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30+ attend Cornell Kale Day

Griffiths introduces Kale Day participants to his breeding research trials.

Griffiths introduces Kale Day participants to his breeding research trials.

More than 30 seed growers, researchers, food industry representatives, consumers and others attended the first Cornell Kale Day at the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y. August 23.

Phillip Griffiths, associate professor in the Horticulture Section, welcomed the group  by pointing out the rapid growth in kale’s popularity, but also cautioning that it takes time to develop new varieties with superior agronomic traits and consumer appeal.

Griffiths’ efforts to breed new leafy brassicas began in 2008 with a focus on African kale (sukuma wiki). This effort expanded with support from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, incorporating diverse genetic material from collections maintaining biodiversity.

Participants spent most of the afternoon touring Griffiths’ breeding research, including plots featuring currently available varieties and breeding lines in various stages of refinement. To get feedback from the group, participants were asked to flag their favorite varieties. The feedback will help guide decisions for what hybrids will be used in on-farm trials next summer funded by  the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), says horticulture graduate student Hannah Swegarden, who works with Griffiths.

One of the hybrids in development .

One of the hybrids in development . (Photo: Matt Hayes)

 

 

Horticulture Graduate Field Review

Faculty, graduate students and staff associated with the Graduate Field of Horticulture held their biannual Field of Horticulture Graduate Student Reviews and Field Meeting August 19 in Jordan Hall at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), Geneva, N.Y.

Seventeen students and three faculty gave 2-minute/2-slide flash presentations about their research progress, in addition to two longer talks. During breaks, students presented posters providing more details about their work.

Horticulture chair Steve Reiners used the occasion to present NYSAES director Susan Brown with the Wilder Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) recognizing the contributions of her apple breeding work to advancements in pomology.

Graduate Field of Horticulture, August 19, 2016.

Graduate Field of Horticulture, August 19, 2016.

An engaging poster session.

An engaging poster session.

Susan Brown (right) shows her Wilder Award medal to Hannah Swegarden, president of the Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo).

Susan Brown (right) shows her Wilder Award medal to Hannah Swegarden, president of the Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo).

50+ attend reduced tillage field day

More than 50 growers, educators and others attended the Reduced Tillage in Organic Vegetables Field Day at Cornell’s Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y. August 17.

The hay wagon tour include stops on the NOFA-NY certified organic portion of the Thompson Farm to view research on reduced tillage practices on permanent beds, a strip tillage demonstration, and talks on pests, organic soil amendments and soil health.

The farm is managed by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. The event was co-sponsored by NOFA-NY.

Research technician Ryan Maher explains his trial evaluating reduced tillage practices on permanent beds.

Research technician Ryan Maher explains his trial evaluating reduced tillage practices on permanent beds.

Christy Hoepting, Extension vegetable specialist for the Cornell Vegetable Program, discusses organic management of Swede midge, a growing pest problem in brassica crops.

Christy Hoepting, Extension vegetable specialist for the Cornell Vegetable Program, discusses organic management of Swede midge, a growing pest problem in brassica crops.

Anusuya Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, explains features of strip tillage equipment used to limit soil disturbance to the area around the row and break up hardpans that limit rooting.

Anusuya Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, explains features of strip tillage equipment used to limit soil disturbance to the area around the row and break up hardpans that limit rooting.

Attendees await strip tillage demo.

Attendees await strip tillage demo.

 

100 attend Floriculture Field Day

More than 100 greenhouse growers and retailers, florists, educators and others from around New York and the Northeast attended the annual Cornell Floriculture Field Day August 9.

The morning program at Stocking Hall featured presentations including (click links for video):

Attendees also applauded entomology professor John Sanderson who was awarded an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM). In his 25 years at Cornell, Sanderson has enthusiastically helped greenhouse growers identify pest problems, reduce pesticide use and increase profits.

The afternoon program at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility featured tours of annual flower trials, mixed container plantings of vegetables, herbs and flowers, pollinator-friendly plants, alternatives to invasive plants and more. Attendees also applauded winners of the 13th annual Kathy Pufahl Container Competition, which since 2003 has raised more than $10,000 for IBD research at Mt. Sinai Hospital. View 2016 winners.

bed0736x640Attendees view annual flower trials.

pollinator-plants0723x640Betsy Lamb (with clipboard), New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, leads pollinator-friendly plant walkabout.

pollinator-plants0703x640Lamb (right) and attendees observe pollinators swarming on Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s root).

pollinator-bed0745x640Sue and Mark Adams, of Mark Adams Greenhouses, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who sponsored this pollinator plant bed, pose with research technician Kendra Hutchins, who manages the annual flower trials.

pollinator0674x640Bee visiting blooms in the pollinator bed.

containers0685x640Cheni Filios (MS ’14), Vegetable Product Line Manager, PanAmerican Seed Company at Ball Horticultural, explains strategies for mixing vegetables, herbs and flowers in containers.

Donald Horowitz ’77 (Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture), Wittendale’s Florist & Greenhouses, East Hampton, N.Y. took first place in the new Edibles Division in the 2015 Kathy Pufahl Memorial Container Design Competition.Donald Horowitz ’77 (Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture), Wittendale’s Florist & Greenhouses, East Hampton, N.Y. took first place in the Edibles Division in the 2016 Kathy Pufahl Memorial Container Design Competition. He fashioned the planter from a container used to ship pots to his business. View other winners.

bed0639x640Getting a closer look at the annual trials.

30 students present findings at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Brandon Webster

Brandon Webster speaks on his research on food spoilage molds that can survive high temperatures, and his findings on how different strains vary in their genetics and growth at the Sixth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium for Life Sciences August 8.

Webster, a senior at Humboldt State University, was part of this summer’s Microbial Friends & Foes Research Experience for Undergraduates program that provides training in the concepts and experimental approaches central to understanding microbial interactions with eukaryotic hosts.

Students in the program work with faculty mentors in the Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology Section (Webster worked in the Hodge Lab) and the Department of Microbiology.

Watkins Delivers Morrison Memorial Lecture at ASHS Conference

USDA-ARS news releat [2016-08-08]:

Chris Watkins

Chris Watkins

“New Technologies for Storage of Horticultural Products—There Is More to Adoption Than Availability” is the title of Christopher B. Watkins‘ 2016 ARS B.Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture, which he delivered today at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference in Atlanta.

Watkins is director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension as well as a professor of postharvest science in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

Consumers now have access to apples like Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious all year round, thanks in part to new storage technologies and management strategies.

Consumers now have access to apples like Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious all year round, thanks in part to new storage technologies and management strategies.

Watkins has contributed to the success of fruit and floral industries around the world as a leader in postharvest science and outreach. His research about controlled atmosphere biology, edible quality of fruit management, and chilling injury prevention is used across varieties and cultivars, across species, and across production areas.

In particular, Watkins has remained at the forefront of addressing significant apple industry issues by applying new developments in postharvest technologies. His research about the artificial ripening regulator 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is instrumental in the understanding of apple ethylene biology, both from a scientific standpoint and from industry’s applied perspective and practical need to control ripening.

Within the floral industry, 1-MCP is used to preserve the freshness of ornamental plants and flowers. Growers, packers and shippers use 1-MCP to maintain the quality of fruits and vegetables as diverse as kiwifruit, tomatoes, plums, persimmons, avocados and melons.

By implementing the postharvest practices developed by Dr. Watkins, the apple industry has greatly improved the quality of fruit delivered to consumers while reducing or eliminating the use of synthetic postharvest chemicals. His research with ‘Honeycrisp’ apples identified a postharvest strategy that has largely eliminated postharvest chilling injury, which has allowed this variety to achieve a profitability unprecedented in the apple industry.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) established this memorial lectureship in 1968 to honor the memory of Benjamin Y. Morrison (1891-1966) and to recognize scientists who have made outstanding contributions to horticulture and other environmental sciences, to encourage the use of these sciences, and to stress the urgency of preserving and enhancing natural beauty. Morrison was a pioneer in horticulture and the first director of ARS’s U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. A scientist, landscape architect, plant explorer, author and lecturer, Morrison advanced the science of botany in the United States and fostered broad international exchange of ornamental plants.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s chief in-house scientific research agency.

Farm-to-Table on a City Roof

Left to right: Yoshi Harada, PhD Candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture, Cornell University; Ben Flanner, President & Director of Agriculture, Brooklyn Grange; Thomas Whitlow, Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, Cornell University. (Photo: Diane Bonderaff Photography)

Left to right: Yoshi Harada, PhD Candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture, Cornell University; Ben Flanner, President & Director of Agriculture, Brooklyn Grange; Thomas Whitlow, Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, Cornell University. (Photo: Diane Bonderaff Photography)

By Sheri Englund via Atkinson Center Blog [2016-07-21]:

The skyline view from Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop is delectable, but fresh organic produce from the organization’s one-acre rooftop Flagship Farm is even more delicious.

Director David Lodge and ACSF faculty fellows joined with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on June 29 for a farm-to-table dinner showcasing Cornell’s work on local food systems and sustainable agriculture. More than 50 Cornell alumni and friends toured the facility and learned about Brooklyn Grange’s successful model for urban farming and collaborations with Cornell researchers.

Brooklyn Grange grows more than 50,000 pounds of organic produce each year at the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on two roofs in New York City, and distributes the vegetables and herbs to local restaurants, CSA members, and the public. Since its founding in 2010, the organization has become the United States’ leading green roofing business, providing urban farming and green roof consulting and installation to clients worldwide.

Brooklyn Grange operates at the intersection of sustainable agriculture, economic and environmental sustainability, and urban resiliency—all top research concerns for the Atkinson Center. After dinner, plant ecologist Thomas Whitlow gave a presentation about engaging communities in urban horticulture. Sustainable communities expert Katherine McComas closed the evening. She remarked:

“Tonight provided a taste of the innovative and impactful partnerships that are transforming the world around us in profound ways—the partnership that here, tonight, has helped to create new spaces for food, agriculture, sustainability, education, and community development right in the center of our most urban environments.”

View more pictures at CALS Notes.

Geneva scholars experience a summer of Cornell science

Sofia González Martinez of the University of Puerto Rico researched the viability of using progeny of a native apple species crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production for a project with Professor Susan Brown. (Photo: Susan Brown)

Sofia González Martinez of the University of Puerto Rico researched the viability of using progeny of a native apple species crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production for a project with Professor Susan Brown. (Photo: Susan Brown)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-08-03]:

Growing up in Puerto Rico meant Sofia González Martinez never saw apple orchards dotting the landscape. The thought of studying apples as an academic pursuit seemed like a remote possibility for a young student with a love of all plants.

That all changed this summer for the horticulture student from the University of Puerto Rico. For nine weeks she received a world-class education at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), where as a Geneva Summer Research Scholar she had the opportunity to perform research for Susan Brown, one of the top apple breeders on the planet.

Working under the mentorship of Brown, the Goichman Family Director of the NYSAES and the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, González Martinez spent her summer in the orchard and the laboratory, collecting and analyzing apple spurs from 138 trees at the Geneva campus. There she learned how to perform sophisticated data analysis using statistical software for a project to determine the viability of using progeny of a native apple species (Malus fusca) crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production.

Read the whole article.

Björkman, Cheng receive USDA-SCRI grants totaling $6.3 million

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack August 2 announced 19 grants totaling $36.5 million for research and extension to support American farmers growing fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Two faculty in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science were among the recipients:

“America’s specialty crop farmers face many challenges ranging from a changing climate to increasing production costs. Investing in cutting edge research helps uncover solutions to keep their operations viable and ensures Americans have access to safe, affordable and diverse food options,” said Vilsack. “The universities, state departments of agriculture and trade associations that partner with USDA address challenges at the national and local levels to help sustain all parts of America’s food and agriculture system, whether the farms are small or large, conventional or organic.”

More information:

Red will be on the greens (and fairways) at the Rio Olympics

Cornell Chronicle [2016-07-29]

Rossi at 2015 Turf Field Day at Cornell's Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility

Rossi at 2015 Turf Field Day at Cornell’s Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility

When some of the world’s best golfers tee off next month in the 72-hole Olympic competition, they will be navigating fairways and greens imagined and designed by a pair of Cornellians. …

Gil Hanse, MLA ’89, bested a field of 29 of the world’s top golf architects four years ago and won the job of turning an abandoned sand mine in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro into a golf course that could challenge the best players in the game, then be used as a municipal course for a city and nation just being introduced to the sport.

“It’s very humbling and an incredible honor,” Hanse told reporters shortly after winning the competition four years ago.

Hanse – an award-winning course architect who founded Hanse Golf Course Design in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in 1993 – enlisted the help of fellow Cornellian Frank Rossi, Ph.D. ’91, to come up with a grassing plan in keeping with his philosophy of tailoring the golf course to the site, and not the other way around.

“He’s the best – he’s so passionate,” Hanse said of Rossi, who is an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ School of Integrative Plant Science. “He was out there doing a lot of research for us. My partner, Jim Wagner, and I talked with him about what sort of characteristics we want the grass to have from a playability standpoint.”

Read the whole article.

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