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The sky’s the limit for Cornell’s new Galaxy Suite grape tomato varieties

 Hannah Swegarden, horticulture doctoral student, with a bin of Galaxy Suite tomatoes.

Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell AgriTech, has released a collection of organic grape tomato varieties dubbed The Galaxy Suite. Above, Hannah Swegarden, horticulture doctoral student, with a bin of Galaxy Suite tomatoes. Photo by Matt Hayes

CALS News [2019-03-21]:

New York farmers now have a new way to satisfy consumers’ hunger for something different. Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell AgriTech, has released a collection of organic grape tomato varieties that are pretty, profitable and pack a culinary punch.

The new Galaxy Suite of five grape tomato varieties offers outstanding flavor in novel shapes and colors: the yellow fingerling Starlight, orange grape-shaped Sungrazer, small red grape-shaped Comet, marbled and striped Supernova, and dark purple pear-shaped Midnight Pear. They are available now from High Mowing Organic Seeds.

“These varieties are ideal for organic and conventional growers, or hobby gardeners, and will make a great contribution to the diversity and quality available for small-fruited tomato medleys,” said Griffiths. “They provide high flavor options with good shelf life and aesthetics in high-yielding plants for growers.”

Read the whole story.

Hortus Forum scores big at the Philly Flower Show

Plant Sciences majors Samuel Sterinbach and Alexander Liu and International Agriculture & Rural Development Major Veronika Vogel brought home a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi and earned 37 other ribbons.

Plant Sciences Majors Samuel Sterinbach and Alexander Liu and International Agriculture & Rural Development Major Veronika Vogel brought home a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi and earned 37 other ribbons.

The prize-winning Haworthia cooperi.

The prize-winning Haworthia cooperi.

Some might call it beginner’s luck. But it really has more to do with the top-notch growing skills of the talented horticulturists in Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club.

The club entered 44 plants in various categories at the Philadelphia Flower Show. And they brought home 38 ribbons, including a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi.

“That’s almost unheard of first time out.  I’m very proud of them,” says Mark Bridgen, director of the Long Island Horticulture Research and Extension Center, who helped organize the club’s trip to the show as well as a tour of nearby Longwood Gardens.

“Most people don’t understand how much work it is to grow and enter that many plants,” he adds.  Their entries garnered a lot of good will for Cornell.”

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event. Attendance at the week-long extravaganza tops 250,000 people.

“We’re still ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude,” says Veronika Vogel ‘21 who along with fellow club members Alexander Liu ’20 and Samuel Sterinbach ’20 organized the  effort. “We were told that it often takes people many years of entering before they win a blue ribbon, and we did it in the first year we participated!”

Club members carefully packed their 43 entries into a minivan to transport them from Ithaca to Philadelphia.

Club members carefully packed their 43 entries into a minivan to transport them from Ithaca to Philadelphia.

Vogel also emphasizes the team effort, crediting Hortus Forum members past and present who contributed to the health and beauty of the plants they exhibited. “Many of the plants we entered (including the prize-winning Haworthia) are years old and have had generations of club members contribute to their care,” she says.

Vogel also adds that their effort also put them on the map with other horticulturists at the show. “Many people were super excited to have us exhibit and we got lots of very positive feedback,” says Vogel, who along with Liu and Sterinbach pulled off several late night shifts to select, enter, groom, pack and transport the plants.

“The students really are to be commended,” says Bridgen.  “I can’t wait to see how they do next year.”

Roadmap points way to better soil health in N.Y.

Soil at Cornell’s Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, New York.

Soil at Cornell’s Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, New York.

Cornell Chronicle [2019-02-28]:

There is a revolution of sorts going on in farming today, triggered by discoveries in plant and soil ecology, and a recognition that we will need to restore the health of our soils to feed an expanding population.

New York has been a leader in this soil health revolution, but where do we go from here? This is the focus of the recently released New York Soil Health Roadmap, a collaborative effort of the New York Soil Health (NYSH) initiative coordinated by Cornell.

The roadmap identifies key policy, research and education efforts to overcome barriers to adoption of soil health practices by farmers. It also identifies strategies for integrating soil health goals with state priorities focused on environmental issues such as climate change and water quality.

Roadmap contributors developed four goals for advancing soil health. The goals include overcoming barriers to wider adoption of soil health practices, and the integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation in all aspects of soil health programming.

As a resource for policymakers, researchers, farmers and those concerned about healthy food and a healthy environment, the roadmap comprises input from many individuals, organizations and government agencies in New York and nationally. It is intended to help expand soil health policy, research and outreach efforts to reach New York’s underserved.

“This roadmap highlights the linkages between soil, water and air quality,” said David Wolfe, Cornell professor of plant and soil ecology and leader of the project. “It was impressive to see how such a diverse group of stakeholders was able to find consensus on a few key goals that address some of our most urgent environmental challenges while supporting the long term success of our farms.”

Read the whole article.

Farming While Black seminar March 7

Farming While Black posterFarming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice
Thursday, March 7, 2019
4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
135 Emerson

Farmer, educator, food justice activist, and now writer, Leah Penniman will lead a seminar describing her work, as well as her newly published book, “Farming While Black.” Following Leah’s lecture, there will be a half-hour panel discussion addressing questions about racial inequality in the food system, as well as more general food justice topics. The panel is composed of Cornell Small Farms Program director Anu Rangarajan, Developmental Sociology Professor Scott Peters, and local farmer and advocate Raphael Aponte. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

More information.

Schumer announces $68.9 million for USDA grape lab at Cornell AgriTech

CALS news [2019-02-26]

After years of advocating for funding to improve the infrastructure for grape research, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Feb. 26 $68.9 million to build a new federal grape genetics research lab at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

The funds will come from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Building and Facilities budget.

“The grape industry plays a fundamental role in the upstate economy, and I’ll always fight for the investment needed to keep it from going sour,” Schumer said.

“I want to thank Sen. Schumer for his persistence over many years to see this lab built,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “He championed this project from the start, always looked for ways around obstacles, and never missed an opportunity to advocate strongly for its completion.”

Lance Cadle-Davidson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), center, elaborates last summer on Cornell grape research with, left to right, President Martha E. Pollack, geneticist Benjamin Gutierrez of USDA-ARS and Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics. Photo by Cornell Brand Communications

Lance Cadle-Davidson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), center, elaborates last summer on Cornell grape research with, left to right, President Martha E. Pollack, geneticist Benjamin Gutierrez of USDA-ARS and Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics. Photo by Cornell Brand Communications


 
Indeed, the New York grape industry produces $4.8 billion in annual economic benefits for the state, through 1,600 family vineyards that cover close to 40,000 acres, according to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. The grapes grown on these farms feed the juice, wine, raisin and table grape industries.

Read more.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Dosmann to receive Fairchild Medal

Michael Dosmann (Photo: Tony Aiello)

Michael Dosmann on collecting trip to China. (Photo: Tony Aiello ’85)

Dosmann in the field.

Dosmann in the field.

Michael Dosmann (PhD Horticulture ’07) has been named the 2019 recipient of the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration from the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).

“This is a very prestigious recognition,” says Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. “Plant exploration is even more important today as explorers like Michael travel the planet to find rare plants, conserve genetic resources and preserve biodiversity.”

Since earning his doctorate from Cornell in 2007, Dosmann has led and participated in multiple botanical expeditions to China and Japan, as well as in the Eastern U.S. and the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. These expeditions to acquire wild-collected seed have contributed significantly to the expansion of living collections, including those at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University where Dosmann is Keeper of the Living Collections. His collecting has focused on maples (Acer) hickories (Carya), hydrangeas, viburnums and other species of conservation concern.

NTBG President Chipper Wichman says Dosmann exemplifies the spirit of David Fairchild, an early “Indiana Jones” type plant explorer who led expeditions in Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

At the 147-year-old Arnold Arboretum – the oldest in North America – Dosmann curates and manages a global collection of temperate woody trees, shrubs, and vines comprising some 15,000 accessions. The Arboretum is an essential component of Boston’s park system, as well as an important education, research, and conservation facility.

In addition to being an explorer, Dosmann is also an enthusiastic advocate of having all people explore the plants in their own surroundings and worries people aren’t noticing the green around them. One of his professional goals is to bring the excitement of plant exploration to the public and inspire them to explore their own surroundings.

Wichmann also praised Dosmann’s very successful work popularizing plants through teaching and public education programs. “It’s researchers like Michael Dosmann who will engage the hearts and minds of the next generation of botanists,” he says.

“I think plant explorers have a moral obligation to bring back not just the plants, but also share the inspiration with others,” adds Dosmann, who will receive the medal February 1 at a black-tie dinner at The Kampong, NTBG’s historical garden and the former residence David Fairchild in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Based in part on National Tropical Botanical Garden news release.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of Koelreuteria paniculata in South Korea in 2004.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in South Korea in 2004.

 

Zachary Stansell: paving the way for a New York broccoli industry

Photo credit: Justin James Muir


By Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-01-24]:

Zachary Stansell, a fourth-year doctoral student in the field of horticulture, is studying under the guidance of Thomas Bjorkman, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

We spoke to Stansell about his research and what he sees for the future of the broccoli industry.

The Eastern Broccoli Project is working to establish the scientific basis for a local, reliable source of broccoli production on the east coast. What are some of the hurdles and the opportunities to making this a reality?

Currently, reliable broccoli production on the east coast is constrained by a number of biological hurdles. For example, temperature sensitivity related damage often occurs. Modern broccoli types have also undergone a genetic bottleneck.

I believe that my work with this delicious super food—and, dare I say, favorite food—will enhance production and access to affordable, high-quality, locally produced broccoli. My work is addressing broccoli production issues by disentangling the genetic networks that regulate its adaptation to heat stress. I’m also taking a census of the current state of modern broccoli compared to large pools of genetic diversities contained in older “heirloom” types. This work will help us develop optimal broccoli types for New York state, while preserving the crucial genetic diversity needed to adapt to challenges such as climate change.

What is your most memorable student experience?

The relationships and community I’ve experienced at Cornell and Cornell AgriTech have been my meaningful life experiences.

Professor Björkman has been a consistent mentor, supporting and challenging me to create strong, inference-based research. I’m consistently impressed by the openness, inclusiveness and willingness of the Cornell AgriTech community to help graduate students.

What inspires you as a student at Cornell AgriTech?

As corny as it may sound, opportunities to give back inspire me. I feel immensely grateful to the people who have invested time, care, curiosity and resources into my development. I’m beginning to have an ability to give that back. For example, I am planning a demonstration garden to help Master Gardeners train community gardeners across New York state. I’m also collaborating with undergrad summer scholars to collect field data, write the code to analyze it, and make actual discoveries. Developing tools and methods to help quantify horticultural quality in other crops is also a passion of mine.

How do you think graduate student research benefits New York state agriculture?

My own experience here has allowed me to listen to and learn from nearly every stakeholder group in the New York state agricultural community. I’ve learned to communicate with people working on topics ranging from heat-stress mechanisms in model organisms, to farm workers transplanting cabbage, to venture capital funded agriculture entrepreneurs. I believe that sort of informational cross-linking created by graduate students serves to strengthen and integrate the network that Cornell AgriTech provides to New York state agriculture.

Online organic gardening, garden design courses start March 15

Registration is now open for two 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.

garden_designx300Introduction to Garden Design will help you apply basic garden design techniques to your own garden. We teach an approach to gardening that is based on the principle of right plant, right place. In other words, we will consider the needs of the plant in addition to the needs of the gardener.

You’ll learn garden site analysis and apply the concepts to your personal space, gain proficiency in garden design principles and lay out a rough site plan overview of your garden design.

You will write and reflect on the process as you learn with the instructor taking an active role in this creative endeavor by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries.

View more information and full course syllabus for Introduction to Garden Design.

Questions about either course? View FAQ or contact, Fiona Doherty: fcd9@cornell.edu.

Art of Horticulture final projects

Portrait of Frida Kahlo in locally collected and preserved flora.

Portrait of Frida Kahlo in locally collected and preserved flora.

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in the Art of Horticulture course, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Emily Detrick (MPS Horticulture ’16), who is a lecturer in the Horticulture Section and gardener at Cornell Botanic Gardens, teaches the course.  She took over this semester from Marcia Eames-Sheavly, who created the course in 2003.

So You Want To Grow Hemp

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

From Science Friday podcast [2018-12-07:]

Good news could be coming soon for anyone interested in hemp, the THC-free, no-high strain of cannabis whose use ranges from fibers to food to pharmaceuticals. If the 2018 Farm Bill passes Congress in its current form, growing hemp would be legal and products derived from hemp would be removed from their current legal gray area.

Universities and private research teams have been busy studying hemp pests, genetics, and other cultivation questions since Congress legalized the research in 2014. Cornell horticulture professor Larry Smart explains why a plant that hasn’t been grown legally in the U.S. for nearly a century will require a monumental effort from scientists to catch up to crops like soybean and tomatoes.

Listen.

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