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New Tool Gives Apple Farms Hope in Fight Against Spring Freezes

By Blaine Friedlander, reposted from CALS news [2017-02-24]

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

This February’s warm weather is nice in the Northeast, but apple farmers may pay a price if winter roars back. To help growers assess precarious temperatures in turbulent springs, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has developed a new Apple Freeze Risk decision tool.

“I think the warm weather we’re seeing this week may push the apple trees into vulnerable stages,” said Art DeGaetano, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and director of Cornell’s Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Apples are an important cog in New York’s agriculture industry, which produces over 29 million bushels of apples annually, employing over 10,000 people directly and 7,500 indirectly.

Apple trees need dormancy and cold weather so that springtime buds develop properly. When early spring temperatures rise consistently above the low 40 degree mark, the trees get ready to bud, said DeGaetano.

Through their phenological stages in warming weather, the apple trees develop silver tips, green tips, and then bloom.

“They become less and less tolerant of cold, and if a freeze hits after a warm spell, that’s when apple producers begin to see bud damage – and that takes an economic toll,” said DeGaetano, who with Rick Moore, research support specialist, built the new risk-assessment tool. Development of the tool was made possible thanks to Federal Capacity Funds and funding from the New World Foundation.

The Apple Freeze Risk tool shows minimum temperatures for the most recent 30 days, provides a 6-day temperature forecast, and shows the current stage of development in tree varieties. Apple trees are currently dormant, and only a sustained period of 25 below zero temperatures can damage this season’s crop. But as days warm, the buds’ tolerance for freezing lessens.

“The benefit of this tool is that a farmer can access information about a specific location anywhere in the Northeast, and can get detail to within a 2.5-mile grid of their orchard,” said Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. The institute established the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) program, which is developing tools to support individualized, real-time, and data-driven management, through what’s known as “Digital Agriculture.”

“With climate change already occurring, our winters are getting warmer, and farmers are asking us for specific tools and information about what they can do to reduce the risks on their farm, including from freezes,” Chatrchyan said. “The apple tool was built based on stakeholder input, and with the help of our NYS CSF Extension Team, which is training farmers about climate risk and adaptation.”

One likely user of this new tool will be Mark Doyle, manager of Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York, which grows apples, peaches, nectarines, currants, and cherries. He is concerned about early warm weather and freezing weather afterward, as he examines factors such as temperature inversions (warm air above cold air) and whether to employ either mechanical or thermal methods to heat the orchard on frigid nights.

Said Doyle: “Along with other factors, I will be looking at this tool to understand the weather situation in front of me and the freeze risk facing our apple trees.”

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Register now for Cornell Fruit Field Day, July 20, Geneva, N.Y.

fruit compositePre-registration deadline is July 15 @ noon. Walk-in registrations will not be available, you must pre-register. Register now.

fruit compositeRepost from June 24. From Art Agnello, Dept. of Entomology, NYSAES:

Mark your calendars for the Cornell Fruit Field Day, to be held in Geneva on Wednesday, July 20.  The 2016 version of this triennial event will feature ongoing research in berries, hops, grapes, and tree fruit, and is being organized by Cornell University, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, CALS Fruit Program Work Team and Cornell Cooperative Extension.  All interested persons are invited to learn about the fruit research under way at Cornell University.  Attendees will be able to select from tours of different fruit commodities.  Details of the program presentations are still being finalized, but the event will feature a number of topics, including:


  • Spotted wing drosophila research update in berry crops
  • Hummingbird use, monitoring network
  • Use of exclusion netting for managing spotted wing drosophila in fall raspberries
  • Monitoring spotted wing drosophila for management decisions in summer raspberry and blueberry
  • Behavioral control of spotted wing drosophila using repellents and attract & kill stations
  • Effect of habitat diversity on ecosystem services for strawberries
  • High tunnel production of black and red raspberries
  • Day-neutral strawberries/low tunnel production

 Tree Fruits

  • Apple breeding and genetic studies
  • Research updates on fire blight, apple scab, mildew
  • Bitter pit in Honeycrisp
  • 3D camera canopy imaging
  • Ambrosia beetle management trials
  • Malus selections for potential use in cider production
  • Precision spraying in orchards
  • Role of insects in spreading fire blight in apples
  • Bacterial canker of sweet cherries
  • Rootstocks & training systems for sweet cherry
  • NC-140 rootstock trials on Honeycrisp and Snap Dragon
  • Pear rootstocks & training systems

 Grapes & Hops

  • Sour rot of grapes
  • VitisGen grape breeding project
  • Precision spraying in grapes
  • Managing the spread of leafroll virus in Vinifera grape using insecticides and vine removal
  • Early leaf removal on Riesling
  • Overview of NYSAES hops planting
  • Powdery and downy mildew management in hops
  • Hops weed mgt; mite biocontrol
  • Update on malting barley research


  • FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Field Day details

The event will take place at the NYSAES Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm South, 1097 County Road No. 4, 1 mile west of Pre-emption Rd. in Geneva, NY.

Arrive at 8:00 AM to get settled in. Tours begin promptly at 8:30 AM and are scheduled in the morning from 8:30 to 11:30 and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00. Lunch will be served at the exhibit tent area between 11:30-12:30.

Visit sponsors anytime from 11:30-1:30

Learn about products and services from:

  • Agro Liquid
  • Arysta Life Science
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Dupont
  • Farm Credit East, ACA
  • Finger Lakes Trellis Supply
  • LaGasse Works, Inc.
  • Lakeview Vineyard Equipment
  • NY Apple Sales
  • OESCO, Inc
  • Red Jacket Orchards
  • Superior Wind Machine Service
  • Valent USA Corp.
  • Wafler Farms
  • Tastings from War Horse Brewing

To participate as a sponsor, see the registration website or contact Shelly Cowles (315-787-2274;

Register now!

Admission fee is $50/person ($40 for additional attendees from the same farm or business), which covers tours, lunch and educational materials. Pre-registration is required. Walk-in registration may be available for a $10 surcharge on the day of the event.  Register on the Cornell Fruit Field Day Event registration page,

Tour USDA apple and grape collections in Geneva Sept. 23 and 26

apples, USDA-ARS photo

USDA-ARS photo

From Thomas Chao and Gan-Yuan Zhong, USDA-ARS  Plant Genetic Resources Unit, Geneva, N.Y.

The Plant Genetic Resources Unit of USDA-ARS at Geneva, NY is excited to announce two public germplasm tours of the USDA-ARS clonal Apple and Grape collections on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, and Saturday, September 26, 2015.

Tours will be conducted at the McCarthy Farm, located on 2865 County Road 6 (Pre-emption road) in the town of Geneva (across from the St. Mary Cemetery). Both tours will start at 9:00 am. Please park your car on the gravel parking area near the equipment barn once you enter the McCarthy Farm.

The Wednesday tour (September 23rd, 2015) will feature the world renowned apple (Malus spp.) collection. The total tour is expected to take up to 2.5 hours and will be conducted as a walking tour through the orchard grounds. This year will be the last chance to see the wild Malus sieversii seedling block from Kazakhstan, also known as the “Botany of Desire Wild Apple” block. While these trees are important to the USDA’s mission to preserve important apple germplasm, this block of seedlings must be removed by the end of 2015 to make room for future evaluation and selection of wild collected material from North America and elsewhere.

The Saturday tour (September 26th, 2015) will be a combined tour to see and taste the apple collection and also to tour the USDA-ARS cold hardy grapevine germplasm (Vitis spp.) The cold hardy grapevine germplasm is an important resource of wild North American grapevine species. These species play an integral role in the development of many of the hybrid grapevine varieties grown in the Finger Lakes wine region and also across the Midwest and Northeast. As this tour includes both the apple and grape germplasms, it is expected to take about 4 hours to complete (9 am to 11:30 am for apple and 11:30 am to 12:30 pm for grape).

Because the orchard and vineyard are planted on gently rolling ground, please note that uneven footing is possible and appropriate footwear is recommended. We request that all minors must be accompanied by an adult and all visitors should be responsible for their own safety. It is recommended that all visitors bring along appropriate sunscreen, bug spray, hats, and water bottles in order to enjoy the germplasm fully. Rustic restroom facilities (porta-potties) will be available. We will provide the tours rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather.

If you have any questions regarding the tours, please don’t hesitate to contact me through email:

Limiting Bird Damage in Fruit program August 19

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Saratoga County, 50 W. High St.,
Ballston Spa, NY 12020

8:30 AM-4:00 PM
Lunch included

Gain comprehensive knowledge about successful bird management strategies in susceptible fruit crops, including sweet and tart cherry, blueberry, ‘Honeycrisp’ apples and wine grapes.

In the morning learn which bird species damage fruit, economic losses from birds to fruit, consumer preference for management tactics (e.g. kestrel nesting boxes), NY grower survey, tactics for deer management, regulations & permitting for wildlife control, landscape factors that place fruit at risk, and bird mitigation strategies. Morning session available via WebEx webinar.

In the afternoon enjoy on-farm field demonstrations of scare tactics such as falconry, air dancers and exchange insights through discussions of tactics being used on your farms.

DEC credits available:
Category 10 — 2.5
Category 1A — 2.5
Category 22 — 2.5

Advanced registration required!
Register by Wednesday, August 12
Workshop limited to 30 attendees
Registration fee $10

More info.

Limiting Bird Damage in Fruit: State-of-the-Art Pest Management Tactics

Date:               August 19, 2015

Location:         4H Training Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, Ballston Spa, NY


Morning Session- Ballston Spa CCE 4-H Center – Juliet Carroll moderator

8:30 – 8:50

(20 min)

Register, collect handouts, sign up for DEC credits
8:50 – 9:00

(10 min)

Welcome, introductions, announcements

Juliet Carroll, NYS IPM Program

9:00 – 9:20

(20 min)

Bird species most responsible for damaging fruit crops

Paul Curtis, Dept of Natural Resources

9:20 – 9:35

(15 min)

Birds in fruit crops: economic and consumer aspects of deterrence

Catherine Lindell, Dept of Zoology, Michigan State Univ

9:35 – 9:50

(15 min)

Grower perspectives of bird damage in fruit crops

William Seimer, Dept of Natural Resources

9:50 – 10:00

(10 min)

10:00 – 10:30

(30 min)

Tactics for managing deer in fruit

Paul Curtis

10:30 – 10:50

(20 min)

Wildlife management: bird resources, regulations and permitting

Ken Preusser, USDA Wildlife Services

10:50 – 11:30

(40 min)

Risk factors for bird damage in fruit and mitigation strategies

Catherine Lindell, Dept of Zoology, Michigan State Univ

11:30 – 12:00

(30 min)

Scare devices investigated in fruit plantings in New York

Heidi Henrichs or Paul Curtis

12:00 End morning session


12:00 – Lunch, provided


Afternoon Session- Farm Demonstrations

12:30 – Travel to field demonstration site

1:00 – Arrive at farm

1:05 (10 min) – Welcome, introductions, meet the farmer

1:15 (60 to 90 min) – Falconry demonstration by local falconer

2:30 (30 min) – Air dancer demonstration by Paul Curtis or Heidi Henrichs

3:00 (30 min) – break & grower discussions of current tactics being used and their success

3:30 (30 min) – Tour bird damage practices in use on the farm

4:00 – Adjourn; safe travels home


Bird damage factsheets

Fact sheets on the economic impact of bird damage to fruit crops are available on the Limiting bird damage in fruit crops website,  and we have linked to them within the Cornell Fruit Resources webpages for each commodity. Please share these fact sheets at winter fruit schools, grower conferences, Producer Expo sessions, etc.

The study crops included wine grapes, tart cherries, sweet cherries, blueberries, and ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. The results were based on grower surveys in NY done with assistance from the NYS Horticultural Society, NY Apple Association, NY Wine & Grape Foundation, NY Berry Growers Association, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Programs and County Associations. Our colleague, Cathy Heidenreich, was instrumental in reaching NY berry growers with the survey. Thank you to all who helped with the survey effort a few years back.

The economic impact results are part of a larger, SCRI funded project, Limiting bird damage in fruit crops: integrating economic, biological, and consumer information to develop sustainable, long-term solutions, conducted in Michigan, Washington, California and New York.  Stephanie Schwiff, Research Economist, USDA-APHIS, National Wildlife Research Center conducted the economic impact analyses.

Economic impact highlights:

  • The average annual economic impact to New York from bird damage to the study crops is $16 million with the loss of almost 500 jobs.
  • The average annual economic impact of bird damage to blueberries in MI, NY, OR, WA, and CA was $51 million with a loss of 924 jobs.
  • The average annual economic impact of bird damage to tart cherries in MI, NY, OR, WA, and CA was $6.1 million with a loss of 152 jobs.
  • The average annual economic impact of bird damage to sweet cherries in MI, NY, OR, WA, and CA was $85 million with a loss of almost 1,300 jobs.
  • The average annual economic impact of bird damage to wine grapes in MI, NY, OR, WA, and CA was $126 million with a loss of 1,648 jobs.
  • The average annual economic impact of bird damage to Honeycrisp apples in MI, NY, OR, WA, and CA was $48 million with a loss of 788 jobs.

Pawpaw Production Workshop Nov. 6

pawpawsHave you ever thought of growing pawpaws? Pawpaw is a native fruit with a tropical fruit-like flavor that has been described as a cross between a banana, mango and pineapple. They are rarely found in markets because the fruit is easily damaged when ripe.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County is offering a Pawpaw Production Workshop on Wednesday evening, November 6, 2014 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The workshop will be held at Vince’s Park at the intersection of Rt 314 and Rts 5+20 in Seneca Falls, NY.

Steven Gabriel, from the Cornell Small Farms Program and owner of Wellspring Forest Farm in Mecklenburg NY will be the presenter. Steve has recently co-authored a book called Farming the Woods with Cornell professor Ken Mudge. The workshop will cover various topics related to growing pawpaws including pawpaw management, site selection and sourcing pawpaw trees.

Cost is $15 per Farm or Family

More information and online registration.

Mexican Consulate in Geneva, N.Y., July 31- August 2, 2014

The Mexican Consulate will be visiting Geneva on July 31, August 1 & 2 to provide consular services to the Mexican citizens residing in upstate New York who are in need of a Passport or Consular ID Card for identification matters, travel purposes, or to prove their Mexican nationality. They will also be assisting people in documenting dual citizenship.

The “Consulate on Wheels” will be hosted by the Cornell Farmworker Program and the Finger Lakes Coalition of Farmworker Agencies at the Geneva Community Center, 160 Carter Road, Geneva, NY. The consulate is providing this service in upstate New York to ease the burden of traveling to New York City to renew and obtain important documents.

Identification documents also ease the process of opening a bank account, getting a tax payer ID number, and establishing dual citizenship if needed.

Appointments will be available on Thursday (July 31) between 2- 7 PM and on Friday and Saturday (August 1-2) from 9AM to 2PM. Please schedule appointment (free) via Mexitel.

The Mexican Consulate will also be in the Upstate area on the following dates:

  • August 14-16, 2014- Episcopal Church, 58 E. Main Street, Sodus, NY (tentative)
  • September 17-20, 2014- Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, 3799 Union Street, Marion, NY
  • September 30-October 4, 2014- Syracuse, NY (location to be determined)

More information:

Preventing heat illness and fatalities

(Re-posted from: US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, May 22, 2014)

WATER. REST. SHADE. The work can't get done without them.

“Water. Rest. Shade.” and acclimatization are critical in preventing heat illness and fatalities

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced the launch of its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. For the fourth consecutive year, OSHA’s campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. Workers at particular risk are those in outdoor industries, such as agriculture, construction, landscaping and transportation.

“Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest.”

Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. In 2012, there were 31 heat-related worker deaths and 4,120 heat-related worker illnesses. Labor-intensive activities in hot weather can raise body temperatures beyond the level that normally can be cooled by sweating. Heat illness initially may manifest as heat rash or heat cramps, but can quickly escalate to heat exhaustion and then heat stroke if simple preventative measures are not followed. Heat illness disproportionately affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat (acclimatization), and it is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers.

“Acclimatization is a physical change that the body undergoes to build tolerance to heat, and it is a critical part of preventing heat illnesses and fatalities,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Over the past three years, lack of acclimatization was the cause in 74 percent of heat-related citations issued. Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat.”

Last year, OSHA issued 11 heat-related citations. In some of these cases, the employer and staffing agency were cited because they involved temporary workers.

In preparation for the summer season, OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish, as well as a curriculum to be used for workplace training, also available in both English and Spanish. Additionally, a Web page provides information and resources on heat illness – including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency – for workers and employers. The page is available at:

OSHA also has released a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level. Since its 2011 launch, more than 130,000 users have downloaded the app. Available for Android-based platforms and the iPhone, the app can be downloaded in English and Spanish by visiting:

In developing its inaugural national campaign in 2011, federal OSHA worked closely with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration and adapted materials from that state’s successful campaign. Additionally, OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation. NOAA also will include pertinent worker safety information on its heat watch Web page at

New Cornell Soil Health Test Package

(Re-posted from Cornell Soil Health blog, June 13, 2014)

We recently made the new 2014 Soil Health Assessment Package available.

Please visit our website where you can find:

Information on indicators measured as part of our new package, including two new biological indicators we have added this year:

2014 submission form

Sampling guidelines, and information on shipping samples

Two samples of the new soil health test report, which now includes:

  • Additional information on the Soil Health Assessment
  • A short narrative on what each indicator means
  • Suggestions for prioritizing management options, to address constraints and maintain soil health
  • Customized tables with general management suggestions by constraint (at the end)

Right now is a great time to submit samples.

Also – Save the dates if you have not already for our upcoming Train-the-Trainer Soil Health Workshop (8/12-8/15). We will be posting and announcing registration very soon.

Happy sampling, planting, scouting, advising, etc.! It’s a busy season!

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