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Extension and outreach

Weekly turf webinars in response to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19 emergency, the Cornell turfgrass team is taking its outreach online with webinars via Zoom for turfgrass professionals:

The topic for all 3 webinars this week will be: “Best Management Practices for COVID-19, and what lies ahead in the essential care of plants.” We are hoping to keep these relatively short, around 15 mins, and then open up for questions at the end. The link will stay the same every week. No need to register, and of course no registration fee. We are recording and posting webinar videos to YouTube after the live session as we understand many people won’t be able to attend the live webinar every week.

Find links to these recordings on the Cornell Turfgrass Webinars page.

Seminar video: Invaders on our doorstep: Spotted lanternfly biology and management

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Invaders on our doorstep: Spotted lanternfly biology and management,  with Betsy Lamb, NYS Integrated Pest Management Program, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Additional information from Betsy:

Based on some questions in the seminar, I looked for additional information on spotted lanternfly.  The information on native range seems to vary quite a bit, including where it was found and when, and the temperature range .  I’ve included some references here for anyone interested in learning more.

University of Florida Entomology and Nematology page on spotted lanternfly

From Lifecycle section of Wikipedia entry on spotted lanternfly:

Some researchers believe that a severe cold interval is required for the eggs to develop past a certain point, however this has not yet been confirmed.[11] Testing has been done to determine how overwintering affects the eggs of the species. The minimum temperature that will kill eggs was estimated by South Korean researchers to be between −12.7 and −3.4°C (9.1 and 25.9°F) on the basis of mean daily temperatures during their winter of 2009/2010.[15] This estimate contrasts with eggs having survived the much colder winter 2013/14 temperatures in Pennsylvania, United States.[16] Another study done in South Korea suggested that -25°C is about the temperature in which no eggs are hatched, while 15°C still had limited hatching, depending upon how long they were chilled and where they were kept.[17]

Online organic gardening course starts April 1

Registration is now open for Organic Gardening one of the online courses offered by the Horticulture Section in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

Raised bed vegetable gardenOrganic Gardening is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

Starting with a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, the course then explores tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. Most students spend about 5 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

View more information and full course syllabus for Organic Gardening.

Questions about either course? View FAQ or contact, Chrys Gardener: cab69@cornell.edu

New, more appealing varieties of kale in the works

Phillip Griffiths with several of his new kale varieties showing different colors and textures from green to red and smooth to crinkled.

Phillip Griffiths, a plant breeder and associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, poses with several of his new kale varieties.

UPI story [2020-02-04]:

Loved by some for its health benefits and disliked by others for its cardboard-like consistency, kale might be heading for a makeover.

After surging in popularity several years ago, sales of the dark green, leafy vegetable are beginning to plateau. One vegetable breeder hopes to change that by creating varieties of kale with new flavors, textures and colors.

“It’s mainstreaming kale, to some extent,” said Phillip Griffiths, an associate professor of horticulture at Cornell Agri-Tech in New York.

“Kale has become one of those health foods, and only certain people eat it,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who eat leafy greens because they want something fresh and healthy.”

To reach those customers, Griffiths is creating a whole line of new kale.

Read the whole article.

Yale Climate Connections features Bassuk, sustainable landscapes trail

Peterson Lot near Stocking Hall features porous asphalt and a rain garden to reduce runoff.

Peterson Lot near Stocking Hall features porous asphalt and a rain garden to reduce runoff.

Yale Climate Connections is a nonpartisan, multimedia service providing daily broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis on the issue of climate change. Last week, they featured Nina Bassuk in an episode entitled. A walking trail shows how Cornell is adapting to extreme weather:

“On their way to class, Cornell University students stroll past a garden planted with bayberry and red-twigged dogwood shrubs. But they may not know that this is a rain garden that helps filter and hold water during heavy storms. Cornell horticulture professor Nina Bassuk says the university has been using techniques for sustainable landscapes for a long time, but people didn’t know that they were special in some way.”

Listen to the whole episode:

Learn more about the sustainable landscapes trail.

Vanden Heuvel to lead CAU wine masterclass

Fruit of the Vine: The History and Culture of Drinking Wine
Cornell Adult University
February 7–9, 2020

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Take a wine masterclass taught by wise and witty Cornell faculty with CAU. Join horticulturist Justine Vanden Heuvel and classics professor Michael Fontaine for a weekend seminar on the science, history, and culture of drinking wine in Ithaca, New York.

We’ll attend lectures on the Cornell campus, discuss wine pairings over dinner, travel to local Finger Lakes wineries for exclusive tastings, and enjoy lunch and a fireside chat at the historic Aurora Inn.

You’ll leave the weekend with knowledge about the origins of wine, the effects of the environment on crops, and fascinating tales about wine counterfeiting throughout the ages.

Register by November 15th to save 20% off the program fee!

A block of rooms have been reserved at a reduced price at the Statler Hotel, the hub of our on-campus event, for a limited time. Book a room with the link on our program’s website.

View the preliminary schedule.

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley is connecting people to plants

Cornell Chronicle and CALS News [2019-10-22]

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley ’18, MPS ’19, is passionate about exploring the connections that humans have to plants – especially the connections that indigenous communities have to the species that sustain them. Above, Hopkins-Hensley works with local children while interning at the Ithaca Children’s Garden in summer 2017. Photo provided

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley ’18, MPS ’19, is passionate about exploring the connections that humans have to plants – especially the connections that indigenous communities have to the species that sustain them. Above, Hopkins-Hensley works with local children while interning at the Ithaca Children’s Garden in summer 2017. Photo provided

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley ’18, MPS ’19, is passionate about exploring the connections that humans have to plants – especially the connections that indigenous communities have to the species that sustain them. She earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science in 2018 and a Master of Professional Studies in public garden leadership in 2019, but her interest in plants started when she was a child.

Her grandfather loved plants, and Hopkins-Hensley recalls his extensive gardens, both outside and in three rooms that were converted into a conservatory inside their Colorado home. He grew cacti inside and food plants outside. At age 12, she planted her first backyard garden.

“I wanted to explore the types of plants that my ancestors from my mom’s side of my family had planted to sustain themselves,” says Hopkins-Hensley. “I became very interested in the Three Sisters cropping system and tried growing squash, pumpkins and sunflowers.”

Cornell Botanic Gardens, in partnership with Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, offers a one-year MPS program for individuals interested in leading botanic gardens and similar organizations.

Read the whole article.

How to pick out a great pumpkin

Horticulture chair Steve Reiners explains:

Susan Brown named American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) fellow

CALS News [2019-07-25]:

Susan Brown with apples

On July 22, Susan Brown, head of Cornell’s apple breeding program and the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science, was named a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) for her outstanding contributions to horticulture through her research, teaching, extension work and leadership in the horticulture industry. Above, Brown holds an apple variety she developed.

In New York, apples are big business: the state’s 600 commercial growers produce an average of 30 million bushels annually, making it the second-largest apple producer in the U.S. But growing apples isn’t easy, and much has changed since Cornell began its breeding program roughly 115 years ago. Cornell’s program, one of the largest in the world, has released 66 apples, including the well-known Cortland, Jonagold, and Empire varieties.

But just over the past decade, public and private breeders have sped up the pace of release of new varieties—patenting hundreds of consumer-friendly apples, many trademarked, that are beginning to take a bite out of older varieties’ sales.

Enter Susan Brown, head of Cornell’s apple breeding program and the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science. Brown has dedicated her professional career to using molecular marker-assisted breeding to develop important apple varieties that provide the best appearance, flavor, growing characteristics, and highest prices for New York growers and those in other temperate North American and international regions.

On July 22, she was named a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) for her outstanding contributions to horticulture through her research, teaching, extension work and leadership in the horticulture industry.

Brown excels at meeting consumer and grower needs through plant breeding. Her research on the genetic control of tree form led to the development of trees that combine high yield with less labor, as well as those uniquely suited as ornamentals. And she has laid the groundwork for future advances with her research on the underlying biological mechanisms of phenolic synthesis, disease resistance genes, fruit texture and flavor, as well as the apple’s nutritional properties, plant architecture, and cross-pollination peculiarities.

Brown has published 64 research articles, 60 outreach publications, nine book chapters, and holds nine U.S. plant patents: four sweet cherries, one tart cherry, and four apple varieties. Her two most recent releases, in 2011, introduced growers to SnapDragon™ and RubyFrost™—apples that combine superior eating quality with high disease resistance and packout, which means that more market-ready fruit can be picked from each tree at one time. After more than a decade in development, consumers got their first taste in 2013 and Brown said demand has been exceptional for both.

Brown picks apples in a Cornell AgriTech orchard.

Brown picks apples in a Cornell AgriTech orchard.

“Susan has been breeding for the apples you wish you could have. She’s meeting the needs of everyone involved to get consumers better apples,” said Thomas Björkman, professor of vegetable crop physiology in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences, and also an ASHS fellow. “They have great texture and flavor plus disease resistance, which is critical for growers and valuable environmentally. Efficient tree form makes the economics work. Storage ability means a more marketable apple that people can enjoy for more of the year. Nobody else puts all the pieces together like that.”

Joy Crist of Crist Brothers Orchards in Walden, New York, said Brown’s work is crucial for her farm and all New York growers’ sustainability. Crist Brothers is a member of Crunch Time Apple Growers, a cooperative owned by growers that was formed in 2010 solely to manage and market the SnapDragon™ and RubyFrost™ varieties. The cooperative now has 147 growers representing 60 percent of New York’s apple production.

“We’re vying for shelf space in grocery stores with other club varieties. You have to have an apple that looks good and holds up to harsh handling,” Crist said. “The value of Susan’s work is keeping agriculture viable in New York state by growing something that’s appealing to customers, so they choose apples instead of other fruit. Without these new varieties, I don’t see how we’d be able to compete.”

Brown also has helped ensure that Cornell remains a leader in agricultural research and extension, and that its students can compete. She was former director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (now Cornell AgriTech) and has advised dozens of graduate students, mentored undergraduates in Cornell’s Summer Scholars program, and speaks regularly to anyone who loves apples as much as she does—including garden clubs, nurserymen and researchers.

“The society considers fellows to be the ‘best of the best’ that bring honor and prestige to the organization,” said Michael Neff, ASHS executive director. “I’m pleased to see Dr. Brown recognized as a fellow of ASHS this year. She and her colleagues in this 55th class of ASHS fellows exemplify professionalism in horticulture and are richly deserving of this signal honor of the society.”

Plant breeding project gives East African farmers better leafy green options

CALS News [2019-06-27]:

 Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture, and graduate student Hannah Swegarden pose with East African women harvesting collard greens.

Griffiths and graduate student Hannah Swegarden pose with East African women harvesting collard greens.

Phillip Griffiths, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science based at Cornell AgriTech, has a special connection in East Africa that’s improving the humble collard green to help smallholder farmers—and their communities—live and eat better. Griffiths’ East African connection was made when Charles Wasonga, recipient of the first Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA), began his Ph.D. studies with Griffiths. The design of CAHA, which requires advisors to work alongside students on research in their home country, brought Griffiths to Kenya to oversee Wasonga’s work on green beans. While there, the two also saw a number of collard fields and realized the significant challenges farmers had in getting fresh, desirable products to rapidly urbanizing markets.

“The issue with fresh-market crops versus agronomic crops, like maize, is always getting them to end users. Farmers need to focus on marketable yield,” said Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture, plant breeding and genetics.

In Kenyan diets, collard greens—a member of the Brassica family—are a nutritious dietary staple for millions of people. Like all dark leafy greens, they’re high in vitamin A and a good source of calcium, iron and vitamin C. But collards are highly susceptible to black rot, which can reduce marketability by 50% to 80%. This susceptibility makes the crop a risky venture for small farmers looking to expand their income options with vegetables.

Recognizing the vulnerabilities that would have to be overcome, Wasonga and Griffiths started crossing several kale and collard varieties at Cornell with the goal of breeding for improved resistance to black rot. After Wasonga returned to Kenya, Griffiths applied for and was chosen as a David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Academic Venture Fund project to continue the collaboration and investigate more diverse leafy Brassica vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania.

Read the whole article.

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