holiday weekend. Fortunately, we were able to capture the event on video.

The plant was started from seed by horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz Sax in spring of 2015. It has much in common with the Conservatory’s titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum), even though the two species are not at all closely related,

  • It’s a large plant. The cultivar we’re growing is a cross between South American natives V. cruziana and V. amazonica. The latter is the larger of the two parents, and under the right conditions it can produce pads nearly 10 feet in diameter. People often photograph small children supported by the pads to demonstrate their strength. (Obey the signage and do not try it here. It’s dangerous and you’ll injure our smaller plant.)
  • The bloom time is short. Victoria lilies bloom at dusk and the blooms last only about 48 hours or so.
  • The flowers use fragrance and heat to attract pollinators. The first evening, the flower is white and releases a pineapple-like scent and generates heat to attract beetles. It’s a lot more pleasant than the foul odor titan arums use to attract pollinators in search of rotting flesh.
  • The flower goes to great lengths to assure cross-pollination. During the first evening, the flower’s female parts are ready to receive pollen the beetles might be carrying from another Victoria lily. The flower then closes, trapping the beetles inside.  During the next day, the anthers mature and start releasing pollen that the beetles carry from the flower when it opens in the evening. The flower changes to a purplish red, signaling to beetles that their pollination services are no longer needed.

One important difference: If you missed flowering this time, you won’t need to wait as long to have another chance to view this phenomena in person. Our specimen already has another flower bud poised to open soon. Subscribe to our email updates and we’ll let you know when it’s happening.

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Another flower bud to the rear of the bloom is poised to open soon. Click image for larger view.

 

 

In the news

high-density-plantingx400In the field: Pomologists dig roots into cider apple research [CIDERCRAFT Magazine, Volume 6] – Scientists like Greg Peck,  Thomas Chao and Susan Brown are responding to the growing interest in cider with field trials and lab work that promise rewards for growers, cider producers and consumer. Peck is evaluating how cider apple varieties perform in high-density plantings. Chao curates the largest and most diverse apple collection in the world at the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva, N.Y. And Brown is crossing cider apple varieties with other Malus species to try to improve performance while maintaining the fruit qualities cidermakers value.

USDA grant could boost eastern broccoli production [The Packer 2016-08-24] –  “The project will provide better varieties so growers can extend their season and reduce their risk. To get the market going, having a year-round supply with the quality the retailers expect, will make it a lot easier for everyone on the supply end,” says Thomas Björkman, associate professor, Horticulture Section, who leads the effort.

Early-onset spring models may indicate ‘nightmare’ for ag [Cornell Chronicle 2016-08-24] – Warm springs in the Great Lakes and Northeast regions – which create havoc for agriculture – may start earlier by mid-century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, according to a new study published in Climate Dynamics. “The spring of 2012, with its summerlike warmth, brought plants out of dormancy and then had a lengthy freeze. This was a nightmare scenario for many growers, and it showed us a snapshot of what global warming might look like in this region,” said Toby Ault, assistant professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, an author on the study.

Rebranding of Cornell Plantations to better reflect mission, vision [Cornell Chronicle 2016-08-25] – In early September, Dean Kathryn Boor will present to the Buildings and Properties Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees that “Cornell Plantations” be changed to “Cornell Botanic Gardens,” a fitting moniker that succinctly captures the organization’s mission and aspirations.

Plant Breeders Carry the Weight of the World on Their Shoulders [2016-08-30] – SeedWorld interviews Michael Gore, associate professor, Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, on making rubber from a nearly wild desert shrub, hidden hunger, climate change and the importance of new breeding techniques.

First Farmers’ Market at Cornell of the season

market logoHundreds flocked to the west end of the Ag Quad Thursday for the first Farmers’ Market at Cornell of the season.

Vendors included …

The Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo):

SoHo at Farmers Market

Dilmun Hill Student Farm:

dilmun-farmers-market

Markets run Thursdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. View vendors.

Photos: Matt Hayes, CALS Communications.

Students create digital botanical art

Students in the Art of Horticulture (PLHRT 2010) got a quick introduction on how to create digital botanical art during their class on Tuesday. Working in teams, they arranged locally sourced flowers from trials at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility and a local flower farm, Plenty of Posies, on flatbed scanners to capture their form and color in two-dimensional form.

Students plan their digital floral arrangement

Art of Horticulture students plan their digital floral arrangement …

 

... and transfer their arrangements to the scanners.

… and transfer their arrangements to the scanners.

Later, they took their scan files and digitally manipulatedthem  to create works of art. Here’s an example:

Digital flower mandala

Digital flower mandala. Click image for a closer look.

View more examples at the Art of Horticulture website.

Students finished up the class applying floral design principles to more traditional arrangements.

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