Archive for the “News” Category

Cathy Heidenreich

UCathy Heidenreich

Update [2014-12-18, 09:30]:

Calling hours and funeral service for Cathy Heidenreich have been set for Saturday, December 20. Calling hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Maranatha Baptist Church, 8721 Travell-Knapps Corners Road, Lyons. A funeral service will follow the calling hours at 12:30 p.m. Family burial will be at a later date in Camden, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in her name to Maranatha Baptist Church, 7821 Travell-Knapps Road, Lyons, NY 14489 where she was a faithful member.


From Tom Burr, director, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) [2014-12-16, 16:46]:

It is with great sadness that I must share the news that long-time member of the NYSAES community, Cathy Heidenreich, was killed earlier today in an automobile accident. Few details are available at this time.

All those in Plant Pathology, Horticulture, Extension and the agricultural community who worked with her knew Cathy to be a valuable, generous, kind and caring member of the many research and extension teams to which she contributed her skill, knowledge, creativity and sense of humor. She brought great credit to Cornell, CALS and the Geneva Experiment Station over many years and her presence will be sorely missed. All of us extend our deepest sympathy to Cathy’s husband, Gregg, and the entire family.

Please join us, Wednesday, December 17, 2014 for comfort and coffee at 11 a.m. in Barton Hall, Room A137. Cindy Glanville from the Faculty Staff and Assistance Program will be joining those who wish to attend. Cindy will also be available throughout the day Wednesday.

We will share additional information as we learn more.

Cathy explains low-tunnel strawberry research to growers at 2012 Berry Open House at Cornell Orchards.

Cathy explains low-tunnel strawberry research to growers at 2012 Berry Open House at Cornell Orchards.

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Hellebore watercolor by Marcia Eames-Sheavly

Learn botanical illustration online.  Three courses taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly start January 26, 2014:

You can view works by students in previous classes on display in the cases in the west wing of the first floor of Plant Science Building. The course webpages also have links to previous students who have posted their works online.

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Roy Ellerbrock

From Ithaca Journal obituary with additions from Steve Reiners, associate chair, Horticulture Section:

LeRoy August Ellerbrock, 72, Associate Professor at Cornell’s Department of Horticulture for many years, passed away unexpectedly at his home on December 12, 2014 after a brief illness.

Roy grew up on his parents’ family farm in New Cleveland, OH. There he did the usual chores, helped to tend his father’s large truck garden, and organized baseball games with neighbor boys in nearby fields. Roy went on to graduate from Miller City High School where he was captain of the basketball team and president of the Class of 1960. Roy studied Russian and botany at The Ohio State University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. His studies were interrupted by service in the US Air Force, stationed at Fliegerhorst Army Air field near Hanau, Germany.

Roy received his PhD in Plant Pathology from Cornell University. He worked in Chicago as a plant pathologist for the USDA and Santa Fe Railway before returning to Ithaca to teach in the Department of Vegetable Crops at Cornell. His long career included research and extension work with onion growers across New York, as well as teaching classes in vegetable crop production. He retired in 2003 and devoted his time to his many passions.

Roy was the Cornell liaison to the NYS Vegetable Growers for many years and was a key part of the establishment and growth of the statewide Vegetable Growers Meeting starting in the 1980’s.  Roy had a passion for teaching and remembered not only student’s names years later, but could describe their personalities and interests.  He certainly fostered a love of gardening and vegetable production in an entire generation of students.

Roy is survived by his wife of 32 years, Eileen Bach; his beloved children, Tanya (Jacob) Bitterman of Rockville, MD; Robyn Ellerbrock of Urbana, IL; Bryan Ellerbrock of Ithaca, NY; and his adored granddaughter, Leah Bitterman. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Cornell Plantations.

Calling hours will be on Wednesday, December 17, from 5-7 p.m. at Bangs Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Cornell Plantations.

Undated photo of Roy in the field.

Undated photo of Roy in the field.

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Brian Eshenaur and Elizabeth Lamb

Brian Eshenaur and Elizabeth Lamb

From Melissa Osgood, Cornell University Media Relations Office:

Still in the market for a holiday tree? Not to worry, two Cornell University experts share their tips and tricks to pick and preserve the perfect pine tree. 

Brian Eshenaur is a plant pathologist, a certified New York State nursery professional and a Western New York-based educator with NYS IPM. Elizabeth Lamb has a Ph.D. in plant breeding and is a senior extension associate with the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New York State Integrated Pest Management program. 

Eshenaur says:

“Despite the subzero temperatures that occurred early in the year and some subsequent winter burn on certain trees, the 2014 growing season was a good one for New York Christmas tree growers.  Moderate summer temperatures and regular rainfall helped the trees at Christmas tree farms put on a healthy layer of growth.

“The mix of trees being grown and available to consumers continues to evolve.  We notice more Fraser firs than ever that are available this year and a nice mix of other firs and in some locations even spruce trees as well.

“The best way to preserve the tree’s freshness is to keep plenty of fresh water in the tree stand. If possible, when you bring it home make a new cut from the bottom of the trunk if you think the tree has spent some time on the tree lot and the cut stump looks weathered and dirty. That way you’re sure to have open ‘pipework’ to keep the water flowing to the needles.”  

Lamb says:

“The fresher the tree the better, which is a good reason to buy local. The branches should be springy and smell good. A few loose needles aren’t a problem but you shouldn’t get handfuls when you brush the branches.” 

Tips for selecting the best Christmas tree: 

  • Firs and pines have the best needle retention and can last for a month or more indoors. However if buying a spruce tree, plan to have it in the house for just a week to 10 days.
  • Look for a tree with a good solid-green color. Needle yellowing or a slight brown speckled color could indicate there was a pest problem and could lead to early needle drop.
  • Don’t be afraid to handle and bend the branches and shoots. Green needles should not come off in your hands. Also, the shoots should be flexible. Avoid a tree if the needles are shed or if the shoots crack or snap with handling.
  • Christmas trees should smell good. If there isn’t much fragrance when you flex the needles, it may mean that the tree was cut too long ago.
  • If possible, make a fresh cut on the bottom so the tree’s vascular tissue (pipe work) is not plugged and so the tree can easily take up water. Then, if you’re not bringing it into the house right away, get the tree in a bucket of water outside.
  • Once your tree gets moved to inside the house, don’t locate it next to a radiator or furnace vent. And always remember to keep water in the tree stand topped off, so it never goes below the bottom of the trunk.


County Cooperative Extension offices often have lists of local Christmas tree growers. You can also check the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York website at

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Melissa Kitchen

Melissa Kitchen

 Melissa J. Kitchen, graduate student in Public Garden Leadership, was recently featured in this first-person account in Grower Talks [2014-11-26]:           

Horticulture has always been an important part of my life, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that I discovered it as a career path. I’m a horticulture transplant. Get it?

I was in dentistry by default, but I always found ways to have some horticulture in my life. I convinced my boss to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days. He made a donation and in return they supplied us with daffodils to hand out to our patients. On my lunch breaks, I would wander the parking lot looking for wildflowers to pick. I would display them on my desk for our patients to admire. After the workday, I took evening classes in floral design through the local community college.

When I was 25, I enrolled in undergraduate studies in Plant Science at Cornell University. I loved the diversity of classes—Plant & Human Well-being, Annual & Perennial Plants, Berry Crops, Plant Function and Growth, Principles of Plant Propagation, Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants, Plant Genetics, Soil Science, Weed Science, Magical Mushrooms & Mischievous Molds, Insect Biology. Who knew that you could go to school and actually learn about the things that you love? It certainly was news to me!

Read the whole article.

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psc students

Looking for a spring break that’s both fun and rewarding?

Cornell’s Public Service Center Student Services Program organizes alternative spring breaks to promote service-learning through direct public service with various communities to heighten social awareness, enhance personal growth, and advocate lifelong social action.

This spring, of the Center’s offerings involves working with the Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Green Keepers

Green Keepers is Goddard’s social purpose business that provides horticulture and sanitation services throughout the NYC area. It was established in 1995 with experienced team members that meet the specific needs of a particular project or complement current, ongoing services. Each team is led by a certified horticulturist who ensures that each project is completed to the highest standard.

The beautification services include landscaping, planting, mulching, soil preparation, weeding, pruning and watering of public, commercial and residential properties. The sanitation services include general street-cleaning and maintenance, snow removal, and preparation of trash and recycling for pick up.

During this trip, students will work with a certified horticulturalist on a project to be determined during the spring semester depending on seasonal horticultural needs.

Visit the PSC website for more information.

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From Thomas Björkman:

Hundreds of Cornell alumni gathered at the Astor Center in Greenwich Village for Furrows to Boroughs: A Taste of New York State in New York City, a regional sesquicentennial celebration October 22 hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  The event highlighted the link between tri-state agriculture and Cornell. The culinary work and products of local farmers, agricultural businesses and chefs were on display and available to taste.

Horticultural products featured prominently. Many wines of course, a tremendous pastry designed around Susan Brown’s new SnapDragon apple, and fall berries and vegetables raised with techniques and varieties developed at Cornell. The alumni were not only excited by the great food, but also proud to be part of the institution that helps make it all possible.

I collaborated with chef and native Ithacan Tyler Kord, who has been making a big splash in the New York City restaurant scene by highlighting broccoli in new contexts. He operates the No. 7 restaurant in Fort Greene Brooklyn and has two high-profile sub shops at the Plaza Hotel by Central Park and the Ace Hotel in the financial district where he has popularized both the broccoli sub sandwich and the broccoli taco. This year Short Stack published his cookbook  Broccoli.

At Furrows to Boroughs, Tyler served tacos using broccoli provided by Windflower Farm, operated by former Cornell Cooperative Extension educator Ted Blomgren, who continues to be an avid cooperator on Cornell Horticulture research and extension projects as well as a pioneer for providing fresh produce to the food deserts in the outer boroughs through an active CSA.

As part of the Eastern Broccoli Project, I’m leading a team to develop varieties as well as the production and marketing infrastructure to supply New York City with Northeast broccoli for three months of the year, and have other Eastern regions supply the same buyers for the balance of the year.

Our goal is not to supply all of the Big Apple’s broccoli, but enough to provide regional growers with a profitable alternative enterprise and consumers with a fresher, more flavorful and nutritious product.

The project is funded by the USDA’s  Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and is a collaboration with six other universities, the Agricultural Research Service, seed companies,  distributors and growers.

Tyler Kord prepares broccoli tacos at Furrows to Boroughs.

Tyler Kord prepares broccoli tacos at Furrows to Boroughs.

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Phil Griffiths and melons

  • HORT 4025 (Horticultural Crop Improvement)
  • Spring semester
  • 2 credits
  • Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:25 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
  • Instructor: Phillip D. Griffiths

The class provides insight and exposure to the unique challenges associated with the improvement of horticultural crops and is intended for undergraduate students majoring in Plant Sciences, graduate students in the Graduate Field of Horticulture and those in other disciplines with an interest in horticulture.

Areas covered focus on real-world issues addressing changes in production environments, aesthetics, markets, postharvest quality and consumer demands and how they impact marketable yield.

Horticultural crops have diverse challenges from the development of seedless crops and the selection and propagation of clonal genotypes to high quality expectations, year-round consistency, consumer acceptance and targeting of new controlled environment production.

There are no prerequisites, but prior classes in introductory horticulture and genetics are recommended.

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Susan Brown

Susan Brown

From Dean Kathryn Boor:

As many of you already know, Susan Brown, currently Associate Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will become an associate dean in CALS and the Goichman Family Director of NYSAES on January 2, 2015.

Dr. Brown has served as associate director of NYAES since July 1, 2013. Among her responsibilities in that role has been stewarding the NYSAES strategic planning process, in concert with a faculty committee and community input. As a faculty member in the section of Horticulture in the School of Integrative Plant Science, she runs one of the largest tree fruit breeding programs in the world. She has released four apple varieties—Fortune, Autumncrisp, SnapDragon™, and RubyFrost™—and is the co-inventor of ten sweet cherries and one tart cherry. Her research combines breeding and genetics to improve apple quality, disease resistance, nutritional qualities and tree architecture.

Her professional achievements have been recognized with a 2013 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, a 2012 CALS Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award, and her selection for the 2013 Leading Cornell program. She was named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate in 2014.

Susan received a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1985.

Boor also announced two other transitions: On July 1, 2015, Beth Ahner will become a Senior Associate Dean in CALS, and on September 1, 2015, Jan Nyrop will become Director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

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From Frank Rossi, who introduces students to plants grown for foods, beverages, fiber, aesthetics and recreation in HORT 1101 (Horticultural Science and Systems). View more HORT 1101 posts.

The lab for the week has become an annual tradition: Another hands-on/take home on producing indigo dye from Indigofera tinctoria. We’ve been exploring the culture, history and chemistry of indigo dye, culminating in this week’s lab where students used indigo dye to to create a class banner and turn a piece of clothing into a work of art to take home.

This artistic endeavor was a perfect ending to a semester exploring the art and science of horticulture.

HORT 1101 students with banner and clothing dyed in Friday's lab.Preview


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