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Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel receives NYFVI grant [CALS News 2017-04-13] – Wine grape growers in the Finger Lakes region will be getting a high-tech view of both their vineyards and bottom lines thanks to work from Justine Vanden Heuvel. A project from the associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science will help select growers use drone technology to collect remote sensing measurements known as normalized difference vegetation index, or NDVI images. Her research is one of 11 projects led by Cornell scientists who received a total of more than $1.1 million from the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) in their latest round of funding, announced April 12.

Bosco

Bosco

Bosco awarded Engaged Cornell grant [CALS News 2017-04-12] – Graduate Field of Horticulture Ph.D. student Sam Bosco is one of 16 students to receive an Engaged Graduate Student Grant. The grants provide opportunities for Ph.D. students and their thesis advisors to conduct research or scholarship that is community engaged or to develop strategies for incorporating community engagement into existing thesis work. Bosco is working with Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse, aka Iroquois) communities to further remember and restore their traditional foodways — much of which was lost during colonization — of integrating nut trees into a sustainable food system. Bosco’s work includes facilitating nut tree cultivation, and co-developing culturally-specific curricula, resources, and activities to expand interest and consumption of nuts. His advisor is Jane Mt. Pleasant, School of Integrative Plant Science – Horticulture, and American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program.

Peck

Peck

Spanish cider from American soil [Draft Magazine 2017-04-11] – “With the huge growth in the cider industry over the last five years, I think there are many commercial cider makers looking at how to make a product that’s quite different from what’s out there,”  Greg Peck, tells Draft Magazine. Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section, is working with the USDA to test and release the new Spanish apple varieties.

Survey details impact of 2016 drought on New York farming

Cornell Chronicle [2017-04-06]:

A survey of more than 200 New York farmers late last summer – during the worst drought in two generations – found that more than 70 percent of unirrigated, rain-fed field crops and pasture acreage had losses between 30 and 90 percent, according to a new report published by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions.

For farmers all over the state, arid conditions were so pervasive that fruit and vegetable growers who had capacity to irrigate lacked water to keep up with the drought. Irrigated farms estimated crop losses of up to 35 percent, said Shannan Sweet, NatureNet postdoctoral science fellow with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and The Nature Conservancy.

“New York’s farmers have asked if they should expect more dry summers like the one we had in 2016. The answer is: We don’t know,” said Sweet, also a postdoctoral associate in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, working with David Wolfe, professor of horticulture. “Climate scientists forecast that the number of frost-free days will continue to increase and summers will be getting warmer, increasing water demand for crops.”

Read the whole article.

Responses to the survey question “What might you have done differently if you had known how dry this summer would be?”

Responses to the survey question “What might you have done differently if you had known how dry this summer would be?”

Read full report: Anatomy of a Rare Drought: Insights from New York Field Crop Farmers

Our Roots Grow Deep: Alumni in Extension

Lindsay Jordan was also a 2013 Dreer Award Winner  who traveled to New Zealand to explore cool-season viticulture practices.

Lindsay Jordan was also a 2013 Dreer Award Winner who traveled to New Zealand to explore cool-season viticulture practices.

This week, CALS News featured two alumni from the Graduate Field of Horticulture.

Liberty Hyde Bailey once described extension work as “a plain, earnest, and continuous effort to meet the needs of the people on their own farms.” Now as extension professionals, viticulture and enology graduates Lindsay Jordan, M.S. ’14, and Justin Scheiner, Ph.D. ’10, use their Cornell experience to apply Bailey’s goal to the grape and wine industry every day.

Jordan and Scheiner’s shared desire to make a tangible difference in the lives of growers belies the fact that they do their work nearly 2,000 miles apart. Both graduate students of the Vanden Heuvel group, Jordan worked on under-vine cover crops for weed management and their impact on grape production during her time at Cornell, and several years earlier, Scheiner examined the connection of methoxypyrazine levels and ‘bell pepper’ aromas to vineyard practices.

Their diverse backgrounds and research interests easily translated into working in extension. Jordan is currently based in California as the University of California Cooperative Extension Area Viticulture Advisor for three counties in the arid San Joaquin Valley, while Scheiner works as an assistant professor and viticulture specialist at Texas A&M University.

“My favorite part has been getting to know my local growers, and getting to participate in applied research that can directly impact growers,” said Jordan. “It’s pretty much the dream.”

Read the whole article.

Bauerle Lab’s Schieder awarded DAAD-RISE internship

From Taryn Bauerle, associate professor, Horticulture Section:

Plant Sciences major Tommi Schieder ’19 has been awarded a DAAD-RISE internship and is one of only five students chosen from more than 1,700 to receive additional funding from the German Center for Research and Innovation Foundation.

This summer, Tommi will be traveling to the Technical University of Munich to research tree hydraulic redistribution, the passive movement of water that helps trees survive drought stress, a growing concern due to climate change.

Bauerle (right) orients Schieder to some of the equipment she’ll be using to collect data while on her internship in Germany.

Bauerle (right) orients Schieder to some of the equipment she’ll be using to collect data while on her internship in Germany.

Researchers Look for Genetic Clues to Help Grapes Survive Cold

CALS News [2017-03-29]

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, visits the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan, New York. Photo by Chris Kitchen / University Photography

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, visits the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan, New York. (Photo:  Chris Kitchen /University Photography)

Months before northern vineyards burst into their lush summer peak, the delicate grape buds holding the nascent fruit in its tiny core must first withstand the freezing onslaught of winter.

Understanding how grape buds respond to subzero temperatures is of paramount concern to vineyard managers in New York and other northerly grape-producing states. Some of the more popular varieties used in the wine and juice industries can survive temperatures far below the freezing point of water. By a process known as supercooling, cellular mechanisms within the bud maintain water in liquid state down to around minus 4 to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. Beyond a certain low-temperature threshold, ice forms inside the cells, cellular functions cease and the bud dies.

Horticulturists have long relied on traditional methods to study freezing in plants. Now a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is using powerful technologies on campus to explore in new ways the cellular mechanics that allow grape buds to survive brutal cold. The research has implications for vineyard economics, especially as climate change opens more northerly land for cultivation and current growing regions experience more extreme weather.

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, is using the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) to create 3-D images of grape buds. The images produced at CHESS are providing a unique perspective as Kovaleski unravels the genetic underpinnings of supercooling in grape buds.

Read the whole article.

 

This article originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Signs of spring: Hortus Forum at KPL

Members of Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club, visited Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses Wednesday, where Bill Miller explained the work of the Flower Bulb Research Program.

HoFo at KPL

Vanden Heuvel recognized for grape, wine research

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel

Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-14]

In recognition of her major contributions to the state’s wine and grape industries, Justine Vanden Heuvel has earned this year’s research award from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF).

The foundation recognized Vanden Heuvel, associate professor of enology and viticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her research optimizing flavors and aromas in wine grapes, and for improving the environmental and economic sustainability of wine grape production in cool climates. She received the award March 1 at the annual NYWGF unity banquet, part of the three-day B.E.V. New York organized by Cornell and held near Rochester. …

Research by Vanden Heuvel has provided guidance for vineyard management decisions to improve economic outcomes and reduce environmental impacts. A series of papers published during the summer demonstrated that planting cover crops beneath vines reduces nutrient and agrochemical leaching from vineyards while reducing production costs.

In addition to research and outreach work, Vanden Heuvel teaches undergraduate courses on the science of viticulture and enology, as well as a course on wine culture.

“New York has earned its reputation as one of the world’s premier grape and wine producers, but that success can only be sustained through a continued commitment to research,” said Vanden Heuvel. “Growers face uncertainty as climate shifts, and rely on robust research programs to guide sustainable innovation. I am proud that my research helps growers prosper and maintains New York’s reputation as a grape and wine powerhouse.”

Read the whole article.

The Secret to a Really Crisp Apple

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

Why are some apples mealy while others are crisp?

Cornell apple breeder Susan Brown answers that question in this New York Times science Q&A.

The differences are partly genetic, she explains. Some varieties can be stored longer before they get mushy.

But proper storage at home will help you keep your apples crisp. “If consumers store fruits at room temperature, rather than in the refrigerator, they will soften and get mealy sooner,” she says.

Read the whole article.

Water sensor moves from basic research to promising business

A sensor installed in the trunk of a grapevine. After the installation of the sensor, the researchers cover and insulate the trunk.

A sensor installed in the trunk of a grapevine. After the installation of the sensor, the researchers cover and insulate the trunk. (Photo: Alan Lakso)

Cornell Chronicle [2017-02-06]:

A water sensor technology that began as basic research at Cornell is blooming into a business that fills a vital need for grape, nut, apple and other growers.

While current water sensing tools are expensive, inaccurate or labor intensive, the new sensor tells growers when their plants need irrigation with accurate, real-time readings at reasonable cost.

Much like a blood pressure gauge for humans, the sensor reads the water pressure inside the plant. When plants are thirsty, their water pressure is low, sometimes even negative. The sensor reads this pressure inside the plant to help growers ensure plant health and optimize water use in drought-stricken agricultural areas. Applying water at the right time can also greatly improve the quality of fruits, nuts and especially grapes for red wines.

In mid-2016, Cornell engineers and horticulturalists who developed the sensor launched FloraPulse, a startup aimed at commercializing the sensor and using it to provide agricultural services. The first target markets are grape and nut growers in California’s Central and Napa valleys.

Read the whole article.

Curiosity and expertise earn Excellence in IPM award for Cornell ‘pumpkin whisperer’

'Pumpkin whisperer' checks in with her 1,872-pound patient.

‘Pumpkin whisperer’ checks in with her 1,872-pound patient.

NYSIPM program news release:

Meg McGrath, a Cornell University plant pathologist based at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, is an internationally recognized researcher, sought-after speaker, and well-versed in the solutions to devastating plant diseases.

And for growers with trouble on their hands, she’s available at a moment’s notice.

These qualities and more have earned McGrath an Excellence in IPM award from Cornell University’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM).

McGrath’s expertise spans the gamut of IPM strategies and tactics that both organic and conventional growers use to combat disease pests such as late blight and downy mildew. “Meg embraced the concepts of integrated pest management from the beginning of her career,” says colleague Margery Daughtrey. “She does a splendid job of bringing her discoveries to the practical level for growers in dozens of presentations annually.”

But it’s her help in the field that farmers value the most — help that’s delivered with a welcome dose of levity. “Meg’s funny,” says Marilee Foster at Foster’s Farm in Sagponack. “She’ll say ‘I’m sorry, I’m a plant pathologist. I like to study sick plants.’” When a nearby outbreak of late blight threatened Foster’s organic heirloom tomatoes, Meg came to help scout — “arriving early so we’d have the visual benefit of dew,” Foster says.

When they found a handful of plants with symptoms, McGrath reviewed Foster’s alternatives, but none were suited for organic crops. The strategy they hit on together? Using a handheld weed-flamer to take down suspect plants. “Blight can’t handle temperatures much above eighty degrees,” Meg told Foster. “And it might feel good!”  Which, Foster agrees, it did.

Meg focuses on core IPM principles — principles such as careful identification so you don’t treat a disease the wrong way, or changing a crop’s environment to outsmart its pathogens. “She helps Long Island growers deal with the limited availability of products they can use to manage pests, given the island’s heightened groundwater concerns,” says Jennifer Grant, director, NYS IPM. “It’s not every day you find someone who brings such warmth and knowledge to a position that means so much to so many farmers’ livelihood.”

Marilee Foster echoes that. “I have long admired the energy and curiosity Meg brings to farmers in eastern Long Island. We are lucky to have her working with us, for everyone.”

McGrath received her award on January 18 at the 2017 Empire State Producers Expo in Syracuse, New York. Learn more about integrated pest management at nysipm.cornell.edu.

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