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The Eastern Broccoli Project Moves Forward

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Growing Produce [2016-02-07]

With the drought casting uncertainty on the production of broccoli in the West, growers in the East have seized the opportunity to increase their production of the crop while learning to adapt to the demands of the burgeoning marketplace.

Established in 2010, Cornell University’s Eastern Broccoli Project has been leading the expansion of broccoli production in the East. Created as a long-term program, for the last five years, the project has been funded by a $3.2 million grant from USDA and an additional $1.7 million from various commercial partners, with a recent proposal submitted to secure funds for the coming five years.

American Vegetable Grower® connected with Thomas Björkman, the project’s director, to get an update on project’s status and details on the challenges of Eastern broccoli production.

Read the whole article.

After six years, Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory reopens

Greenhouse grower Paul Cooper in the newly reopened Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. (Lindsay France/University Photography)

Greenhouse grower Paul Cooper in the newly reopened Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. (Lindsay France/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-02-09]

The rebuilt Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse opens Feb. 9 as Cornell continues the botanical legacy of engagement and discovery established by the first dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The 4,000-square-foot facility at 236 Tower Road features modern equipment designed for increased energy savings and improved plant growth. But the spirit of the conservatory remains fixed on the ideals of education and outreach, says Professor Karl Niklas.

“The collection is a living archive describing the wondrous diversity of plant life,” says Niklas, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Botany. “Generations of Cornell students have relied on the conservatory to bolster their knowledge. The conservatory also provides students, staff and faculty with a green oasis in which to seek solace during the winter months. It promises to extend these important intellectual and emotional functions for many more years to come.”

Read the whole article.

Cornell will invest in greenhouse agriculture [2016-02-03]:

New York already ranks second in greenhouse vegetable production, according to 2012 numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture. In that year, the state had 435 operations with 114 covered acres, with wholesale value on those vegetables of $27 million.

 “I am particularly excited about the fact that three contiguous regions won the [Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) funding] competition and that all three regions prioritized agriculture,” said Prof. Kathryn Boor, dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “A focus on agriculture makes so much sense for central New York. We have land, water, educated and progressive producers, research and development centers at Cornell in Ithaca and at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, and a large, sophisticated consuming public all along our east coast. This public is increasingly interested in purchasing tasty, local food.”

The Finger Lakes region, including Rochester, and central New York, including Syracuse, were the other winners in the $1.5 billion giveaway of funds liberated by New York State from the big banks in a $6 billion-plus settlement making amends for the 2008 recession.

Read the whole article.

Wanted: Dilmun Hill farm managers

Join the team at Dilmun Hill Cornell’s student-run farm!

  • Take a leadership role in vegetable production, sales, and outreach.
  • Full time paid position from mid-May to late August. (Part time spring and fall.)
  • Fast-paced, exciting, and inclusive environment.

Application deadline: Friday, February 28, 2016. Learn more and apply now!

Questions? Contact Betsy Leonard: or 607-423-8366

Seminar video: Broccoli production in the Northeast

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Broccoli production in the Northeast , with Thomas Björkman, associate professor, Horticulture Section, it’s available online.

Visit Björkman’s Eastern Broccoli Project website.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

CCE vegetable specialist wins Excellence in IPM award

sandy-menashaNYS IPM Program news release.

“An invaluable resource.” “Wonderful to work with.” “Always positive.” Long Island farmers know a good thing when they see it — which is why Sandra Menasha, vegetable specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in Suffolk County, has earned an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University.

Mark Zaweski of MKZ Farms has worked closely with Menasha for the past decade on a range of projects. “But her work with me on IPM scouting outweighs all the others,” Zaweski says.

A good scout knows how to monitor crops to estimate pest numbers — and beneficials, too. When it comes to disease and insect pests, Menasha’s what, where, and how many reports save Zaweski money. It’s a core tenet of IPM: no point treating for a pest that isn’t there.

Read the whole article.

CALS research key to New York farming growth

Professor Thomas Bjorkman explains findings from the Eastern Broccoli Project, a research effort he is leading to establish a broccoli industry in the eastern United States, to horticulture graduate students Hannah Swegarden and Juana Muñoz Ucros. (Photo: Matt Hayes)

Professor Thomas Bjorkman explains findings from the Eastern Broccoli Project, a research effort he is leading to establish a broccoli industry in the eastern United States, to horticulture graduate students Hannah Swegarden and Juana Muñoz Ucros. (Photo: Matt Hayes)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-01-21]:

The ground may be covered in snow, but New York farmers already have their minds on growth.

Agricultural producers from across the state are meeting in Syracuse Jan. 19-21 as part of the 2016 Empire State Producers Expo. The three-day showcase brings together Cornell scientists and Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists to share the latest in research and technical advances, from crop management and food safety compliance to the best practices to aid the industry’s newest farmers to those working the land for generations.

New York agriculture is at a point of ascendency, said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). She said the potential growth for farmers and producers of all sizes is aided by research conducted on the Cornell campuses in Ithaca and Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

“This is an opportune moment for local agribusiness. We are on the cusp of a new era with potential for sustained agricultural growth in New York,” she said during her keynote speech Jan. 19. “We have the land, water, specialty and dairy agriculture, educated producers, and research and development support in Geneva and in Ithaca to grow specialty food production and processing here in our state.”

Read the whole article.

Tireless Advocate Tackles Tiny Pest, Earns Excellence in IPM Award

 Dale-Ila Riggs

Dale-Ila Riggs

NYSIPM Program press release:

Geneva, NY. January 21, 2016: Dale-Ila Riggs, president of the New York State Berry Growers Association, knew well the danger when SWD (aka spotted wing drosophila) blew into New York in 2012. This tiny new pest ravished millions of dollars worth of raspberries and blueberries. Now, for her leadership and resolve on behalf of an industry worth $15 million and growing, Riggs has received an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University.

As a former Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educator and professional IPM scout who monitored dozens of vegetable and berry farms for pests as well as the beneficial insects that help keep pests in line — not to mention her experience on the 240-acre berry and vegetable farm she and her husband run — Riggs has decades of practical knowledge under her belt. But with a formidable pest as destructive as SWD, dealing with it takes relentless advocacy and careful research.

So bad was the devastation SWD wreaked that many growers dug out entire plantings of late-bearing berry crops. But Riggs dug in. “Dale-Ila spent countless hours speaking to policy makers, grower groups, and invasive species partner groups,” says Laura McDermott, a vegetable specialist with CCE. “She has pushed the problem to the forefront and over the past three years gained $1.3 million in funding for research across the state.”

Read the whole article.

Other Excellence in IPM winners for 2015-16:

  • Cornell weed scientist Toni DiTommaso.
  • Nassau County assistant district attorney Renè Fiechter.
  • Farmer, advisor, inventor, pioneer and frequent IPM research collaborator Lou Lego .
  • Long Island-based Cornell Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist Sandra Menasha.
  • Cornell entomology professor  John Sanderson.
  • Member of Cornell’s Government Affairs office Lee Telega.
  • Apple grower Peter Ten Eyck

Read more about the awards.


Björkman talks broccoli on Surprisingly Awesome

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Broccoli is just one manifestation of a truly amazing plant, Thomas Björkman tells Surprisingly Awesome podcast hosts Adam Davidson, a New York Times Magazine economics columnist and co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money, and Rachel Ward.

Register now for Camp Mushroom

camp-mushroomIf you’ve gotten shut out in years past because Camp Mushroom sold out before you even heard about it, now’s the time to sign-up for the annual event which will be held June 3 – 4 at Hidden Valley Camp, Watkins Glen NY.

Camp Mushroom is Cornell University’s annual two-day event for farmers, woodlot owners, and hobby growers who want to cultivate their own shiitake, oyster, lions mane, and stropharia mushrooms. This year marks the 11th year of the course, as forest mushroom cultivation blossoms in the Northeast as a new small farm industry.

This course is geared for those interest in the commercial production of mushrooms. Participants will be trained in four methods of mushroom cultivation; shiitake on bolts, lions mane/oyster on totems, oysters on straw, and stropharia in woodchip beds. Additional topics include laying yard and management considerations and the economics of production.

Each participant will also inoculate a shiitake bolt to take home. Anyone who wants to get into mushroom growing as a serious pursuit should not miss out on this opportunity to learn from the experienced growers and researchers who will present for this event.

Visit the Camp Mushroom webpage for more details and registration information.

Meantime, you can view new series of short videos that detail forest cultivation of lions mane, oyster, and wine cap stropharia mushrooms. Here’s a sample:

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