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Kalenga Banda and professor emeritus Chris Wien, M.S. ‘67, Ph.D. ‘71 in the Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouse complex. Photo by Matt Hayes.

Kalenga Banda and professor emeritus Chris Wien, M.S. ‘67, Ph.D. ‘71 in the Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouse complex. Photo by Matt Hayes.

Some recent articles of horticultural interest:

The sweet gift of knowledge [periodiCALS 2017-11-28] – A gift in 2006 from professor emeritus Chris Wien created the Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA), which provides a doctoral assistantship to one student from sub-Saharan Africa who completes coursework at Cornell but conducts dissertation research in the region. The position is contingent upon the student returning to his or her home country after their doctoral degree is complete. “Too often you see students get really involved in some fascinating project at Cornell and lose sight of the fact that they came from a country that could really use their help,” says Wien, who in the 1970s spent time working in Africa at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. That experience awakened him to the continent’s need for greater support in horticulture education.

Cornell program trains new farm owners for business success [CALS News/Cornell Chronicle 2017-12-12] – The Cornell Small Farms Program is preparing the next generation of farmers and ranchers to scale up their operations and reach key business milestones by preparing them to hire, manage and retain skilled employees, thanks to a USDA grant. “Our long-term goal is to ensure that all new farmers in our region can access high-quality information, supportive networks and proven tactics essential to starting and scaling viable farms,” said Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program (CSFP) and senior extension associate in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science

Northeast farmers weigh warm climate, drenched fields [CALS News/Cornell Chronicle 2017-12-13] – Farmers in the Northeast are adopting production habits tailored to longer, warming climate conditions, but they may face spring planting whiplash as they confront fields increasingly saturated with rain, according to a new Cornell-led paper in the journal Climatic Change, November 2017. Climate change in the Northeast could present two faces. “Climate change can easily intensify agricultural susceptibility, but also present fresh, surprising opportunities,” said David Wolfe, professor of plant and soil ecology and senior author of the paper.  Earlier this fall, Wolfe also delivered the prestigious 2017 John MacLeod Lecture at the Royal Horticultural Society in London, where he detailed how gardeners can adapt to climate change as well as help mitigate its effects. View video.

Herbs From the Underground [New York Times 2017-12-06] – A hydroponic garden in a TriBeCa basement is growing rare herbs and edible flowers, and many prominent chefs are flocking to it. “People who find it weird to eat food grown in a basement have no reason to worry, said Neil Mattson, associate professor and greenhouse extension specialist at Cornell University. ‘There is nothing icky about it. Plants don’t care whether they get light from the sun or the lamps. It’s the same thing.’”

Honeynut Squash Is a Tiny Squash with a Big History [Bon Appétit 2017-11-30] – The fascinating story of how Cornell plant breeder Michael Mazourek created the shrunken butternut squash that’s increasingly popular in farmers’ markets and elsewhere. “Whether it’s farmers, chefs, or food enthusiasts talking about it, it’s clear that word of mouth is what boosted the popularity of the Honeynut. Two years ago, half the farms in the Northeast that grew squash had it, Mazourek revealed. ‘Now 90 percent of the farms grow it—you see it moving beyond regional to Cleveland going west and Virginia going south,’” he added.

Trees – the True Urban Warriors [Scientia 2017-12-12] – Trees benefit cities in many often-overlooked ways. They not only beautify concrete backdrops, but also improve the quality of our urban lives by providing shade, reducing storm runoff, filtering air and providing homes for birds and insects. Trees face big challenges, however, growing up in cities, largely because of drought and poor soils. To help trees survive these concrete deserts, Nina Bassuk and her colleagues at Cornell University have been evaluating trees and shrubs for their ability to adapt, including developing resilient hybrid oak trees. A parallel research track aims at remediating urban soil conditions to reduce urban tree stress.

 

Hop growers face challenges to meet rising brewery demands

Cornell plant disease experts Bill Weldon, left, and David Gadoury inspect a hop plant at a greenhouse at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.

Cornell plant disease experts Bill Weldon, left, and David Gadoury inspect a hop plant at a greenhouse at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.

CALS News [2017-11-30]:

The New York craft beer industry is really hopping. From 2012 to 2016, the number of breweries more than tripled, from 95 to 302, according to the New York State Brewers Association, and the industry contributes $3.5 billion to the state’s economy annually.

Lawmakers seeking to tap into the industry’s economic potential have passed new policies that provide incentives for New York hop growers to jump on the bandwagon and supply the growing demand for local ingredients. As these growers have learned, cultivating hops has its challenges, mainly from pests and two pervasive diseases, and Cornell researchers are lending a hand.

Plant disease experts David Gadoury and doctoral student Bill Weldon, both at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, are providing expertise to help everyone from hops hobbyists to professional farmers through outreach materials, public presentations and field visits.

Read the whole article.

Dreer Award Seminar December 4: Raquel Kallas

Kallas measuring midday water potential during a 40-degree C (104 F) heatwave last week.

Kallas measuring midday water potential during a 40-degree C (104 F) heatwave.

Dreer Award Seminar:
Active Canopy Cooling Strategies to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Heatwaves on Grapevines

Raquel Kallas, MPS Horticulture ’16
Monday, December 4, 2017
12:20 to 1:10 p.m.
Plant Science Building, 404

Kallas traveled to Australia to work with Vinay Pagay (PhD ’14 Horticulture). Hear about her travels and her research. “His lab is on the cutting-edge of vineyard technologies that will allow us to better understand and manage the effects of climate change on vines and wine quality,” says Kallas. While a student at Cornell, Pagay helped develop a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices.

Visit Kallas’s Dreer Award blog Grapes of Raq detailing her travels.

Administered by the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, the Frederick Dreer Award provides a wonderful opportunity each year for one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad to pursue interests related to horticulture. Read more about the Dreer Award.

Cornell group explores future of indoor farming

Reposted from CALS News and the Cornell Chronicle [2017-11-21]

Doctoral student Jonathan Allred, center, leads a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Horticulture doctoral student Jonathan Allred, center, leads a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Indoor farming entrepreneurs and experts came to Cornell in early November with a goal: leverage the innovation at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to create viable businesses for local vegetables and produce grown indoors.

Known as controlled environment agriculture (CEA), the systems combine greenhouse environmental controls such as heating and lighting with hydroponic and soilless production, enabling year-round production of fresh vegetables. The process extends the growing season through a range of low-tech solutions – such as row covers and plastic-covered tunnels – to such high-tech solutions as fully automated glass greenhouses with computer controls and LED lights.

Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at left, explains lighting trials during a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / CCE

Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at left, explains lighting trials during a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / CCE

Led by Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell has become a world leader in CEA research. In early November, the Cornell CEA Advisory Council, which was formed in 2015 to expand the retail and food service markets for products grown using CEA, hosted on campus more than 80 entrepreneurs and stakeholders from across the Northeast to discuss the state of the indoor farming industry, urban agriculture, supermarket trends and new technology.

Read the whole article.

Urban Eden students plant trees along Cayuga Lake Inlet

‘Urban Eden’ students planting crabapples along Cayuga Lake Inlet. (Photo: Carol Eichler)

‘Urban Eden’ students planting crabapples along Cayuga Lake Inlet. (Photo: Carol Eichler)

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) planted 15 disease-resistant crabapple trees along the Cayuga Lake Inlet November 9.

The Ithaca Garden Club donated the trees as part of an on-going, seven-year effort to re-establish a deteriorated grove the club donated to the City of Ithaca in 1970. The club planted its first of more than 300 crabapples along the inlet in 1922 – the year of its founding – and have donated several hundred thousand dollars to landscaping projects in the area during its long history.

The City of Ithaca’s Shade Tree Advisory Committee will fence and care for the trees under guidance of Jeanne Grace MS ’10.

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick stopped by to check on the tree planting, along with ‘Urban Eden’ instructor Nina Bassuk (left) and Ithaca Garden Club members Beverly Hillman and Beatrice Szekely. (Photo: Carol Eichler)

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick stopped by to check on the tree planting progress, joining ‘Urban Eden’ instructor Nina Bassuk (left) and Ithaca Garden Club members Beverly Hillman and Beatrice Szekely. (Photo: Carol Eichler)

Planting participants. . (Photo: Carol Eichler)

Planting participants. . (Photo: Carol Eichler)

Dreer Award offers opportunities to pursue horticultural interests abroad

From Nina Bassuk:

The Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science offers a wonderful opportunity once a year, the Frederick Dreer Award, that allows one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture.

See the application and instructions that spell out the procedure for applying. Basically it is quite simple. Submit a written proposal to the Dreer Committee by the deadline (March 5, 2018 in this cycle), which is followed by an informal interview, generally in a week or two. The faculty receives the recommendation of the Dreer Committee and votes on the nominee.

The only obligation of the Dreer award winner is to write to the Dreer Committee monthly while overseas, and upon return to the United States, give a presentation about their time abroad to students and faculty.

Please look into this opportunity seriously. It can be taken as a summer and a semester’s leave or a year’s leave of absence during school or upon graduation. If you would like to talk over a potential idea for the Dreer with a member of the Committee (and we encourage you to do so), please contact Nina Bassuk (Horticulture) Josh Cerra (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts (Horticulture).

View a recent Dreer Award Seminar video:

View more Dreer Award seminar videos.

SAGES Cookbook to support Geneva Campus Bike Share

Reposted from the SIPS blog, Discovery that Connects:

Craving some Black Magic Cake, Cherry Stuffed Tenderloin, or Red Lentil Coconut Curry?  These are just some of the thirty nine recipes in the 2017 cookbook assembled by the Student Association of the Geneva Experiment Station (SAGES) to benefit the Geneva Bike Share Program.

Recipes were contributed by faculty, staff, and students on the Geneva campus. SAGES President Adrienne Gorny draws particular attention to those derived from annual Chili Cook-offs, Cookie Bake-Offs, and Underappreciated Vegetable Cook-offs; this last being an event where Geneva campus employees are challenged to produce a dish incorporating a pre-determined underappreciated vegetable. Hannah Swegarden recommends her recipe for Tomato Basil Soup, perfect for this time of year when gardens are bursting with these two ingredients.

Also featured are recipes from a variety of cultural traditions such as George Abawi’s Baklava, several Scandinavian desserts, and Pavlova, described by Sarah Pethybridge as “a famous Australian and New Zealand dessert!”

Available for $14 or two for $25, proceeds from the cookbook sales will be used to support the Bike Share Program at the Geneva campus.  The SAGES Bike Share Program provides bicycles for rent to students and other members of the Geneva station community. Begun in 2014 with a few donated bicycles, the program has grown in the years since. Proceeds from cookbook sales will be used to expand the Bike Share Program by funding repairs of old bikes and purchasing of new ones.  Donations can also be made directly to the program.

Cookbooks are available in the SIPS main office at 135 Plant Science in Ithaca or in Hannah Swegarden’s mailbox in Hedrick Hall, Geneva.  Buy one soon and kick back with a piece of Larry Smart’s PhD Party Pie.  Filled with chocolate, pecans, Kahlua, and Jack Daniels, it’s the cure for whatever ails you!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tour Brandywine Valley gardens with Pi Alpha Xi September 15-17

Leading the tour at Chanticleer will be the garden's public programs manager Erin McKeon, 2013 graduate of Cornell's Public Garden Management Program.

Leading the tour at Chanticleer will be the garden’s public programs manager Erin McKeon, 2013 graduate of Cornell’s Public Garden Management Program.

From Patricia Chan & Myles Collinson, Pi Alpha Xi co-presidents:

Feel the need to get off campus? The desire to surround yourselves with plants? The urge to learn the workings of a meticulously cultivated botanical garden?

Cornell University’s chapter of Pi Alpha Xi, the national honor society for horticulture and plant sciences, has organized a weekend trip to three southeast Pennsylvania public gardens September 15-17, featuring special behind-the-scenes tours at each location.:

This trip is open to all undergraduates, grad students, staff and faculty.

For only $50/person, this is a very affordable package trip that includes bus transportation to/from Ithaca, breakfasts, guided tours, and admission to the gardens.  Lunch and dinners are on-your-own, and hotel accommodations for two nights are available at a discounted rate. Important: You are responsible for booking your lodging, available for a special block rate, only if you make your hotel reservation by this Friday, 9/8.

Download trip details and registration form.

Questions? Contact Dr. Mark Bridgen, Advisor to Pi Alpha Xi, at mpb27@cornell.edu or 631-921-4941.

Students report on research progress at Graduate Field Review

Ph.D. candidate Grant Thompson explains his research on soil bacterial communities in residential lawns during a poster session at the Fall 2017 Horticulture Graduate Field Review.

Ph.D. candidate Grant Thompson explains his research on soil bacterial communities in residential lawns during a poster session at the Fall 2017 Horticulture Graduate Field Review.

The Graduate Field of Horticulture gathered in Jordan Hall at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), Geneva, N.Y. for the Fall 2017 Graduate Field Review. A dozen graduate students gave 2-minute “poster pitches” ahead of poster sessions where they detailed their research progress to faculty, staff and fellow students.

Topics ranged from root exudates and reviving nut trees to post-harvest fruit- and flower-quality and Reisling grape clone trials. Two students gave longer talks on their research into grape cold hardiness and apple acidity genetics.

The Horticulture Graduate Field Review is held twice a year just ahead of the start of Spring and Fall Semester classes.

Graduate Field of Horticulture, August 17, 2017, Jordan Hall, Geneva.

Graduate Field of Horticulture, August 17, 2017, Jordan Hall, Geneva.

 

Meyers, Ph.D. ’11, is new CCE viticulture specialist

James Meyers is the new viticulture and wine specialist covering the 17-county Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program area.

James Meyers is the new viticulture and wine specialist covering the 17-county Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program area.

Press release from Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP):

The Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension has announced the hiring of James Meyers as the new viticulture and wine specialist for a 17-county region in the eastern part of New York State. Meyers will provide regional grape growers with a combination of on-the-ground grape production assistance and some high flying technology.

Meyers earned his Ph.D. in Viticulture at Cornell University and has applied a Masters degree in Computer Science from Brown University to his viticultural research. Using satellite imaging and drone technology, Meyers has mapped canopy and vineyard variability to help growers in the Finger Lakes region of New York and in California optimize the efficiency and profitability of their vineyard operations. He will continue the use of that technology in eastern New York.

“Images taken by a drone-mounted camera can be used to identify areas of inconsistency in a vineyard and create variability maps to guide ground level assessments of vine performance for potential remediation such as soil amendments, canopy management activities, or rootstock changes,” Meyers explained. “This technology can also be used to add harvesting and processing efficiency.”

Meyers is introducing himself to growers and learning about their operations in Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington counties.

His hiring is timely for the 300-mile eastern NY region that experienced a 34 percent increase in the number of grape-growing operations and a 50 percent increase in grape acres from 2007 to 2012, according to the October 2016 Grape Production in the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Region report issued by the Cornell Cooperative Extension ENYCHP.

Meyers will create and develop an Eastern New York geospatial database of vine performance that will help growers better understand their local climates, track vineyard performance, and adjust decision making for greater productivity and profitability.

“Adding a specialist with Jim’s agricultural and technological skills will maximize Extension learning opportunities in support of the Eastern New York grape industry,” said ENYCHP Small Fruit and Vegetable Team Leader Laura McDermott.

To contact Meyers or any of the other 12 specialists advising commercial fruit and vegetable growers in eastern NY, and to find educational resources, newsletters and pest alerts, visit the ENYCHP website.

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