Reposted from Station News [2014-06-30]:

nysaes greenhouse exteriorDemolition began this week on the Old Range Greenhouses, as contractors continue with the $4.7 million greenhouse renovation at the Station. Once completed, the multi-year project funded by the state will result in the reconstruction of 21,000 square feet of greenhouses that were originally built from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. The new, state-of-the-art facilities feature new glass, increased eave heights, improved lighting, retractable shade curtains, and upgraded cooling and climate controls, all of which not only improve research capacity, but also optimize energy efficiency.

nysaes greenhouse interiorIn addition to enhancing the capacity for path-breaking research in plant breeding, plant pathology and entomology at the Station, the new greenhouses also improve educational opportunities for more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students who use the facilities, as well as outreach programs designed to engage elementary and high school students.

The project joins several other recent, high-profile investments in the future excellence of the Station, including a new $3.4 million award to the Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, new funding from the state for hops and malting barley research, and new faculty lines from CALS to be awarded at the successful conclusion of the Station’s strategic planning process.

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From Marvin Pritts, Horticulture Section chair:

I’d like to invite you to a lunchtime presentation July 9 at noon in PS 114 where I will share experiences about my recent trip to Peru.

I am calling it a “Journey to Machu Picchu” because it involved four days of spiritual preparation (ceremony, meditation, reflection) with an old Inca guide at several sacred archeological sites before arriving at Machu Picchu at sunrise on the winter solstice. On the winter solstice the sun rises through a notch in the mountains and strikes the temple, causing it to glow in the morning sun.

Other highlights include terraces made with rocks weighing more than 100 tons that fit together perfectly, intricate Incan irrigation systems, stunning scenery, beautiful fabrics and interesting foods.

The winter solstice is also cause for a week of celebrations, dancing and parades in Cusco – the ancient Incan capital city. I will also share some videos of extreme ziplining between mountains, hundreds of feet above the ground.

I hope to see you there.

machu picchu

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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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soil health workshop flyerFrom Bianca Moebius-Clune, coordinator:  Cornell Soil Health Initiative.

Join us for our 2014 Cornell Soil Health Train-the-Trainer Workshop to be held on campus August 12-15.

This intensive workshop focuses on measuring and improving soil health through holistic, adaptive, and data-driven soil management.

The workshop includes a mix of classroom training, hands-on field and laboratory experience, and opportunities to network with colleagues over meals. Our target audience is professionals working with agricultural soil management issues.

View workshop details.

A few logistical notes: Participation is limited to 45, first come, first served. While the workshop is intended to be a complete 4-day experience, we are enabling participation in chosen components this year to meet stakeholder needs. An Early-Bird discount is available until July 15, but some hotel blocks expire before this time. Registration deadline is July 30.

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Laurie DrinkwaterFrom Marvin Pritts, Horticulture Section chair:

Please join with me in congratulating Laurie Drinkwater on her promotion to full professor. Laurie had an outstanding promotion package and those who read her materials will attest to the very high regard she has among her peers, not only in the United States but around the world.

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“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 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 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:

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