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New variety challenges ‘Jaded’ attitudes to green tomatoes

Jaded mixed in with cherry tomatoes of other shapes and colors.

Jaded green tomatoes add a different hue to cherry tomato medley mixes.


Cornell Chronicle [2020-02-11]:

Most people are jaded about green tomatoes, which are considered unripe and unsavory unless they’re fried. But a new, flavorful and highly productive cherry tomato – that ripens green – promises to be the envy of tomato growers this spring.

The new variety, dubbed Jaded, was developed by Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture at Cornell Agritech, who bred it from four heirloom tomato varieties. The green cherry is on sale now through local organic seed company Fruition Seeds.

With a smooth and tropical flavor, Jaded’s skin becomes translucent like a gooseberry and adopts a golden hue when ripe, signaling it’s ready to pick.

“Challenges [in breeding a green tomato] came in knowing when it was ripe,” Griffiths said, “but also the perception of people to green as a color in tomato, because when people think of sweeter types of products, then green doesn’t necessarily come to mind.”

Griffiths began working with the improvement of heirloom varieties in 2005. At the time most vegetable breeding programs were more focused on varieties with disease resistance and higher yields. Meanwhile, consumers were starting to have more influence in food markets through buying power, as they sought different colors, new flavors and more fun varieties.

Green also adds a different hue to cherry tomato medley mixes.

Read the whole article.

Seminar video: Preserving the Future: the National Collection of Tart Cherry, Grape, and Apple in Geneva, NY

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Preserving the Future: the National Collection of Tart Cherry, Grape, and Apple in Geneva, NY,  with Benjamin Gutierrez, USDA-ARS, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

New, more appealing varieties of kale in the works

Phillip Griffiths with several of his new kale varieties showing different colors and textures from green to red and smooth to crinkled.

Phillip Griffiths, a plant breeder and associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, poses with several of his new kale varieties.

UPI story [2020-02-04]:

Loved by some for its health benefits and disliked by others for its cardboard-like consistency, kale might be heading for a makeover.

After surging in popularity several years ago, sales of the dark green, leafy vegetable are beginning to plateau. One vegetable breeder hopes to change that by creating varieties of kale with new flavors, textures and colors.

“It’s mainstreaming kale, to some extent,” said Phillip Griffiths, an associate professor of horticulture at Cornell Agri-Tech in New York.

“Kale has become one of those health foods, and only certain people eat it,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who eat leafy greens because they want something fresh and healthy.”

To reach those customers, Griffiths is creating a whole line of new kale.

Read the whole article.

Seminar video: Agricultural Workforce Outlook: How Demographics, Technology, and Markets are Transforming Farm Labor

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Agricultural Workforce Outlook: How Demographics, Technology, and Markets are Transforming Farm Labor,  with Agricultural Workforce Specialist Richard Stup, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Genetic marking discovery could ease plant breeders’ work

bruce reisch with grapevines on a sunny day

Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulure and member of the VitsGen2 team at Cornell AgriTech, assesses powdery mildew on chardonnay vines. Photo: Allison Usavage/Cornell University

Cornell Chronicle/CALS News [2020-01-21]

Plant breeders are always striving to develop new varieties that satisfy growers, producers and consumers.

To do this, breeders use genetic markers to bring desirable traits from wild species into their cultivated cousins. Transferring those markers across species has been difficult at best, but a team of grapevine breeders, geneticists and bioinformatic specialists at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, has come up with a powerful new method.

Their research is detailed in “Haplotyping the Vitis Collinear Core Genome With rhAmpSeq Improves Marker Transferability in a Diverse Genus,” published Jan. 21 in Nature Communications.

The team’s new technique for developing genetic markers improves markers’ transfer rate across grapevine species by leaps and bounds – from 2% to 92%. With it, breeders worldwide can screen their collections and find out immediately which vines have the traits they want – regardless of what varieties they are, where they came from or which species their parents were.

“This new marker development strategy goes well beyond grapes,” said co-author Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and leader of Cornell’s Grapevine Breeding and Genetics Program. “It’s applicable for breeding and genetic studies across different grape breeding programs, plant species and other diverse organisms.”

Read the whole article.

How much would you pay for the perfect strawberry?

Marvin Pritts with high tunnel raspberries

Marvin Pritts with high tunnel raspberries.

According to an article in Time Magazine published online January 9,  high-end “Omakase berries”  —  a Japanese strawberry variety known for its “beautiful aroma and exceptional sweetness” with a seedless exterior and “creamy texture” — will set you back $50 for a package of eight.

Even if you could afford them, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see them in the supermarket any time soon at any price because “what supermarkets stock tends to be what they can sell with ease and consistency; a pesky thing like flavor is secondary,” explains Marvin Pritts, Professor of Horticulture at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.   “Consumer demand for a year-round supply of everything makes it challenging for supermarkets to provide consumers with consistently good-tasting fruits and vegetables — so they try to make everything generic,” he says.

Pritts believes that despite the fact that they are priced out of the reach of most consumers, innovations like the Omakase berry are only encouraging, and we should be excited about “anything that contributes to people eating more fruits and vegetables.”  He suggests checking out local farms and picking your own fruit. “This could be a blessing in disguise, as it will expose consumers to what really good fruit can taste like,” he points out.

Read the whole article.

Art of Horticulture final projects

poppy skateboardIf you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in the Art of Horticulture course, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Emily Detrick (MPS Horticulture ’16), who is a lecturer in the Horticulture Section and Director of Horticulture at Cornell Botanic Gardens, teaches the course.  She started teaching the course —  created by Marcia Eames-Sheavly in 2003 — in 2018.

 

 

 

 

‘Locally grown’ broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers

Thomas Björkman in broccoli field

“Demonstrating that consumers do value ‘locally grown,’ and that the seller gets latitude on price and appearance, are valuable selling points in getting distributors and retailers to take that risk,” Thomas Björkman said.

 

Cornell Chronicle [2019-12-16]:

In blind tests conducted by Cornell researchers, consumers rated a California broccoli tastier and better-looking than a pair of varieties grown in New York.

But the New York broccoli fared much better in a subsequent series of tests. It earned the highest marks for flavor and consumers were willing to pay more for it – on par with the California variety.

What changed?

The second group was told the New York broccoli was “locally grown” in New York state, where the tests were conducted. That information improved consumers’ perceptions of the broccoli and its value compared with the California alternative.

“If you don’t tell the consumers anything, they will penalize the looks and they will even penalize the taste,” said Miguel Gómez, associate professor at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. “But as soon as you tell them it’s local, it’s the other way around. They like it better – not only how it looks, but also how it tastes.”

Gómez and co-authors Xiaoli Fan, Ph.D. ’17, assistant professor at the University of Alberta, and Phillip Coles, M.S. ’15, professor of practice at Lehigh University, reported their findings in “Willingness to Pay, Quality Perception, and Local Foods: The Case of Broccoli,” published Oct. 4 in Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Thomas Björkman, Cornell professor of horticulture at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, and principal investigator for the Eastern Broccoli Project, served as project director for the experiments.

Read the whole article.

Seminar video: Woody plant ornamental breeding

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, Woody plant ornamental breeding,  with Todd West, North Dakota State University, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Yale Climate Connections features Bassuk, sustainable landscapes trail

Peterson Lot near Stocking Hall features porous asphalt and a rain garden to reduce runoff.

Peterson Lot near Stocking Hall features porous asphalt and a rain garden to reduce runoff.

Yale Climate Connections is a nonpartisan, multimedia service providing daily broadcast radio programming and original web-based reporting, commentary, and analysis on the issue of climate change. Last week, they featured Nina Bassuk in an episode entitled. A walking trail shows how Cornell is adapting to extreme weather:

“On their way to class, Cornell University students stroll past a garden planted with bayberry and red-twigged dogwood shrubs. But they may not know that this is a rain garden that helps filter and hold water during heavy storms. Cornell horticulture professor Nina Bassuk says the university has been using techniques for sustainable landscapes for a long time, but people didn’t know that they were special in some way.”

Listen to the whole episode:

Learn more about the sustainable landscapes trail.

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