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Cornell AgriTech

Cornell researchers win major awards from cider industry

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-04-19]

Hard cider is a fast-growing segment in the U.S. fermented beverage industry, and New York’s position as a leader in craft beverage production and expertise is paving the way for cider producers to succeed.

“The burgeoning craft beverage industry in New York state has helped create a lot of applicable resources and expertise for cider makers,” said Ian Merwin, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’90, owner of Black Diamond Cider and Cornell professor emeritus of plant science. “We can get bottles and equipment from well-established companies in the area. We have the legislative support we need and Cornell experts like Chris Gerling and Greg Peck to help us every step of the way.”

Merwin notes that the benefit of cider makers working with both Gerling, extension associate in the Department of Food Science, and Peck, assistant professor in the horticulture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, is that they can gain expertise on both ends of the spectrum—when growing the cider apples and when making the cider itself.

Recently Gerling and Peck received major awards from the cider industry. Gerling was given the Apple of Appreciation award from the New York Cider Association (NYCA), and Peck was chosen as the Grower Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Association of Cider Makers (USACM).

Chris Gerling, who began his career offering extension expertise in the field of enology, found a natural transition into hard cider extension work. Wine and cider have many similarities, including the types of yeast used and the effect of climate, soils and terrain on the overall flavor profile.

“Chris has distinguished himself as being fully invested in improving the quality and profitability of cider made in New York and beyond,” said Jenn Smith, NYCA executive director. “He is as curious as he is knowledgeable, and in particular has been central in NYCA’s work to tackle the challenges of measuring and communicating the tricky concept of dryness to drinkers. We are grateful and lucky to have him as a partner in our work of developing a sustainable, excellent cider industry in our region.”

Greg Peck’s research explores ways to increase the quantity and quality of New York–grown cider apples, including best practices for fertilizer, crop load and harvest management. Peck also helps cider makers select varieties that will work best for high-quality and flavorful cider.

Michelle McGrath, executive director of the USACM, said the organization’s members overwhelmingly voted for Peck to receive the Grower Advocate of the Year award.

“His advocacy for cider at Cornell and his research collaborations with the industry are important for expanding our knowledge of growing cider apples. We know so little about propagating cider-specific varieties in the U.S., and Greg is such a valuable resource for cider makers looking to use specific apple varieties.”

While hard cider makers have many valuable resources in New York, the recent awards for Gerling and Peck underscore the fact that producers value experts who can help them piece together the many components that equate to a high-quality end product.

To learn more about Cornell’s hard cider research and outreach efforts, visit: https://hardcider.cals.cornell.edu

So You Want To Grow Hemp

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

Larry Smart examining hemp plants in the greenhouse at Cornell AgriTech.

From Science Friday podcast [2018-12-07:]

Good news could be coming soon for anyone interested in hemp, the THC-free, no-high strain of cannabis whose use ranges from fibers to food to pharmaceuticals. If the 2018 Farm Bill passes Congress in its current form, growing hemp would be legal and products derived from hemp would be removed from their current legal gray area.

Universities and private research teams have been busy studying hemp pests, genetics, and other cultivation questions since Congress legalized the research in 2014. Cornell horticulture professor Larry Smart explains why a plant that hasn’t been grown legally in the U.S. for nearly a century will require a monumental effort from scientists to catch up to crops like soybean and tomatoes.

Listen.

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 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.

‘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.

Francescatto named a top young researcher

CALS News [2018-06-26]:

Francescatto in orchard

Poliana Francescatto has been named one of the nation’s top young researchers in the fruit and vegetable industries by Fruit Growers News.

The Cornell research associate was recognized as a next generation leader in the “40 under 40 category. She was lauded for her studies on the use of plant growth regulators to improve orchard management of temperate tree fruit crops for the benefit of New York state tree fruit growers.

Along with her research trials in orchards at Cornell, she works directly with growers in New York on practical applications they can use to modernize fruit production practices.

She joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher with Terence Robinson, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, her program seeks new, efficient and profitable strategies to improve and standardize fruit orchard practices to deliver more uniform, high-quality fruit, according to Francescatto.

As an applied fruit physiologist, she focuses on how plant growth regulators and crop load management can be used in the orchard. Her program focuses on pome fruits like apples and pear, and stone fruits, like cherries and peaches. Her research priority areas have focused on fruit thinning, improved fruit finish and flower bud formation.

“I grew up in an apple growing family in Brazil, and my parents continue to be growers today,” said Francescatto. “Because of that, I understand the impact research has on bettering people’s livelihoods and how it improves fruits delivered to consumers. This award means more than words can describe.”

Seminar video: Active Canopy Cooling Strategies to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Heatwaves on Grapevines

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section and Dreer Award seminar, Active Canopy Cooling Strategies to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Heatwaves on Grapevines with Raquel Kallas, M.P.S. Horticulture ’16 and 2016 Dreer Award winner, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Seminar video: Vegetable Crop Conservation in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar Vegetable Crop Conservation in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System with Joanne Labate, USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Brown’s apple breeding efforts featured in Atlas Obscura

Susan Brown

Apple breeder Susan Brown, professor in the Horticulture Section, explains all that’s involved in selecting and commercializing new apple varieties in an October 20 article Every Apple You Eat Took Years and Years to Make in Atlas Obscura.

“As the head of the apple-breeding program at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, one of the largest apple-breeding programs in the world, Brown is searching for fruit that no one has ever seen or tasted before—beautiful apples that can withstand the dangers of the field, that grow uniform and large, that store well, that can be shipped easily to grocery stores, that have deep and satisfying flavors, and that are, above all, crisp and juicy, the two qualities consumers most desire. By harnessing the criss-cross power of genetic variation, she can create new apples, better than any already for sale.”

It took 11 years from cross to commercialization for Snapdragon, one of her latest releases, “one of fastest tracks in apple-breeding history.”

“’Some perennial breeders never get to this stage,’ says Brown. ‘You can retire before you know your variety is a success.’”

Read the whole article.

 

SAGES Cookbook to support Geneva Campus Bike Share

Reposted from the SIPS blog, Discovery that Connects:

Craving some Black Magic Cake, Cherry Stuffed Tenderloin, or Red Lentil Coconut Curry?  These are just some of the thirty nine recipes in the 2017 cookbook assembled by the Student Association of the Geneva Experiment Station (SAGES) to benefit the Geneva Bike Share Program.

Recipes were contributed by faculty, staff, and students on the Geneva campus. SAGES President Adrienne Gorny draws particular attention to those derived from annual Chili Cook-offs, Cookie Bake-Offs, and Underappreciated Vegetable Cook-offs; this last being an event where Geneva campus employees are challenged to produce a dish incorporating a pre-determined underappreciated vegetable. Hannah Swegarden recommends her recipe for Tomato Basil Soup, perfect for this time of year when gardens are bursting with these two ingredients.

Also featured are recipes from a variety of cultural traditions such as George Abawi’s Baklava, several Scandinavian desserts, and Pavlova, described by Sarah Pethybridge as “a famous Australian and New Zealand dessert!”

Available for $14 or two for $25, proceeds from the cookbook sales will be used to support the Bike Share Program at the Geneva campus.  The SAGES Bike Share Program provides bicycles for rent to students and other members of the Geneva station community. Begun in 2014 with a few donated bicycles, the program has grown in the years since. Proceeds from cookbook sales will be used to expand the Bike Share Program by funding repairs of old bikes and purchasing of new ones.  Donations can also be made directly to the program.

Cookbooks are available in the SIPS main office at 135 Plant Science in Ithaca or in Hannah Swegarden’s mailbox in Hedrick Hall, Geneva.  Buy one soon and kick back with a piece of Larry Smart’s PhD Party Pie.  Filled with chocolate, pecans, Kahlua, and Jack Daniels, it’s the cure for whatever ails you!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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