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Undergrads study medicinal plants in the Dominican Republic

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

This summer, Manuel Aregullin, senior research associate in the Plant Biology Section, led a group of Cornell undergraduates on a trip to the Dominican Republic to study Caribbean plant-based medicinal practices  that coexist with Western medicine in the treatment of disease.

The students developed projects that investigated the pharmacology of some prominent native species at a laboratory facility located in Punta Cana, and will present results at undergraduate symposia and conferences.

Aregullin is also director of Cornell’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) Program

The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and included faculty mentors from Cornell, the University of Santo Domingo, Yale and Florida International University.

Climate, Weather, Data: Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes conference Aug. 15

conference poster

Click image to download poster (.pdf)

NYS IPM Climate Conference:

Climate, Weather, Data: Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes
August 15, 2016, 9:00 – 4:15
Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County, Voorheesville, NY

With all the talk about climate change you might be wondering how it will affect food production, pests, and even landscapes  – and what you can do about it. The Second Annual NYS Integrated Pest Management conference can help!  Climate, Weather, Data:  Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes will be held August 15, 2016 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Office in Voorheesville, NY.

A wide variety of speakers from New York State and the Northeast will provide background information on the current state of knowledge on climate change and changes in our weather patterns, and how collecting climate and weather data can help us predict and manage pests.

Mike Hoffmann and Allison Chatrchyan from the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture will discuss what you can do about climate change, and the Climate Smart Farming Program.   Jerry Brotzge will explain the NYS Mesonet. Juliet Carroll from NYS Integrated Pest Management will cover the tools for growers in the Network for Environment and Weather Applications system.  David Hollinger will present resources from the Northeast Regional Climate Hub.

Open discussion sessions are included so you can ask your own questions.  The final agenda will be available soon, so stay tuned!

We are honored that Richard Ball, the Commissioner of the  NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, will kick off the conference with opening remarks

The program will run from 9:00-4:15 and costs $45 – which includes lunch, and breaks.

Registration information, a map, and the draft agenda can be found at the Climate, Weather, Data website

If you have questions, please contact Amanda Grace at or 315 787-2208.

Drought Takes Its Toll

Steve Reiners, Marvin Pritts, Greg Peck and others weigh in on how drought in New York is affecting fruit and vegetable growers in this What’s With the Weather? post on the Cornell Climate Change website:

ny drought map
Above: U.S. Drought Monitor map for New York for July 19. View latest map.

From sweet corn to apples, root crops to pumpkins. The drought in much of New York is taking its toll.

The dry spring follows a record warm winter, not only for New York (NRCC) but for the contiguous 48 states as a whole (NOAA). Warm temperatures and somewhat below average precipitation in western New York throughout the winter resulted in a minimal snowpack.

April was unusually cold, and may have felt wetter, but rainfall was still below average throughout the western New York region.

For the rest of March through June, temperatures in central and western New York have been normal while rainfall has been only about 50% of normal.

In July, temperatures have risen to be above normal, dry winds have blown, and the rainfall remains meagre. As of July 17 substantial portions of western and central NY had only received between 1 and 2” total rainfall in the last 6 weeks. Twenty-three percent of the state was in Severe Drought ((US Drought Monitor), and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation issued its first statewide drought watch in 14 years.

Read the whole article.


Vineyard cover crops save expense, environment

Undervine cover crop in vineyard.

Undervine cover crop in vineyard.

Cornell Chronicle [2017-07-18]:

Cornell researchers have advice for vineyard managers in cool and humid climates like the Northeast: cover up.

Maintaining bare soil beneath vines has long been accepted management practice to stifle competition from other vegetation, preserving water and nutrients to optimize grape growth. Exposing soil beneath trellises has been achieved by using extensive herbicide treatments, a practice that is expensive and potentially damaging to the surrounding vineyard ecosystem and locations downstream due to runoff.

Excessive vine growth can result as a function of the lack of competition for water and nutrients, requiring costly canopy management practices in the vineyard to maintain fruit quality.

Planting cover crops under grapevines instead can remediate these problems, according to researchers at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. A series of studies led by Justine Vanden Heuvel, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, provides vineyard managers with an environmentally sustainable alternative to herbicide treatments in cool and humid climates while tamping down the cost associated with unnecessary herbicide use.

Read the whole story.

DiTommaso Wins Award for His Way with Weeds — and People

DiTommaso talks about herbicide-resistant weeds at the 2015 Musgrave Research Farm Field Day.

DiTommaso talks about herbicide-resistant weeds at the 2015 Musgrave Research Farm Field Day.

From Mary Woodson, New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM).

ITHACA, NY: If two words could sum up Toni DiTommaso’s qualities as professor of weed science at Cornell University, “unbridled enthusiasm” — words from a nomination letter — fit the bill. Yet it’s not just his innovative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches to dealing with weeds that clinched DiTommaso’s Excellence in IPM award, which he received on July 14, 2016.

Colleagues and former students alike repeatedly cite the impact DiTommaso’s contagious love of learning has on their lives — and often their livelihoods. For many, the roots lie in Cornell’s IPM course that DiTommaso resurrected in 2002 and has taught since then with professor of entomology John Losey.

“To say that Toni has ‘educated others about IPM’ and ‘promoted IPM and bolstered the adoption of IPM practices,’ two criteria for earning the award, would be a vast understatement,” says crop-science professor William Cox, a longtime colleague. “I can’t emphasize enough the enormous impact that Toni has had on Cornell students who are now growers or consultants.”

Read the whole article.

Register now for Cornell Fruit Field Day, July 20, Geneva, N.Y.

Pre-registration deadline is July 15 @ noon. Walk-in registrations will not be available, you must pre-register. Register now.

fruit compositeRepost from June 24. From Art Agnello, Dept. of Entomology, NYSAES:

Mark your calendars for the Cornell Fruit Field Day, to be held in Geneva on Wednesday, July 20.  The 2016 version of this triennial event will feature ongoing research in berries, hops, grapes, and tree fruit, and is being organized by Cornell University, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, CALS Fruit Program Work Team and Cornell Cooperative Extension.  All interested persons are invited to learn about the fruit research under way at Cornell University.  Attendees will be able to select from tours of different fruit commodities.  Details of the program presentations are still being finalized, but the event will feature a number of topics, including:


  • Spotted wing drosophila research update in berry crops
  • Hummingbird use, monitoring network
  • Use of exclusion netting for managing spotted wing drosophila in fall raspberries
  • Monitoring spotted wing drosophila for management decisions in summer raspberry and blueberry
  • Behavioral control of spotted wing drosophila using repellents and attract & kill stations
  • Effect of habitat diversity on ecosystem services for strawberries
  • High tunnel production of black and red raspberries
  • Day-neutral strawberries/low tunnel production

 Tree Fruits

  • Apple breeding and genetic studies
  • Research updates on fire blight, apple scab, mildew
  • Bitter pit in Honeycrisp
  • 3D camera canopy imaging
  • Ambrosia beetle management trials
  • Malus selections for potential use in cider production
  • Precision spraying in orchards
  • Role of insects in spreading fire blight in apples
  • Bacterial canker of sweet cherries
  • Rootstocks & training systems for sweet cherry
  • NC-140 rootstock trials on Honeycrisp and Snap Dragon
  • Pear rootstocks & training systems

 Grapes & Hops

  • Sour rot of grapes
  • VitisGen grape breeding project
  • Precision spraying in grapes
  • Managing the spread of leafroll virus in Vinifera grape using insecticides and vine removal
  • Early leaf removal on Riesling
  • Overview of NYSAES hops planting
  • Powdery and downy mildew management in hops
  • Hops weed mgt; mite biocontrol
  • Update on malting barley research


  • FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Field Day details

The event will take place at the NYSAES Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm South, 1097 County Road No. 4, 1 mile west of Pre-emption Rd. in Geneva, NY.

Arrive at 8:00 AM to get settled in. Tours begin promptly at 8:30 AM and are scheduled in the morning from 8:30 to 11:30 and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00. Lunch will be served at the exhibit tent area between 11:30-12:30.

Visit sponsors anytime from 11:30-1:30

Learn about products and services from:

  • Agro Liquid
  • Arysta Life Science
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Dupont
  • Farm Credit East, ACA
  • Finger Lakes Trellis Supply
  • LaGasse Works, Inc.
  • Lakeview Vineyard Equipment
  • NY Apple Sales
  • OESCO, Inc
  • Red Jacket Orchards
  • Superior Wind Machine Service
  • Valent USA Corp.
  • Wafler Farms
  • Tastings from War Horse Brewing

To participate as a sponsor, see the registration website or contact Shelly Cowles (315-787-2274;

Register now!

Admission fee is $50/person ($40 for additional attendees from the same farm or business), which covers tours, lunch and educational materials. Pre-registration is required. Walk-in registration may be available for a $10 surcharge on the day of the event.  Register on the Cornell Fruit Field Day Event registration page,

‘Rice Bowl’ bioswale update

One of the projects tackled  in spring 2014 by students in the course Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920)  was the installation of water retention bioswales east of Rice Hall. Dubbed the “Rice Bowls,” the structures are designed to reduce runoff and increase infiltration of water from adjacent parking lots. Students selected species that can tolerate dry periods as well as periodic flooding, such as Shining Sumac, Bayberry, Blackhaw, Spirea, Sea Buckthorn and certain Willows.

This short video shows the installation process and includes updates on the planting, showing how they filled in well despite suffering through both wet and dry seasons.

‘Don’t Let your Veggies Grow Up To be Compost’ – Donate your garden surplus to the hungry


From Jane Mt. Pleasant:

I know that many of you are home gardeners and sometimes have more produce from your garden than you and your family can eat. Instead of throwing those zucchini on the compost pile or letting them rot in the field, you can donate them to the Friendship Donations Network. This local non-profit (of which I am a board member and volunteer), collects good, nutritious food that would otherwise be discarded from stores, farms, and other donors, and redistributes it to people in our community who need it. (Watch FDN’s 11-minute video to get a quick, compelling overview.)

Three years ago, FDN started Neighborhood Food Hubs to increase the quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables that we rescue and redistribute. Individuals and families volunteer their front porches to serve as weekly collection spots where home gardeners in their neighborhoods bring their extra fruits and vegetables.

For the last two years, we’ve had a Food Hub in the Plant Science Building.  And last year we collected more than 600 pounds of vegetables that would otherwise have been discarded. Instead, the food was distributed to food pantries and other programs. It ended up on the plates of people who need it.

We are organizing a Plant Science Food Hub again this year. I think we can collect much more than we did in 2015!

Here’s how it works. Bring your excess produce every Monday before 5 p.m. to the walk-in cooler on the garden floor, Plant Science G04E. (There will be signs posted to direct you to the cooler.) I collect it at the end of the day and take it to FDN’s storage and office space in downtown Ithaca. (You can also donate extra produce from your CSA if you find that you have more than you can eat! As long as the produce is in good shape, FDN will take it.)

We will start collecting on Monday, July 11, and continue every Monday through September 26.

There may be a Hub close to your home. (There are also Hubs at some community gardens). Please donate there if it’s more convenient. View map of hubs.

Finally, if you have a very large garden and find yourself with more vegetables than you can easily bring to work with you, let me know and FDN will send a volunteer to pick up the produce at your home.

If you have questions, call or email me: or 255-4670. Thank you for your support and participation in this important activity.

LIHREC open house July 9

Demonstration garden and greenhouses at the Long Island Horticulture Research and Extension Center.

Display gardens and greenhouses at the Long Island Horticulture Research and Extension Center.

Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center Open House
3059 Sound Ave., Riverhead, N.Y.
July 9, 2016
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. rain or shine

During the Open House the display gardens will be open all day and there will be guided garden tours on the hour.  Special seminars on flower arranging, growing daylilies, and using structures in the garden will be held.  Throughout the day a children’s activity will be available free of charge to children.  A plant sale focusing on herbs and unusual perennial plants will also be held all day for those who are interested in finding something new for their home.  Special presentations during the Open House include Victory Garden demonstrations where guests can learn about growing vegetables, special tours of the potted flowering annual trials, wagon ride tours of the 68-acre research farm, and a workshop where participants can learn how to make concrete leaf sculptures for the garden.

More information and detailed schedule.


Wagon tour at LIHREC

Plant Sciences Major to receive Potato Growers Scholarship

Morning Ag Clips [2016-06-28]

Cassandra Proctor of Trumansburg, NY, has been named the 2016 Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship winner and will receive a $500 scholarship per academic year for up to four consecutive years of agricultural education at a college in New York State.

Cassandra will graduate from Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg in June. She plans to begin her pursuit of a degree in plant sciences at Cornell University in the fall. Her career goal is to earn a PhD in plant genetics and to research ways to improve plant yield and suitability for impoverished areas.

As a high school senior, she served as an FFA Co-Treasurer, and participated in the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga New Visions in Life Sciences Program that allowed her to intern in the Boyce Thompson Institute plant genetics research lab at Cornell University.

Cassandra was selected to attend the Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Iowa in 2015. This summer Cassie will travel to the Phillipines on an eight-week Borlaug Ruan International Internship at the International Rice Research Institute.

Read the whole article.

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

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