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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.

Cornell Fruit Field Day, July 20, Geneva, N.Y.

fruit compositeFrom 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,

Geneva recognitions

Photos from Thomas Björkman from NYSAES horticulture recognitions June 3:

PhD student Archana Khadgi won the 2016 Perrine Award. The Perrine award recognizes excellence in pomological research by a graduate student. Archana is studying with Professor Courtney Weber (right), using genomic techniques to create phythophthora-resistant raspberries.


The Nelson Shaulis scholar for 2016, Corrigan Herbert (right), is congratulated by her supervisor for the summer, CCE Viticulturist Hans Walter-Peterson. Corrigan is a student in the wine program at Finger Lakes Community College. The FLCC wine program operates from a new dedicated building at the Ag Tech Park adjacent to the Station.


Jim Ballerstein, Research Support Specialist, received a 30-year service award from Horticulture Chair Steve Reiners. Jim runs one of the premier vegetable variety trial programs in the country. The program brings in substantial funding, and takes Jim on trips to conferences and company visits at home and abroad.


The Horticulture Section’s Summer Scholars arrived at the Station this week. The Geneva Summer Scholar program brings in excellent undergraduates from around the country for six weeks of research experience and a field course in agriculture. Many go on to graduate programs at Cornell and elsewhere.  Left to right: Brianna Moore (William Smith College/Smart Lab), Lisa Kime (Penn State/Griffiths Lab), Anna Agloro (Saint Martin’s University/Smart Lab), Sofia Gonzalez-Martinez (University of Puerto Rico/Brown Lab), Alexi Nystrom (Newberry College/Xu Lab), Ari Heitler-Klevans (Oberlin College/Smart Lab), Catharina Ortiz-Thomazella (University of Wisconsin-River Falls/Taylor Lab), Carlie Leary (The New School/Smart Lab).

Christine Smart named interim SIPS director

Christine Smart

Christine Smart

CALS Notes [2016-05-18]:

Christine Smart, professor of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, has been named interim director of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS), effective July 1.

She will take over for Alan Collmer, the Andrew J. and Grace B. Nichols Professor in the SIPS Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology when his two-year appointment as the school’s inaugural director concludes.

Launched in June 2014 to enhance the visibility and impact of the plant sciences at Cornell, the school integrated the departments of Horticulture, Plant Biology, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and Soil and Crop Sciences into a single administrative unit within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). The college will conduct an open search for a new director.

“Alan Collmer transformed plant sciences at Cornell into a single dynamic school with a bold vision to meet major world challenges through agricultural innovation,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “His legacy will be of a transformative thinker who broke down barriers to forge constructive collaboration across our top-ranked plant science disciplines. He established solid roots that will undoubtedly lead to continued innovation and discovery, and I thank him for his extraordinary efforts.”

Smart has broad professional experience encompassing research on fungal and bacterial plant pathogens, extension work in vegetable pathology, and outreach to K-12 students. At her lab at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva,  NY, she explores ways to improve vegetable disease management while promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Most recently, she has served as head of the SIPS Council of Extension Leaders and initiated the “Skills for Public Engagement” class for undergraduate and graduate students.

Read the whole article.

CUAES Director and CALS Associate Dean Jan Nyrop announces Smart's appointment at SIPS open house.

CUAES Director and CALS Associate Dean Jan Nyrop announces Smart’s appointment at SIPS open house.

Chris Smart talks with colleagues at the SIPS open house.

Chris Smart talks with colleagues at the SIPS open house. (Lindsay France, University Photo)

Solar farm opens in Geneva

The completed Sutton Road Solar Farm became operational April 13. (Photo: Rob Way/NYSAES)

The completed Sutton Road Solar Farm became operational April 13. (Photo: Rob Way/NYSAES)

Cornell Chronicle [2013-05-03]

Bring on the sunshine: Cornell University’s new Sutton Road Solar Farm, a 2-megawatt energy facility that will offset nearly 40 percent of the annual electricity demand at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, New York, became fully operational April 13.

“Our researchers are conducting basic and applied research to improve crops and make them more resilient to disease, drought and the worst effects of an uncertain climate as we chart a more sustainable agricultural future,” said Susan Brown, the Goichman Family Director of NYSAES. “Within our fruit and vegetable programs we’re studying the best way to harvest the sun, so it is only fitting that the energy powering our labs and greenhouses will do the same.”

Construction of the solar farm, a 17-acre facility featuring 9,120 photovoltaic panels located off Sutton Road in Seneca, New York, started last spring and is Cornell’s second megawatt-scale solar project. In September 2014, the university opened the Cornell Snyder Road Solar Farm with 6,778 photovoltaic panels on an 11-acre plot that adjoins the Tompkins County Regional Airport in Lansing, New York. Adding the new Geneva array to the Lansing facility’s output, the university will produce about 5,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.

Read the whole article.

Kenong Xu goes to Washington

Kenong Xu (second row from the top, second from right) with other recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Click image for larger view.

Kenong Xu (second row from the top, second from right) with other recipients of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Click image for larger view.

Yesterday, President Obama welcomed more than 100 leading scientists and engineers from across the country (and around the world!) to thank them for their work on some of the most challenging and complex issues in science and technology. These individuals, including Assistant Professor in the Horticulture Section Kenong Xu, are the latest recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). They spent two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with Administration leaders and sharing the insights of their work.

During his visit with these awardees, President Obama congratulated them on their achievements and urged them to continue to lead the way in driving discovery and innovation. He also noted that the recipients, all of whom are either employed or funded by the Federal government, underscored the importance of our Nation’s investments in research and development.

Congratulations Kenong!

Read the whole article at

Vanden Heuvel in the NY Times

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

In Do Children in France Have a Healthier Relationship With Alcohol?Justine Vanden Heuvel and psychology professor Katherine Kinzler explore how the informal education about alcohol children receive influences later drinking habits.

“Though some studies have suggested that offering children small tastes of alcohol is associated with problem drinking, countries where drinking wine at meals is standard, including Italy, France and Spain, rank among the least risky in a World Health Organization report on alcohol. Can cultural attitudes toward wine affect our propensity for problem drinking?.”

Read the whole article.


Elizabeth Bihn named Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell

Betsy Bihn

Betsy Bihn

CALS Notes [2016-03-15]:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Bihn, PhD, has been appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. Established in December 2015 with a $2 million state grant, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University is a center unique in its comprehensive approach connecting training and applied research to support the implementation of practices that reduce foodborne illness. The institute will harness Cornell’s existing strengths across food production systems in fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods to help growers and processors meet food safety challenges such as complying with new demands in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

“The Institute for Food Safety is a great opportunity to build on already established programs at Cornell in order to meet new challenges that face farmers, small processors, and the whole food industry,” said Bihn. “These challenges include requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act, buyer demand for food safety practices, consumer demand for local foods grown in sustainable ways, and many other evolving needs that are developing daily.”

Bihn and the Institute are based at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., and she is a minor faculty member of the Graduate Field of Horticulture

Read the whole article.

Xu receives Presidential Early Career Award

Kenong Xu

Kenong Xu

President Obama Thursday named 105 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Kenong Xu, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, was one of only three agricultural researchers honored.

Based at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., Xu’s current research focuses on identifying the apple genes and gene networks that control characteristics such as tree form, resistance to stress and fruit color, acidity and shelf life.

This allows apple breeders to save time and money when they develop new varieties, because they don’t have to wait for apple seedlings to fruit to identify which of the progeny carry the traits they’re looking for. And they can discard undesirable seedlings at a very young stage, greatly reducing costs.

“Xu is demonstrating how we can apply new insights into how plants work to make them more adaptable to a changing world and evolving consumer needs,” says Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” President Obama said. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony this spring.

See also:

The Eastern Broccoli Project Moves Forward

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Growing Produce [2016-02-07]

With the drought casting uncertainty on the production of broccoli in the West, growers in the East have seized the opportunity to increase their production of the crop while learning to adapt to the demands of the burgeoning marketplace.

Established in 2010, Cornell University’s Eastern Broccoli Project has been leading the expansion of broccoli production in the East. Created as a long-term program, for the last five years, the project has been funded by a $3.2 million grant from USDA and an additional $1.7 million from various commercial partners, with a recent proposal submitted to secure funds for the coming five years.

American Vegetable Grower® connected with Thomas Björkman, the project’s director, to get an update on project’s status and details on the challenges of Eastern broccoli production.

Read the whole article.

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