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CAU tours Bluegrass Lane

Members of the Cornell’s Adult University course “Coffee, Cloves, and Chocolate: How Plants Have Shaped Human History,” taught by Don Rakow, took a field trip Friday to the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to campus where research technician Kendra Hutchins gave them a tour of annual flower and foliage plant trials and other plantings. Earlier in the week, the class toured Gimme! Coffee’s roasting facility near Trumansburg.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins explains annual flower trials to Don Rakow's CAU class.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins explains annual flower trials to Don Rakow’s CAU class.

Late blight confirmed in New York

Late blight — a highly contagious and devastating disease of tomatoes and potatoes — has been confirmed in Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston counties. If your crops have been infected, it’s critical that you take action to help stop the spread of the disease.

The New York State IPM program has developed posters and videos to help you identify the disease and learn how to properly dispose of infected plants. Please share them widely.

late blight poster

In the news

Cornell University Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program Field Coordinator Nate Leonard holds one of the sidewalk pavers made from recycling used farm plastics from NY farms. Photo: Brian P. Whattam

Cornell University Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program Field Coordinator Nate Leonard holds one of the sidewalk pavers made from recycling used farm plastics from NY farms. Photo: Brian P. Whattam

New 6-County Agricultural Plastics Recycling Initiative [Empire Farm Days news release 2015-07-14] – A partnership of Ontario County, Casella Resource Solutions, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County is looking to divert farm plastic waste material away from the regional landfill in Ontario County to recycling opportunities. Recycling plastics can save farm and business owners landfill and dumpster fees of $70 or more per ton and removing farm plastics from the waste stream extends the life of landfill space. The program also serves farmers in Livingston, Monroe, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties. Read the full release.

Cornell team readies for national ‘Weed Olympics’ July 21 [Cornell Chronicle 2015-07-15] – After enduring practice through thistle and flashcards, the Cornell University Weed Team will send four graduate students and seven undergraduates for two days of agronomic combat at the 2015 National Collegiate Weed competition – affectionately dubbed the “Weed Olympics.” The contest will be held at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center at South Charleston, Ohio, July 21-22. Horticulture graduate student Vinay Bhaskar is among the students representing Cornell under the tutelage of Antonio DiTommaso, professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section, School of Integrative Plant Science. Read the whole article.

Stopping Pests Earns Greenhouse Pro ‘Excellence in IPM’ Award [NYSIPM Program news release 2015-07-16] – : Nora Catlin, floriculture specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, has received an “Excellence in IPM” award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM). The award honors Catlin for her work with commercial greenhouse growers who, on Long Island alone, contribute nearly $80 million to New York’s economy. Catlin received her award at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center’s Plant Science Day on July 15. Read the full release.

PBS Insight: Cornell Small Farm Program Supports NY Military Veterans in Farming

Reposted from CALS Notes [2015-07-15]:

On July 10, PBS Insight highlighted the efforts of the Cornell Small Farm Program to support military veterans farming in New York State. Tune in to meet some of the veterans putting their skills and discipline into agricultural careers, from running the family farm to greenhouse flower production, with mentorship, resources and community offered by the Cornell Small Farm Program. Video link.

NYSDAM awards $200,000 to NYSAES, CALS for hops and barley research

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

From New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets press releases [2015-07-13]:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced July 13 two new partnerships to further support and grow the beverage industry in the Finger Lakes region. A new partnership between Taste NY and the New York Wine & Culinary Center was unveiled following yesterday’s successful listening session with beverage industry stakeholders during Governor Cuomo’s Capital for a Day in Rochester. In addition, $200,000 will be provided to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and its New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva for research on hops and malting barley, the two major ingredients in the production of beer.

Dr. Susan Brown, The Goichman Family Director of NYSAES said, “On behalf of our faculty and extension staff, I know that my colleagues at CALS and NYSAES are committed to delivering the outstanding science and outreach essential to bolstering this resurgence of the brewing and farm-based beverage industry in New York State. This generous investment supports our partnership with growers, producers and entrepreneurs, continues to foster economic development and, importantly, expands the portfolio of New York beverages in an ever-increasing number of bottles, pints and glasses across our state.”

The research being conducted by Cornell University will help meet the growing demand of hops and barley for use in farm-based breweries. Governor Cuomo’s Farm Brewery Legislation, which has spurred the rapid growth of craft brewing in New York State, requires farm brewers to increase the percentage of New York-grown hops and all other ingredients in farm-brewed beer from 20 percent today to 90 percent by 2024.

The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, the most recent official statistics available, shows that 7,679 acres of land in New York was used to produce barley, while 19 acres of land was in use for growing hops. A Cornell Cooperative Extension hops expert estimates that more than 300 acres of land is in use statewide now to grow hops, with the number growing by 75 to 100 acres a year and with larger farming organizations considering large-scale hops growing operations.

Camp Mushroom cultivates new growers

Reposted from CALS Notes

There is a camp for just about everything, including mushrooms.

Even though it’s been offered for nearly a decade, Camp Mushroom consistently sells out. To satisfy the waitlist from the April workshop, a one-day workshop was held on June 7 at MacDaniels Nut Grove, Cornell’s forest farming and agroforestry research center located east of the Cornell Orchards.

“Mushroom growing has increased quite rapidly,” said instructor Steve Gabriel, the Cornell Cooperative Extension agroforestry specialist. He is also the co-founder of the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and a mushroom grower on Wellspring Forest Farm, which he runs with his wife Elizabeth.

Read more.

Visit the Cornell Mushroom Cultivation website.

Steve Gabriel

Agroforestry specialist Steve Gabriel

Reiners to succeed Pritts as Horticulture chair

Steve Reiners Associate Chair of the Horticulture Section -- and Professor starting the first of the year.

Steve Reiners will be new Horticulture Section chair.

Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), announced yesterday three SIPS leadership transitions effective August 1, 2015.

Mike Scanlon, professor in the Plant Biology Section, has completed his term as Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). During his tenure in the postition, Scanlon streamlined the Plant Sciences curriculum, introduced new courses, and expanded concentrations to accommodate evolving student interests. As a member of the SIPS executive committee, he made key contributions to the SIPS strategic plan.

Marvin Pritts, who has served as Horticulture Section chair for 13 years, will assume the DUS position. Pritts has been extensively involved with the Plant Sciences major for many years as an undergraduate adviser, as co-creator and instructor (with Marcia Eames-Sheavly) of Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (PLSCI 1110), and as an adviser for PLHRT/IARD 3200 Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize.

Steve Reiners, professor and associate chair in the Horticulture Section, will succeed Pritts as chair. Reiners, is based at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, and has also served as Department Extension Leader. He also leads the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program  serving western New York and the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. He co-teaches Principles of Vegetable Production (PLHRT 3500) and Organic Vegetable Gardening (PLHRT 1250).

Congratulations Steve!

Rakow receives APGA Award of Merit

Donald Rakow, Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, and former director of Cornell Plantations, received the American Public Gardens Association’s 2015 Award of Merit at the APGA’s 39th Annual Conference June 25 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

The Award of Merit recognizes an APGA member who has performed with distinction as part of an illustrious career in the field of public horticulture. Among Rakow’s accomplishments cited by APGA were the creation of Cornell’s Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership, a doubling of Cornell Plantations staffing under his watch, and raising $14 million through a combination of endowments, annual fund support and capital projects, culminating with the dedication of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome center in 2010.

Don Rakow accepts the Award of Merit from APGA executive director Casey Schlar.

Don Rakow accepts the Award of Merit from APGA executive director Casey Schlar.

Michael Dosmann

Michael Dosmann

CALS Dean Kathryn Boor said, “Don’s leadership has been a key part of the transformation of Cornell Plantations in the last two decades. I am grateful for his expertise, enthusiasm and partnership.”

Also honored at the conference with an APGA Professional Citation Award was Michael Dosmann (Ph.D., Graduate Field of Horticulture, ’07), now curator of the Living Collections at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The award recognizes individual achievements, skills, innovation and potential in botany, horticulture, conservation, research, education, or administration.

Turf field day at Bluegrass Lane

More than 40 golf course superintendents and other turf professionals spent the morning on Thursday learning about the latest turfgrass research taking place at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to the Robert Trent Jones golf course northeast of campus.

Among the highlights:

Horticulture graduate student Grant Thompson explains his research using 13C carbon dioxide to label grasses, which he will clip and return to lawns to study the fate of carbon in different urban soils.

Grant Thompson explains researuc

Associate professor Frank Rossi explains how overseeding overused athletic fields can help maintain safe playing conditions.

Rossi explains overseeding

Rossi discusses a new collaboration with Consumer Reports to evaluate robotic lawn mowers.

Rossi and robotic mower

Robotic mowers at work:

Donate extra garden, CSA produce

FDN-logox400From Jane Mt. Pleasant:

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 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.)

Two 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.

Last year we had a Food Hub in the Plant Science Building and collected more than 200 pounds of vegetables 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 2014!

Here’s how it works. Bring your excess produce every Monday 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 Monday, July 6, and continue every Monday through September 28.

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.