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2014 processing vegetable variety reports

Processor and seed company representatives sample frozen peas at NYSAES ‘cuttng’.

Processor and seed company representatives sample frozen peas at NYSAES ‘cuttng’ November 6, 2015.

Jim Ballerstein, Research Support Specialist for Steve Reiners’ vegetable research program has released this year’s processing vegetable variety reports.

In November, more than 40 people attended Ballerstein’s cutting at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, N.Y. to sample 168 varieties of frozen and canned vegetables taste for themselves how the corn, peas and beans performed.

Find previous years’ reports and more information on Reiner’s research page.

2014 cut flower trial report

Lisianthus planting in the high tunnel, Snapdragon trial in late May, harvesting the Ammi field trial, Eucomis in high tunnel.

Lisianthus planting in the high tunnel, Snapdragon trial in late May, harvesting the Ammi field trial, Eucomis in high tunnel. Click image for larger view.

Chris Wien’s 2014 cut flower cultural practice studies and variety trials report is now available online. This year’s research includes:

  • Anemone/Ranunculus trial
  • Sunflower photoperiod reaction
  • Defoliation of peppers with ethephon
  • Lisianthus spacing and topping
  • Celosia comb deformation
  • Snapdragon overwintering high tunnels
  • Delphinium longevity

Wien also reports on variety trials of:

  • Ornamental peppers
  • Ornamental Alliums
  •  Ammi
  • Celosia
  • Cosmos
  • Delphinium
  • Eucomis
  • Filler species: Bupleurum, Euphorbia, Gypsophilum, Eucalyptus, Atriplex
  • Gladioli
  • Poppies
  • Ornamental Cabbage

To see previous years’ reports, visit Wien’s research page.

Forest farming book available for pre-order

Farming the Woods coverFarming the Woods, by Ken Mudge, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and program aide Steve Gabriel, is now available for pre-order. Official release is slated for October 9, 2014.

The 360-page book will help you learn how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that you can maintain a healthy forest while growing a wide range of food, medicinals, and other non-timber products.

The authors demonstrate that forest farms can be most productive in places where annual cropping is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. They detail how forest farmingcan be integrated into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

Farming the Woods covers how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, the book provides comprehensive information on:

  • Historical perspectives of forest farming.
  • Mimicking the forest in a changing climate.
  • Cultivation of medicinal crops.
  • Cultivation of food crops.
  • Creating a forest nursery.
  • Harvesting and using wood products.
  • The role of animals in the forest farm.
  • How to design your forest farm and manage it once
    it’s established.

Read more about the book.

Mudge will present a Horticulture Section seminar Case studies in forest farming Monday, September 22, 2014 at 12:20 p.m. in 404 Plant Science Building.

New fact sheet: Sustainable Pest Management in Greenhouses and High Tunnels

factsheet coverFrom the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program:

Having trouble with pests in your greenhouses and high tunnels? Interested in learning more about using biological control to manage them? Read SARE’s new fact sheet, Sustainable Pest Management in Greenhouses and High Tunnels, to learn how beneficial insects can protect crops in season-extending structures and enhance the sustainability of your operation.

SARE-funded researchers at Cornell University found that with a combination of controls, greenhouse and high tunnel pests could be managed effectively and, in some cases, eradicated.

Highlights of 23 New York case studies include the development of an effective combination of parasitic wasps (Aphidius colemani and Aphidius ervi) to eradicate an aphid infestation on winter greens and peppers. And predatory mites (Amblyeius cucumeris) used in conjunction with minute pirate bugs (Orius insidiosus) helped eradicate thrips on cucumbers. Researchers also found that the two-spotted spider mite was effectively managed by applying a parasitic mite (Phytoseiulus persimilis) on eggplant and strawberries. The Nile Delta wasp (Encarsia formosa) helped manage, and in some instances, even eradicate whiteflies on tomatoes.

The fact sheet includes an introduction to biological control, along with colorful photos that can be used to identify pests and their associated crop damage. It also provides specific how-to information on scouting for pests along with detailed release information, including optimal temperature, quantity of natural enemies and timing of release relative to pest populations. Management strategies for control agents, such as predatory mites and parasitic wasps, and a supply list for obtaining biological control agents are also found in the fact sheet.

Download the fact sheet now.

New Cornell magazine on Flipboard

engaged screenshot

You may recognize senior Extension associate Judson Reid, inspecting high-tunnel cucumbers on the cover of Cornell University: Engaged — the first of a series of curated digital magazines on Flipboard, promoting themes that match to the university’s strategic initiatives.

“Part of our strategy for building a presence on Flipboard stems from the fact that the mobile and desktop application has 90 million users who can help spread the good word about Cornell’s activities to broad and possibly new audiences,” writes Jeri Wall, director of writing/content strategy, University Relations/Marketing.

Have a good story about how you engage growers, communities and other stakeholders? I’d love to hear it. Contact me:

Hort in Spring 2014 periodiCALS

Spring 2014 periodiCALSThe Spring 2014 issue of periodiCALS features several articles of horticultural interest. Among them:

  • Page 4: Watkins Takes Helm of CCE and Plantations Says Aloha to New Director Dunn.
  • Page 7: Michael Mazourek’s ‘Silver Slicer’ cucumber named one of the top new edible plants of 2014 by Better Homes and Gardens and breeders may soon be able to predict the  acid-producing potential of apple trees without waiting for fruit, thanks to research by Kenong Xu.
  • Page 22: Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize course is featured in “Innovative Instruction In Any Study.” Bryan Duff’s What is School For? course is profiled in a sidebar.
  • Page 28: Nick Biebel’s ’14 squash breeding work with Michael Mazourek is featured in  “CALS Students Make Their Mark.”
  • Marvin Pritts and Steve Reiners are among the beloved faculty featured in this web exclusive.

Download the .pdf or view the digital edition.

2013 cut flower trial report

Research assistant Priscilla Thompson tends ornamental peppers.

Research assistant Priscilla Thompson tends ornamental peppers.

Chris Wien’s 2013 cut flower cultural practice studies and variety trials report is now available online. This year’s research includes:

  • Anemone/Ranunculus tunnel trial
  • Delphinium longevity trial
  • Larkspur planting date and pinching trial
  • Sunflower night interruption experiment
  • Sunflower topping methods trial

Wien also reports on variety trials of

  • Amaranthus
  • Celosia
  • Eucomis
  • Lisianthus
  • Marigold
  • Pumpkin-on-a-stick (Solanum integrifolium)
  • Snapdragon
  • Zinnia

To see previous years’ reports, visit Wien’s research page.

Cut flower trials

Below left to right, Eucomis ‘Reuben’, ‘Amadine Yellow Picotee’ ranunculus grown in high tunnel (April 29), ‘Garda Tricolor’ ornamental pepper.

New publication is comprehensive guide for shiitake mushroom growers

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 10.57.21 AMVia the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network:

Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States is a new guide for growers published by Cornell Cooperative Extension in collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and a team of farm advisors. The book and related publications are available for free download at:

Shiitakes are the second-most cultivated mushroom variety in the world, and the demand for locally produced, log-grown shiitakes is high among chefs and consumers alike. According to the guide, “Forest cultivation of shiitake mushrooms can generate income, diversify farm and forestry enterprises, add value to forestry by-products and create opportunities for timber stand improvement.”   At publication time, these mushrooms sell for $10-$18 per pound across the Northeast.

The guide is the culmination of a three-year research and education project funded by a grant from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The project was led by Ken Mudge, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, and included Ben Waterman  and Bridgett Jamison Hilshey  (University of Vermont) and Allen Matthews (Chatham University). The project was informed by the experiences of more than twenty shiitake growers producing for market in the Northeast, led by four farm advisors:  Steve Sierigk, Hawk Meadow Farm, Trumansburg, N.Y., Nick Laskovski, Dana Forest Farm, Waitsfield, Vt., Steve and Julie Rockcastle, of Green Heron Growers, Panama, N.Y. and Steve Gabriel, Wellspring Forest Farm, Mecklenburg, N.Y.

The Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network is a resource site for growers of all scales featuring factsheets, videos, a Northeast grower directory and listings of events and classes.

Vegetable variety list for New York gardeners

What varieties will perform best in your garden?

What varieties will perform best in your garden?

Just in time for arrival of this year’s crop of seed catalogs, the 2014 edition of Selected List of Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners in New York State is now available online.

The varieties listed in this report should be well adapted for most home gardens in New York State, offer relatively high quality, be dependable, possess disease and insect resistance when possible, and have a relatively long harvest period.

There may be varieties not listed in the report that will perform satisfactorily in your garden, or even better under certain conditions. If you’d like to dive into a larger pool of varieties as you plan you garden, visit our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website for detailed descriptions and seed sources of more than 6,100 varieties. At the site, you can compare varieties, read ratings and reviews by fellow gardeners, and offer your own observations of which varieties perform best in your garden.

And if you’re looking for growing tips, check out our vegetable growing guides.

Best of luck with your 2014 growing season.

New publication: Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices

Bioswale at Cornell Plantations filters water from nearby parking lot. (Photo: Ethan Dropkin)

Bioswale at Cornell Plantations filters water from nearby parking lot. (Photo: Ethan Dropkin)

Rain gardens, filter strips and bioswales are a great way to help reduce runoff, flooding and pollution while increasing groundwater infiltration and aquifer recharge – especially in urban areas.

These stormwater prevention practices are often planted with herbaceous plants such as swamp milkweed, soft rush and Joe-Pye weed that tolerate periodic flooding while also surviving dry periods between storms. But these plant need to be cut back annually after their leaves and stems die back to the ground.

Carefully chosen woody shrubs, on the other hand, can do the same job with less maintenance. Plus they can provide aesthetic benefits, year-round interest, shade and wildlife habitat all while removing and sequestering carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere.

To help choose the right shrub for these uses, the Department of Horticulture’s Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) has just released a 56-page guide, Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions).  The guide details site assessment and design considerations for those practices and profiles more than 35 woody shrub species that can tolerate both dry and periodically saturated soil conditions typical of retention areas.

The guide is based in part on a study conducted in Ithaca, N.Y., by Master of Professional Studies student Ethan M. Dropkin guided by co-author and UHI director Nina Bassuk. The study tested the flood and drought tolerances of six of the shrub species included in the guide.

Free electronic versions of the guide are available through the outreach section of the UHI website:

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