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Empire State Producers Expo proceedings

Empire State ExpoIf you missed January’s Empire State Producers Expo, you can peruse the conference proceedings now available online at

You’ll find summaries of nearly 100 sessions on everything from alliums to vine crops, including many resources on the emerging pest, Spotted wing drosophila.

Collaborate with the Vegetable Variety Demo Garden

Via Liz Falk, Professional Development Educator, crossposted from the Cornell Garden-Based Learning blog.

For the second year, we will be planting the Vegetable Variety Demo Garden (VVdG) again here on the Cornell campus and would like to collaborate with CCE offices New York statewide to install a VVdG in your county.

Some of the same elements from 2012 will be repeated including vegetable varieties and components of ecological gardening (cover crops, companion planting, and mulching). This year we will also be adding perennial plants to the garden, a compost bin and – in keeping with the 2013 Horticulture theme – multiple types of plants for attracting beneficial insects. As always with VVT, we will encourage others to rate varieties by using the website at

To Participate: Read more about the trial and how to take part on our web site here:

Thanks Martin!

Wearing a hat befitting the title, Sir Martin of the Cluster Primordia cuts the ceremonial cake.

Wearing a hat befitting the title, Sir Martin of the Cluster Primordia cuts the ceremonial cake.

Alan Lakso, Justine Vanden Heuvel, students in HORT/VIEN 4444 and others feted retired Senior Extension Associate Martin Goffinet on the occasion of his last teaching assignment. While widely recognized for his research and Extension efforts, Goffinet has generously shared his expertise in grapevine structure, anatomy and growth with students over the years.

Vanden Heuvel read a light-hearted proclamation from Chair Marvin Pritts and Associate Chair Susan Brown that sums up Sir Martin of the Cluster Primordia‘s contributions:

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Let it be known throughout the Kingdom of Horticulture, on this 27th day of February, in the Year of our Lord 2013, that Martin Goffinet is recognized for serving his King and Queen valiantly, with years of volunteer service above and beyond his ordained retirement date, and well in excess of what mere mortals usually give in service to the Kingdom.

Whereas his loyal subjects are most grateful for the cornucopia of knowledge and understanding he has generously bestowed;

And whereas the lords and ladies of the Kingdom are equally appreciative of Martin’s contributions to the education of their subjects and servants;

And whereas Martin is known throughout the empire as “just a really nice guy”;

Therefore, let it be known, from this day forward, that Martin Goffinet – despite his French-sounding name – will be heretofore known as Sir Martin of the Cluster Primordia – a title befitting only the most esteemed anatomists and knights.

Please accept our sincerest gratitude for a job well done, and may Pomona, Dionysus and Bacchus shower you with many blessings for as long as you choose to sit with the other Knights of the Round Table Grape.

King Marvin & Queen Susan

Goffinet's ceremonial cake featured a frosting version of one of his classic grapevine anatomy images.

Goffinet’s ceremonial cake featured a frosting version of one of his classic grapevine anatomy images.

2012 cut flower research report

Cutflower data.Chris Wien’s 2012 cut flower cultural practice studies and variety trials report is now available online. This year’s research include experiments on:

  • Aster Root Rot
  • Sunflower Photoperiod
  • Sunflower Pinching and Spacing
  • Sunflower Pollination
  • Sunflower Petal Pull

Wien also reports on variety trials of Carthamus(Safflower), Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Cynoglossum, Eucomis, Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth), Larkspur (Consolida), Lisianthus (Eustoma), Marigold, Pepper (Capsicum baccatum), Snapdragon (Antirrhinum), and Stock (Matthiola).

To see previous years’ reports, visit Wien’s research page.

Northern Grapes Project summaries

Northern Grapes ProjectFrom Chrislyn A. Particka, Project Manager, Northern Grapes Project:

First Results from Northern Grapes Project Detailed at Viticulture 2013 Conference in New York

The Second Annual Northern Grapes Symposium featured first-year results from viticulture, enology, and economics/marketing studies that are part of the USDA-funded Northern Grapes Project, which began in October 2011. Approximately 120 people attended three sessions of the Symposium, held on February 6, 2013 in Rochester, NY, in conjunction with the Viticulture 2013 Conference.

Read the highlights.

View PowerPoint slides from the presentations.

The Northern Grapes Project is a multi-institutional Coordinated Agricultural Project funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative, with a multidisciplinary team from 12 universities in collaboration with winery and grape grower associations in ND, SD, MN, NE, IA, WI, IL, NY, VT, CT, and MA.  It focuses on production, processing, and marketing of new cold-climate wine grape cultivars that have spawned new wineries and vineyards in the upper Midwest and Northeast.

The project also sponsors webinars, generally on the second Tuesday of each month.  More webinar info.

In the news

Poor children’s higher weights linked to less access to yards, parks [Cornell Chronicle 2/20/2013] – Low-income children may be overweight in part because they have less access to open green space where they can play and exercise, reports a Cornell study of obesity in Europe. “It is important to take an ecological perspective in thinking about the challenge of childhood obesity. The environment, personality, culture, stress, family history and economics likely all play an important role,” said lead author Gary Evans, the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of Human Ecology in the Departments of Design and Environmental Analysis and of Human Development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

Endowed NYSAES directorship paves way for agricultural innovation [Cornell Chronicle 2/13/2013] – In 2009, Businessman Larry Goichman ’66 and his wife, Jennifer, endowed the first professorship of enology and viticulture at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva. Now the Goichmans have increased their commitment to the endowment and the Geneva station, enabling a Goichman Family Directorship of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

Imaging Facility adds two tools for microscopy [Cornell Chronicle 2/13/2013] – Cornell’s Imaging Facility, located in Weill Hall and in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has added a spinning disk confocal microscope that enables users to image and manipulate fluorescent specimens rapidly, and an instrument for laser capture microdissection, which allows researchers to isolate specific cells or tissues from a sample by slicing out particular regions with a laser.

More than maple: tapping the potential of walnut and birch [Cornell Chronicle 2/12/2013] – Thanks in part to the efforts of the Cornell Maple Program, maple producers are exploring the untapped potential of walnut and birch trees, which produce sap can be boiled down into syrup.

Nature lovers invited to train as natural area mentors [Cornell Chronicle 2/12/2013] – Love spending time in the natural areas of the Finger Lakes region? Care about preserving the integrity of the natural world? Consider joining Cornell Plantations’ Natural Areas Academy (NAA). The year-long academy features dozens of expert-led workshops, field trips and directed stewardship opportunities designed to provide participants with the knowledge, tools and skills needed to support efforts in preserving natural resources.

Online garden design course starts March 25

garden_designx300Introduction to Garden Design
March 25 to May 9, 2013.
Cost: $600.
Enrollment limited to 12 students.

About the course

  • Learn garden site analysis and apply the concepts to your personal space.
  • Gain proficiency in basic garden design principals.
  • Articulate your personal aesthetic — what appeals to you, and what you enjoy.
  • Lay out a rough site plan overview of your garden design.

You’ll do all that and more if you take this 6-week online course (plus the introduction days), which provides an opportunity for you to design your own garden. You will be studying and experimenting with the basic design procedures, learning about proper plant selection, and you will write and reflect on the process as you learn. The instructor will take an active role in this creative endeavor by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. You will also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

This course is designed to encourage your discovery of basic garden design techniques. It is a garden design course for the beginner. We teach an approach to gardening that is based on the principle of right plant, right place. In other words, we will consider the needs of the plant in addition to the needs of the gardener.

Course schedule:

  • Introduction Days: Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: Site Assessment Part 1
  • Week 2: Site Assessment Part 2 / Basic Design Principles: Personal Style, Garden Unity, and Maintenance
  • Week 3: Basic Design Principles: Scale & Proportion, Balance & Symmetry, Repetition, Movement
  • Week 4: Basic Design Principles: Color, Form & Texture
  • Week 5: Designing Your Garden: Choosing & Buying Plants
  • Week 6: Designing Your Garden: Final Project and Buying Plants

View more information/registration.

Full syllabus.

Cornell Soil Health Test Lab expands services

soil health test labIn addition to now being open year-round, the Cornell Soil Health Test Lab has expanded its services, now offering in addition to Basic and Standard packages:

  • Add-on tests for landscape, urban and high tunnel situations, including soluble salt, heavy metal and hot water soluble boron tests.
  • Low-cost individual tests for potentially mineralizable nitrogen, soil texture, wet aggregate stability, available water capacity, active carbon, and bean root bioassay.
  • A field penetrometer available for loan.

Visit the lab’s webpage for more information, or contact contact Bob Schindelbeck, (607) 227-6055,

Video: Plant Physics ‘Chat in the Stack’

PlantPhysicsPodcastLast fall, Karl Niklas, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Biology, gave a talk about Plant Physics, a book he co-authored with Hanns-Christof Spatz, professor emeritus of biophysics in the Faculty of Biology at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in Germany.

If you missed the talk, part of Mann Library’s ‘Chats in the Stacks’ series, it’s now available online.

The book explains how plants cannot be fully understood without grasping how physical forces and processes influence growth, development, reproduction, evolution, and the environment.

McKay wins IPM award

Abby Seaman presents Steve McKay with an Excellence in IPM award.

Abby Seaman presents Steve McKay with an Excellence in IPM award.

Neither Rain nor Mud nor (Etc.) Earns IPM Award for Cornell Farm Manager
by Mary Woodsen, NYSIPM program.

Three days after Tropical Storm Lee blew through the Northeast in early September 2011, turning streams into rivers, then lakes, getting a tractor into the waterlogged research plots at Cornell University’s Thompson Research Farm was an obvious no-go. So farm manager Steve McKay slipped on a backpack sprayer and slogged through the muddy fields bordering Fall Creek.

McKay was helping test a new “decision support system,” which predicts if or when growers need to spray to protect crops from late blight, a deadly plant diseases. McKay’s team supports research to help growers use softer fungicides and only as a last resort—a principle that’s key to IPM, or integrated pest management.

And the next day—a Saturday—he was back again in the cab of a backhoe, digging temporary drainage ditches to salvage what he could of the experiment.

Now for his dedication, expertise, and leadership, McKay has earned an Excellence in IPM Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which seeks least-toxic solutions to pest problems, including plant diseases.

“Working with Steve is an absolute delight,” says William Fry, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, noting that McKay is indispensable in evaluating late-blight forecasting systems. “With his help, we’ve got data on late-blight resistance in nearly 100 potato and tomato cultivars.”

McKay manages 70-plus acres of trials for as many as 15 different scientists on 15 to 20 different crops, say horticulture professors Robin Bellinder and Don Halseth. McKay does “an astounding job of caring for our research trials,” they say. “We can’t think of a better person to receive the Excellence in IPM award.”

McKay receives his award on February 11 at Cornell’s Horticulture Seminar Series.

McKay teaches vegetable production class about the inner workings of a planter.

McKay teaches vegetable production class about the inner workings of a planter.

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