Winter salad crops for Northern N.Y.? [Northern New York Agricultural Development Program News, 2013-03-06] – Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP)-funded trials at the Cornell University Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro, NY, are evaluating winter lettuce production methods, including the use of prototype, low-wattage heating strips to warm the soil. “This research in Northern New York is the first attempt at developing a system for heating the greens-growing environment inside high tunnels using heating strips primarily designed for in-floor radiant heat,” says Extension Vegetable Specialist Judson Reid. (See also North Country Now story.)
Guterman Greenhouse Energy Conservation Project Saves $337,000 annually [Cornell Sustainable Campus 2013-03-06] – The project is replacing all greenhouse lighting and environmental controls. “Our continued collaboration with the Energy Management staff in Facilities Services is transforming sustainability in our growth chambers and greenhouses across campus,” says Andrew Leed, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse manager. Project summary.
Northeast bee population declines confirmed [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-11] – Northeastern bees have suffered population declines over the last 140 years. But none has faced a more devastating, rapid and recent collapse than the genus Bombus — the humble bumblebee, say entomologists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online, March 5. The researchers used data they gathered by combing thought insect collections and other institutions. Host-plant specialists, in particular, are worse off than generalist bees, says co-author Bryan Danforth, Department of Entomology.
The $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts that went into effect March 1 — the sequester — may eventually cost Cornell $28 million universitywide, including Weill Cornell Medical College. The cuts would come mostly in support of research and student aid, administrators say. …
Cornell Cooperative Extension, which receives $11.6 million in federal funds, faces a 10 percent, $1.2 million, cut. CCE is reviewing applicable laws to determine which work is essential and what can be stopped. Among other steps to deal with the shortfall, CCE has suspended most out-of-state travel planned for later this year, put open staff positions on hold and is reviewing workforce reductions.
“We started our belt tightening last year in preparation for sequestration,” said Helene Dillard, professor of plant pathology and CCE director. “The CCE leadership team has helped me identify ways to streamline as much as we can without reducing the quality of our work. We have very hard-working, dedicated staff, and we are doing everything we can to avoid workforce reductions.”
Aid to the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (currently $5.9 million) and to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. ($1.2 million) will be reduced. Both stations have been conservative in awarding federal money, said Margaret Ferguson, associate dean for finance and administration for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and “we will be able to manage a 5 to 10 percent reduction by reducing expenditures over the next seven months.”
Abby Seaman presents Steve McKay with an Excellence in IPM award.
Neither Rain nor Mud nor (Etc.) Earns IPM Award for Cornell Farm Manager by Mary Woodsen, NYSIPM program.
Three days after Tropical Storm Lee blew through the Northeast in early September 2011, turning streams into rivers, then lakes, getting a tractor into the waterlogged research plots at Cornell University’s Thompson Research Farm was an obvious no-go. So farm manager Steve McKay slipped on a backpack sprayer and slogged through the muddy fields bordering Fall Creek.
McKay was helping test a new “decision support system,” which predicts if or when growers need to spray to protect crops from late blight, a deadly plant diseases. McKay’s team supports research to help growers use softer fungicides and only as a last resort—a principle that’s key to IPM, or integrated pest management.
And the next day—a Saturday—he was back again in the cab of a backhoe, digging temporary drainage ditches to salvage what he could of the experiment.
Now for his dedication, expertise, and leadership, McKay has earned an Excellence in IPM Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which seeks least-toxic solutions to pest problems, including plant diseases.
“Working with Steve is an absolute delight,” says William Fry, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, noting that McKay is indispensable in evaluating late-blight forecasting systems. “With his help, we’ve got data on late-blight resistance in nearly 100 potato and tomato cultivars.”
McKay manages 70-plus acres of trials for as many as 15 different scientists on 15 to 20 different crops, say horticulture professors Robin Bellinder and Don Halseth. McKay does “an astounding job of caring for our research trials,” they say. “We can’t think of a better person to receive the Excellence in IPM award.”
McKay receives his award on February 11 at Cornell’s Horticulture Seminar Series.
McKay teaches vegetable production class about the inner workings of a planter.
Have you ever wanted to grow vegetables, have an awesome summer job, and take on a leading role at Dilmun Hill, Cornell University’s student organic farm? This is your opportunity! We are now accepting applicants for market garden managers for the 2013 season.
The market garden managers are part of the team of students that will run the farm during the summer and fall.
Market garden managers are full-time paid positions over the summer and and part time into the fall semester. They also coordinate a wonderful group of volunteers. All Cornell undergraduates, who will still be enrolled next year are eligible for the position. To apply, please complete the written application and the questionnaire below and send them to Betsy Leonard by January 30.
Steve McKay, farm manager at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, has been chosen as the 178th recipient of the George Peter Award for Dedicated Service.
McKay’s supervisor, Glenn Evans, director of operations for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES), in his nomination letter wrote of McKay’s “outstanding ability to collaborate with faculty, field assistants, students, research technicians and the administration” of the CUAES, noting especially his work with local food banks, service on the CUAES Sustainability Action team and “exceptional day-in and day-out service and support” to faculty.
“He constantly makes suggestions to individuals, departments and college leadership about ways to improve the status quo. … I doubt there is a single faculty person or graduate student who would not give Steve their highest marks for professionalism and support,” wrote Marvin Pritts, chair of the Department of Horticulture, in his nomination letter.
The longest running and most prestigious universitywide, peer-nominated award, the George Peter Award for Dedicated Service is given by the Employee Assembly to staff members who consistently demonstrate a high degree of excellence in doing their jobs and who extend themselves to help others and go above and beyond the normal expectations of their job responsibilities.
Update 3/16 11:30 a.m.: Visiting hours have been extended to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the arum blooms, and then staying open until 11 p.m. while blooming. We should have a good idea by mid-afternoon Friday if it will bloom tonight, but it looks more likely that it will be Saturday or Sunday night.
From Andy Leed, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences greenhouse manager 3/13/2012:
This titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, is preparing to flower in the Kenneth Post Lab Greenhouses at Cornell University. On March 13, the unopened inflorescence measured 57 inches long. In recent days it’s been growing about 2 inches daily.
These plants, native only to Sumatra, bloom very infrequently, and then only for one or two nights before collapsing. It’s difficult to predict accurately, but the inflorescence will probably open within days. Until it opens, there’s no noticeable odor. After that there’s little doubt where the name “Corpse Flower” comes from.
This Titan arum is part of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory collection, and is temporarily located in Green Greenhouse 114, attached to Kenneth Post Lab on Tower Road. It will be available for viewing by the public:
Wednesday, 3/14: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, 3/15: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, 3/16: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Weekend hours to be determined
The schedule may change. See www.cals.cornell.edu/corpseplant for the latest schedule. Additional nighttime hours will be added when the arum flowers. Cornell plant biologists and horticulturalists are welcome anytime the facility is open (8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Friday).
Please be careful not to disturb the plant or the photographic equipment.
1,204,462 – Total pounds donated since 2004, including potatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, melons, winter squash and pumpkins.
322, 215 and 100 – Bushels of apples, gallons of cider and pounds of plums (along 6 pecks of pears and 30 pounds of grapes) donated by Cornell Orchards in 2011 to food pantries, schools and other organizations.
“A typical day could have Leonard mowing cover crops one minute or fine-tuning an experimental bioremediation plot the next. Her job: to support the Cornell scientists seeking sustainable solutions to the common or emerging problems organic growers face — solutions that often benefit conventional growers as well.
“Leonard also provides oversight for the student-run Dilmun Hill Farm, which provides proving grounds for a range of undergraduate research projects as well as hands-on experience in managing a real-world organic farm. …
“‘Betsy’s so calm and relaxed but so responsive,’ says Elizabeth Goodwin ’12, who heads up a soil remediation project at Dilmun Hill. ‘She puts the power and the tools in our hands for the research we do. She wants us to succeed.’”