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Landscape professionals learn about bioswale benefits

Tower Rd bioswale planting
Above: Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920) planted more than 1,000 feet of beds along Tower Road from Plant Science Building to Stocking Hall with nearly 1,000 woody shrubs in September 2014.

Nearly 50 landscape architects, environmentalists, educators and others visited Cornell September 17 to learn about the ecosystem benefits of bioswales and tour the runoff-filtering structures on campus.

Bioswales channel water from streets and parking lots into areas where the water can infiltrate into the groundwater instead of entering storm drains and waterways. In the process, they keep sediment and other pollutants out of streams and lakes, reduce flooding and prevent streambank erosion.

They can also provide aesthetic benefits, habitat for pollinators and other ecosystem services, says Nina Bassuk, director of the Urban Horticulture Institute in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who led the program along with Peter Trowbridge, Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects and retired professor from the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Bassuk’s work has focused on the ‘bio’ aspects of bioswales, researching which plants are best-suited for the tough conditions they face. “We’re testing plants that can tolerate both saturated soil and periodic drought,” says Bassuk. “They also need to be able tolerate salty soil and bounce back from damage when snow and ice are piled over them during winter.” Woody shrubs that can be cut back to the ground and regrow quickly in spring are especially good candidates.

The landscape professionals saw many of those plants in three bioswales they toured while on campus, including northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), shining sumac (Rhus coppalina), creeping willow  (Salix repens), seaberry (Hippophae rhamnoides), ) buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and others.

Those three bioswales – the quarter-mile-long Tower Road bioswale, the Rice Bowl bioswales adjacent to the parking lot next to Rice Hall, and the Cornell Botanic Garden bioswale next to the Nevin Welcome Center parking lot – are featured on the new Sustainable Landscapes Trail developed by the Land Team of the President’s Campus Sustainability Committee.

For more information on bioswales, download Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.


Above: Nina Bassuk explains bioswale plant selection to landscape professionals touring the Tower Road bioswale.

Big, blue Everest Seedless is Cornell’s newest grape

Bruce Reisch with Everest Seedless grape vines
Everest Seedless, the newest offering from Cornell’s grape breeders, is a big, bold fruit that comes with a towering history. Above, Bruce Reisch ’76, professor of horticulture, examines clusters of Everest Seedless in a research vineyard at Cornell AgriTech. Photo by Erin Flynn/Provided

CALS News [2018-09-13]:

The newest offering from Cornell’s grape breeders is a fruit that’s big, bold and comes with a towering history.

Those factors led the grape’s breeders to name the new variety Everest Seedless, a nod to the celebrated Nepalese mountain, said Bruce Reisch ’76, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and grape breeder with Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

“We were looking to develop very flavorful grapes with large berries and large clusters, and we’ve achieved that with Everest Seedless,” Reisch said.

The new variety is a cold-tolerant, blue-colored Concord-type, with berries that weigh up to 7 grams – roughly twice the size of the traditional Concord. It is also the first truly seedless Concord-type grape ever released. It’s intended as a table grape – meant primarily for eating fresh, rather than using for jams, juice or wine, as most American Concords are used.

Read the whole article.

New Plant Sciences majors battle invasive plants

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods

Students in PLSCI 1110 at the entrance to Smith Woods

 

The honeysuckle, barberry and multiflora rose in the Henry A. Smith Woods in Trumansburg, N.Y., were quaking in their boots September 6.

The reason? New Plant Sciences majors enrolled in Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (PLSCI 1110) spent the afternoon roguing out these invasive species from this treasured remnant of old growth forest.

Every fall, instructors Marvin Pritts and Leah Cook involve the students in a service learning project as a way to give back to the local community. Previous projects included making improvements to the Habitat Trail outside of Trumansburg, planting mums at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, and designing and installing a campus garden.

New high-yield strawberry, raspberry varieties released

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

CALS News [2018-09-05]:

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure. Both varieties produce large fruits with vibrant colors that maintain peak flavor for longer than most heritage varieties.

The new berries are the handiwork of berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

Dickens is a traditional, June-bearing strawberry with high yields and bright red fruit that continues bearing late into the season. The berries are firm, so they hold well on the plant and in the container, Weber said, but not so firm that they have no flavor. Strawberries are the third-leading fruit crop in New York state, but most strawberries sold in supermarkets are from California.

“With New York-grown berries, because we don’t have to ship so far, we can handle a softer fruit. And people notice the softer, sweeter, juicier fruit,” Weber said. “Customers can get supermarket strawberries any day of the week; the reason people make the effort to come to the farm stand or farmers market and buy the local product is because it tastes so much better. Maintaining that flavor is paramount to what we do in our breeding program.”

Read the whole article.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

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 4, 2019 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) Valerie Aymer (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts (Horticulture).

View a recent Dreer Award Seminar video:

View more Dreer Award seminar videos.

Life of Carl F. Gortzig to be celebrated Sept. 23

Carl Gortzig

Carl Gortzig

CALS News [2018-08-31]:

A memorial celebration of the life of Carl F. Gortzig ’52 will be held Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center of Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Gortzig, professor emeritus and chair of the former Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, died June 2 in Ithaca at age 87. Gortzig served as the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations (now Cornell Botanic Gardens) from 1993-95, after a previous stint as acting director in 1989, and four years as chair of the Plantations Advisory Board from 1980-84.

In addition to his enduring support for the Botanic Gardens, Gortzig was devoted to the field of horticulture, working closely with the floriculture industry in New York state. His efforts were recognized in 1989 with the granting of the George L. Good Gold Medal of Horticulture, the highest honor of the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association. He also cared deeply about the students he taught and advised, and in 2002 a former advisee, Joanna Beitel ’92, established the Carl Gortzig scholarship in his honor.

Gortzig recognized the importance of local cultural organizations, and served in leadership positions on the boards of the History Center in Tompkins County, The Tompkins County Public Library, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.  He and his wife Jean were also devoted fans of the Cornell men’s basketball team.

He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant from 1952-54; taught biology, botany and math at the McKinley Vocational High School in Buffalo from 1954-55; worked as an Erie County associate agricultural agent from 1955-64; and was employed by Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as an admissions counselor from 1957 -58. He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1965, earned tenure in 1971 and was promoted to full professor in 1978.

He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 55 years, Jean.

Those planning to attend the memorial are asked to respond in advance to dr14@cornell.edu with the subject heading Gortzig Memorial. Memorial gifts may be directed to Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Crusader for environmental golf course management earns Excellence in IPM award

Bob Portmess was a mechanical engineer and former executive with Cox Communications who just happened to be an avid golfer.

That last item is key. Twelve years ago, Portmess walked into turf guru Frank Rossi’s office at Cornell University. He knew exactly what he wanted: to work, he said, “with the people who produce the finest golf playing surfaces in the world.”

Two years later, Portmess had received his Masters of Professional Studies in turfgrass management by synthesizing the practical knowledge that Rossi and colleague Jennifer Grant, now director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM), had amassed over seven years of experimental work at the world-renowned Bethpage Golf Course, also a New York State Park.

And a year after that, Portmess had developed an “IPM Handbook” of best management practices for sustainable turf, informed in part by his engineering background. This handbook, now translated into Spanish, served as a resource for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s seminar that Portmess co-instructed at several International Golf Shows. It continues to guide management of New York’s 29 state park golf courses as well as golf courses around the country that want to cut back on inputs while maintaining top quality turf.

Portmess’s passion for teaching turned out to be as consuming as his passion for golf. “Whether it was frequent light topdressing, root pruning, over-seeding, better ways to aerify the soil, or careful use of water—Bob taught them all,” says Larry Specchio, superintendent at Chenango Valley State Park Golf Course. Each tactic Speechio notes is a core IPM method.

“I find myself almost daily wanting to pick up my phone and call him; he was more than just a consultant to me,” Speechio says. “No one has a had a more positive impact on my career than Bob.”

Rossi couldn’t have predicted it at that time, of course, but that meeting in 2006 turned out to be one of the most important partnerships of his career.

“For that, I owe Bob more than simply a nomination for an award he is more than worthy of, but rather my own continued commitment to the work that he started,” Rossi says.

Sadly, Portmess passed away before he could see the full impact of his work. “Losing Bob Portmess was a tragedy” said Rose Harvey, commissioner of New York State Parks. “But his legacy lives on in the sustainable management of our golf courses.”

Melinda Portmess, Portmess’s widow, received the Excellence of IPM award at a ceremony at Green Lakes State Park in Syracuse on August 10th.

Learn more about IPM at NYSIPM.cornell.edu.

Joseph Sieczka, potato specialist, dies at 79

Joseph Sieczka

Joseph Sieczka

Cornell Chronicle [2018-08-09]:

Joseph Sieczka, professor emeritus of horticulture, an expert on potatoes, died July 29 at his home in Mattituck, New York. He was 79.

He also worked as a Cooperative Extension agent in western New York and served as coordinator of Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, New York, for more than two decades.

Though he conducted research on vegetable crops, he focused on potatoes. Over the course of his career, he managed widely acclaimed potato extension programs, and his work on potato cultivation led to reduced grower costs and lower nitrate impacts on groundwater. Sieczka’s applied potato research included strategies for weed control and determining optimal applications of fertilizer. And he helped develop new potato varieties, including some that are resistant to golden nematodes, a major potato pest.

“Joe was extremely knowledgeable in all things ‘potato’ and had an encyclopedic memory,” said Donald Halseth, professor emeritus of horticulture. “He knew things about more potato varieties than anyone I have known.”

“From a personal point of view, I always valued the uncommon amount of ‘common sense’ that Joe showed when I would ask for his advice, which I did very often,” said Elmer Ewing, professor emeritus of horticulture. “He had sound judgment on important issues and was able to see the broad picture.”

Read the whole article.

Bluegrass Lane Open House August 11

flyer

Click image for flyer

Come and see:

  • Annual and perennial plant trials.
  • Pollinator garden.
  • Grafted tomatoes.
  • Planting media trials.
  • Containers planted by the Botanic Gardens’ amazing gardeners!
  • Staff will be available to answer questions..

Saturday, August 11
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Center
232 Bluegrass Lane, Ithaca, NY
Off Warren Rd., near Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, follow signs for parking. Map.

This event is open to the public; bring your friends and family!

If you have questions or need special accommodations please contact Tara Reed tln2@cornell.edu or 607-592-5620.

‘Cornell AgriTech’ reflects influence in food, ag innovation

Cornell Chronicle, CALS News [2018-08-01]

larry smart with industrial hemp in greenhouse

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announced Aug. 1 the renaming of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) to Cornell AgriTech.

Agriculture and food are multibillion-dollar industries in New York, and the name change underscores the value Cornell AgriTech brings to improving the health of the people, environment and economy of the state and beyond. Based in Geneva, New York, Cornell AgriTech is home to more than 300 faculty, scientists, staff and graduate students at the leading edge of food science, entomology and plant sciences research.

“Cornell AgriTech is an essential part of Cornell CALS and supports our mission of discovery that grows the agricultural economy in New York and makes food more nutritious, safer and better tasting for everyone,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “Cornell AgriTech is a global leader in food and agriculture research and innovation, as our scientists generate the breakthroughs and develop the technologies that improve the crops in our fields and the food on our plates.”

Read the whole article.

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