September 15, 2013

Farm briefs: Sept. 15, 2013


Parker’s holding day for maple producers

WEST CHAZY — Parker Family Maple Farm will host its first annual Fall Open House for maple producers on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parker Family Maple Farm is a family-owned and operated business that has grown to include more than 700 acres of land, a 40,000-tap maple operation, a gift shop and the fifth generation of Parkers.

The event will feature demonstrations, seminars and more including boiling demonstrations on a wood-pellet evaporator; maple candy and cream making demonstrations with Jen Parker; precision tapper demonstrations; a woods walk with Michael Parker; a reverse-osmosis maintenance seminar with Nick Atherton, CDL USA; a dropline and tubing rotation seminar with Dr. Michael Farrell, Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest director; 10 percent off equipment sales and a pig-roast-style lunch.

Maple producers interested in attending must make a reservation by Sept. 21. For more information on the event or to make a reservation, call 493-6761 or email

New York Farm Bureau offers scholarships

ALBANY — New York Farm Bureau is encouraging high-school seniors who have been involved with agriculture and plan on continuing studies in this field to apply for the New York Farm Bureau Agricultural Youth Scholarship sponsored by the New York Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee.

Scholarship awards are $1,500 for first place, $1,200 for second and $1,000 for third place. The first-place winner will be invited to present their essay at a NYFB spring event.

Students applying must have a family Farm Bureau membership or a student Farm Bureau membership (a membership application may be included with scholarship enclosures). Students are required to submit a brief essay answering the question, “If you had the power to change something in your community or on your farm, what would you change and why?”

At the district level, a personal interview and essay presentation may be scheduled at the discretion of the district representative. The county winner will be the applicant scoring the highest for each county. The district winner will be the overall highest county winner. District winners will be notified on or before the district judging deadline of Jan. 18, 2014. The district winners will have an opportunity to make minor changes (i.e. grammar, spelling, additional awards etc.) to their applications prior to the Feb. 1 final deadline, at which time all applications must be in to New York Farm Bureau for the state judging.

The state competition is based solely upon the application and attachments.

County Farm Bureaus are urged to utilize the talents of these young people for county events such as Earth Day and Ag Day celebrations, special events, county annual meetings and Rural Urban Dinners.  

The application submission deadline is Nov. 18. To nominate someone or to request an application, call 1-800-342-4143 or visit http:/ and then scroll down to “Farm Essentials” for scholarship information and the application.

Workshops discuss latest maple research

LAKE PLACID — With support from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, a series of workshops will highlight research on maple sap production yields. Speakers will present evaluation of the use of different spouts and droplines.

Workshop leader Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell said the the workshops offer maple producers the opportunity to learn about the developments and experimentation in recent years to determine what type of spout will produce the greatest amount of sap. Farrell is the director of Cornell University’s Maple Syrup Research and Extension Field Station at Lake Placid.

Workshop participants will come away with useful guidelines for how to improve sap yields and profitability through cost-effective spout and dropline replacement techniques. Pre-registration is required. The workshop schedule includes sessions as follows:

This Friday in Lake Placid from 4 to 8 p.m. — This workshop includes a 4 p.m. tour of the sugarbush at Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest and presentation of research results, followed by a maple-themed dinner at Heaven Hill Farm compliments of Chef David Hunt of Generations Restaurant, Lake Placid, and presentation of additional 2013 maple-sap research trials. Preregistration is required by Tuesday with payment of $20 at the door. Contact Farrell at mlf36@cornell.eduor, 523-9337.

Oct. 3 in Malone from, 5 to 8 p.m. — This workshop at Titus Mountain includes a tour of the new Moon Valley Maple sugarbush and a pizza dinner sponsored by the Franklin County Maple Producers Association. Pre-registration is required by Oct. 1 with Richard Gast, CCE Franklin County,, 483-7403. The event is free for association members, $20 for non-members.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) funds on-farm research, technical assistance and outreach education for producers of all types of agricultural products in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. More information on NNYADP-funded research on the regional production of maple, dairy, fruit, vegetable, bioenergy and other crops is on the NNYADP website at

Apple growers evaluating new techniques

PERU — To help the Northern New York apple industry, with a farm-gate value of $16 million, the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is funding orchard-improvement research and grower education focused on improving fruit quality through systems management, precision orchard thinning and precision irrigation techniques. 

“Controlling the final fruit number on an apple tree is a critical process for profitable fruit growers,” said Cornell University Horticulture Professor Terence Robinson. “Only three to 10 percent of the initial flowers and fruitlets should be carried to harvest for the best economic value.”

Robinson and his research team have developed a precision thinning technique that helps growers prevent too many fruits from reducing apple size and yield. This summer, the research team demonstrated the use of motorized platforms for hand-thinning orchards as well as use of mechanized sidewall shearing at Everett Orchards in Peru.

“Dr. Robinson has had trials comparing four different growing systems in our orchards since 2002. His research work has been the clearest indicator of what types of systems work best for our operation. He has calculated the best return on investment for the different systems and that has helped us and all the growers in the region,” grower Tom Everett said.

The research also includes the development of a precision irrigation calculation model to help apple growers boost crops in dry years. Forrence Orchards in Peru has hosted the NNYADP irrigation trials.

“Until now, the amount of irrigation has been estimated by ‘feel.’ Over the last decade we have developed a model for estimating the amount of water needed each day or week in young, medium and old apple orchards,” Robinson said. “In dry seasons, growers need to add precision irrigation to precision thinning to assure good fruit size and protect crop value.”

Once the fall 2013 harvest is complete, Robinson will begin evaluating data on fruit set, size, quality and yield and will calculate gross crop value for the apples grown using the thinning techniques and the irrigation technique at three Northern New York apple orchards.

The results will be presented to growers at the Cornell Winter Fruit School in February 2014 and reported in a 2014 issue of the New York Fruit Quarterly Magazine sent to nearly 700 commercial apple growers in New York State.

Grant program supports science, environment 

ALBANY — The State University of New York will launch the first of four SUNY Networks of Excellence to support increased research collaborations between SUNY and industry partners in order to spur commercialization activities, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. This “SUNY 4E” network will focus on societal challenges in energy, the environment, economics and education.

SUNY Networks of Excellence are part of Cuomo’s Innovation Agenda that include START-UP NY, incubator “Hot Spots,” the New York State Venture Capital Fund and the New York State Innovation Network to foster entrepreneurialism and economic growth through public-private partnerships and give researchers the tools they need to bring their ideas to market.

“SUNY is leading the nation in terms of its size, scope and expert faculty, making it an important asset in generating economic growth in our state,” Cuomo said. “These SUNY Networks of Excellence will bring together our top scientists and researchers to further our understanding of pressing societal issues, and in turn draw new venture capital to invest in commercialization activities that address our challenges in energy, the environment, economics and education. As part of our Innovation Agenda, this initiative will help bring our best ideas to market right here in New York State.”

Each network will assemble scientists and scholars from SUNY campuses across the state to collaborate on topic-specific joint research programs, creating a more focused and efficient research environment in New York State while increasing academic and career opportunities for students.

“The SUNY Networks of Excellence will position our system to become a global leader in key areas of research such as energy, healthcare, neuroscience and manufacturing, and empower our faculty and students to have a broad, positive, and lasting impact on society,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Importantly, the networks will make the most of SUNY’s excellent faculty and facility assets by bringing them together with those in the private sector.”

“Building collaborative networks of researchers across SUNY improves our ability to compete for new grant dollars, and exposes our faculty and staff to the kind of intellectual environment that will enrich, educate, and sustain our students into the future,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, president of the SUNY Research Foundation (RF) and SUNY Vice Chancellor for Research. “Our pursuit of the networks springs from a recommendation put forth by the SUNY Research Council to pursue interdisciplinary research in tandem with business and industry. The networks will help lure businesses to partner with SUNY in support of Gov. Cuomo’s START-UP NY initiative. “

The SUNY Research Foundation has committed $4 million to support the Research Networks of Excellence. Each network will be coordinated by a consortium of SUNY campuses, which will jointly direct and oversee a competitive grant award process.

The first competitive grant process began recently for the design of SUNY 4E. Coordinating SUNY 4E are the University at Albany, Binghamton University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Future networks will include SUNY Health Now, SUNY Brain, and SUNY Materials and Advanced Manufacturing.