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NYFVI awards grants worth $1.6 million

nyfvi logoThe New York Farm Viability Institute announced the award of $1.6 million in funding for 20 projects that aim to help farmers across the state improve improve yields, lower input costs, reach new markets and develop new opportunities.

Some projects of horticultural interest include:

  • Optimizing use of native persistent nematodes for biological control of Plum Curculio in organic and conventional apple production (Arthur Agnello, Entomology)
  • Developing a mechanical method to seed undervine cover crops in NY winegrape vineyards (Hans Walter-Peterson, Finger Lakes Grape Program)
  • Use of under vine fescues in Long Island vinifera vineyards to reduce production costs and environmental impact (Alice Wise, CCE Suffolk County)
  • Insects On-Line: Forecasting insect management for nursery and Christmas tree growers (Elizabeth Lamb, NYS Integrated Pest Management Program)
  • Insect-killing nematodes for biocontrol of greenhouse thrips and fungus gnats (John Sanderson, Entomology)
  • Developing a sustainable hops IPM program from greenhouse to harvest  (Tim Weigle, NYS Integrated Pest Management Program)
  • Minimizing wildlife impacts on yield and food safety risk in vegetables by utilizing repellency tactics (Darcy Telenko, Cornell Vegetable Program)
  • Adoption of controlled release nitrogen fertilizer in potato production (Rebecca Wiseman, CCE Suffolk County)
  • Onion growers can reduce rot! (Steven Beer, Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology)

More information:

Podcast: Climate Change and Fruit Trees

How will the changing climate affect the way we grow fruit now and in the years to come?  Greg Peck, Assistant Professor in the Horticulture Section, sat down with Susan Poizner, host of the Orchard People podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about sustainable fruit productions systems, how climate change will affect fruit trees and what growers and gardeners can do to prepare.

Listen to the podcast.

Greg Peck dissects fruit buds to assess frost damaage.

Greg Peck dissects fruit buds in his lab to assess frost damage.


Vanden Heuvel: Climate Change Will Transform What’s in Your Wine Glass

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

[Huffington Post 2016-04-20]:

After the publication of a recent study about the impact of climate change on French wine, several articles misrepresented the study, resulting in misleading headlines such as An Upside to Climate Change? Better French Wine, French Wine May Be Improving Due To Climate Change, and Climate Change Giving The World Better French Wine. While the stories implied that any benefit of climate change on French wine would be short-term, they failed to press on a key point: Climate change will transform what’s in your wine glass and continue to do so as long as it remains unchecked.

Here in the U.S., the assessment of the future of the wine industry is pretty grim: the land area capable of producing premium wines could decrease by as much as 81 percent by the end of this century. The major impact of climate change on wine grape production is through increasing temperature; as the growth of grapevines is mostly dictated by temperature, climate change has been resulting in earlier bloom and harvest dates, with most major wine regions being impacted.

Major wine-growing regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Napa Valley have at least a few strategies available to them. One is that they can maintain the status quo by growing the same grape varieties that they grow now. As temperature increases, sugar accumulation in the grape increases, resulting in a higher alcohol wine. Acidity of the grapes decreases, color can be reduced, and compounds that are responsible for the typical aroma of some wines can decrease. Will consumers adapt to these changing styles? It’s difficult to say.

Annual Fund support helps CALS grow

The Annual Fund helps Hannah Swegarden, horticulture Ph.D student, complete the kind of innovative research that will help feed a hungry world. Support her and other CALS students on Cornell Giving Day April 19:

Biochar/Bioenergy Seminar

Nearly 60 faculty, staff, students, industry representatives and others attended the day-long Cornell Biochar/Bioenergy Seminar April 15. They were treated to wide-ranging talks, panel discussions, flash presentations and a poster session. The day culminated with a tour of Cornell’s new biochar research pyrolysis kiln at the Leland Laboratory, the largest in the U.S.

The kiln was made possible by a $5 million gift to the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future from philanthropist Yossie Hollander, who is interested in the test facility’s potential to help small farming communities in developing countries. The kiln will help researchers learn more about how feedstocks and pyrolysis practices affect biochar quality and effectiveness as a soil amendment. More information.

biochar kiln

Seminar participants learn about the nuts and bolts of Cornell’s new research pyrolysis kiln at the Leland Laboratory.

Finicky deer avoid some invasive plants, promoting spread

At the Penn State Deer Research Center, ecologists offered deer a multiple-choice array of eight invasive introduced and seven native plants to determine deer feeding preferences among the species.

At the Penn State Deer Research Center, ecologists offered deer a multiple-choice array of eight invasive introduced and seven native plants to determine deer feeding preferences among the species.

Cornell Chronicle [2016-04-14]:

The dietary preferences of deer may be promoting the spread of such invasive species as garlic mustard, Japanese barberry and Japanese stiltgrass, according to a new study that tested white-tailed deer preferences for seven native and eight invasive plants commonly found in the northeastern U.S.

“Deer avoid certain invasive plants that are increasing in abundance in natural areas, suggesting that deer are causing unpalatable species to spread,” said Kristine Averill, a research associate in Cornell’s Section of Soil and Crop Sciences and the lead author of a study recently published online and in an upcoming print issue of the journal Biological Invasions.

The invasive herb garlic mustard, for example, has spread throughout the United States in the last 150 years and has become one of the worst forest invaders, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. In some areas, it has become the dominant forest underbrush plant, outcompeting native plants and reducing species diversity.

Read the whole article.

Promotions for Smart, Fazio

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Larry Smart has been promoted to Professor effective April 1. Smart is based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, in Geneva, N.Y., where his lab focuses on breeding, genetics, genomics, and physiology of shrub willow bioenergy crops.   He is the co-leader of a recently funded $1 million USDA-DOE grant looking at shrub willow rust-resistance, and part of the team for the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project funded by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Academic Venture Fund. Visit the Willowpedia website for more information about Smart’s work.

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio, Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) in Geneva, N.Y., and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Horticulture Section has been promoted to GS14 in the ARS career ladder system.

Fazio joined PGRU in 2001 and since then has been leading the joint USDA-ARS and Cornell University Apple Rootstock Breeding Program. He is internationally recognized as a breeder and developer of several Geneva® apple rootstocks. Under his leadership, production of the first highly productive apple rootstocks resistant to fire blight and wooly apple aphid and replant-tolerant went from a few thousand per year in 2001 to 6 million in 2015. That effort earned the team both the USDA-ARS 2014 North Atlantic Area Technology Transfer Award and the 2015 Federal Laboratory Consortium “Excellence in Technology Transfer” award.

Fazio has been consulted by scientific and industry representatives from all over the world engaged in the application of rootstock technologies. He has authored or co-authored 47 peer reviewed publications and produced 18 issued plant patents or plant breeder’s rights and authored or co-authored 14 publications in trade journals.

Congratulations Larry and Gennaro!

Cornell Biochar/Bioenergy Conference April 15

biochar Photo: UC Davis Biochar Database

Photo: UC Davis Biochar Database

From Jingjing Yin, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Horticulture Section:

We invite everyone with an interest in biochar to attend the first Cornell-wide biochar conference organized by the project team Best use practices for improving soil health and vegetable growth in organic farming using on-site produced biochar on April 15, 9 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. in 135 Emerson Hall.

The program will include  talks from invited speakers, a panel discussion, and poster displays, followed by a tour of the Leland pyrolysis kiln at from 3 to 4 p.m.  The event is free and open to the Cornell community and is sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

If you would like to attend, present a poster, or have other questions, please contact Jingjing Yin ( or Neil Mattson (, or visit the conference website.

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.

Signs of Spring 2

flower bulb research at KPL

Research support specialist Rose Harmon and Dutch intern Jurjen de Jong collect data for the Flower Bulb Research Program at the Ken Post Lab Greenhouses.

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