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Extension and outreach

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: jm21@cornell.edu or 255-4670. Thank you for your support and participation in this important activity.

Planting season at Bluegrass Lane

It’s a busy time of year at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to campus …

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Christian Lesage, Sam McClung and Amber VanDyken plant annual flower and foliage plant trials that will be on display at the Cornell Floriculture Field Day August 11.

done's eye view of sod planting

Drone’s-eye view of newly laid sod ready for turf trials.

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Horticulture professor Mark Bridgen, director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, planted more than 1,200 hybrid Glossy Abelias (Abelia x grandiflora) with lots of help from (left to right) Plant Breeding and Genetics graduate student Nor Kamal Ariff Nor Hisham Shah, visiting interns from the Universidad de Chile Pablo Tapia Figueroa, Constanza Rivas, and Agustina Hidalgo, and summer intern from North Carolina State University Kristin Neill.

Bridgen’s study aims to identify which varieties of the fragrant-flowering shrub normally grown in warmer climes can survive Ithaca’s Zone 5 winters.

 

New Hybrid Grapes Help Grow Wine Industry in Cold US Regions

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

AP via ABC News [2015-06-07]:

The Marquette grapevines clinging to a steep, rocky hillside in the southeastern Adirondacks are among a host of new grape varieties that have enabled a boutique wine industry to take root in areas of the Northeast and Midwest that were previously inhospitable.

There were about 2,000 wineries in the U.S. in 2000; today, there are more than 8,000, according to the industry publication Wines and Vines.

“Across the country we’ve seen a huge expansion in wine and grape production and wine-related tourism,” said Bruce Reisch, who leads Cornell University’s wine and grape research and development program in New York’s Finger Lakes.

And the new influx of tourism dollars can be traced to, among other places, Cornell and the University of Minnesota, which have developed these hybrid grapes that withstand brutal winters and disease — and provide the quality and consistency needed to produce fine wine in places like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio.

Read the whole article.

Leap of faith proves pollination can be honeybee free

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2015-06-03]:

As the state’s land-grant institution, Cornell University was born to explore science for the public good – a mission that can sometimes require a leap of faith.

Just such a leap is paying off now at Cornell Orchards in Ithaca, as researchers and managers from the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and the Department of Entomology celebrate a solid spring pollination season for the site’s apple trees. While crisp apples and fresh cider are no strangers to fans of the 37-acre research and outreach site, this year’s crop provides an extra bonus for New York apple growers: proof that pollination can be done commercial honeybee free.

“This is a food security issue,” said entomology professor Bryan Danforth. “We need to know if growers can continue to produce food in the absence of honeybees.”

Read the whole article.

Also in the Chronicle: Pesticides harm wild bees, pollination in N.Y. orchard crops

Video: Entomology professor Bryan Danforth discusses the decision this year to let wild bees pollinate Cornell’s apple orchards, steering away from the practice of renting hives of European honeybees.

In the news

A round-up of recent news of horticultural interest:

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Why Arctic Apples Were Approved By USDA [Growing Produce 2015-04-29] – Kenong Xu, assistant professor, Horticulture Section, discusses the journey genetically modified non-browning Arctic Apples took in order to get the go-ahead from USDA to be grown and sold in the U.S.

Backyard plants can pose dangers to humans, animals [Ithaca Journal 2015-05-22] – “We don’t want to be scaring people that everything out there is there to eat them, but it’s good to be aware if you have these plants around, especially if you have young children or you have pets. They do have poisonous properties, and one should be aware of them,” says Tony DiTommaso, weed ecologist, Soil and Crop Sciences Section. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have a place or a role in your backyard or as a wildflower.”

SoDel Concepts donates meal for students, professors working on Botanic Gardens [Cape Gazette 2015-05-22] – Don Rakow, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and Erica Anderson, Karen St. Clair, Emily Detrick, and Benjamin Storms, graduate students in the public garden leadership program presented recommendations for Delaware Botanic Gardens’ children’s garden and for a plant collection policy to ensure a diverse yet meaningful collection. DBG President Susan Ryan praised “… the contributions that Cornell University, Dr. Don Rakow and his inspiring students are making to the Delaware Botanic Gardens.”

Chef + Plant Breeder: The Future of Flavor [Culinary Point of View 2015-04-09] – Interview with Michael Mazourek, assistant professor, Plant Breeding  and Genetics Section and Chef Dan Barber exploring how they have spent the past 10 years working together to develop new organic crop varieties that emphasize flavor.

Mattson named to GPN’s ’40 Under 40′ list

Neil Mattson, Associate Professor in the Horticulture Section, has been honored in GPN Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2015 list. GPN (Greenhouse Product News) is the leading business publication for horticulture professionals.

Class members were nominated by their horticulture/floriculture industry peers based on personal and professional accomplishments. Mattson is one of 40 trailblazers under the age of 40 who exemplifies superior leadership, creativity, innovative thinking and accomplishments in and outside the horticulture field.

“The 40 individuals in this year’s class represent all facets of horticulture, but they all have one thing in common,” says GPN Editorial Director Tim Hodson. “They are the pioneers for the future of our industry.”

Mattson’s GPN profile notes that he has authored or co-authored 27 peer-reviewed papers, 38 articles in trade journals, 30 newsletters and book chapters and delivered 160 extension presentations. His research program focuses on the influence of environmental factors and cultural practices on the physiology, development and biochemical characteristics of greenhouse crops.

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NYFVI awards $1.5M to 21 projects

Jim Bittner, Chair of the Board of Directors of NYFVI and owner of Bittner-Singer Orchards.

Jim Bittner, Chair of the Board of Directors of NYFVI and owner of Bittner-Singer Orchards.

The New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) announced that it is funding 21 projects at a total of $1,539,324 in 2015.  Grant recipients seek to build and share practical knowledge that directly improves the economic viability of New York’s farmers.  “Our increased funding from New York State allowed us to support more projects, and a wider range of projects.” said Jim Bittner, Chair of the Board of Directors of NYFVI and owner of Bittner-Singer Orchards.

In order to ensure grants address on-the-ground priorities, all proposals were evaluated by NYFVI’s extensive farmer review network. The Institute’s volunteer board or directors, comprised of ten farmers from across the state, made the final funding decisions.

Many of the projects are of horticultural interest, including:

  • Cornell Onion Thrips Management Program (COTMP) Saves Money and Reduces Insecticide Resistance
  • Managing an Emerging Threat: Ambrosia Beetle Black Stem Borer Control in Apple Nurseries
  • Sustainable Management of Root Weevil Populations for Improved Profitability on Eastern NY Berry Farms
  • Low Tunnel Strawberries: A Cost-Effective Approach to Extending the Growing Season for NY Berries.
  • Increasing the Efficacy and Economic Viability of Trap and Kill Systems for Invasive Pests
  • Assessing the Impact of Pesticides on Honey Bee Health
  • Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil Heath and Vine Productivity in Concord Vineyards
  • Equipping Apple Growers to Quantify the Role of Native Bees in Pollination
  • Integrating Spatial Maps to use Variable Rate Technology in Mechanized Concord Vineyards
  • Engaging Growers for NY Production of Chinese Medicinal Herbs
  • Marketing Plans to Help NYC Greenmarket Farmers Build Sales
  • Greenhouse Assistance Directory

View project summaries.
Full news release.

Is it safe to plant impatiens?

Impatiens downy mildew disease is still around and may devastate plantings of this bedding plant, long a favorite for shady locations.

Impatiens downy mildew disease is still around and may devastate plantings of this bedding plant, long a favorite for shady locations.

From Margery Daughtrey, Senior Extension Associate, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University. She is based at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center, Riverhead, N.Y. Click on images for larger view.

Everyone is asking about impatiens: Is it safe to plant them again?

Beginning in 2008, a new disease, impatiens downy mildew, started showing up in the landscape in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. By 2012, it was wreaking widespread havoc all season long for gardeners in New York and many other states.

With a few exceptions, the disease only plagues the impatiens commonly used as a bedding plant in shady locations (Impatiens walleriana) and a close relative, balsam impatiens (Impatiens balsamina). But the disease can also infect native jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

The disease is most devastating on the bedding impatiens. They stop flowering, drop all their leaves, and keel over. Balsams just show spots on their leaves with the characteristic white “downy” spore structures coating the undersides of the leaves.Infected impatiens show characteristic white “downy” spore structure coating on the undersides of the leaves.

Infected impatiens show characteristic white “downy” spore structure coating on the undersides of the leaves.

 

The dramatic outbreaks of this disease have not been as widespread in recent years. But that is because greenhouse growers and landscapers and have shied away from producing a plant that they knew wasn’t going to perform reliably. Fewer plants grown means fewer instances of the disease.

But impatiens downy mildew hasn’t gone away. In 2014, my helpful network of impatiens-watchers reported the disease in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and the Hudson Valley in June, in balsam impatiens flower beds in Lockport, N.Y., and Buffalo in July, on bedding impatiens in central New York and on Long Island in August, and in Rochester in September. The disease also turned up in 20 other states last year.

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Balsam impatiens are also susceptible to the disease, but aren’t affected as dramatically. There are many other shade-loving annual and perennial alternatives to impatiens.

So, no. The disease is not gone. But we are using less of its host plant so we don’t hear as much about it.

Here’s the problem: Impatiens downy mildew can persist in frost-free parts of the country, and also the mildew can form special spores called oospores that we expect may help it to survive New York winters and re-infect plants the following season. Cornell researchers are focusing on the oospores to learn more about the overwinter survival of the downy mildew, and on breeding new hybrid impatiens that are less susceptible to the disease.

Ultimately, the solution to this problem will be found by breeding downy-mildew-resistant impatiens. In the meantime, gardeners can grow New Guinea impatiens and the new hybrid Bounce™ impatiens with full confidence, knowing that they will resist the downy mildew and flower colorfully all season.

And it’s perfectly OK for gardeners to add in a few bedding impatiens in shady areas, along with begonias, coleus, torenia and other great bedding plants that flourish under similar shady conditions. (Nora Catlin, Floriculture Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, created a great factsheet on Alternatives to Garden Impatiens.)

The luckiest of the impatiens will escape downy mildew. We just need to realize that they are still susceptible to the disease, and that the disease is still a possibility, subject to the variation in weather from year to year.

For more information on impatiens downy mildew, visit the CCE Suffolk County floriculture website.

Wolfe, CALS climate change experts share insight with Albany leaders

Climate Change‬ and agriculture experts presented a forum in Albany on Tuesday to bring their research to lawmakers and staff in order to help inform potential policy. Pictured are (L-R): Professor Mike Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station; Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change in Agriculture; David Wolfe, Horticulture professor and co-author of New York’s ClimAID report. New York State Sen. Tom O’Mara; Toby Ault, assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and Julie Suarez, associate dean of government and community relations for CALS.

Climate Change‬ and agriculture experts presented a forum in Albany on Tuesday to bring their research to lawmakers and staff in order to help inform potential policy. Pictured are (L-R): Professor Mike Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station; Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change in Agriculture; David Wolfe, Horticulture professor and co-author of New York’s ClimAID report. New York State Sen. Tom O’Mara; Toby Ault, assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and Julie Suarez, associate dean of government and community relations for CALS.

Via CALS Notes [2015-05-13]:

Floods, droughts, pests and pathogens were among the weighty topics considered at the New York State Capitol on Tuesday.

In the middle of a busy legislative session day, Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assembly member Steve Englebright, chairs of the Senate and Assembly environmental conservation committees, hosted a Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences educational forum designed to provide insight into how extreme weather variations are impacting New York’s farm community. O’Mara and Englebright opened the forum, which also saw attendance by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee, Assembly members Barbara Lifton and Cliff Crouch – along with a packed house of legislative and executive staff, and agricultural and environmental stakeholders. …

Horticulture Professor David Wolfe, a contributing author to the 2011 New York State ClimAID report, told the audience how increased “growing degree days,” changes in plant hardiness zones and fluctuations in extreme rainfall events are hitting New York’s farmers. With ecosystems changing as direct result of changing weather patterns and more extreme weather events, farmers will face greater challenges in dealing with invasive species, increased overwintering pests, early warming and unseasonable frost events, intensified rainfall and difficulty in predicting what types of crops to plant.  Wolfe emphasized the need to focus resources towards Cornell’s New York State Integrated Pest Management program, noting the prevalence of new and different pests will bring more challenges to farmers that should be met with by environmentally sensitive strategies for control.

Read the whole article