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Pumpkin-picking advice from Steve Reiners

Steve Reiners

Steve Reiners

Due to the ideal growing conditions in New York state, the pumpkin crop is early this year and consumers should act fast when picking says Steve Reiners, professor and chair of the Horticulture Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and a New York state vegetable industry expert. Reiners shares advice on how to pick the perfect pumpkin that should last through the Halloween season if left uncarved:

  • “Warm temperatures and abundant sun have resulted in some crops like pumpkins arriving earlier at farm stands.
  • “People should not wait too long to purchase their pumpkin this year. Even though New York yields are fantastic, other states will be looking to purchase our pumpkins. In most of the Carolinas for example, much of the crop has rotted from water soaked fields.
  • “When choosing your pumpkin, look for one with a sturdy, hard stem with no soft spots on the fruit. You can buy ones that still show a little green as they will continue to ripen on your porch. A good pumpkin bought today should easily last until Halloween, if not Thanksgiving. If you plan to cut them for Jack-o-Lanterns, wait until a few days before Halloween. Once you carve them, they will only last about seven days.”

Seminar video: Growing the lost crops of eastern North America

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Growing the lost crops of eastern North America: Developmental plasticity in plant domestication  with Natalie Mueller, post-doctoral fellow, Horticulture Section, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Landscape professionals learn about bioswale benefits

Tower Rd bioswale planting
Above: Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHRT/LA 4910/4920) planted more than 1,000 feet of beds along Tower Road from Plant Science Building to Stocking Hall with nearly 1,000 woody shrubs in September 2014.

Nearly 50 landscape architects, environmentalists, educators and others visited Cornell September 17 to learn about the ecosystem benefits of bioswales and tour the runoff-filtering structures on campus.

Bioswales channel water from streets and parking lots into areas where the water can infiltrate into the groundwater instead of entering storm drains and waterways. In the process, they keep sediment and other pollutants out of streams and lakes, reduce flooding and prevent streambank erosion.

They can also provide aesthetic benefits, habitat for pollinators and other ecosystem services, says Nina Bassuk, director of the Urban Horticulture Institute in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who led the program along with Peter Trowbridge, Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects and retired professor from the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Bassuk’s work has focused on the ‘bio’ aspects of bioswales, researching which plants are best-suited for the tough conditions they face. “We’re testing plants that can tolerate both saturated soil and periodic drought,” says Bassuk. “They also need to be able tolerate salty soil and bounce back from damage when snow and ice are piled over them during winter.” Woody shrubs that can be cut back to the ground and regrow quickly in spring are especially good candidates.

The landscape professionals saw many of those plants in three bioswales they toured while on campus, including northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), shining sumac (Rhus coppalina), creeping willow  (Salix repens), seaberry (Hippophae rhamnoides), ) buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and others.

Those three bioswales – the quarter-mile-long Tower Road bioswale, the Rice Bowl bioswales adjacent to the parking lot next to Rice Hall, and the Cornell Botanic Garden bioswale next to the Nevin Welcome Center parking lot – are featured on the new Sustainable Landscapes Trail developed by the Land Team of the President’s Campus Sustainability Committee.

For more information on bioswales, download Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.


Above: Nina Bassuk explains bioswale plant selection to landscape professionals touring the Tower Road bioswale.

Big, blue Everest Seedless is Cornell’s newest grape

Bruce Reisch with Everest Seedless grape vines
Everest Seedless, the newest offering from Cornell’s grape breeders, is a big, bold fruit that comes with a towering history. Above, Bruce Reisch ’76, professor of horticulture, examines clusters of Everest Seedless in a research vineyard at Cornell AgriTech. Photo by Erin Flynn/Provided

CALS News [2018-09-13]:

The newest offering from Cornell’s grape breeders is a fruit that’s big, bold and comes with a towering history.

Those factors led the grape’s breeders to name the new variety Everest Seedless, a nod to the celebrated Nepalese mountain, said Bruce Reisch ’76, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and grape breeder with Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

“We were looking to develop very flavorful grapes with large berries and large clusters, and we’ve achieved that with Everest Seedless,” Reisch said.

The new variety is a cold-tolerant, blue-colored Concord-type, with berries that weigh up to 7 grams – roughly twice the size of the traditional Concord. It is also the first truly seedless Concord-type grape ever released. It’s intended as a table grape – meant primarily for eating fresh, rather than using for jams, juice or wine, as most American Concords are used.

Read the whole article.

New Plant Sciences majors battle invasive plants

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods

 

The honeysuckle, barberry and multiflora rose in the Henry A. Smith Woods in Trumansburg, N.Y., were quaking in their boots September 6.

The reason? New Plant Sciences majors enrolled in Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (PLSCI 1110) spent the afternoon roguing out these invasive species from this treasured remnant of old growth forest.

Every fall, instructors Marvin Pritts and Leah Cook involve the students in a service learning project as a way to give back to the local community. Previous projects included making improvements to the Habitat Trail outside of Trumansburg, planting mums at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, and designing and installing a campus garden.

New high-yield strawberry, raspberry varieties released

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

CALS News [2018-09-05]:

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure. Both varieties produce large fruits with vibrant colors that maintain peak flavor for longer than most heritage varieties.

The new berries are the handiwork of berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

Dickens is a traditional, June-bearing strawberry with high yields and bright red fruit that continues bearing late into the season. The berries are firm, so they hold well on the plant and in the container, Weber said, but not so firm that they have no flavor. Strawberries are the third-leading fruit crop in New York state, but most strawberries sold in supermarkets are from California.

“With New York-grown berries, because we don’t have to ship so far, we can handle a softer fruit. And people notice the softer, sweeter, juicier fruit,” Weber said. “Customers can get supermarket strawberries any day of the week; the reason people make the effort to come to the farm stand or farmers market and buy the local product is because it tastes so much better. Maintaining that flavor is paramount to what we do in our breeding program.”

Read the whole article.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

Dreer Award offers opportunities to pursue horticultural interests abroad

From Nina Bassuk:

The Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science offers a wonderful opportunity once a year, the Frederick Dreer Award, that allows one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture.

See the application and instructions that spell out the procedure for applying. Basically it is quite simple. Submit a written proposal to the Dreer Committee by the deadline (March 4, 2019 in this cycle), which is followed by an informal interview, generally in a week or two. The faculty receives the recommendation of the Dreer Committee and votes on the nominee.

The only obligation of the Dreer award winner is to write to the Dreer Committee monthly while overseas, and upon return to the United States, give a presentation about their time abroad to students and faculty.

Please look into this opportunity seriously. It can be taken as a summer and a semester’s leave or a year’s leave of absence during school or upon graduation. If you would like to talk over a potential idea for the Dreer with a member of the Committee (and we encourage you to do so), please contact Nina Bassuk (Horticulture) Valerie Aymer (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts (Horticulture).

View a recent Dreer Award Seminar video:

View more Dreer Award seminar videos.

Life of Carl F. Gortzig to be celebrated Sept. 23

Carl Gortzig

Carl Gortzig

CALS News [2018-08-31]:

A memorial celebration of the life of Carl F. Gortzig ’52 will be held Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center of Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Gortzig, professor emeritus and chair of the former Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, died June 2 in Ithaca at age 87. Gortzig served as the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations (now Cornell Botanic Gardens) from 1993-95, after a previous stint as acting director in 1989, and four years as chair of the Plantations Advisory Board from 1980-84.

In addition to his enduring support for the Botanic Gardens, Gortzig was devoted to the field of horticulture, working closely with the floriculture industry in New York state. His efforts were recognized in 1989 with the granting of the George L. Good Gold Medal of Horticulture, the highest honor of the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association. He also cared deeply about the students he taught and advised, and in 2002 a former advisee, Joanna Beitel ’92, established the Carl Gortzig scholarship in his honor.

Gortzig recognized the importance of local cultural organizations, and served in leadership positions on the boards of the History Center in Tompkins County, The Tompkins County Public Library, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.  He and his wife Jean were also devoted fans of the Cornell men’s basketball team.

He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant from 1952-54; taught biology, botany and math at the McKinley Vocational High School in Buffalo from 1954-55; worked as an Erie County associate agricultural agent from 1955-64; and was employed by Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as an admissions counselor from 1957 -58. He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1965, earned tenure in 1971 and was promoted to full professor in 1978.

He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 55 years, Jean.

Those planning to attend the memorial are asked to respond in advance to dr14@cornell.edu with the subject heading Gortzig Memorial. Memorial gifts may be directed to Cornell Botanic Gardens.

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