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Cornell horticulturists converge on Washington DC for annual conference

Peck lab contributors at ASHS 2018

The 2018 General Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science was held in Washington DC from July 29 – August 3rd. Many Cornell horticulturists and graduate students participated. This meeting had the highest attendance in more than two decades. Cornell hosted a reception for alums and faculty that approximately 40 people attended, including former professor Chris Wien who now lives in Annapolis.

SIPS apple researchers were well represented, with Lailiang Cheng presenting a talk on ‘Honeycrisp’ bitter pit incidence and fruit nutrient balance as affected by rootstock on behalf of co-authors Huifeng Li, Mario Sazo Miranda, Ben Orcheski and Terence Robinson.  Robinson, together with Gennaro Fazio, Herb Aldwinckle and James Cummins received the “ ASHS Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Medals” for Apple Rootstock G.41. Chris Watkins chaired one of the postharvest sessions where he and Yosef Al Shoffe presented work, also focused on apples.

Peck wins Outstanding Extension Publication Award

Greg Peck and his co-authors received the 2017 ASHS Outstanding Extension Publication Award for their paper “Managing Apple Crop Load and Diseases with Bloom Thinning Applications in an Organically Managed ‘Honeycrisp’/‘MM.111’ Orchard“. Greg also presented on his sustainable orchard soil research and his grad students Adam Karl, Nathan Wojtyna, and Yangbo Song gave two oral and one poster presentation on their hard cider research projects. Greg’s incoming doctoral student, Shanthanu Krishna Kumar, won the ASHS three-minute thesis competition called, “Scholars Ignite” based on his MS thesis that he completed at the University of Guelph.

Benjamin Gutierrez in Susan Brown‘s program spoke on “Linkage and Association Analysis of Dihydrochalcones in Apple Germplasm and Hybrid Populations” and Poliana Francescatto spoke on “Strategies to Improve Defoliation of Apple Nursery Trees in the Eastern US” on behalf of the Robinson program. Kenong Xu presented on “Fruit Tree Architecture Genomics and Breeding for Mechanization“.

From Neil Mattson’s lab, M.S. student Erica Hernandez presented a poster on “Selecting high-quality head lettuce for greenhouse production under differing supplementary light sources” and M.S. student Dylan Kovach presented a poster on “Response of tomato ‘Merlice’ to the interaction of daily light integral and carbon dioxide concentration”. Visiting scientist and PhD Candidate, Renwei Huang, presented a poster on “Effect of light spectrum on pigment accumulation and expression of pigment biosynthesis genes in red leaf lettuce”.

Thomas Björkman had four poster presentations of scientific work. These included one by PhD student Zach Stansell on the genetic structure of global broccoli and cauliflower. Stansell also presented his method for normalizing data from geographically dispersed raters evaluating subjective horticultural-quality traits. The others were an overview of the Eastern Broccoli Project for the SCRI Project Director workshop, one on willingness to pay for local broccoli, with Dyson student Carol Dong and professor Miguel Gomez, and one with the whole EBP regional trial team quantifying the size and nature of GxE interaction in low-heritability traits in broccoli. On the policy front, Björkman moderated a session on the political process that led to the establishment and expansion of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, that he organized with Tom Bewick of NIFA and former Genevan Jim McFerson. He also led three training sessions for members who had made appointments to visit their representatives on Capitol Hill.

Marvin Pritts and others sample hard cider at Carter Mountain Orchard

Marvin Pritts presented a paper on the scientific contributions of Niels Hansen at a special session on Early Fruit Explorers and helped organize a tour of the fruit plantings at Monticello followed by an heirloom fruit tasting of some of Jefferson’s favorite apples, peaches and plums. Pritts was also a co-author of a talk delivered by Courtney Weber on production of day-neutral strawberries.

Anu Rangarajan spoke on the use of cover crops in organic production, and Bill Miller on maximizing postharvest quality of cut lilies.  Alan Lakso presented on the topic of microtensiometer monitoring of plant water potential to an Ecophysiology workshop on instrumental innovations. In a pre-conference workshop run by the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, SCRI project reports were presented by Terence Bates, Bruce Reisch, Thomas Björkman, and Lailiang Cheng. In addition to those previously mentioned, many Cornell researchers also presented posters, and Cornell students Archana Khadgi and Zachary Stansell were selected for the ‘Scholars Ignite’ Competition.

Emeritus Professor Chris Wien had a poster with USDA-ARS pepper breeder John Stommel describing new ornamental peppers that can be used with cut flowers. They feature novel colors and shapes and can be defoliated without the fruit abscising.

Cornell is well represented among the ASHS leadership with Justine VandenHeuvel and Bill Miller serving on the Annual Conference Technical Program Committee, Neil Mattson serving on the Membership Committee, and Thomas Björkman chairing the National Issues Committee.  Chris Watkins took on new leadership duties as newly elected Vice President for Extension and Marvin Pritts was elected president of the American Pomological Society – one of the oldest scientific societies in the United States founded in 1848, and where he will serve a two-year term.

heirloom fruit tasting at Monticello
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