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New berry plantings at Cornell Orchards

Two new berry plantings went in this week at Cornell Orchards:

Michael Brown and Justine Vanden Heuvel planting cranberries.

Michael Brown and Justine Vanden Heuvel planting cranberries.

Cornell Orchards interns planting cranberries.

Cornell Orchards interns planting cranberries.

A day at the beach: On a sunny Tuesday, associate professor Justine Vanden Heuvel and research support specialist Michael Brown got a good start on planting a new cranberry bed, the first at Cornell Orchards. (The inaugural class of Cornell Orchards interns continued planting on Friday.)

The 35- by 25-foot wood-framed raised bed features layer of drain tile in gravel, followed by a thick layer of compost topped off by a layer of sand. Later, Vanden Heuvel will install drip irrigation to water the plants.

Vanden Heuvel is no stranger to cranberry research. That was her specialty in her previous position at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Cranberry Research Station.

The bed is planted to a single variety (Stevens) that Vanden Heuvel will use to study bud hardiness and answer other questions about basic cranberry physiology. “Compared to grapes — where we know so much about how the plants work — we know next-to-nothing about cranberries,” she says. “I’m looking forward to shedding a little more light on this crop.”

Marvin Pritts and graduate student Maria Gannett plant strawberries

Marvin Pritts and graduate student Maria Gannett plant strawberries

A day in the mud: On a misty Wednesday, professor Marvin Pritts and crew planted a day-neutral (everbearing) strawberry trial that will compare the performance of several different types of low tunnel plastic  — plastic tenting that extends the harvest season and protects plants from frost. He’ll also be testing a new netting designed to protect the fruit against Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), an invasive fruit fly pest first detected in New York in 2011.


June mushroom cultivation events

inoculating logCamp Mushroom #2
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Plant Science Building, Cornell University

The workshop is a unique beginner/intermediate level workshop for those interested in small-scale forest mushroom cultivation. Participants will be trained in three methods of mushroom cultivation; shiitake on bolts, lions mane/oyster on totems, and stropharia in woodchip beds. In addition laying yard and management considerations will be covered. Each participant will also inoculate two shiitake blots to take home.

Commercial Mushroom Production Field Day
Saturday June 28
, 2014
Schuyler County, NY

Learn about the commercial cultivation of log-grown shiitake mushrooms during a field day with visits to area commercial farms and hands-on practice inoculating a mushroom log to take home.

Find details and registration information at the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network website.

High tunnels at Cornell Plantations to simulate climate change

Plantations gardener Tyler Hale works inside the new high tunnel structure in the plantations vegetable garden. (Robert Barker/University Photography)

Plantations gardener Tyler Hale works inside the new high tunnel structure in the plantations vegetable garden. (Robert Barker/University Photography)

Okra, peanuts, cotton and bananas are not exactly staple crops on Ithaca farms and home gardens. But as the world gets warmer, will there be a place for tropical varieties in New York state? And what will happen to current crops such as lettuce, radish and spinach?

Cornell researchers aim to find out by simulating potential climate change conditions under plastic.

A high tunnel – an unheated greenhouse covered by a single layer of clear polyethylene – is being erected at Cornell Plantations to house a climate change demonstration garden.

The high-temperature, controlled precipitation environment will be used by student and faculty researchers in the Departments of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture to research the effects of changing growing conditions on growth and survival of select plants, and potential adaptive solutions.

It will also be an educational tool for the 50,000 people who visit Plantations’ botanical gardens, arboretum and natural areas each year, said Sonja Skelly, Cornell Plantations director of education.

“It is an ideal location to mount such a demonstration, and we are excited to provide an additional opportunity for students and visitors to explore environmental issues through the lens of the garden,” Skelly said. …

“While the public may perceive the warmer summers and occasional droughts, the practical effect of these and other environmental changes on plants, ecosystems and long-term agricultural productivity is difficult to grasp,” said Chris Wien, professor of horticulture, a principal investigator on the project along with Skelly and Josh Cerra, assistant professor of landscape architecture.

Read the whole article. [Cornell Chronicle 2014-05-29]

Plant Science major awards

A May 16 reception recognized award-winning Plant Science majors and Class of 2014 graduates. The awards included:

  • Zilu Zhou: 2013-2014 H.R. Schenkel Award winner
  • Matthew Bond: 2014 ASHS Collegiate Scholar, Ken Post Foundation Scholar
  • Celine Jennison: 2013 ASHS Collegiate Scholar
  • Brett Morgan: 2013 ASHS Collegiate Scholar
  • Nick Biebel: 2014 Cornell Outstanding Horticulture Student, Ken Post Foundation Scholar
  • Justin Kondrat: 2013 ASHS Collegiate Scholar
  • David Harris: 2014 ASHS Collegiate Scholar
  • Maddy Olberg: 2014 ASHS Collegiate Scholar, Ken Post Foundation Scholar

Conagratulations all!

2014 Plant Science award winners

Above, award winners, from left: Zilu Zhou, Matthew Bond, Celine Jennison, Brett Morgan, Nick Bibel, Justin Kondrat, David Harris, Maddy Olberg.

Plant Science graduates

Class of 2014 Plant Science majors who attended the reception. Back row, from left:  Andrew Morris, Matthew Bond, Brett Morgan, Nicholas Biebel, Justin Kondrat, Jeff Neyhart. Front row, from left: Elizabeth Simpson, Celine Jennison, Paige Roosa, Maddy Olberg.



Commencement pictures

franny-with-diplomaWhether you were there or you missed out, you’ll want to check out Carol Grove‘s album from the Plant Science Breakfast and Degree Ceremony.

Last chance to sign up for Alan Lakso’s retirement celebration

Alan LaksoFrom Lou Ann Rago

A Casual Retirement Celebration
for Alan Lakso

Saturday June 7, 2014
Station Club Pavilion
Deadline to register: May 30

  • 5:00-6:00 p.m. Appetizers and Social Hour
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner
  • 8:00 p.m. Music by Agonal Rhythm

More info, registration form.

Not one to let the dust settle too quickly, Alan will be attending the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEVnational meeting in Austin, TX in late June to give an invited paper on the new microtensiometer for monitoring soil and vine water status.

And while he’s there, he will also receive an ASEV Eastern Section award for Outstanding Achievement.

Congratulations Alan!

Forest farming in ‘The Resilient Ones’

Associate professor Ken Mudge, program aid Steve Gabriel and research support specialist Jonathan Comstock appear in a new movie, The Resilient Ones: A Generation Takes On Climate Change from Bright Blue EcoMedia. The feature-length documentary explores how communities are adapting to climate change in the Adirondack Mountains as seen through the eyes of high school students.

In the film, Comstock discusses the effects of climate change on farming. Mudge and Gabriel talk about the promise of forest farming (excerpt below).

The Resilient Ones had its broadcast premiere on Mountain Lake PBS May 15. Producer Vic Guadagno is encouraging other PBS stations in New York to air the film, and hopes to arrange a screening in Ithaca. It’s not yet available online, but DVDs are available for purchase through PBS.

The film website also features climate change lesson plans, video excerpts and trailers.

Collmer to lead new School of Integrative Plant Science

Alan Collmer

Alan Collmer

He’s been an innovator in his field for 30 years. Now, Alan Collmer will help mold the future of plant sciences at Cornell as director of the new School of Integrative Plant Science.

Collmer, the Andrew J. and Grace B. Nichols Professor of Plant Pathology, will lead the integration of five departments – plant biology, horticulture, plant breeding and genetics, crop and soil sciences, and plant pathology and plant-microbe biology – into one administrative unit within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Details about the new school will be revealed at an official launch June 6.

“Professor Collmer has been visionary and collaborative throughout his impressive scientific career,” said Jan Nyrop, a senior associate dean at CALS. “That vision and his determination to strengthen our talented plant science community will help us create an integrated unit that is nimble in responding to wider scientific trends and societal needs.”

Read the whole article. [Cornell Chronicle 2014-05-21]

Brown recognized as ‘Woman of Distinction’


Mike Nozzolio and Susan Brown

Mike Nozzolio and Susan Brown

Reposted from CALS Notes:

In recognition of her extraordinary commitment to the fields of agriculture and science, horticulture professor Susan Brown was recently honored at the 2014 “Women of Distinction” ceremony at the State Capitol.

Brown, director of Cornell’s Fruit and Vegetable Genomics Initiative and associate director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), is at the forefront of apple development and genetic modification and has been recognized internationally for her efforts. She was nominated by State Senator Mike Nozzolio.

“It was a privilege to recognize Dr. Susan Brown for her knowledge, skills and expertise as a scientist, as well as her extraordinary work at Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.,” Nozzolio told the Seneca Daily. “Dr. Brown’s research has centered on the production of apples and ways to extend the shelf life of the product. As a result, the apple industry has been growing and expanding in ways that benefit the industry and consumers.”


Art work celebrates graduation, thanks friends

Paya with art installation

Paya with Tower Rd. art installation

A Graduate Field of Horticulture PhD candidate has created a work of art along Tower Road to celebrate commencement and say thank you to the friends, family and fellow students who helped him through his time at Cornell.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” says Alex Paya, who titled his work “Let the Bridges We Burn Light Our Way.”

After more than four months of planning and securing permissions, Paya and fellow horticulture grad student Miles Schwartz-Sax spent 12 hours Saturday stretching the yellow, orange and red banners from branches in the oak trees to the ground adjacent to Minns Garden and Plant Science Building.

Paya says he was inspired in part by the feeling he gets walking through underground tunnels at airports. “I love corridors – the way they lead you on – and I love trees,” says Paya, whose dissertation explores the belowground interactions of tree roots from different species. “So my intent was to create a space to lead people forward only in a more natural setting.

“I tried to create something novel, interesting and festive – with the fall colors contrasting with the background of spring,” he adds.

The installation is ephemeral. Paya plans to remove the banners in early June.

Paya would also like to thank fellow students in the Graduate Field of Horticulture Juana Munra Ucis, Marie Zwetsloot, Adam Karl, and Sonam Sherpa for their contributions to the project.

Paya with Tower Rd. art installation


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