Agricultural research continues funding scramble [Southeast Farm Press 2013-03-19] – The March 1 federal budget sequester further jeopardizes gains made in research programs, says Michael Mazourek, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics. Mazourek tells a story that he insists could be told by agriculture professors and researchers across the country. “I’m a vegetable breeder and have new varieties that end up in seed catalogs. We also do the initial ‘rough draft’ of germplasm that goes to the seed companies and they take that to the finished cultivar. In addition, we do a lot of genome metabolite nutrition research. … To get everything done, I’ve invested a lot in recruiting a dedicated staff. They’re key to everything we do. So, I spend a lot of time trying to make payroll, keep enough grants coming in to fund the research and keep momentum going.”
Melissa Kitchen reflects on her past year as an EA member [Pawprint 2013-03-21] – Research support specialist Melissa Kitchen serves on the Employee Assembly’s Education Committee, which is examining the Employee Degree Program. “It is my hope that more employees will take advantage of this opportunity,” she writes.
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD for short) will likely reemerge across the entire Northeast in 2013. Photo: Bev Gerdman, Washington State University.
Northeast Farmers’ Berry Crops To Be Targeted By More Bugs [American Agriculturalist 2013-03-11] – “[The spotted winged drosophila, an introduced pest from Japan] will likely plague berry crops across the entire Northeast in 2013. Growers will need to be vigilant about scouting, timely harvests and treating with insecticide. There are no other known measures to deter this pest,” write Kathy Demchak and Marvin Pritts, chair of the Department of Horticulture. “Organic growers, in particular, will likely be hit hard by SWD.”
Ready to plant: ‘Iron Lady’ tomato punches out blights [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-14] – If the name fits, grow it: “Iron Lady” is the first tomato to resist three major fungal diseases — early blight, late blight and Septoria leaf spot — plaguing New York’s growers for years. For farmers, this new tomato dramatically reduces the need for expensive fungicide. Iron Lady is available to both producers and home gardeners for the upcoming growing season. Favoring the Northeast’s moist, cool conditions, one or more of these diseases occurs yearly, prompting Martha Mutschler-Chu, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics, to create tomatoes that resist late blight and early blight.
Invasive weeds could shed light on climate-coping [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-13] – While other species are expected to suffer from environmental fluctuations, changes in temperature may help invasive weeds expand their ranges. Many weeds are capable of relatively rapid genetic change as well, further enhancing their ability to colonize new areas, says weed ecologist Antonio DiTommaso, associate professor of crop and soil sciences and the Richard C. Call, Director of Agricultural Sciences.
Winter salad crops for Northern N.Y.? [Northern New York Agricultural Development Program News, 2013-03-06] – Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP)-funded trials at the Cornell University Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro, NY, are evaluating winter lettuce production methods, including the use of prototype, low-wattage heating strips to warm the soil. “This research in Northern New York is the first attempt at developing a system for heating the greens-growing environment inside high tunnels using heating strips primarily designed for in-floor radiant heat,” says Extension Vegetable Specialist Judson Reid. (See also North Country Now story.)
Guterman Greenhouse Energy Conservation Project Saves $337,000 annually [Cornell Sustainable Campus 2013-03-06] – The project is replacing all greenhouse lighting and environmental controls. “Our continued collaboration with the Energy Management staff in Facilities Services is transforming sustainability in our growth chambers and greenhouses across campus,” says Andrew Leed, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station greenhouse manager. Project summary.
Northeast bee population declines confirmed [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-11] – Northeastern bees have suffered population declines over the last 140 years. But none has faced a more devastating, rapid and recent collapse than the genus Bombus — the humble bumblebee, say entomologists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online, March 5. The researchers used data they gathered by combing thought insect collections and other institutions. Host-plant specialists, in particular, are worse off than generalist bees, says co-author Bryan Danforth, Department of Entomology.
I got a call from this woman, Susan Brown. I don’t even know how she got hold of me, but thank god she did. She said, “You need to come over here, because I’ve got these trees and you need to see them.” It turns out she’s one of only three commercial apple breeders in the United States, and her job is to cross apple varieties to improve them and create the next Jonagold. …
I don’t know why I said yes. I was just very lucky. She picked me up in her truck and she showed me a row of cloned trees. It was October, so all of the leaves were still on the trees, and she hadn’t pruned them, because she wants to see what the architecture will do if it’s not touched. It was just this big row of green, and I couldn’t really see anything.
So then she took me to another row of trees that were just saplings. They had some leaves, but not many, because they were so young. Every single one of them had a different architecture–some of them were weeping, some were standing upright, some of them had branches like corkscrew or at perfect right angles. It was like a carnival. They were just different bodies, different leaves, and different sheens to the leaf. She said, “This is what happens when you cross.” Then I got it.
She took me back to her office and showed me a big binder–she had been photographing her trees for years. She understood her trees as artwork, and she wanted somebody else to have a conversation with about that.
When she returned in 2011, Rath spent three days photographing that architecture with the help of a 20′ x 30′ muslin backdrop.
First Results from Northern Grapes Project Detailed at Viticulture 2013 Conference in New York
The Second Annual Northern Grapes Symposium featured first-year results from viticulture, enology, and economics/marketing studies that are part of the USDA-funded Northern Grapes Project, which began in October 2011. Approximately 120 people attended three sessions of the Symposium, held on February 6, 2013 in Rochester, NY, in conjunction with the Viticulture 2013 Conference.
The Northern Grapes Project is a multi-institutional Coordinated Agricultural Project funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative, with a multidisciplinary team from 12 universities in collaboration with winery and grape grower associations in ND, SD, MN, NE, IA, WI, IL, NY, VT, CT, and MA. It focuses on production, processing, and marketing of new cold-climate wine grape cultivars that have spawned new wineries and vineyards in the upper Midwest and Northeast. http://northerngrapesproject.org.
Poor children’s higher weights linked to less access to yards, parks [Cornell Chronicle 2/20/2013] – Low-income children may be overweight in part because they have less access to open green space where they can play and exercise, reports a Cornell study of obesity in Europe. “It is important to take an ecological perspective in thinking about the challenge of childhood obesity. The environment, personality, culture, stress, family history and economics likely all play an important role,” said lead author Gary Evans, the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology in the Departments of Design and Environmental Analysis and of Human Development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.
Endowed NYSAES directorship paves way for agricultural innovation [Cornell Chronicle 2/13/2013] – In 2009, Businessman Larry Goichman ’66 and his wife, Jennifer, endowed the first professorship of enology and viticulture at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva. Now the Goichmans have increased their commitment to the endowment and the Geneva station, enabling a Goichman Family Directorship of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
Imaging Facility adds two tools for microscopy [Cornell Chronicle 2/13/2013] – Cornell’s Imaging Facility, located in Weill Hall and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has added a spinning disk confocal microscope that enables users to image and manipulate fluorescent specimens rapidly, and an instrument for laser capture microdissection, which allows researchers to isolate specific cells or tissues from a sample by slicing out particular regions with a laser.
Nature lovers invited to train as natural area mentors [Cornell Chronicle 2/12/2013] – Love spending time in the natural areas of the Finger Lakes region? Care about preserving the integrity of the natural world? Consider joining Cornell Plantations’ Natural Areas Academy (NAA). The year-long academy features dozens of expert-led workshops, field trips and directed stewardship opportunities designed to provide participants with the knowledge, tools and skills needed to support efforts in preserving natural resources.
From a Weed Science Society of America news release:
Glenn J. Evans, Robin R. Bellinder and Russell R. Hahn won an Outstanding Paper Award from the Weed Science Society of Americafor their paper in Weed Technology: An Evaluation of Two Novel Cultivation Tools. Evans is director of agricultural operations for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. Bellinder and Hahn work in research and extension at Cornell University. Evans is director of agricultural operations for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. Bellinder and Hahn work in research and extension at Cornell University.
The two novel tools are block and stirrup cultivators created by Evans. You can see them in action here:
Introducing ‘Arandell’ (formerly NY95.0301.01, left) and ‘Aromella’ (formerly NY76.0844.24, right). The new names of the grapes were announced February 7 at the Viticulture 2013 conference.
Cornell Chronicle article [2/7/2013] by Kate Frazer, agricultural stations communications officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
After a novel naming challenge drew more than 1,000 suggestions from around the world, a Cornell University breeder has revealed the secret identities of two new wine grapes: ‘Arandell’ and ‘Aromella’.
Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, introduced the grapes at Viticulture 2013 in Rochester, N.Y., Feb. 7.
‘Arandell’—a mash-up of “arandano,” the Spanish word for blueberry, and the “ell” from Cornell—is the first grape released from The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station’s “no-spray” vineyard.
Reisch hopes its hint of blueberry will attract wine lovers, while its superior resistance to downy and powdery mildews will appeal to growers interested in more sustainable practices. Its name was suggested by Michael Fleischhauer, retired computer analyst and wine enthusiast from Juneau, Alaska.
‘Aromella’, an aromatic, muscat white wine grape, was named by Michael Borboa, a Californian winemaker and songwriter who used a lyric exercise he uses for writing songs. ‘Aromella’ ranks high for winter hardiness and productivity. Reisch says its release is timely given the growing popularity of muscat wines.
The project emerged almost accidently when Anna Katharine Mansfield, assistant professor of enology, suggested emailing colleagues to introduce two varieties ripe for naming. As news of their appeal spread through the proverbial grapevine, it attracted coverage from outlets including NPR’s Morning Edition and Bon Appétit online.