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Pineapple lily could help N.Y. nursery industry bloom

Chris Wien (Lindsay France/University Photography)

Chris Wien (Lindsay France/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle article by Alex Koeberle 2013-07-25:

With its long, speckled stalks, vibrant flowers and long vase life, the pineapple lily appeals to those who appreciate brash, beautiful blooms.

It could also provide new opportunities for Northeast nurseries, according to Cornell horticulturists who would like to see the South African native take root in upstate New York.

Chris Wien, professor of horticulture, experiments with cut flowers to determine which varieties hold the most promise for the state’s $6.3 billion nursery industry, and he believes he’s found a winner in Eucomis.

Read the whole article.

For more images, see CALS Notes.

Pritts: Fruit crops looking good

Marvin Pritts

Marvin Pritts

Crossposted from CALS Notes:

“Everybody should be pretty happy with their prospects this year. Every fruit crop in the Northeast has really set up nicely. Apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries — they’re all looking good.”

— Horticulture professor Marvin Pritts talks to the Associated Press about sweet treats in store for us this season.

Registration open for online permaculture design course

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

Registration is now open for the online course Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design, offered September 9 to October 24, 2013 through the Department of Horticulture’s distance learning program.

The study of permaculture helps gardeners, landowners, and farmers combine a knowledge of ecology combined with its application to supporting healthy soil, water conservation, and biodiversity.

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health. Common practices include no-till gardening, rainwater catchment, forest gardening, and agroforestry.

The course is 6.5 weeks long and provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of a design for a site of their choosing.

While the course is online, the format is designed for consistent interaction between instructors and students through forums and live video conferences. Readings and presentations will be directly applied through hands-on activities students will engage with at home.

View the full syllabus for the course and find registration information at the course website.

Steve Gabriel

Steve Gabriel

The instructor, Steve Gabriel, is an ecologist, extension educator, and forest farmer living and working in the Finger Lakes Region of central New York. He currently spends his time working for the Department of Horticulture’s Garden-Based Learning program and coordinating the Northeast Mushroom Growers Network. He also teaches for the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and serves on the Board of Directors for the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast. He is currently co-authoring a book on forest farming with Cornell professor Ken Mudge, which is expected to be published in 2014.

Department of Horticulture’s distance learning program offers two other online permaculture design courses:

Completion of a single class gives students a certificate of completion from the Department of Horticulture and continuing education credits. Completion of all three courses gives students the portfolio necessary to apply for an internationally recognized certification in Permaculture Design though the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute.  The fee for each class is $600, and registration opens about six weeks before courses begin.

Farmers flock to Musgrave Research Farm

Brian Caldwell, Research Support Specialist, Department of Horticulture, addresses the group on organic crop management

Brian Caldwell, Research Support Specialist, Department of Horticulture, addresses the group on organic crop management

Crossposted from CALS Notes:

More than 100 farmers, crop consultants, industry representatives, student interns, and Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists braved high temperatures and rain on July 18 to learn about the latest field crop research at Cornell’s Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, N.Y.

As presenter Margaret Smith noted, the conditions were similar to those faced by many farmers this season.

Read the whole post.

Congratulations Lindsay!

Lindsay Jordan

Lindsay Jordan

From Justine Vanden Heuvel:

I just wanted to share the good news that Lindsay Jordan won “Best student paper in Viticulture” at the American Society of Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section meeting in Winston-Salem, NC last week. It was actually a Cornell sweep for the two Lindsays: – Lindsay Springer (from Gavin Sacks’ lab) won best student paper in enology.

Bridgen named Fulbright Scholar

Mark Bridgen

Mark Bridgen

From Cornell Chronicle article 2013/0722:

His cut flower cultivar creations have brightened many homes and gardens, and now a prestigious grant will allow horticulture professor Mark Bridgen to spend a semester studying Alstroemeria flowers in their native habitat.

Bridgen, director of Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, has been named a 2013 Fulbright Scholar.

He will take a sabbatical leave starting in September, to work at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) in Santiago, Chile, where he will teach two classes and conduct research on breeding native Chilean plants and plant tissue culture.

Read the whole article.

LIHREC open house and plant science day

Reblogged from CALS Notes:

Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center shared its blossoming beauty with dozens of horticulture professionals and curious families who flocked to the 68 acre site on July 11 and 13 for a plant science day and open house. They were treated to guided tours of display gardens, research fields and facilities, as well as several special seminars and activities, from flower arranging and garden tool care to concrete leaf sculptures and a plant sale.

For more, visit the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center and Cornell Gardeners Facebook pages.

Shade house at LIHREC

In the news

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Monsanto. Broccoli. I Love This. Really! [Mother Jones 2013/07/17] – Thomas Bjorkman explains that partners in the Eastern Broccoli Project include relatively small players like Maine-based Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a purveyor widely used by small- and mid-size farmers, as well as seed giants like Monsanto. “Our goal is to get seeds of better-adapted broccoli varieties out to Eastern growers so that they can grow more local broccoli,” he says. And working with private players with established distribution networks is the fastest way to do that, he added. See also: CALS Notes.

Maine’s indigenous plants help economy, Native Americans [Cornell Chronicle 2013/07/11] – Michelle Baumflek, Ph.D. student in the field of natural resources, recently contributed to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report cataloging some of the 120 wild plant and fungus species gathered in the St. John River watershed of northern Maine. She works with two Native American tribes in northern Maine who depend on local plants as part of their livelihoods. Her goal is to better understand how indigenous tribes steward plants that are important to them. This enthobotanical research encompasses traditional knowledge, plant use, health sovereignty and cultural identity.

Social media to help farmers deal with climate change [Cornell Chronicle 2013/07/11] – Whether farmers believe in climate change or not – 66 percent do – their actions show that they are adapting to global warming, according to panelists at a July 8 discussion on campus. “Farmers are already being affected by the changing climate, and the pace of change is likely to accelerate in the future,” said panelist Bill Hohenstein, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Climate Change Program Office. “Agriculture is an important contributor to climate change as a source of greenhouse gases, but it is also one of the sectors that is most affected by climate change.”

Spotted Wing Drosophila workshop/webinar July 16

Via the Spotted Wing Drosophila blog:

Cornell’s Hudson Valley Laboratory will host a workshop and webinar on Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), 1:30-3:00 PM, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. The Lab is located at 3357 Route 9W, Highland, NY.

Commercial growers, Extension Educators and Master Gardener Coordinators are invited to attend or join the webinar to learn about this invasive insect, its production implications and control options in organic and conventional fruit plantings. The program is free but please RSVP to Mike Fargione by 7/15/2013 to 845-691-7117 or


  • Introduction to Spotted Wing Drosophila
  • Damage identification (check out real fruit samples!)
  • Monitoring techniques and current monitoring results in the Hudson Valley and NY – Cultural and chemical control options


  • Peter Jentsch, Entomologist, Cornell University, Hudson Valley Lab
  • Emily Cook, Organic Fruit and Vegetable Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hudson Valley Lab
  • James O’Connell, Berry and Grape Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialist, Hudson Valley Lab
  • Mike Fargione, Tree Fruit Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Hudson Valley Lab

ScientifInk! Alex Paya

Alex Paya

Alex Paya

From an ongoing series on researchers and their tatoos at CALS Notes:

Today’s ScientifInk! features the botanical tattoo of CALS graduate student, Alex Paya, whose elaborate ink was inspired by his Ph.D. research studying tree physiology in professor of horticulture Taryn Bauerle’s lab.

“I love trees,” he said, when CALS Notes recently paid a visit to the Bauerle Lab. “They are grand, beautiful organisms, and like animals they are unbelievably diverse in how they look, their shape, their function.”

Alex’s fascination with the trees that inspired his tattoo came shining through when he described the nature of his work.

“My Ph.D. research revolves around biodiversity and competition in forests,” he said. “Forests are among the most productive ecosystems on earth: they provide us with wood, natural spaces, and play an important role in the global carbon cycle… Forests also happen to cover about 30% of the land on earth. They are also dynamic and in constant competition with their neighbors for resources. Like sports teams or telecom companies, warring nations or two people at a bar vying for the same person’s attention, competition is everywhere and trees are no exception. Competition has been the driving force of biological evolution, and while I don’t study evolution in forests, I do study tree growth and physiology in order to understand what traits and/or strategies they employ to outcompete, or in some instances, to facilitate coexistence with their neighbors.”

Perhaps the most impressive thing to know about Alex’s tattoo is that he designed it himself! A gifted artist who works in pencil and paper, acrylics, and digital media, Alex wanted his tattoo to showcase the exceptional diversity of the trees he loves, and so he incorporated a multitude of different kinds of tree leaves into the design, as well as elements of grapes and hops to represent his appreciation of fine wine and beer.

In addition, beneath his arm he added a rendering of a chlorophyll molecule backed by a representation of a Fibonacci spiral, which he describes as “a mathematical concept that guides how plants produce their leaves, how ferns unfold, and how broccoli makes its florets.”

Alex’s tattoo was a significant undertaking, requiring over 11 hours of work by local tattoo artist, Phobe Aceto. But this amazing ink isn’t the only way he plans to express his passion for trees. Next up, Alex aims to create a series of stencil prints of trees on wood, displaying various root and treetop systems in different colors and layers, for a possible show in a local Ithaca art gallery.

We look forward to seeing more of your work, Alex!

See more pictures at CALS Notes.

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