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The Emerging Industry of Hard Cider

Greg Peck

Greg Peck

From Cornell Research website:

From the earliest days of the American colonies, hard cider was a common staple. European settlers brought their cider-making skills with them, along with apple cultivars especially suited to the process. Yet, after prohibition ended in 1933, cider making in the United States was all but forgotten—until now. “Since 2011 the growth of the cider industry has been astronomical,” says Gregory M. Peck, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture. “There’s been more than a 900 percent increase in the volume of cider produced in the U.S. New York has more individual producers than any other state in the country. Right now, we have about 85, and that number is growing constantly. I’m always getting emails and calls for help from new businesses.”

Peck is perhaps the foremost scientific expert in the country on cider apples and cider making. He is at the forefront of the cider renaissance and a large part of his research revolves around this emerging industry. “Cider apple growers and producers need a lot of technical support,” he says. “They need research to help them figure out which cultivars make the best cider, how to grow them, how to harvest them, how to store them. Those are the questions I’m trying to answer for the industry.”

Read the whole article.

Seminar video: David, Goliath & Organic Seed Production in the Northeast

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar David, Goliath & Organic Seed Production in the Northeast, with Petra Page-Mann, Co-owner, Fruition Seeds, Naples, N.Y., it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Tastings, tours and more at the Cornell Orchards Apple Spectacular October 1

The Peck Lab will lead orchard tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The Peck Lab will lead orchard tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Sunday, October 1, 2017
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cornell Orchards, 701 Dryden Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Come join the Cornell Orchards Store, Cornell Catering, and the Cornell Hard Cider Program Work Team for a family-friendly Finger Lakes Cider Week event celebrating all things apples and cider!

Cornell is a leader in hard cider research and outreach, and even teaches an undergraduate course on hard cider production!  We will have a wide selection of specialized cider apple varieties available for tasting and participants can create their own cider blends using freshly pressed apple juice.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., the Peck Lab will lead walking tours of high-density cider apple research orchards. There will also be hard cider tastings from local producers along with delicious food pairings, and of course plenty of apples and sweet cider from Cornell’s research farms to purchase and take home.

Map, more information.

Horticulture graduate students Adam Karl and Nathan Wojtyna juice cider apples for hands-on 'make your own blend' tasting activity.

Come participate in a ‘make your own cider blend’ tasting activity.

BioBlitz highlights region’s diversity

Scott LaGreca, left, curator of the Plant Pathology Herbarium, examines lichens retrieved from upper tree limbs by Nathaniel Farrington of Cornell Outdoor Education. Photo: Magdalen Lindeberg

Scott LaGreca, left, curator of the Plant Pathology Herbarium, examines lichens retrieved from upper tree limbs by Nathaniel Farrington of Cornell Outdoor Education. Photo: Magdalen Lindeberg

Reposted from CALS News [2017-09-04]:

Biodiversity is not just a feature of the Amazon rainforest or other exotic locales. Hidden multitudes of species inhabit the Ithaca region, as participants in the inaugural School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) BioBlitz discovered Sept 8-9.

A dozen teams tallied 1,250 species of higher organisms and more than 23,000 microbes during the 24-hour event to document as many species as possible. Held on the grounds of the Cayuga Nature Center (CNC) and Smith Woods, the event was the first in the region. The series started in 1996 in Washington, D.C., and has since spread around the world.

The 2017 SIPS BioBlitz opened Sept. 8 with remarks by Chief Samuel George of the Cayuga Nation Bear Clan; Warren Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution; and Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“At Cornell, it’s part of our jobs to be curious – which means I have one of the best jobs around,” Boor told participants at the launch of the event. “Like you, I’m inspired by what I can discover in the world around me, how to collect data and then share it with others.”

Boor and other speakers emphasized the importance of collaborations between universities and community members in preserving local lands and their biological diversity.

Read the whole article.

Seminar video: Plant Exploration in a Changing World

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar Plant Exploration in a Changing World – Collecting in the 21st Century with Anthony Aiello, Director of Horticulture and Curator, Morris Arboretum, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Entrepreneur Conference Nov. 1-2

cea greensFrom Neil Mattson, Director, Cornell CEA and Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science:

Do you have a serious interest in developing a business plan for a New York state based commercial CEA vegetable operation? This conference is for you.

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) enables year-round production of fresh vegetables through greenhouse environmental control (heating, lighting) combined with hydroponic/soilless production systems. While CEA is an increasingly popular method of meeting consumer demand for locally grown food, many factors must be considered when developing a business plan and assessing its viability. This conference is intended to provide more detailed knowledge of CEA production systems, economics, marketing, and ways to access financing and state resources. It will also help guide new or transitioning operations through the process of developing a business plan for a CEA greenhouse vegetable business.

Read more about the conference and view the full agenda.

If you think this is for you, you’ll need to apply to attend. But if selected, the program is free. (You’ll need to cover travel and lodging expenses.)

Applications are due by September 29 and must be completed online here. If selected to attend you will be notified by October 3.

If you have questions, please contact me:

cea lighting system

Inaugural SIPS BioBlitz Launches Sept. 8-9

The SIPS BioBlitz connects the public with scientists and students as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours.

The SIPS BioBlitz connects the public with scientists and students as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours.

Reposted from CALS News [2017-09-01]:

Nature enthusiasts of all ages are invited to the 2017 SIPS BioBlitz—an action-packed scientific endeavor, competition, festival and educational programming Sept. 8-9 at Cayuga Nature Center.

The free event from the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) connects the public with scientists and students from local universities as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours. Participation for the event, which is the first of its kind in the area, is open to both students and local citizens.

Co-sponsored with the Cayuga Nature Center, the BioBlitz will include taxon-themed walks, demonstrations and educational programs for everyone, giving the public an opportunity to learn from scientists as they identify and catalog organisms. join the hunt for species, and use the iNaturalist app to upload their sightings to the species list. Admission is free to the Nature Center during the event.

“This is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to get back to nature and learn about the amazing plants and animals in their own backyard,” says Scott LaGreca, SIPS BioBlitz coordinator and curator of the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium.

The opening ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, with remarks by Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Christine Smart, professor of plant pathology and SIPS director; Warren Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution; Elizabeth Thomas, Ulysses Town Supervisor; and Chief Samuel George, Cayuga Nation Bear Clan’s Sachem.

The BioBlitz starts at 5 p.m. on Friday as teams of scientists spread out across the Cayuga Nature Center’s grounds and nearby Smith Woods, one of the few old-growth forests left in the area, to take a census of everything from deer to microbes. Each team will have its headquarters at the Cayuga Nature Center, where members will show off their findings and answer questions from the public.

Schedule of Events

Friday, September 8

  • 4 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
  • 5 p.m. – Start of BioBlitz!
  • 5-9 p.m. – Displays open in Nature Center
  • 5 p.m. – Interesting Fall Insects at the Nature Center
  • 6 p.m. – Snails and Slugs of the Forest
  • 7 p.m. – Nighttime Bat Extravaganza
  • 8 p.m. – Spiders by Flashlight
  • 9 p.m. – Moth Trapping and Nighttime Insects

Saturday, September 9

  • All Day – Taxa Tables displays and information
  • 10 a.m. – Native and Non-Native Plants and their Histories
  • 11 a.m. – Fungus Among Us Walk
  • Noon – Animal Feedings
  • 1 p.m. – Fun with Microbiology DNA
  • 2 p.m. – Walk with the Pollinators
  • 3 p.m. – Mapping Vegetation Using Drones
  • 5 p.m. – End of 24-hour BioBlitz collecting
  • 6 p.m. – Species tally announcement

More information can be found online. For questions, contact Scott LaGreca at or 607-255-2777.


Cornell-led project to improve grapes gets big boost

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

Cornell Chronicle [2017-08-31]

Breeding the next great grape is getting a boost thanks to new funding for a Cornell-led project that uses genomic technology to create varieties that are more flavorful and sustainable.

The project, VitisGen2, is a collaboration of 25 scientists from 11 institutions who are working in multidisciplinary teams to accelerate development of the next generation of grapes. Launched in 2011, the project was recently renewed with a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

The work has the potential to save millions of dollars annually for the U.S. grape industry – in excess of $100 million in California alone, according to Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), who co-leads the project with Lance Cadle-Davidson, plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit, both located at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

VitisGen2’s multipronged model addresses the grape production continuum. An economics team examines the benefits of improving grape varieties. Geneticists identify molecular markers for important traits in grapes, from resistance to diseases like powdery mildew to boosting low-temperature tolerance and fruit quality. Grape-breeding scientists develop new grape varieties that incorporate these traits, and teams of outreach specialists help growers and consumers understand the advantages of newly introduced grape varieties.

The result is a new generation of high-quality grapes that can be grown at lower cost and adapt easily to a range of geographic regions and climates, all with less environmental impact.

“We all stand to benefit in areas ranging from the environment to economic sustainability to improving the profit and quality possibilities for the industry,” Reisch said.

Read the whole article.


Online courses for new and experienced farmers

The Cornell Small Farms Program announces open registration for its 2017-2018 season of Small Farm Online Courses building the technical and business skills of farmers. Expert farmers and extension educators guide students through the latest research-based information to help improve efficiency and increase profit on small farms.

Students connect with other farmers, work on farm plans, and gain practical tips without leaving their home. Course content can be accessed anywhere with a high-speed internet connection.

Most courses are six weeks long. Each week features an evening webinar and follow-up readings, videos, and activities. Students and their instructors connect through online forums and live chat. If you aren’t able to attend the webinars in real-time, they are always recorded for later viewing.

From aspiring to experienced farmers, there is a course for nearly everyone. There’s a handy chart on our course homepage to direct you to the right courses for your experience level.

Course costs range from $150 – $250, which entitles two people from a farm to attend. Discounts for early sign up and multiple course sign ups are available, as well as a special discount for veterans.

Qualify for a 0% interest loan! Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip

Check out the course listings for more information on a particular course and the instructors. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about registration, payment, and computer requirements.

Shrubs and Ground Covers for Bioswales and Tough Sites September 15

Tower Road bioswale

Tower Road bioswale

Nina Bassuk, professor, Horticulture Section, and Peter Trowbridge, professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, will lead a course for landscape architects September 15, 2017, on the Cornell University campus.

The participants will learn about best plants for challenging site conditions, plant selection for specific sites, site assessment techniques, and key resources for plant selection and design considerations. They will also tour the Cornell campus to see successful plantings, examples of site remediation and incorporation of research results in the landscape.

Class size is limited to 25. Cost is $185 and participants can earn up to 4 LA CES Learning Units.

Questions? Contact  Joann Gruttadaurio at

More information | Registration form

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