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Video: Björkman, Mazourek on NBC News Mach

Thomas Björkman and Michael Mazourek share insights into their research in this video feature at NBC News’ science and technology site:  Meet the Scientists Breeding Vegetables for Our Changing Environment.

“Artificial intelligence, new smartphones and missions to Mars now dominate innovation headlines, but seemingly less sexy scientific progress is landing on our plates every day. And it’s making the food we eat better, safer, more abundant, and more delicious in the process.” Read full accompanying article.

Seminar video: Thinking outside the crop: challenging market class concepts in vegetables

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Thinking outside the crop: challenging market class concepts in vegetables  with Michael Mazourek, Associate Professor in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, it  is available online.

See also Mazourek’s seminar  New ways forward in cucurbit breeding

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Dreer Award offers opportunities to pursue horticultural interests abroad

From Nina Bassuk:

The Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science offers a wonderful opportunity once a year, the Frederick Dreer Award, that allows one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture.

See the application and instructions that spell out the procedure for applying. Basically it is quite simple. Submit a written proposal to the Dreer Committee by the deadline (March 6, 2017 in this cycle), which is followed by an informal interview, generally in a week or two. The faculty receives the recommendation of the Dreer Committee and votes on the nominee.

The only obligation of the Dreer award winner is to write to the Dreer Committee monthly while overseas, and upon return to the United States, give a presentation about their time abroad to students and faculty.

Please look into this opportunity seriously. It can be taken as a summer and a semester’s leave or a year’s leave of absence during school or upon graduation. If you would like to talk over a potential idea for the Dreer with a member of the Committee (and we encourage you to do so), please contact Nina Bassuk (Horticulture) Josh Cerra (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts (Horticulture).

2015 Dreer Award winner Adam Karl, now a PhD student in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, traveled to Spain to study dryland viticulture.

2015 Dreer Award winner Adam Karl, now a PhD student in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, traveled to Spain to study dryland viticulture.

Plant breeders take cues from consumers to improve kale

Hannah Swegarden, right, and technician Matt Wavrick transplant a kale cultivar from a research field at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, New York. (Photo: Matt Hayes/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)

Hannah Swegarden, right, and technician Matt Wavrick transplant a kale cultivar from a research field at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, New York. (Photo: Matt Hayes/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)

Cornell Chronicle [2-16-11-17]:

A Cornell program is reimagining kale – its color, shape and even flavor – in a bid to breed the naturally biodiverse vegetable for consumer satisfaction.

Traits of importance for plant production, such as resistance to disease, pests and drought are often a major focus for plant breeders. Consumers, however, are usually more interested in the culinary and aesthetic qualities of vegetables that directly impact their preparation in the kitchen.

Cornell vegetable breeder Phillip Griffiths, a professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, and doctoral student Hannah Swegarden have embarked on a program to identify the different leaf shapes, colors, flavors and textures favored by consumers, and breed for those traits.

Read the whole article.

Hortus Forum Poinsettia Sale Dec. 5-6

From Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate plant club hortusforum@gmail.com:

poinsettias

It’s that time of year again! Hortus Forum is going to be having its annual poinsettia sale. We’ve spent the semester growing a diverse variety of really lovely plants, and now they’re ready to find new homes in time for the holidays!

We’ll be having the sale on:

  • December 5, 11:30-5:30 at Guterman Bioclimatic Laboratory Greenhouses (map).
  • December 6, 11:30-5:30 at Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouses (map).

We are also accepting orders for poinsettias. Just fill out this form!

The poinsettias are $12 for a 6-inch pot, and we can arrange for delivery anywhere in Ithaca for an extra $15!

Please email us at hortusforum@gmail.com for more information.

Hortus Forum: Cultivating a positive social community which fosters a passion for plants and teaches the value of horticulture

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Seminar video: Teaching horticulture inside a prison

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Teaching horticulture inside a medium-high security men’s prison in Illinois with Robert Scott, Cornell Prison Education Program, it  is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Wicked weeds may be agricultural angels

Toni DiTommaso, discusses pesticide-resistant weeds on a field day at Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, New York in July 2015.

Toni DiTommaso, discusses pesticide-resistant weeds on a field day at Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, New York in July 2015.

Cornell Chronicle [2016-11-11]:

Farmers looking to reduce reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other pest management tools may want to heed the advice of Cornell agricultural scientists: Let nature be nature – to a degree.

“Managing crop pests without fully understanding the impacts of tactics – related to resistance and nontarget plants or insects – costs producers money,” said Antonio DiTommaso, professor of soil and crop science and lead author of a new study, “Integrating Insect, Resistance and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making,” in the journal Weed Science (October-December 2016).

“We are taking a renewed look at a holistic, sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) approach,” DiTommaso said.

Read the whole article.

Getting to the root of it: Predicting root biomass with electrical capacitance

Reposted from the SIPS blog Discovery that Connects:

Craig Carlson

Craig Carlson

For scientists, an understanding of root morphology is of tremendous importance for agricultural and biofuel crops alike. The measurement of the belowground traits of plants has become increasingly important because of the vital role that root biomass and architecture play in traits like drought tolerance and carbon sequestration. The ability to measure root biomass is useful in plant breeding programs, but is a daunting task that requires washing, filtering, drying, and weighing fine and intricate root tissues. Researchers have used electrical capacitance—the ability of an object to store an electrical charge—to measure root biomass, but this technique had only been shown to work in hydroponically grown plants and had not been extensively tested in soil-grown woody plants grown from cuttings.

As Craig Carlson, a PhD candidate at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explains, “A majority of electroconductivity studies have focused on annual grasses and hydroponic systems. We wanted to develop a cheap, quick method of measuring root biomass in soils.” Carlson works with Dr. Larry Smart, leader of North America’s largest breeding program for shrub willow (Salix spp.), an important biofuel crop. One aspect of their breeding work requires growing up to 400 individual plants in separate pots, and an efficient method to quantify root biomass would allow for rapid selection of individuals with optimal traits to continue breeding. The alternative is to mechanically remove soil to measure root biomass, a method that is both destructive and extremely time consuming.

Despite being initially skeptical that the root electrical capacitance (REC) method would work in soil, Carlson was able to tweak the technique and demonstrate its efficacy in a paper published in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences.

More information:

Seminar video: Horticulture apps on the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA)

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Horticulture apps on the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) with Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Coordinator, New York State IPM Program, it  is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section Wine Tour

From Hannah Swegarden, Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo):

35 people attended Horticulture Wine Tour this past Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we visited Domaine Leseuerre, Keuka Brewing Co., and Keuka Lake Vineyards.  We even made it to Bully Hill to snap a picture:

soho wine tour at bully hill

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