“I have a much better understanding of our entire operation from participating in the project,” said greenhouse grower Kendra Hutchins.

“I have a much better understanding of our entire operation from participating in the project,” said greenhouse grower Kendra Hutchins.

By Nancy Doolittle, reposted from Pawprint [2014-06-12]:

Greenhouses are essential to hundreds of Cornell faculty and students who need to maintain and grow plants year round for research, teaching and outreach, especially in Ithaca. But, greenhouses are hardly green.

This past year, staff and faculty from the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) worked with staff from Organizational Effectiveness to use the “lean” process improvement approach to save on greenhouse energy without diminishing the essential value of Cornell’s greenhouses.

The energy currently used to heat and light 164 Ithaca campus greenhouse units – the largest noncommercial greenhouse facility in New York State – produces the same greenhouse gas emissions each year as do 2,642 passenger vehicles or 1,744 homes. The greenhouses off Tower and Caldwell roads total 144,624 square feet; and on a square-foot basis, heating a greenhouse costs $5 to $9.50 annually and lighting $3 to $6 annually.

“Our efforts to save energy began with the greenhouse growers,” said Mike Hoffmann, director of CUAES and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), referring to the staff-empowered approach utilized by the lean process.

Read the whole article.

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food-hubx400Too many zucchinis?

Can’t begin to use up that CSA share before vacation?

Donate your your extra vegetables, fruit and eggs at one of nine  food hubs run by the Friendship Donations Network (FDN).

Starting July 7, you can drop off your surplus every Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Plant Science Building:
    ‘Garden Floor’ cooler G04E

Questions? Contact: Jane Mt. Pleasant jm21@cornell.edu or 607-255-4670.

What is FDN? “We are a local non-profit, active for more than 20 years in Ithaca,” says Jane. “We rescue food and reduce hunger locally. We  collect  good, nutritious  food that would otherwise be discarded and then redistribute it to food pantries and soup kitchens.

“Don’t let your zucchinis grow up to be compost!” she adds.


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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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Hill harvest cardDilmun Hill, Cornell’s student-run farm, will have their first market of the season this Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Ag Quad. (This will also be the farm’s regular market day for the season.)

New this year is the Hill Harvests email list. To be added to the list, send a message to the Dilmun Hill student farm managers at dilmunmanagers@gmail.com and they’ll send you weekly messages listing what produce will be available.

You can also place orders in advance for pick up either at market or at the farm.

The student farm managers also host work parties Wednesdays and Sundays, 4 to 7 p.m.

Additional plans for the summer include a ‘Fire Fly Field Movie Night.’

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engaged screenshot

You may recognize senior Extension associate Judson Reid, inspecting high-tunnel cucumbers on the cover of Cornell University: Engaged — the first of a series of curated digital magazines on Flipboard, promoting themes that match to the university’s strategic initiatives.

“Part of our strategy for building a presence on Flipboard stems from the fact that the mobile and desktop application has 90 million users who can help spread the good word about Cornell’s activities to broad and possibly new audiences,” writes Jeri Wall, director of writing/content strategy, University Relations/Marketing.

Have a good story about how you engage growers, communities and other stakeholders? I’d love to hear it. Contact me: cdc25@cornell.edu.

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On June 11, a group of emeritus faculty gathered for food and camaraderie. They are (front) Bob Kozlowski, Robert Langhans, Loyd Powell, Elmer Ewing, and Edwin Oyer. Joining them, administrative manager Mark Schmitz, associate chair Steve Reiners, and chair Marvin Pritts.

emeritus luncheon
Photo: Carol Grove

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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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Marvin Pritts

Marvin Pritts

Via Cornell Media Relations office tipsheet [2014-06-11]:

Marvin Pritts, a horticulture professor at Cornell University, explains why allergies are exceptionally bad this season and warns that while the rain provides temporary relief, it also promotes weed seed germination which will contribute to higher levels of pollen later this summer.

Pritts says:

“In a year with a long, cold winter, flowering – and the shedding of pollen – is compressed. This year, there is overlap between the shedding of tree pollen and the beginning of grasses flowering. Individuals sensitive to both kinds are getting a double-whammy of sorts. Fortunately, the recent rainy weather will wash out pollen from the air, and provide some temporary relief. Also, the shedding of tree pollen is mostly over.

“While the rain is providing temporary relief, it promotes weed seed germination so it may contribute to higher levels of pollen later in the season.

“People often associate seasonal allergies with a specific flower that they see in bloom during that time. In most cases, individuals are not exposed to the pollen from showy flowers. Such flowers are attractive to insects so their pollen is sticky and is not carried by the wind. So, when allergies begin to rise when the goldenrod flowers, it is not the goldenrod pollen causing the allergic reaction but rather the ragweed with its inconspicuous flowers shedding wind-borne pollen at the same time.

“Typically trees are the first plants to shed pollen in spring. They don’t have to grow to become reproductive, so most take care of reproduction first thing when the weather warms. This is followed by the flowering of perennial grasses that have to grow somewhat to become reproductive, but they already have a well-established root system from which to support their flowers. Lastly come the annual plants, like ragweed, that have to germinate and grow to a mature size before becoming reproductive and shedding pollen.”

For interviews contact:
Melissa Osgood
office: 607-255-2059
cell: 716-860-0587

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tasty tomatoesReposted from CALS Notes:

Peak tomato season is nearly upon us, and our tastebuds are tingling in anticipation of the sweet summer fruits. But do we really need to wait? NPR’s Salt blog wondered whether tomatoes grown in greenhouses are just as tasty as those outdoors. And they turned to CALS horticulturist Neil Mattson for answers.

The co-director of Cornell’s Controlled Environment Agriculture program explained that good tomato flavor is a complex combination of sugars, acids and gasses we experience as smell, and it depends on a variety of factors, including breeding and temperature. More tomatoes are being bred to thrive indoors, and the environmental conditions that make for a perfect outdoor tomato can now be replicated in greenhouses. Greenhouse growers don’t have to worry about a heavy rain or a cold spell ruining their fruit.

This is becoming increasingly important now that global warming is making outdoor farming less predictable. But sustainability implications must still be considered, Mattson said. “The greenhouse is this expensive structure that we’re paying a lot to heat and cool and light.”

But the burning question: which is best?

“In the end I still love growing my own tomatoes in my backyard in the summer,” Mattson said. “It’s psychological, but I think they taste best.”

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Dean Boor and Alan Collmer

Dean Kathryn Boor and Alan Collmer, the Andrew J. and Grace B. Nichols Professor of Plant Pathology and director of the School of Integrative Plant Science, speak on the Ag Quad June 6. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Plant and soil scientists at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) have been sowing the seeds of sustainability, food security and improved human health for more than a century.

A new initiative will help position the college for the future and create a new face for the plant and soil sciences at Cornell by integrating five departments – Plant Biology, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Crop and Soil Sciences, and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology – in one administrative unit.

The School of Integrative Plant Science was launched at a June 6 ceremony on the Ag Quad, attended by representatives of several departments and many alumni who were on campus for Reunion Weekend.

University President David Skorton commended the college for creating a school that will help advance Cornell’s mission of service to the state, nation and world.

“This is a step toward increasing the impact – that is already enormous – of the very high level of expertise that CALS has in this area,” Skorton said. “Through the new school, CALS aims to strengthen its teaching and research and extension work in plant science and to attract more students to the field – students who will be future leaders in these vital areas.”

Read the whole article. [Cornell Chronicle 2014-06-06]

See also: CALS launches the School of Integrative Plant Science [CALS Notes 2014-06-06]

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