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New high-yield strawberry, raspberry varieties released

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

CALS News [2018-09-05]:

Cornell’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure. Both varieties produce large fruits with vibrant colors that maintain peak flavor for longer than most heritage varieties.

The new berries are the handiwork of berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

Dickens is a traditional, June-bearing strawberry with high yields and bright red fruit that continues bearing late into the season. The berries are firm, so they hold well on the plant and in the container, Weber said, but not so firm that they have no flavor. Strawberries are the third-leading fruit crop in New York state, but most strawberries sold in supermarkets are from California.

“With New York-grown berries, because we don’t have to ship so far, we can handle a softer fruit. And people notice the softer, sweeter, juicier fruit,” Weber said. “Customers can get supermarket strawberries any day of the week; the reason people make the effort to come to the farm stand or farmers market and buy the local product is because it tastes so much better. Maintaining that flavor is paramount to what we do in our breeding program.”

Read the whole article.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

Crimson Treasure produces large fruit with vibrant colors and maintains peak flavor and texture for longer.

Dreer Award offers opportunities to pursue horticultural interests abroad

From Nina Bassuk:

The Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science offers a wonderful opportunity once a year, the Frederick Dreer Award, that allows one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture.

See the application and instructions that spell out the procedure for applying. Basically it is quite simple. Submit a written proposal to the Dreer Committee by the deadline (March 4, 2019 in this cycle), which is followed by an informal interview, generally in a week or two. The faculty receives the recommendation of the Dreer Committee and votes on the nominee.

The only obligation of the Dreer award winner is to write to the Dreer Committee monthly while overseas, and upon return to the United States, give a presentation about their time abroad to students and faculty.

Please look into this opportunity seriously. It can be taken as a summer and a semester’s leave or a year’s leave of absence during school or upon graduation. If you would like to talk over a potential idea for the Dreer with a member of the Committee (and we encourage you to do so), please contact Nina Bassuk (Horticulture) Valerie Aymer (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts (Horticulture).

View a recent Dreer Award Seminar video:

View more Dreer Award seminar videos.

Life of Carl F. Gortzig to be celebrated Sept. 23

Carl Gortzig

Carl Gortzig

CALS News [2018-08-31]:

A memorial celebration of the life of Carl F. Gortzig ’52 will be held Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center of Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Gortzig, professor emeritus and chair of the former Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, died June 2 in Ithaca at age 87. Gortzig served as the Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations (now Cornell Botanic Gardens) from 1993-95, after a previous stint as acting director in 1989, and four years as chair of the Plantations Advisory Board from 1980-84.

In addition to his enduring support for the Botanic Gardens, Gortzig was devoted to the field of horticulture, working closely with the floriculture industry in New York state. His efforts were recognized in 1989 with the granting of the George L. Good Gold Medal of Horticulture, the highest honor of the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association. He also cared deeply about the students he taught and advised, and in 2002 a former advisee, Joanna Beitel ’92, established the Carl Gortzig scholarship in his honor.

Gortzig recognized the importance of local cultural organizations, and served in leadership positions on the boards of the History Center in Tompkins County, The Tompkins County Public Library, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.  He and his wife Jean were also devoted fans of the Cornell men’s basketball team.

He served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant from 1952-54; taught biology, botany and math at the McKinley Vocational High School in Buffalo from 1954-55; worked as an Erie County associate agricultural agent from 1955-64; and was employed by Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as an admissions counselor from 1957 -58. He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1965, earned tenure in 1971 and was promoted to full professor in 1978.

He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 55 years, Jean.

Those planning to attend the memorial are asked to respond in advance to dr14@cornell.edu with the subject heading Gortzig Memorial. Memorial gifts may be directed to Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Crusader for environmental golf course management earns Excellence in IPM award

Bob Portmess was a mechanical engineer and former executive with Cox Communications who just happened to be an avid golfer.

That last item is key. Twelve years ago, Portmess walked into turf guru Frank Rossi’s office at Cornell University. He knew exactly what he wanted: to work, he said, “with the people who produce the finest golf playing surfaces in the world.”

Two years later, Portmess had received his Masters of Professional Studies in turfgrass management by synthesizing the practical knowledge that Rossi and colleague Jennifer Grant, now director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM), had amassed over seven years of experimental work at the world-renowned Bethpage Golf Course, also a New York State Park.

And a year after that, Portmess had developed an “IPM Handbook” of best management practices for sustainable turf, informed in part by his engineering background. This handbook, now translated into Spanish, served as a resource for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s seminar that Portmess co-instructed at several International Golf Shows. It continues to guide management of New York’s 29 state park golf courses as well as golf courses around the country that want to cut back on inputs while maintaining top quality turf.

Portmess’s passion for teaching turned out to be as consuming as his passion for golf. “Whether it was frequent light topdressing, root pruning, over-seeding, better ways to aerify the soil, or careful use of water—Bob taught them all,” says Larry Specchio, superintendent at Chenango Valley State Park Golf Course. Each tactic Speechio notes is a core IPM method.

“I find myself almost daily wanting to pick up my phone and call him; he was more than just a consultant to me,” Speechio says. “No one has a had a more positive impact on my career than Bob.”

Rossi couldn’t have predicted it at that time, of course, but that meeting in 2006 turned out to be one of the most important partnerships of his career.

“For that, I owe Bob more than simply a nomination for an award he is more than worthy of, but rather my own continued commitment to the work that he started,” Rossi says.

Sadly, Portmess passed away before he could see the full impact of his work. “Losing Bob Portmess was a tragedy” said Rose Harvey, commissioner of New York State Parks. “But his legacy lives on in the sustainable management of our golf courses.”

Melinda Portmess, Portmess’s widow, received the Excellence of IPM award at a ceremony at Green Lakes State Park in Syracuse on August 10th.

Learn more about IPM at NYSIPM.cornell.edu.

Joseph Sieczka, potato specialist, dies at 79

Joseph Sieczka

Joseph Sieczka

Cornell Chronicle [2018-08-09]:

Joseph Sieczka, professor emeritus of horticulture, an expert on potatoes, died July 29 at his home in Mattituck, New York. He was 79.

He also worked as a Cooperative Extension agent in western New York and served as coordinator of Cornell’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, New York, for more than two decades.

Though he conducted research on vegetable crops, he focused on potatoes. Over the course of his career, he managed widely acclaimed potato extension programs, and his work on potato cultivation led to reduced grower costs and lower nitrate impacts on groundwater. Sieczka’s applied potato research included strategies for weed control and determining optimal applications of fertilizer. And he helped develop new potato varieties, including some that are resistant to golden nematodes, a major potato pest.

“Joe was extremely knowledgeable in all things ‘potato’ and had an encyclopedic memory,” said Donald Halseth, professor emeritus of horticulture. “He knew things about more potato varieties than anyone I have known.”

“From a personal point of view, I always valued the uncommon amount of ‘common sense’ that Joe showed when I would ask for his advice, which I did very often,” said Elmer Ewing, professor emeritus of horticulture. “He had sound judgment on important issues and was able to see the broad picture.”

Read the whole article.

Bluegrass Lane Open House August 11

flyer

Click image for flyer

Come and see:

  • Annual and perennial plant trials.
  • Pollinator garden.
  • Grafted tomatoes.
  • Planting media trials.
  • Containers planted by the Botanic Gardens’ amazing gardeners!
  • Staff will be available to answer questions..

Saturday, August 11
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Center
232 Bluegrass Lane, Ithaca, NY
Off Warren Rd., near Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, follow signs for parking. Map.

This event is open to the public; bring your friends and family!

If you have questions or need special accommodations please contact Tara Reed tln2@cornell.edu or 607-592-5620.

‘Cornell AgriTech’ reflects influence in food, ag innovation

Cornell Chronicle, CALS News [2018-08-01]

larry smart with industrial hemp in greenhouse

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences announced Aug. 1 the renaming of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) to Cornell AgriTech.

Agriculture and food are multibillion-dollar industries in New York, and the name change underscores the value Cornell AgriTech brings to improving the health of the people, environment and economy of the state and beyond. Based in Geneva, New York, Cornell AgriTech is home to more than 300 faculty, scientists, staff and graduate students at the leading edge of food science, entomology and plant sciences research.

“Cornell AgriTech is an essential part of Cornell CALS and supports our mission of discovery that grows the agricultural economy in New York and makes food more nutritious, safer and better tasting for everyone,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “Cornell AgriTech is a global leader in food and agriculture research and innovation, as our scientists generate the breakthroughs and develop the technologies that improve the crops in our fields and the food on our plates.”

Read the whole article.

Learn the latest at industrial hemp field day August 14 at Cornell AgriTech

Join Cornell researchers and other industrial hemp experts to learn the latest about this emerging crop at an Aug.14 field day at the Cornell AgriTech Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm, 1097 County Road 4, in Geneva, New York. The Cornell Industrial Hemp Research Team Field Day is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

Researchers in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) have expanded their efforts during their second year of field testing to improve agronomic outcomes for farmers. Cornell has been funded to identify and breed cultivars suitable for New York and to establish certified seed production in the state. They have expanded cultivar trials to the northernmost and southernmost parts of New York, and have initiated a long-term hemp breeding program aided by $2 million in new state funding.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. for the field day, which includes research and policy updates as well as field tours where Cornell scientists will describe the research trials underway.

The morning program includes:

  • Hemp disease update from Cornell plant pathologist Gary Bergstrom..
  • Hemp seed review by Cornell seed scientist Alan Taylor, who will provide an update on seed quality and coating studies plus information on the current status of the hemp seed certification program in New York .
  • Updates on the NYS Hemp Pilot Program, including procedures for licensing and other regulatory issues, led by Tim Sweeney of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Field tours starting at 10:30 a.m. include:

  • Cultivar evaluation trial: Members of Cornell plant breeders Don Viands’ and Larry Smart’s labs will describe the 2018 cultivar evaluation trials, including the 35 cultivars under evaluation at Cornell AgriTech. A member of Cornell entomologist Elson Shields’ lab will provide an update on insect pest surveys they have been conducting in New York hemp fields in 2018.
  • Pollination distance trial: Larry Smart will describe a study to better understand the risks to CBD production due to pollination from adjacent hemp fields with male plants.  Members of Cornell entomologist Katja Poveda’s lab will describe the bee surveys they are conducting in NYS hemp fields.
  • CBD production trial: Members of Larry Smart’s and Cornell plant pathologist Chris Smart’s labs will describe trials to evaluate cultivars selected for CBD production.

Bridgen receives innovative teaching award

Mark Bridgen

Mark Bridgen, horticulture professor and director, Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, and Farmingdale State College Assistant Professor Nick Menchyk were named winners of an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2018 Innovative Teaching Award. The awards program encourages new faculty to expand their scholarship of teaching and learning by creating projects with more senior faculty from other institutions.

Bridgen and Menchyk will use the $5,000 award to produce short, educational videos about techniques in plant propagation, and to post them on-line for their students to use.  In recent years, it has been recognized that students are more likely to watch on-line videos as a learning tool rather than read books and articles.  By developing short, educational videos that focus on the procedures and techniques of plant propagation, students will have the opportunity to watch the protocols before attempting the exercises during the laboratory.  The videos will also stimulate more interest in the various plant propagation topics.

Those topics will include bud grafting (both T-buds and chip buds), wedge grafting, cactus top grafting, tomato and cucumber seedling grafts, mist system construction, seed sowing, seed stratification, seed scarification, micropropagation, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, root cuttings, influence of leaves on rooting, rooting media evaluation on propagation, controlling potato morphogenesis in vitro, and air layering.

First New York Soil Health Summit harvests collaboration

Donn Branton of Branton Farms illustrates the connection between water quality and soil health by showing two samples of water, one cloudy with sediment from the creek entering his property and the other with clear water that exits his farm.

Cornell Chronicle, CALS News [2019-07-27]:

New York government policy and nonprofit leaders, researchers, farmers and agricultural professionals from 40 organizations attended the first statewide Soil Health Summit July 18 in Albany, New York. It was organized by New York Soil Health, which is funded by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and coordinated by Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

“The setting of this soil summit next to the state capital was by intention,” said David Wolfe, Cornell professor of plant and soil ecology and program lead for New York Soil Health. He said New York has been at the forefront of the global soil health movement and summit participants would discuss where to go from here.

“We were pleased to have representatives from Gov. Cuomo’s administration and agency partners as well as representatives from the state Senate and Assembly in attendance,” said Wolfe. “The summit goals were to expand collaboration among the many farmers and organizations working on soil health issues, and also to identify research, outreach and policy priorities for the future.”

Topics included economic analyses of soil health costs and benefits; the relationship between soil health and climate change; addressing challenges of reducing tillage on vegetable farms; soil health for apple orchard systems; fortifying biochar with manure wastes as marketable fertilizer; and research on cover crop interseeding and perennial grains.

Read the whole article.

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