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CALS internships

If you are a CALS full time freshman, sophomore or junior and looking for an internship this summer (or know someone who is), check out the CALS summer internships.

Four have direct connections to the Department of Horticulture:

Crop and Canopy Management Studies and Pest Management Scouting for Northern Grapes
Faculty:  Tim Martinson
Location:  Jefferson County

Organic weed management for school grounds
Faculty:  Jenny Kao-Kniffin
Location:  Suffolk County

Orange County 4-H Urban Gardens
Faculty:  Marcia Eames-Sheavly
Location:  Orange County

Increasing Fresh Market Vegetable Crop Productivity
Faculty:  Steve Reiners
Location:  Clinton County

View all CALS internships.

View more plant-science related internships at the Horticulture Internships blog.

Seminar video: Barbara Lang on The Etiquette Factor

Monday’s seminar was a little out of the ordinary. But it was very well attended and well received. If you missed it, you can watch the video:

Gathering for Plant Sciences undergrads Feb. 3

From Ed Cobb

The Department of Plant Biology cordially invites all undergraduate students in the plant sciences to our annual get-together.

Refreshments and good cheer with be provided between 3:30 and 5:30 PM on Friday, February 3rd in Mann Library Room 102. Please join us to meet and chat with faculty and friends.

We hope that you can attend. See you on Friday.

New hardiness zone map for New York

At a press conference this morning, the USDA announced its new hardiness zone map. Here’s New York’s looks like:

hardiness zone map for New York

Hardiness zones are based on average low winter temperature, a crucial factor — though not the only one — determining which plants will survive over winter. From the USDA news release:

Compared to the 1990 version, zone boundaries in this edition of the map have shifted in many areas. The new map is generally one 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zone warmer than the previous map throughout much of the United States. This is mostly a result of using temperature data from a longer and more recent time period; the new map uses data measured at weather stations during the 30-year period 1976-2005. In contrast, the 1990 map was based on temperature data from only a 13-year period of 1974-1986.

Some of the changes in the zones, however, are a result of new, more sophisticated methods for mapping zones between weather stations. These include algorithms that considered for the first time such factors as changes in elevation, nearness to large bodies of water, and position on the terrain, such as valley bottoms and ridge tops. Also, the new map used temperature data from many more stations than did the 1990 map.

Nina Bassuk, David W. Wolfe, William Miller and Art DeGaetano answered questions from the media at a “conference call press conference” later in the day. (Reports on their comments coming soon.)

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map website provides many features that go far beyond the static map from 1990. Explore it at:

Cornell experts ready to discuss USDA plant hardiness zone changes


Jan. 24, 2012

For gardeners and farmers, the earth moves on Wednesday

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will unveil its long-awaited new “Plant Hardiness Zone Map” at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. The map – a vital tool for gardeners, farmers, researchers and policy makers – is expected to change in part to reflect changing climate patterns across the United States.

Cornell University, New York’s Land Grant university and home of the Northeast Regional Climate Center and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, has several experts available to discuss the significance of the changes to this decades-old system for planting ornamentals and crops. They include:

. . . . . . . .

David WolfeDavid W. Wolfe is a professor of plant and soil ecology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the chair of the Climate Change Focus Group in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Wolfe says:

“For decades, gardeners have used Plant Hardiness Zone maps, based on minimum winter temperatures, to determine what plant species are adapted to where they live. The last version published by the USDA appeared in 1990. In 2006, the Arbor Day Foundation published an updated map using the same methodology of the USDA, which shows a dramatic ‘zone creep’ northward throughout the country.

“Gardeners like to experiment, and can lead the way in exploring what it is possible to grow in a changing climate. On the down side, some local favorite garden species may suffer, while invasive weedy plants like kudzu are likely to expand their range northward.”

. . . . . . . .

Art DeGaetanoArt DeGaetano is a climatologist and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and the director of the Cornell-based NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center.

DeGaetano says:

“The northward march of the hardiness zones illustrates the continued warming that has occurred across the United States and around the globe in recent decades, particularly in winter. Projections for state-of-the-art climate models indicate that winter temperatures will continue to warm through the 21st century. Additional updates and changes to the hardiness map will be necessary in years to come.

“By 2080, the hardiness zones that currently cover the area from southern Virginia to Northern Georgia, may replace those that we see across New York in the current update.”

. . . . . . . .

Bill MillerWilliam Miller is a professor of Horticulture, and one of the world’s leading experts on floriculture and the physiology of ornamental plants.

Miller says:

“One thing I have learned from growing plants in many locations in the U.S. is that plants can’t read! Experienced gardeners are always pushing the envelope by trying new plants, and especially those that ‘aren’t hardy’ in their area. Really crusty gardeners sometimes say that they need to kill a plant three times to be certain it won’t grow in their area.

“Aside from global warming or simply more and better data leading to a more accurate map, there is always microclimate variation in any locale and a few feet alteration in planting site, better drainage, locating a plant around a corner, presence of snow cover, mulch, or protection from wind can make a huge difference in winter hardiness.

“Especially with herbaceous perennials, that are relatively inexpensive and in any case almost always a lesser investment than trees or shrubs, one should experiment and try to push the hardiness rating. You never know what might survive.”

. . . . . . . .

MEDIA PLEASE NOTE: Professors Wolfe, DeGaetano and Miller will be available to talk with the media by conference call at 1 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after the USDA announcement. To participate, call 1-866-910-4857, passcode 858182. All three will also be available for one-on-one interviews following the announcement.


For interviews contact:

John Carberry

office: 607-255-5353

cell: 607-227-0767


For more information about the USDA announcement, contact USDA Special Projects Chief Kim Kaplan at 301-504-1637.


– 30 –

Alan Lakso explains apple modeling in Australia

Alan Lakso traveled to Australia in December at the invitation of the Victoria Department of Primary Industries to give research seminars and half-day workshops on fruit crop modeling.

“I was at their station near Melbourne focusing on apples, and then also at Mildura focusing on grapes,” says Alan. “The apple industry in Victoria is very interested in our MaluSim apple model. It helps growers understand how the weather interacts with their fruit thinning treatments. Terence Robinson and I have been finding this is very helpful for our growers and have great interest from around the world.”

Lakso will also be giving a presentation to the Association of American Geographers national meeting in New York City ini February.

In other news, Alan Taylor will speak January 25 at the U.S. Western Regional Seed Physiology Research Group workshop at the University of California-Davis. He will give four presentations ranging from seed treatments to biofuel crop seed research.

Video: A conversation with Cornell plant breeder Royse Murphy

New video from CornellCast: A conversation with Cornell plant breeder Royse Murphy

Royse Peak Murphy, native of Norton, Kansas and survivor of the Dust Bowl experience, the Great Depression and World War II, joined the Cornell faculty in 1946 with a focus on plant breeding.

During his long career at Cornell, Murphy released many new crop varieties, supervised graduate studies for 21 Ph.D. students and 12 Master of Science students, and served as department chair and Dean of the Faculty.

Here, Murphy discusses the history the plant breeding department at Cornell with fellow plant breeder Donald Viands. He is the co-author of a book on the subject, “Evolution of Plant Breeding at Cornell University” (2007).

Online organic gardening course starts March 12

organic gardeningBroaden your understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens, including vegetables, fruits, flowers and ornamentals, and lawns. 8-week course starts Jan. 10, 2012.

More information.

Two online courses will help you launch gardening programs

If you or your organization are planning to start a school or community garden – or want to make your garden program more effective – here are two online courses that will help you do just that:

Planning and Organizing Sustainable Gardening Programs for Children, Youth, Adults and Communities (101a)
February 20 – March 30, 2012

Looking to start a school or community-based garden program, but do not know where to begin? This course focuses on the foundations and benefits of garden-based learning, and provides the tools, resources, and collaborative support needed to plan, organize and develop a successful and sustainable gardening program that fits your organization’s needs. Modules include:

  • Foundations of Garden-Based Learning
  • Program Development
  • Organizing and Implementing a Gardening Program
  • Program Evaluation and Planning for Long-term Sustainability
  • Gardening 101

More information

Teaching and Learning in the School Garden: Theory into Practice (101b)
March 26 – May 3, 2012

Focusing on the foundations, benefits, and teaching strategies of garden-based learning (GBL), participants will build a toolbox of resources for developing a school gardening program that meets cross-curricular needs. Modules include:

  • Foundations of garden-based learning and Benefits of School Gardening
  • Developing a School garden-based learning Program that Works
  • School Gardening and Project-based Learning
  • Educational Theory into Practice: Integrating garden-based learning into all Content Areas
  • Authentic Assessment of Garden Based Learning

More information

Soil health, Adapt-N workshops March 19 & 20

soil health montageTwo workshops will be offered this spring for educators, ag professionals and growers who want to more carefully manage nitrogen and improve soil health:

Adaptive Nitrogen Management in Corn Using the Adapt-N Tool
March 19th, 8:30am to 5:30 pm
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Take an in‐depth look at the web‐based tool Adapt‐N, and learn about the dynamic simulation model processes that generate the N fertilizer recommendations and other information based on field‐specific weather and management information.

Soil Health Assessment and Management Using the Cornell Soil Health Test
March 20th, 8:30am to 12:30pm
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

This half day workshop will provide an overview of soil health concepts and the Cornell Soil Health Test, the indicators it measures, and agronomically essential soil processes they represent.

More program and registration information.

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