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Farmers flock to the fields to learn about Cornell research

More than 120 people flocked to the fields of Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora, N.Y., July 14 to learn about research conducted at Cornell during an annual open house.

The event was one of several organized by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) to showcase the work on its 14,000 acres of farms, forests, greenhouses and other facilities by scientists from Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Earlier events allowed farmers and community members to tour the Hunter C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville and the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, where they learned about potatoes, grapes, flowers, weeds and seeds.

Upcoming events include the Floriculture Field Day in Ithaca July 19, the Innovations in Organic Research Field Day in Freeville Aug. 4 and the Plant Science Day in Long Island Sept. 8.

At the Musgrave Field Day, participants learned about the latest research on field crops, soil and pest management for corn, soybeans, grains and forage.

It has continuously attracted hundreds of crop consultants, producers, industry people and Cooperative Extension agents for more than 35 years, according to organizer Larissa Smith.

Plant breeder Margaret Smith, assistant director of the CUAES, led a talk showcasing the commercial corn grain hybrids for New York. She pointed to her own test plots as examples, although the stalks were not quite as high as they usually are at this point in the season.

"Everyone had a rough start to the growing season this year, and our plots were no exception. We planted late," Smith said.

She outlined land preparation, weed control, pest resistance and population density, and introduced the Cornell Guide as a resource for multi-year reports in hybrid evaluations and options.

Participants also learned about Fusarium head blight in wheat from Gary Bergstrom, professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology, and about planting dates and yields for corn and soybeans from crop and soil sciences professor Bill Cox, who apologized for the potential information overload as he handed out a nine-page packet containing results from numerous research projects.

"I just love data -- amount of rainfall, batting averages, corn yields and soybean yields," Cox said.

Other presentations covered weed control, potassium management, nitrogen application, and field crop pests such as the soybean aphid and western bean cutworm.

Bethany Liebig '12 is a writer intern for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Joe Schwartz