Archive for the “Research” Category

low tunnelFrom Heather Scott, technician, Drinkwater Lab:

As part of the Food Dignity Project, I am working with local gardeners to measure how much produce they grow in their gardens in one season. I have 18 home gardeners and 32 community gardeners participating this year!

We hope to find out if gardeners are producing nutritionally and economically significant amounts of food. Based on preliminary data from 22 gardens last year, they are indeed! They averaged 181 pounds of food, valued at over $550. The top producer grew over 450 pounds of food!

If you’d like to find out more about some the gardeners who are participating, visit our Ithaca Garden Harvest Log Blog.

Food Dignity is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68004-30074 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

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More than 100 greenhouse growers and retailers, florists, educators and others from around the state attended the 2014 Cornell Floriculture Field Day. The day included morning presentations on campus followed by afternoon walkabouts on flower trials and pests and diseases at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility.

In the morning, judges rated entries in the 11th annual Kathy Pufahl Container Competition, which has raised more than $10,000 since its inception for IBD research at Mt. Sinai Hospital. View all entries.

Container contest judging

Don Horowitz (’77), Wittendale’s Florist & Greenhouses, East Hampton, N.Y., took home the blue ribbon in the Open Division.

container contest winner

Attendees placed flags to vote for their favorite annual and perennial flower and foliage varieties

placing flags

Christian Lesage, one of the Cornell undergrads who managed the flower trials, explains the creative vegetable and flower pallet plantings they incorporated into the demonstrations this season.


David Harris, another of the Cornell undergrads who managed the flower trials, discusses annual flower trial with attendees.


John Sanderson, Department of Entomology, talks about pest problems in perennial plantings.


Brian Eshenaur, New York State IPM Program, moves in for a closer look at pest problems.


Attendees admire container contest entries.


If you attend the 2015 Floriculture Field Day, don’t forget your camera.


On the far right in the above image is garden columnist Carol Bradford. View her photo gallery at

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Ken Mudge gives shiitake mushroom demo at MacDaniels Nut Grove

Ken Mudge gives shiitake mushroom demo at MacDaniels Nut Grove.

From the Ithaca Journal [2014-08-04]:

“… ‘You’re not going to get rich, but it’s not just a hobby, or it doesn’t have to be,’ said Ken Mudge, Associate Professor at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

“[A] Cornell-UVM study found that growing mushrooms outdoors during a four-month period can be profitable to farmers with at least 500 logs. With prices as high as $16 per pound in some parts of the Northeast, a 500-log operation could earn $11,190 in gross income. Locally, prices hover about $10 per pound.

“‘Really, if you have access to the woods, it’s not that hard to get started,’ said [local grower Steve] Sierigk.

Read the whole article.

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David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

Some recent awards and recognitions:

Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agriculture Specialist with the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, was awarded an Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) held in Mobile, Alabama on July 22. The Achievement Award is presented to those agricultural agents that have been working in their field for less than 10 years but in that short time have made significant contributions to their profession.

Fred Gouker, PhD candidate in the Graduate Field of Plant Breeding and Genetics and member of Larry Smart’s lab was a co-winner of the Best Student Poster at the International Poplar and Willow Symposium VI July 21-23 in Vancouver, BC for his paper entitled Analysis of phenotypic and genetic diversity of a Salix purpurea association mapping population.

David Harris, a rising senior majoring in Plant Science with a minor in East Asian Studies received the Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship. Harris’s career goal is to work for an international company that plans on expanding production or sales into Asia.

Update [2014-08-02] from Marvin Pritts: At the American Society for Horticultural Science meetings in Orlando this week, Terence Robinson received the Outstanding Extension Educator Award and Bill Miller delivered the B.Y. Morrison lecture. Also, Mary Meyer, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota (M.S. Cornell, 73), delivered the presidential address.

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Mary Thurn, research support specialist with the Cornell Turfgrass Program, demonstrates how she uses the [make and model] drone to get an aerial view of turf research plots.

Above: Mary Thurn, research support specialist with the Cornell Turfgrass Program, demonstrates how she uses a DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter with GoPro camera drone to get an aerial view of turf research plots.

Cornell Turfgrass Program researchers are employing a drone this summer to take aerial photos of their research plots.

“Of course we still collect data. But with the bird’s-eye view, you can see things that you can’t see readily — or at all — from the ground,” says research support specialist Mary Thurn. “We can also send pictures to collaborators who can’t visit the site in person and they can still see treatment differences for themselves.”

Drones may prove to be a practical tool for turf managers, too, Thurn points out. For example, a golf course superintendent could fly one around the course to spot stressed grass that may need water, fertilizer or pest management attention before the problem gets too severe.

Aerial images can show differences not readily visible at ground level.

Aerial images can show differences not readily visible at ground level.

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Research at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility is in full flower …

Technician Pat MacRae tends more than 600 varieties of David Austen roses in a newly planted five-year trial.

Technician Pat MacRae tends more than 600 David Austin roses (representing 80 varieties) in a newly planted multi-year trial.

Flower Bulb Research Program's lily variety trial.

Flower Bulb Research Program’s lily variety trial.

Pallet planters

This year’s annual flower trials also features edibles, some in planters made from recycled pallets.

Perennial flower plots

Perennial flower plots.

The Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility is not open to the public. But you can register for the annual Cornell Floriculture Field Day August 5, which also features the 11th annual Kathy Pufahl Container Design Competition.

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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.

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cuvee participants in working vines

CUVEE participants working vines.

Cornell experts lead hands-on summer program in grape-growing and winemaking [CALS Notes 2014-06-22] - Wine enthusiasts can explore the science of growing grapes and making wine this summer at the Cornell University Viticulture and Enology Experience (CUVEE) in Ithaca, New York, from July 27 to August 1, 2014. Cornell fruit-crop physiologist Alan Lakso and wine microbiology researcher Kathleen Arnink will mentor participants in the field and classroom.

Inside Job: A New Chip Tells Farmers When to Water [Modern Farmer 2014-06-23] – Alan Lakso, professor emeritus in horticulture, Abraham Stroock, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Vinay Pagay, a Ph.D student at the time, created an electronic microchip water sensor that can be inserted right into grapevines. Pagay says the chips will soon start their testing rounds with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of Modesto, California. But the technology has a much broader use than just the wine industry. As the U.S. and other parts of the world labor under a record-breaking drought, the team hopes that their invention can help farmers who are coping with serious water shortages, or work in dry climate areas.

New York looking at outstanding back-to-back apple seasons [The Produce Grower 2014-06-20] – “Last year, we had an excellent crop, a full crop, one of the largest crops in history,” said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association in Fishers, N.Y.  ”This year’s crop is on the tree. Knock on wood, we had no frost damage.”  Two new varieties, SnapDragon and RubyFrost, will be actively promoted this season. “They just really hit the marketplace last winter,” Allen commented. Cornell University, in partnership with New York Apple Growers, announced these varieties last August.

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Registration is now open for the 2014 New York Weed Science Field Day July 16.

The day begins with a morning session covering vegetable crop weed control at the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y.

In the afternoon, the action moves to the Robert B. Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, N.Y. for the New York State Agribusiness Assocation Annual Summer Barbeque at noon, followed by a session covering field crop weed control.

CCA and DEC Credits have been granted for both sessions.

More information and registration forms.

Questions? Contact:

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From Margaret Tuttle McGrath, Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center:

Reminiscent of the late blight outbreak of 2009, basil plants with downy mildew are being found at big chain garden centers on Long Island, New York as well as in Connecticut, New Jersey, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and several locations in Ontario. And I’m getting reports of the disease from gardeners, in some cases associated with purchase of locally-produced plants at local nurseries rather than big chains (one case here on Long Island).

I’ve also gotten reports recently from Florida, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and a grower in Maine.

Please be on the lookout for this disease. If you have an opportunity to visit a garden center to look at basil, I’d appreciate hearing what you see. State inspectors here are done looking in garden centers.

Below are pictures of symptoms on potted plants for sale to gardeners. The last image of a yellowing leaf (on right) is more typical than the first image with collapsed leaves. Like the late blight pathogen on tomatoes and potatoes, this downy mildew pathogen produces an abundance of spores easily dispersed by wind. (See second image below.)

You can see more images on my Vegetable Disease Photo Gallery website. I also have more information and images at the Vegetable MD Online website.


Click for larger view.

Basil Downy Mildew-yellow leaf_2394 CROP

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