More than 30 volunteers from Cornell University and George Junior Republic School planted more than 800 trees on two acres at Cornell’s Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y., May 18. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) and Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources hosted the tree-planting party.
The planting is part of a research project evaluating six methods of protecting saplings from browsing deer, including different tubes, liners and bud caps. As volunteers planted the white oak, sugar maple, and black locust seedlings, they measured, staked and tagged them, and the trees’ growth will be carefully tracked over the next few years.
“The goal of the research is to help landowners and managers find the most economical and sustainable ways to protect vulnerable trees from deer when replanting forestland or establishing windbreaks,” says Peter Smallidge, State Extension Forester with the Department of Natural Resources, who leads the project.
The applied research project will be used in extension programming to provide guidance to foresters, maple producers, woodlot owners, and farmers. Tree planting is a popular activity, and the mix of species is linked to the diverse interests of owners and managers throughout New York.
Nick Vail and growers in CUAES’s Caldwell greenhouses grew the year-old seedlings for the trial.
Volunteers planted more than 800 trees on two acres at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm. Above, student volunteer Radoslav Zlatev pounds in tree stake while Thompson Farm field assistant Rick Randolph looks on.
Before he became a world-renowned expert in pomology and viticulture, he was a taxi driver in New York City, a trolley coach conductor in San Francisco, and a Neruda translator exploring Latin America from the back of a motorcycle, all of his worldly possessions packed in one saddle bag.
Ian Merwin has a colorful history, one he has happily shared with students in the 23 years he has been teaching at Cornell. Many of them gathered at Cornell Orchards on May 10, alongside more than 100 colleagues and friends, to hear him recount the tales one more time as he presented a final lecture to commemorate his retirement.
“What will you do when you graduate? It doesn’t really matter,” Merwin said. “It’s all interesting. You learn something from each one.”
A dozen universities are collaborating on a sort of extreme winemaking project: How cold a climate can a grape survive and still make good wine? The Northern Grapes Project is inventing wines the world has never seen before, winning wine awards and creating a new crop for struggling rural economies.
With unpredictable annual rainfall and drought once every five years, climate change presents challenges to feeding Ethiopia. Adapting to a warming world, the potato is becoming a more important crop there – with the potential to feed much of Africa.
Semagn-Asredie Kolech, a Cornell doctoral candidate in the field of horticulture, studies the potato and bridges the tradition of Ethiopian farming with the modernity of agricultural science.
He shuttles between Ethiopia and Ithaca to examine and research efficient agricultural practices in the shadow of climate change. “The potato is a good strategy crop for global warming. It has a short growing season, it offers higher yields, it’s less susceptible to hail damage, and you can grow 40 tons per hectare. With wheat and corn, you don’t get more than 10 tons a hectare,” Kolech says.
It’s a hot topic, and discussion was simmering at a recent symposium sponsored by CALS International Program and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Changing crops for a changing climate: What can biotechnology contribute? Controversial author Mark Lynas opened the event with a keynote speech that addressed his dramatic transformation from anti-GM activist to advocate. Among the respondents during the ensuing panel discussion:
David Wolfe, horticulture, explained some of the biology behind genetic modification, and its potential to add to crop diversification and mitigate climate change. (58min)
Peter Davies, plant biology, addressed some of the misconceptions about GMOs, and shared examples of instances where genetic modification led to environmental and health benefits.(1:09:00min)
From Margery Daugherty, senior extension associate in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Department:
Are garden centers in your area worried about what to tell home gardeners this spring about impatiens and their downy mildew problem? (See Impatiens downy mildew in the news for background on the problem.)
This may help: ‘Great Annuals For Shade’ brochures for home gardeners are now online. This colorful brochure describes shade annuals that can be used instead of garden impatiens and briefly discusses downy mildew. Two versions are available:
Martha Mutschler and Cornell Dining executive chef Steve Miller, who has tested about a dozen of Mutschler’s hybrids. (Jason Koski/University Photography.)
New mild onions offer great taste, long shelf life [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-27] – Cornell researchers have developed new mild onions that will have chefs crying – tears of joy. Twelve years in development and with a couple years of testing to go, researchers say it will be just a few years before the mild locally grown onions are available to the public. “My goal was to develop a mild onion with higher brix, for better storability, and adapted to New York state long-day growing conditions,” says Martha Mutschler, professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics who developed the onions.
Northeast Farmers Urged to Plan Ahead for Climate Change [Lancaster Farming 2013-04-27] – “The assumption that our past historical climate can be used for decision-making is really no longer valid,” David Wolfe told the Climate Smart & Climate Ready Conference at the New York State Grange in Cortland, N.Y., April 19. “The generations of farmers before us could all rely on what the historical climate data told them, we can’t do that,” he said. “This is really the first generation of farmers to face this predicament and so really all of us — ag scientists, NGOs, government agencies and farmers — need to be developing new approaches to environmental monitoring so that we can keep ahead of what is changing out there.”
Awesome Vintage Apple Art: 9 Fruits You Won’t Find at Your Supermarket [Mother Jones 2013-04-26] – Reblogged from CALS Notes: [Mother Jones goes] ga-ga over the 1905 two-tome book The Apples of New York, one of the finest resources for the amateur New England apple enthusiast—“Its nearly 200 illustrations really are worth bragging about, and not just for their scientific value either. They capture the full beauty of apple hues during a time before widespread color photography.” On top of detailed historical and scientific scholarship of 800 apple varieties, the books also teaches readers step-by-step how to identify a mystery apple. Both Volume I and Volume II are available online.
Impatiens downy mildew is growing more widespread, and can quickly devastate plantings of this popular shady-loving annual flower.
Margery Daughtrey, senior extension associate in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Department, has had a tough time keeping up with demand from reporters this spring as they rush to cover the dramatic spread of impatiens downy mildew.
“Deer, chipmunks and plagues of locusts have been blamed for the sudden loss of leaves on impatiens — many gardeners who have seen the problem have not yet figured out that it was a plant disease that destroyed their plants,” she told the Chicago Tribune.
In the last week Daugherty was cited in articles of three of the leading papers in the country: