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Seminar: Building Better Grapevines with Peter Cousins

Peter Cousins

Peter Cousins

Building Better Grapevines

A public seminar by Dr. Peter Cousins
Grape breeder, E. & J. Gallo Winery (formerly Grape Breeder and Geneticist, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Geneva, N.Y.)

August 31, 5 p.m.
Stocking Hall 146

Sponsored by the Cornell Viticulture & Enology Program

More information: Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel,

Sept. 10 ag resiliency summit takes on severe-weather planning

Via Cornell Chronicle [2015-08-14]:

A summit meeting to identify resources and opportunities to improve agricultural resiliency to severe weather across New York state will explore current initiatives and link researchers and extension members.

Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, will host the New York State Agricultural Resiliency Summit, Thursday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jordan Hall. The summit aims to increase individual and collective capacity to prepare for, respond to and recover from weather-related events.

Participants will analyze the status of agricultural resiliency and emergency engagement and outline steps to improve how all stakeholders interact during a disaster. Breakout sessions will cover working with new weather patterns, improving communication before and after a severe weather event, and strategies to improve community preparedness.

The event is free, but preregistration is required. Direct questions about the summit to Trevor Partridge, 315-558–2815,

The summit is funded by Empire State Development through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.


‘Traminette’ grape named Outstanding Fruit Cultivar by ASHS

2015 ASHS Outstanding Fruit Cultivar ‘Traminette’

2015 ASHS Outstanding Fruit Cultivar ‘Traminette’

‘Traminette’ – a mid-season white-wine grape released by Cornell’s grape breeding program in 1996 – was named the Outstanding Fruit Cultivar for 2015 by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) at its annual meeting in New Orleans August 7.

‘Traminette’ produces wine with pronounced varietal character likened to one of its parents, the vinifera cultivar ‘Gewürztraminer’, says Bruce Reisch, professor in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, one of the breeders who developed the cultivar.

In addition to producing superior wines, ‘Traminette’ yields well, has partial resistance to several fungal diseases, and is more cold-hardy than ‘Gewürztraminer’, Reisch adds. It is the fifth wine grape cultivar released by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES).

“Support from the wine industry was essential to the development of ‘Traminette’,” says Reisch.  John Brahm of Arbor Hill Grapery and Herman Amberg of Grafted Grapevine Nursery planted large numbers of vines and produced experimental wines prior to the cultivar’s official release. “Arbor Hill was the first to market a varietal ‘Traminette’ wine the year it was released, and it’s been a successful product since,” Reisch notes.

medalWineries across the country have produced award-winning ‘Traminette’ wines, and the acreage continues to grow.  ‘Traminette’ is grown on more than 100 acres in New York, as well as in Ohio and Virginia. Indiana grows about 75 acres and it’s the signature white wine variety of the state.  Easley Winery’s 2014 Traminette was named the Wine of the Year at the 2015 Indy Wine Competition.

‘Traminette’ is the fourth NYSAES-bred fruit cultivar honored by ASHS since the Outstanding Fruit Cultivar award’s inception in 1987. Others include ‘Empire’ apple (1987), ‘Jonagold’apple (1988), and ‘Heritage’ red raspberry (2004).

Read more about ‘Traminette’.

Geneva Summer Scholars visit the Ithaca campus

geneva-scholarsReposted from CALS Notes [2-15-07-28]

Undergraduate interns from Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York visited Cornell yesterday to explore the campus, meet with faculty, and to learn about the graduate program.

Over the summer students have the opportunity to gain research experience while working with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff at in Geneva to discover more about fungi, apples, beetles, and so much more.

While at Cornell the interns sat down with Bill Miller, the Director of Graduate Studies for the School of Integrative Plant Science, and Stewart Gray of Plant Pathology for an interactive discussion and an opportunity to ask questions.

The most asked question was how to get into graduate school, and both Miller and Gray explained that research experience is vital, and since the students are interning in Geneva, they are on the right track.

Gray said they “are looking for a breadth of experiences and skills” in potential graduate students.

Some students wondered what the path would be like after they earned a graduate degree and the faculty explained that many go into academia, but some also go into industry and government research, consulting, and extension among other fields.

Miller’s answer to this question was to “be open to opportunities that present themselves.”

Hannah Sweet ’16, of the University of Minnesota – Morris explained that she is “new to this whole process, so getting honest information is really beneficial.”

After this talk, the students met with entomology Department Chair, Laura Harrington and Bryan Danforth, professor of entomology, for an interactive discussion surrounding similar topics.

The students finished the day with a tour of Cornell’s campus, and an obligatory stop at the Dairy Bar for ice cream before heading off to Geneva, where they will continue working hard before (hopefully) coming back to Cornell for grad school.

NYSDAM awards $200,000 to NYSAES, CALS for hops and barley research

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

From New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets press releases [2015-07-13]:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced July 13 two new partnerships to further support and grow the beverage industry in the Finger Lakes region. A new partnership between Taste NY and the New York Wine & Culinary Center was unveiled following yesterday’s successful listening session with beverage industry stakeholders during Governor Cuomo’s Capital for a Day in Rochester. In addition, $200,000 will be provided to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and its New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva for research on hops and malting barley, the two major ingredients in the production of beer.

Dr. Susan Brown, The Goichman Family Director of NYSAES said, “On behalf of our faculty and extension staff, I know that my colleagues at CALS and NYSAES are committed to delivering the outstanding science and outreach essential to bolstering this resurgence of the brewing and farm-based beverage industry in New York State. This generous investment supports our partnership with growers, producers and entrepreneurs, continues to foster economic development and, importantly, expands the portfolio of New York beverages in an ever-increasing number of bottles, pints and glasses across our state.”

The research being conducted by Cornell University will help meet the growing demand of hops and barley for use in farm-based breweries. Governor Cuomo’s Farm Brewery Legislation, which has spurred the rapid growth of craft brewing in New York State, requires farm brewers to increase the percentage of New York-grown hops and all other ingredients in farm-brewed beer from 20 percent today to 90 percent by 2024.

The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, the most recent official statistics available, shows that 7,679 acres of land in New York was used to produce barley, while 19 acres of land was in use for growing hops. A Cornell Cooperative Extension hops expert estimates that more than 300 acres of land is in use statewide now to grow hops, with the number growing by 75 to 100 acres a year and with larger farming organizations considering large-scale hops growing operations.

Reiners to succeed Pritts as Horticulture chair

Steve Reiners Associate Chair of the Horticulture Section -- and Professor starting the first of the year.

Steve Reiners will be new Horticulture Section chair.

Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), announced yesterday three SIPS leadership transitions effective August 1, 2015.

Mike Scanlon, professor in the Plant Biology Section, has completed his term as Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). During his tenure in the postition, Scanlon streamlined the Plant Sciences curriculum, introduced new courses, and expanded concentrations to accommodate evolving student interests. As a member of the SIPS executive committee, he made key contributions to the SIPS strategic plan.

Marvin Pritts, who has served as Horticulture Section chair for 13 years, will assume the DUS position. Pritts has been extensively involved with the Plant Sciences major for many years as an undergraduate adviser, as co-creator and instructor (with Marcia Eames-Sheavly) of Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences (PLSCI 1110), and as an adviser for PLHRT/IARD 3200 Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize.

Steve Reiners, professor and associate chair in the Horticulture Section, will succeed Pritts as chair. Reiners, is based at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, and has also served as Department Extension Leader. He also leads the Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program  serving western New York and the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. He co-teaches Principles of Vegetable Production (PLHRT 3500) and Organic Vegetable Gardening (PLHRT 1250).

Congratulations Steve!

Wolfe, Smart receive Academic Venture Fund awards from the Atkinson Center

David Wolfe and Larry Smart are among the recipients of $1.2 million from Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF)’s Academic Venture Fund. The program funded 11 new projects selected from 37 proposals.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

“We make seed grants to multidisciplinary teams with exciting ideas that address sustainability problems and opportunities. The process is very competitive and usually brings together faculty who have not previously worked together,” says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science.

Wolfe is part of the Ecological Calendars for Climate Change project. A time-tested tool for climate adaptation—ecological calendars—helped generations of indigenous and rural societies anticipate seasonal patterns for farming, herding, hunting, and fishing. These calendars rely on natural cues, such as the arrival of birds and nascence of flowers. This transdisciplinary team will use ecological calendars to guide communities as they adapt to climate change. Working in partnership with Great Plains Native Americans and rural communities near Oneida Lake, the researchers will identify key climate vulnerabilities, document existing ecological calendars, and revitalize or develop new calendars for local use by combining folk knowledge with cutting-edge climate forecasting. Other investigators in the project are Karim-Aly Kassam, Natural Resources/American Indian Program; Christopher Dunn, Cornell Plantations; Art DeGaetano, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Amanda Rodewald, Lab of Ornithology.

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Smart is part of the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project. Cornell has embraced a carbon-neutral campus by 2035. Establishing forests on campus lands and transitioning to biofuels are options for reducing carbon emissions, but the carbon calculation is not straightforward. Forests and biofuel crops could reduce the land’s surface reflectivity, or “albedo”—an important but complex climate feature—and the warming effect may counterbalance the biofuels’ benefits. The researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans with more accurate climate projections. By revealing the trade-offs in land-use decisions, this much-needed tool has the potential for broad application beyond Cornell. Other investigators in the project are Timothy Fahey, Natural Resources; Natalie Mahowald, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Christine Goodale, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;  and Peter Hess, Biological and Environmental Engineering.

More information:

Dougherty receives Perrine award

Laura Dougherty, horticulture graduate student in Kenong Xu’s lab, is the recipient of the 2015 Perrine Award. David Perrine (Pomology ’22), a prominent orchardist from Centralia, Ill., established the award in memory of his wife, Fanny French Perrine. The award supports research by an undergraduate or graduate student in pomology. Congratulations Laura!

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

New Hybrid Grapes Help Grow Wine Industry in Cold US Regions

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

AP via ABC News [2015-06-07]:

The Marquette grapevines clinging to a steep, rocky hillside in the southeastern Adirondacks are among a host of new grape varieties that have enabled a boutique wine industry to take root in areas of the Northeast and Midwest that were previously inhospitable.

There were about 2,000 wineries in the U.S. in 2000; today, there are more than 8,000, according to the industry publication Wines and Vines.

“Across the country we’ve seen a huge expansion in wine and grape production and wine-related tourism,” said Bruce Reisch, who leads Cornell University’s wine and grape research and development program in New York’s Finger Lakes.

And the new influx of tourism dollars can be traced to, among other places, Cornell and the University of Minnesota, which have developed these hybrid grapes that withstand brutal winters and disease — and provide the quality and consistency needed to produce fine wine in places like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio.

Read the whole article.

In the news

A round-up of recent news of horticultural interest:

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Why Arctic Apples Were Approved By USDA [Growing Produce 2015-04-29] – Kenong Xu, assistant professor, Horticulture Section, discusses the journey genetically modified non-browning Arctic Apples took in order to get the go-ahead from USDA to be grown and sold in the U.S.

Backyard plants can pose dangers to humans, animals [Ithaca Journal 2015-05-22] – “We don’t want to be scaring people that everything out there is there to eat them, but it’s good to be aware if you have these plants around, especially if you have young children or you have pets. They do have poisonous properties, and one should be aware of them,” says Tony DiTommaso, weed ecologist, Soil and Crop Sciences Section. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have a place or a role in your backyard or as a wildflower.”

SoDel Concepts donates meal for students, professors working on Botanic Gardens [Cape Gazette 2015-05-22] – Don Rakow, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and Erica Anderson, Karen St. Clair, Emily Detrick, and Benjamin Storms, graduate students in the public garden leadership program presented recommendations for Delaware Botanic Gardens’ children’s garden and for a plant collection policy to ensure a diverse yet meaningful collection. DBG President Susan Ryan praised “… the contributions that Cornell University, Dr. Don Rakow and his inspiring students are making to the Delaware Botanic Gardens.”

Chef + Plant Breeder: The Future of Flavor [Culinary Point of View 2015-04-09] – Interview with Michael Mazourek, assistant professor, Plant Breeding  and Genetics Section and Chef Dan Barber exploring how they have spent the past 10 years working together to develop new organic crop varieties that emphasize flavor.