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Cornell students shine at weed competition

From Toni DiTommaso, professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section and  director.

Front row from left to right: Liang Cheng, Aleah Butler-Jones, Cynthia Sias, Toni DiTommaso (coach), Patricia Chan, Roxana Padilla, Isabella Swyst, Nina Sannes.   Back row from left to right: Elsa de Becker, Eugene Law, Kristy Perano.

Front row from left to right: Liang Cheng, Aleah Butler-Jones, Cynthia Sias, Toni DiTommaso (coach), Patricia Chan, Roxana Padilla, Isabella Swyst, Nina Sannes. Back row from left to right: Elsa de Becker, Eugene Law, Kristy Perano.

Cornell students did a great job at this year’s Northeastern Collegiate Weed Science Contest held on July 25 at the ACDS Research facility, North Rose, N.Y. Teams came from Cornell University, North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Guelph — which traditionally dominates the competition.

But this year, we bumped Guelph off the medal stand. One of our undergraduate teams — Patty Chan (Plant Sciences), Elsa de Becker (Plant Sciences), Roxana Padilla (Plant Sciences), Cynthia Sias (Agricultural Sciences/Plant Sciences) — placed third denying Guelph a clean sweep.

Patty also placed second in the individual undergraduate category, which is a huge feat. Way to go Patty!

Cornell participants this year included:

  • Graduate Team: Liang Cheng (Horticulture),  Eugene Law (Soil & Crop Sciences),  Kristy Perano (Biological & Environmental Engineering)
  • Undergraduate Team (1): Patricia Chan (Plant Sciences), Elsa de Becker (Plant Sciences), Roxana Padilla (Plant Sciences), Cynthia Sias (Agricultural Sciences/Plant Sciences)
  • Undergraduate Team (2): Aleah Butler-Jones (Agricultural Sciences), Nina Sannes (Plant Sciences), Isabella Swyst (Environmental & Sustainability Sciences)

New website helps fruit growers solve problems

homepageWith the launch of the revamped Cornell Fruit Resources website, New York growers have a new resource this season to help keep them productive and profitable.

“The site is a one-stop shop for commercial fruit growers to access the wealth of information available through Cornell to help them solve production, pest, food safety, business and other problems,” says Julie Carroll, fruit IPM coordinator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM ) Program, who spearheaded the update.

Subsites for tree fruit, grape and berry producers help them zero in on production, IPM and post-harvest information tailored specifically to their crops. The site also features resources on topics of interest to all fruit growers, including food safety, business management and marketing.

The site will also help you find:

The site is also designed to make it easy to use on tablets, phones and other devices.

“It’s amazing how much reliable, useful information based on Cornell research is available,” says Carroll. “And this site will help you get to what you need to know – fast.”


Reduced Tillage Field Day August 14

mulched cabbageReduced Tillage Field Day:
Tools and Tactics for Organic Vegetables at Any Scale

August 14, 2017, 4 p.m to 7 p.m
Freeville Organic Research Farm at the Cornell HC Thompson Vegetable Research Farm
133 Fall Creek Road, Freeville NY

Join the Cornell Reduced Tillage Team for a field tour and discussion of practices to build soils and manage weeds in organic vegetables. Can tarps help replace tillage? How can we integrate cover crops with reduced tillage? What tools can be used for more strategic tillage and cultivation? Hear about the latest research and share experience from your own farm.

  • Tour research plots on tarping in direct seeded crops, cover crop mulching for summer transplants, and practices for permanent beds
  • View demos of strip till and cultivation tools in high residue
  • Learn how in-row cultivation tools work with Integrated Weed Management Specialist Bryan Brown (NYS IPM)

This event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is preferred here but walk-ins are welcome. Co-sponsored by NOFA-NY. Email Ryan Maher at with questions and visit the Cornell Small Farms Program website for more on the project.

NYSIPM Program hosts 9th annual greenhouse workshop

Horticulture associate professor Neil Mattson demonstrates the latest in greenhouse lighting systems at the greenhouse workshop.

Horticulture associate professor Neil Mattson demonstrates the latest in greenhouse lighting systems at the greenhouse workshop.

More than 40 greenhouse producers, educators and others gathered in Plant Science Building July 25 for the 2017 IPM In-Depth Hands-On Workshop sponsored by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM).

Many brought plant samples from their operations so workshop leaders could help them identify pest, disease and nutrient problems. And participants rotated through sessions on the latest in greenhouse lighting, biological aphid control, and managing diseases in edible crops.

“The IPM In-Depth is a great way to learn new information in a very interactive and hands-on way,” says Betsy Lamb, NYSIPM greenhouse specialist and adjunct assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “The program really allows all of us to learn from each other — from those who have attended all nine summer In-Depths to the brand new grower whose jaw dropped when she saw a parasitoid wasp lay an egg in an aphid!”

Lamb organizes similar programs around the state during the year. Contact her to be notified of future workshops:

Titan arum to bloom – outside

Carolus stands three feet tall in Minns Garden on July 24

Carolus stands three feet tall in Minns Garden on July 24

Reposted from the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory blog. See also CALS News.

‘Carolus’ – one of two flowering-sized Titan arums (Amorphophallus titanum) in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory’s collection – has broken dormancy and is preparing to bloom this summer.

But instead of unfurling its pungent inflorescence in the confines of the Conservatory, this year’s flowering will take place outside in Minns Garden, between the Plant Science Building and Tower Road.

“As far as we are aware, this is the first time anyone has tried this outside in a temperate region,” says Kevin Nixon, professor in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and the Conservatory’s curator.  Titan arums produce the largest unbranched inflorescences in the plant world.

Paul Cooper, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse grower who maintains the Conservatory’s collection, planted Carolus’s massive 100-pound corm – an underground structure similar to a flower bulb – on June 14 in a pot in Minns Garden.  As of July 25, Carolus stood 38.5 inches and was growing about three inches per day.  (See Carolus’s growth chart to follow the plant’s progress.)

When it last bloomed in 2015, Carolus topped out at 76 inches tall. But predicting exactly when the inflorescence will peak this time around will be especially difficult, as the cooler temperatures outside could slow its progress. Best estimate right now is early to mid-August.

And the plan is not without some risk due to the possibility of severe weather or the plant not acclimating well to outdoor conditions in Ithaca and failing to fully develop. “Whatever happens, we’ll learn something new this year,” says Karl Niklas, Liberty Hyde Bailey professor in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Carolus's sibling Wee Stinky approaches full leaf in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory's Palm House on July 24.

Carolus’s sibling Wee Stinky approaches full leaf in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory’s Palm House on July 24.

The public is welcome to visit Carolus in Minns Garden any time.  “We’re looking forward to having more visitors to the garden this year,” says Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section, who supervises the garden. “We hope they’ll stick around to take in the other beautiful plants we grow there.”  Visitors can also stop in to the Conservatory, home to more than 600 plant species, which is just across the driveway from the garden and open most weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Carolus’s sibling ‘Wee Stinky’ – the first Titan arum to flower at Cornell – is in its vegetative phase there where its single leaf towers up into the rafters of the Palm House.

Assuming Carolus does bloom fully, visitors can expect a different experience than previous Titan arum flowerings. Outside, the odor – designed to bring in flies, beetles and other pollinating insects in search of an animal carcass – is likely to be more diffuse and less overwhelming. But instead of being visited by just a few stray insects that managed to find their way into the Conservatory, the outdoor bloom is likely to attract thousands.

The inflorescence is also expected to be smaller than previous indoor flowerings. Carolus has been running about two-thirds to three-quarters of its height during similar growth stages when it bloomed inside, possibly in response to the cooler temperatures.

You can learn more about the fascinating pollination strategy of this plant and view pictures and video of previous Titan arum flowerings at Cornell’s Titan Arum Blog. If you visit weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., the nearest public parking is in the Peterson Lot at the corner of Judd Falls and Tower Roads, near Stocking Hall and the Cornell Dairy Bar.

Check back at our Conservatory news page for updates or sign up for email notifications using the subscription in the right column (or bottom of page in mobile).

Pomologist Chester Forshey Dies at 92



Reposted from CALS News [2017-07-18]

Chester “Chick“ Forshey, professor emeritus of pomology, died May 7 at the age of 92.

Forshey, who held a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a Ph.D. in pomology from Ohio State University, was on the faculty of Cornell University and spent most of his career at the Hudson Valley Research Laboratory, where he became superintendent in 1968 and ran an analytical laboratory on fruit investigations and carried on a concentrated program of pomological research.

“During Dr. Forshey’s tenure as superintendent of Cornell’s Hudson Valley Laboratory, new facilities were constructed in Highland [New York] in 1963-64 and a large addition was completed in 1974. Dr. Forshey effectively mentored younger scientists and fruit extension staff during the 1970s and 1980s while conducting his own detailed research on nutrition, fruit thinning, pruning and young tree training,” said Professor Emeritus David Rosenberg.

Rosenberg continued: “He is remembered for his sharp wit and for his attention to detail in both his research and in the precise wording that he used in his extension talks. Without his dedication to the fruit industry, the Hudson Valley Lab would not exist today and the eastern New York fruit industry might not have maintained the vitality that it still exhibits today.”

Forshey joined the Cornell faculty in 1954, was promoted to associate professor in 1958 and to full professor in 1966. He received emeritus status in 1990.

In 1963, Forshey took his family to South America, where he spent a year as a temporary member of the Rockefeller Foundation staff with its Chilean Agricultural Program. He was named honorary professor at the Schools of Agronomy at the University of Chile and the Catholic University.

Forshey was a member of Sigma Xi, the American Society for Horticultural Science, the American Chemical Society and the Soil Science Society of America. He published more than 140 articles and co-authored a book, “Training and Pruning Apple and Pear Trees,” which is used as a textbook at many colleges to this day. He also wrote the article on “Apples” in the World Book Encyclopedia. He was a popular speaker at annual meetings of the Horticultural Society where he was noted for his writing style and terse written and verbal commentary.

He is survived by two children and five grandchildren.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Updated guide to shrubs for stormwater retention

cover shotCornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) has released the second edition of its Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions). The updated and expanded 57-page guide is an essential resource for choosing plants that can provide low-maintenance, attractive cover for filter strips, swales, rain gardens  and other stormwater retention and infiltration practices.

“For plants to thrive in stormwater retention areas, they need to be able to tolerate both dry and periodically saturated soils,” says UHI director Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “These can be tough sites with high pH and salt levels. So it’s important to choose the right plants for the job.”

In addition to profiling more than 35 shrubs – including hardiness, sun requirements, site considerations, potential pest issues, and deer resistance – the guide also details site assessment and design considerations for stormwater retention structures.  Descriptions also include cultivar information and ecological impacts, such as attractiveness to pollinators.

For a free download, visit the UHI outreach page.

Curb cuts channel runoff into into bioswale.‘Urban Eden’ students install bioswale along Tower Road in September 2014.

Parasitizing Wasps Offer Hope Against Devastating Lily Beetle

Lily leaf beetle adult on Asiatic lily. Photo by Joellen Lampman.

Lily leaf beetle adult on Asiatic lily. Photo by Joellen Lampman.

By Krishna Ramanujan, reposted from CALS News 2017-07-10]:

Many gardeners across New York state have given up on growing lilies, thanks to the lily leaf beetle, which has devastated the plants in many areas statewide, across the Northeast and in Canada.

But now researchers have released parasitoid wasps as a natural control and alternative to pesticides at three test sites across the state through a project of the New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYS IPM) program at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), working with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

The small, bright red lily leaf beetle (Lilioceris lilii) feeds on native and cultivated oriental lily varieties. Their larvae are small grubs that are less than 1 millimeter when first hatched and grow to roughly one-and-a-quarter centimeters (or half-an-inch), and they cover themselves in fecal matter, which may make them taste foul to birds and other predators.

The three types of tiny parasitoid wasps (Tetrastichus setifer, Lemophagus errabundus and Diaparsis jucunda) specifically target lily leaf beetles by laying eggs in the beetle larvae. The beetle larvae drop to the ground to pupate, but when they have been parasitized, adults never emerge because the wasps pupate within the beetle pupae, killing them and emerging in the spring.

Entomologists at the University of Rhode Island began evaluating the native-European wasps in 1999 to make sure they were safe for other insects and had them approved for release by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Eshenaur, Lamb

Eshenaur, Lamb

Project researchers – led by the NYS IPM ornamentals team, Brian Eshenaur and Elizabeth Lamb – will collect beetle larvae at the test sites next June and send them to the University of Rhode Island to check if they are parasitized and determine whether the wasps overwintered and are establishing themselves in New York state.

“It’s not a fast process, but it has the advantage in that if those wasps get established in New York, then we have continuing control that doesn’t require any pesticides,” said Lamb. If the wasps do establish themselves, lily leaf beetle levels could decline enough for lilies to thrive.

A 2015 survey of CCE educators by Eshenaur found that lily leaf beetles were present in 30 New York counties, with 73 percent of those counties reporting high damage. Also, 58 percent of those surveyed said that lily sales were down and consumers had stopped growing lilies in their areas.

The wasps have been released at CCE sites in Putnam and Albany counties, and at Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center. An additional release will take place at the Erie County CCE. Before releasing the wasps, the researchers collected beetle larvae at those sites to check whether wasps that had been released and established in other states may have moved into New York and already parasitized the beetle larvae.

Eshenaur and Lamb received a three-year, $60,000 grant from CALS in 2016 to release the parasitoid wasps and gather information on whether the wasps will establish themselves in the state. They will also do outreach about the project and create a fact sheet on the wasps. “The project is an important interaction between IPM on campus working with counties and having that move out to the general population,” Lamb said. “It’s a way of getting the word out about the concepts of integrated pest management, so that people realize there are alternatives in some cases.”

Lisa Tewksbury, a research associate at the University of Rhode Island’s Biological Control Lab, leads efforts there to produce the wasps, get them approved and test larvae to see if they are parasitized.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Meyers, Ph.D. ’11, is new CCE viticulture specialist

James Meyers is the new viticulture and wine specialist covering the 17-county Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program area.

James Meyers is the new viticulture and wine specialist covering the 17-county Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program area.

Press release from Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP):

The Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension has announced the hiring of James Meyers as the new viticulture and wine specialist for a 17-county region in the eastern part of New York State. Meyers will provide regional grape growers with a combination of on-the-ground grape production assistance and some high flying technology.

Meyers earned his Ph.D. in Viticulture at Cornell University and has applied a Masters degree in Computer Science from Brown University to his viticultural research. Using satellite imaging and drone technology, Meyers has mapped canopy and vineyard variability to help growers in the Finger Lakes region of New York and in California optimize the efficiency and profitability of their vineyard operations. He will continue the use of that technology in eastern New York.

“Images taken by a drone-mounted camera can be used to identify areas of inconsistency in a vineyard and create variability maps to guide ground level assessments of vine performance for potential remediation such as soil amendments, canopy management activities, or rootstock changes,” Meyers explained. “This technology can also be used to add harvesting and processing efficiency.”

Meyers is introducing himself to growers and learning about their operations in Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington counties.

His hiring is timely for the 300-mile eastern NY region that experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of grape-growing operations and a 50 percent increase in grape acres from 2007 to 2012, according to the October 2016 Grape Production in the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Region report issued by the Cornell Cooperative Extension ENYCHP.

Meyers will create and develop an Eastern New York geospatial database of vine performance that will help growers better understand their local climates, track vineyard performance, and adjust decision making for greater productivity and profitability.

“Adding a specialist with Jim’s agricultural and technological skills will maximize Extension learning opportunities in support of the Eastern New York grape industry,” said ENYCHP Small Fruit and Vegetable Team Leader Laura McDermott.

To contact Meyers or any of the other 12 specialists advising commercial fruit and vegetable growers in eastern NY, and to find educational resources, newsletters and pest alerts, visit the ENYCHP website.

‘Don’t Let your Veggies Grow Up To be Compost’ – Donate your garden surplus to the hungry

FDN-logox400From Jane Mt. Pleasant:

Note new pick-up day this year: Drop off donations Tuesdays before 5 p.m. to the walk-in cooler on the garden floor, Plant Science G04E.

I know that many of you are home gardeners and sometimes have more produce from your garden than you and your family can eat. Instead of throwing those zucchini on the compost pile or letting them rot in the field, you can donate them to the Friendship Donations Network. This local non-profit (of which I am a board member and volunteer), collects good, nutritious food that would otherwise be discarded from stores, farms, and other donors, and redistributes it to people in our community who need it. (Watch FDN’s 11-minute video to get a quick, compelling overview.)

Four years ago, FDN started Neighborhood Food Hubs to increase the quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables that we rescue and redistribute. Individuals and families volunteer their front porches to serve as weekly collection spots where home gardeners in their neighborhoods bring their extra fruits and vegetables.

For the last three years, we’ve had a Food Hub in the Plant Science Building. Since we started we’ve collected almost a thousand pounds of produce that would otherwise have been discarded. Instead, the food was distributed to food pantries and other programs. It ended up on the plates of people who need it.

We are organizing a Plant Science Food Hub again this year. I think we can collect much more than we did in 2016, when the drought reduced our donations!

Here’s how it works. Bring your excess produce every Tuesday (note the new day of the week) before 5 p.m. to the walk-in cooler on the garden floor, Plant Science G04E. (There will be signs posted to direct you to the cooler.) I collect it at the end of the day and take it to FDN’s storage and office space in downtown Ithaca. (You can also donate extra produce from your CSA if you find that you have more than you can eat! As long as the produce is in good shape, FDN will take it.)

We will start collecting on Tuesday, July 11, and continue every Tuesday through October 10.

There may be a Hub close to your home. (There are also Hubs at some community gardens). Please donate there if it’s more convenient. View map of hubs.

Finally, if you have a very large garden and find yourself with more vegetables than you can easily bring to work with you, let me know and FDN will send a volunteer to pick up the produce at your home.

If you have questions, call or email me: or 255-4670. Thank you for your support and participation in this important activity.

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