Skip to main content
Print Bookmark and Share

Short Reports

Nine Projects Spotlight New York’s Specialty Crops

By Ted V. Boscia

Christine Smart displaying pepper plants.
Joe Ogrodnick

Christine Smart displays pepper plants that were used in a Phytophthora blight variety trial to identify plants that had some resistance to the pathogen.

For many of New York’s 3,200 vegetable farmers, the risk of Phytophthora blight, a disease that attacks peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, snap beans, and gourds, looms large.

A team of five researchers in CALS, working in the world’s only farm facility dedicated solely to the study of the pathogen, aims to arm farmers with blight-resistant varieties and crop management strategies to beat the disease.

The project is one of nine in CALS funded with nearly $850,000 from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With the grants, researchers will examine pest and disease management techniques, crop productivity, and plant health in New York’s specialty crops sector, which ranges from fruits and vegetables to honey, wine, and maple products and generates $1.3 billion annually.

The nine CALS projects funded are to:

  • develop varieties resistant to Phytophthora blight and crop management strategies (Christine Smart, Helene Dillard, Bill Fry, PhD ’70, Michael Mazourek, PhD ’08, and Steve Reiners)
  • develop a strategy to reduce fire blight infection in apples (Herb Aldwinckle)
  • improve forecasting and management of strawberry powdery mildew (David Gadoury and Robert Seem)
  • improve the competitiveness of the snap bean industry in New York through resistance to aphid-transmitted viruses (Phil Griffiths)
  • increase use of integrated pest management tools in New York’s Christmas tree industry (Elizabeth Margaret Lamb, MS ’81 and Brian Eshenaur)
  • identify the health benefits of New York peaches and apricots (Olga Padilla-Zakour, MS ’88, PhD ’91)
  • test new botrytis leaf blight onion lines and hybrids to better control disease on conventional and organic farms (Martha Mutschler and James Lorbeer)
  • advance adoption of reduced tillage systems in conventional and organic vegetables in New York (Anu Rangarajan)
  • reduce production costs and improve wine quality through root zone management (Taryn Bauerle, Anna Katherine Mansfield, and Jusine Vanden Heuvel).