Photo by Andrés Nieto PorrasReposted from CALS Notes [2014-08-01]:

For most people, chestnuts bring connotations of Christmas or the Chinese New Year, but for Brian Caldwell and other agroforestry enthusiasts, they also represent potential as a valuable food crop. Caldwell, a research support specialist in the Department of Horticulture who grows nut and fruit trees on his farm in West Danby will be one of several speakers at a gathering hosted by the The New York Nut Growers on Saturday.

The group will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at BWW farm on Searsburg Road in Trumansburg, to explore the latest developments in growing chestnut trees, and the public is invited to tour a demonstration grove of chestnut and other nutbearing trees. Caldwell will talk about the ideal growing conditions for chestnuts – with a hot season you get much bigger nuts, and with a cold season they are smaller, so chestnuts thrive at times when other tree fruit, such as apples, might suffer – as well as organic management of pests such as the chestnut weevil.

For more information about the event, and the history of American chestnut cultivation, check out this Ithaca Times article.

Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras

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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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Via CALS Facebook:

When did it turn to winter??? A few shots of the scene outside the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station this morning after a large hail storm blew through Geneva, NY. There have been reports on Finger Lakes Weather of up to 4″ of hail in some locations!

More images.

Hail in Geneva.

Photos: Rob Way

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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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Organic Seed School
Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 8:00am to 4:00pm
Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm (CUAES) 133 Fall Creek Rd. Freeville, NY

Come learn from growers, breeders, and seed companies to better understand organic seed quality topics and how it affects your farm at the third annual Organic Seed School. The first school was organized by High Mowing Seeds in 2012.

Up to eight regional seed companies will present their new developments related to the needs of organic producers. These will include new varieties, breeding projects, seed treatments, company-specific innovations, and trialing under organic conditions.

There will also be an hour exhibition time and coffee break in which participants can visit table displays for each company and a tour of breeding plots on the farm. In the afternoon, we will have a series of moderated group discussion sessions focusing on the issues surrounding organic seed quality and availability. Bring your questions on organic seed and talk directly to the experts!

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is appreciated at: The $10 registration fee can be paid by cash or check at the door.

Contact Michael Glos at or 607-227-7793 with any questions.

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Dr. Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS

Dr. Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS

Via CALS Notes [2014-07-24]:

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today the appointment of Dr. Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, as an inaugural member of the board of directors of the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Dean Boor will serve as one of 15 appointed and 5 ex-officio directors of the Foundation.

Established by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Foundation will foster research, innovation and partnerships important to the nation’s agricultural economy. It will aim to address problems of national and international importance in plant and animal health, production and products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and the environment; agricultural and food security; agriculture systems and technology; and agricultural economics and rural communities. It will also work to foster collaboration among agricultural researchers to meet unmet and emerging research needs through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding.

The Foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities. Congress also provided $200 million in research dollars to be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects.

The board of directors will have broad responsibilities to establish policies, governance structures and set priorities for the new Foundation.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Kathryn Boor of New York was appointed to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This new foundation will provide much needed resources to our nation’s farmers and industry leaders in the areas of food safety, nutrition, energy, agriculture systems, technology, economics and rural communities. I supported her nomination and commend her leadership at Cornell University, providing resourceful tools, technology and information to New York farmers.”

See also Cornell Chronicle [2014-07-24].

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Tree of 40 Fruit
Art meets horticulture in this artist’s grafted stone fruit trees, using varieties gleaned from orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

The Tree of 40 Fruit Is Exactly as Awesome as It Sounds [ interview]

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Sarah Pethybridge

Sarah Pethybridge

Via Station News:

It was announced earlier this week that Dr. Sarah Pethybridge will be joining the Station faculty as assistant professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology. Pethybridge comes to Cornell from Down Under, where she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Tasmania, Australia in 2000. Since then, she has held positions as Agricultural Research, Development and Extension Manager for Botanical Resources Australia Pty, and served as Science Group Leader (Field Crops) at The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.

Dr. Pethybridge has made substantial contributions in the epidemiology and management of virus diseases in the hop plant, an essential ingredient in beer production. She has received numerous awards, including the American Phytopathological Society’s Syngenta Award, the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology’s Agri-Industry Award, and the University of Tasmania’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Graduates.

Her research and extension program at the Station will focus on understanding and managing diseases of vegetable crops.

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From Christopher Dunn, Ph.D., the E. N. Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations:

Our big-leafed magnolia, sadly, has many serious structural and disease issues, which combined pose a significant risk of failure. And so it is with great regret that our treasured big-leafed magnolia will come downby the end of season.

Read the whole article. [Cornell Plantations news 2014-07-18]

Lee Dean, Lead Arborist, discusses his careful and thoughtful decision to remove this much beloved specimen from the collection at the end of the 2014 growing season:

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend… from Cornell Plantations on Vimeo.

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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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