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Cornell researchers win major awards from cider industry

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-04-19]

Hard cider is a fast-growing segment in the U.S. fermented beverage industry, and New York’s position as a leader in craft beverage production and expertise is paving the way for cider producers to succeed.

“The burgeoning craft beverage industry in New York state has helped create a lot of applicable resources and expertise for cider makers,” said Ian Merwin, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’90, owner of Black Diamond Cider and Cornell professor emeritus of plant science. “We can get bottles and equipment from well-established companies in the area. We have the legislative support we need and Cornell experts like Chris Gerling and Greg Peck to help us every step of the way.”

Merwin notes that the benefit of cider makers working with both Gerling, extension associate in the Department of Food Science, and Peck, assistant professor in the horticulture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, is that they can gain expertise on both ends of the spectrum—when growing the cider apples and when making the cider itself.

Recently Gerling and Peck received major awards from the cider industry. Gerling was given the Apple of Appreciation award from the New York Cider Association (NYCA), and Peck was chosen as the Grower Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Association of Cider Makers (USACM).

Chris Gerling, who began his career offering extension expertise in the field of enology, found a natural transition into hard cider extension work. Wine and cider have many similarities, including the types of yeast used and the effect of climate, soils and terrain on the overall flavor profile.

“Chris has distinguished himself as being fully invested in improving the quality and profitability of cider made in New York and beyond,” said Jenn Smith, NYCA executive director. “He is as curious as he is knowledgeable, and in particular has been central in NYCA’s work to tackle the challenges of measuring and communicating the tricky concept of dryness to drinkers. We are grateful and lucky to have him as a partner in our work of developing a sustainable, excellent cider industry in our region.”

Greg Peck’s research explores ways to increase the quantity and quality of New York–grown cider apples, including best practices for fertilizer, crop load and harvest management. Peck also helps cider makers select varieties that will work best for high-quality and flavorful cider.

Michelle McGrath, executive director of the USACM, said the organization’s members overwhelmingly voted for Peck to receive the Grower Advocate of the Year award.

“His advocacy for cider at Cornell and his research collaborations with the industry are important for expanding our knowledge of growing cider apples. We know so little about propagating cider-specific varieties in the U.S., and Greg is such a valuable resource for cider makers looking to use specific apple varieties.”

While hard cider makers have many valuable resources in New York, the recent awards for Gerling and Peck underscore the fact that producers value experts who can help them piece together the many components that equate to a high-quality end product.

To learn more about Cornell’s hard cider research and outreach efforts, visit: https://hardcider.cals.cornell.edu

Online botanical illustration courses start May 28

Hellebore watercolor by Marcia Eames-Sheavly

Learn botanical illustration online.  Three courses taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly start May 29, 2018:

You can view works by students in previous classes on display in the cases in the west wing of the first floor of Plant Science Building. The course webpages also have links to previous students who have posted their works online.

‘Urban Eden’ students put a price tag on trees for Arbor Day

Nina Bassuk and students tag a tree outside Roberts Hall.

Nina Bassuk and students tag a tree outside Roberts Hall.

What’s a tree worth?

In what has become an annual tradition, students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920) are helping to make people more aware of why trees are worth hugging by hanging bright green “price tags” on trunks around the Ag Quad.

The students entered data about the trees, such as species, diameter and location, into i-Tree — a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service. The application then calculates monetary benefits from reduced stormwater runoff, improved air quality,  carbon dioxide sequestration and energy savings to nearby buildings by blocking wind in winter and providing shade in summer.

“It’s really quite eye-opening for people who think that trees are just nice to look at and don’t have any other value,” said Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who leads the class alongside Zac Rood, lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

There are also benefits that are not easily quantified, such as wildlife habitats and emotional responses, added Bassuk, who is also director of the Urban Horticulture Institute.

Students tagging oaks in front of Mann Library

Tagging an oak on the Ag Quad

Tagging a red oak.

Tagging a Kentucky coffeetree

Tagging Katsura tree outside Mann Library

Raymond Fox ’47, emeritus professor of floriculture, dies at 96

Ray Fox

Ray Fox

Cornell Chronicle [2019-04-10]

Raymond T. Fox ’47, M.S. ’52, Ph.D. ’56, professor emeritus of floriculture and ornamental horticulture and renowned for his elaborate campus floral displays and floriculture expertise, died March 31 in Ithaca, New York. He was 96.

Fox was born Aug. 31, 1922, in Corning, New York, the son of Joseph and Marie Hauer Fuchs. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Fox began his Cornell career as an instructor in the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture the same year. He subsequently earned his master’s and doctorate, also at Cornell, and was promoted to full professor in 1979, serving until his retirement in 1987.

His late wife Vera ’48, who died in 2009, was also an accomplished horticulturist.

Fox was legendary for tirelessly organizing and leading brigades of volunteers to set up floral displays at campus events, even after his retirement.

In his address at the university’s 129th Commencement in 1997, then-university president Hunter R. Rawlings III paid him tribute: “[This] Commencement represents the 50th year that Professor Fox, with help from an enthusiastic band of volunteers, has coordinated the floral arrangements for Commencement Weekend. For 50 years, his has been truly a labor of love.”

Equally spectacular were Fox’s holiday decorations at Sage Chapel, which often included elaborate, tree-like poinsettia arrangements.

“He was a superb floral designer – both in composition of a single piece as well as grand displays,” said Professor Emeritus Tom Weiler, former chair of the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture. Fox was a key figure at the now-defunct New York Flower Show and the iconic spring flower display at Macy’s department store in New York City.

Sketch from program from Fox's retirement celebration in 1987.

Sketch from program from Fox’s retirement celebration in 1987.

To appreciate Fox’s contributions requires an understanding of how the floriculture industry has changed since its heyday, Weiler said.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, you never saw ‘in lieu of flowers’ on funeral announcements,” he said. “Elaborate floral arrangements were essential at most every social occasion from weddings and funerals to dances and other public functions.

“The emphasis was on locally produced flowers,” Weiler said. “Cut flowers were a much larger segment of New York’s greenhouse production, and Ray was the center of Cornell’s support of retail florists.”

Fox’s academic pursuits focused on teaching and outreach. He taught popular courses in floral design and retail flower store management. “He bled Cornell red and trained generations of florists,” said Bill Miller, professor of horticulture and director of Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program.

Fox often spoke to florist organizations, garden clubs and county Cornell Cooperative Extension audiences. He authored or co-authored many popular consumer publications, including “The Selection, Care, and Use of Plants in the Home” and “Techniques for Propagation of Plants for Interior Decoration.”

He also devoted time to community service, developing horticulture therapy programs at local senior centers, leading international garden tours and holding leadership positions in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Garden Club.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced.

Seminar video: 50 years of breeding the Geneva® series of apple rootstocks

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, 50 years of breeding the Geneva® series of apple rootstocks, with Gennaro Fazio, USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Bauerle explores role of forests in providing water in podcast

“The Need for Trees,” a new episode of the “What Makes Us Human” podcast series  produced by the College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Cornell Broadcast Studios, explores the critical role trees play in the earth’s water cycle. The podcast’s fourth season — “What Does Water Mean to Us Humans?” — showcases the newest thinking across academic disciplines about the relationship between humans and water.

“We pass laws to protect our water sources like lakes and reservoirs, but what many people don’t know is that our access to clean water relies just as heavily on forests,” says Taryn Bauerle, associate professor in the School of Integrative and Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in her podcast.

Bauerle’s overall interests lie in woody root physiological ecology. The majority of her research focuses on growth and physiological responses of plants to water deficits, such as how roots respond to and modify their environment when faced with water stress.

Bauerle (right) orients Plant Sciences major Tommi Schieder ’19 to equipment she used on her internship in Germany to collect data on the passive movement of water that helps trees survive drought stress.

Bauerle (right) orients Plant Sciences major Tommi Schieder ’19 to equipment she used on her internship in Germany in 2017 to collect data on the passive movement of water that helps trees survive drought stress.

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