I conduct research in plant breeding on forage and bioenergy crops. Research involves variety development for pest resistance and improved forage quality, evaluation, and collaborations with other institutions.
I conduct research in applied plant breeding on forage crops and bioenergy feedstock crops. Research involves variety development, evaluation, and collaborations with other institutions.
As a part of the Forage Breeding Project, my program has six major objectives: 1) yield and quality evaluation of experimental forage populations developed in the Cornell Forage breeding program, 2) yield and quality evaluation of forage varieties from seed companies marketing in the Northeast, 3) research on breeding for improved forage quality in alfalfa, and 4) cooperative research with NE-1010 Regional Research Project 5) research and breeding on resistance to potato leafhopper (PLH), alfalfa snout beetle, and brown root rot in alfalfa 6) bioenergy feedstock research.
Seventeen new forage varieties have been developed and are commercially available for producers in New York and in other states. Research and variety development on PLH-resistant alfalfa has been conducted since 1997. Six grants from the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and one from Northeast Regional IPM Competitive Grants Program have been awarded for PLH-resistant alfalfa research. For variety development, 23 PLH-resistant alfalfa populations have been developed from field nursery and plot selections from eight diverse alfalfa germplasms from the Cornell alfalfa breeding program. Trials are established each year for accomplishment of the NE1010 regional project objectives. Genetic improvement in alfalfa is an ongoing breeding project for reduced total cell wall concentration and/or higher proportion of the more digestible cell wall components to enhance the efficiency of utilization of its high protein and dry matter digestibility by ruminants. Since 1989, I have coordinated and managed the Cornell University Forage Yield Testing Program. This program tests forage varieties and experimental populations for yield and other characteristics in several locations throughout New York State. With funding from Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, alfalfa populations with tolerance to alfalfa snout beetles are being tested in field trials, and alfalfa cultivars are being tested for resistance to brown root rot. In collaboration with several faculty members at Cornell, a proposal was funded by New York Farm Viability Institute to test perennial grasses and legumes for bioenergy feedstock production. This project has been ongoing since 2007 and several high yielding warm season grass varieties have been identified that are well adapted to New York. Breeding switchgrass for biomass yield, low seed dormancy, and pest resistance in New York is proceeding with funding from the Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium.
Outreach activities are reports and websites of forage yield trials results, and presentations at symposiums and meetings organized by extension educators, seedsmen, and by other Cornell faculty. The reports and websites are updated annually as new field data are available. The presentations for extension educator organized meetings are conducted in the educators home county usually in the winter months each year. The seedsmen’s field day is a field tour at the Plant Breeding research fields in July and inservice training for extension educators is in November in Ithaca. The constituents served are producers, extension educators, and seedmen. The impact of the outreach activities is to encourage use of new varieties and new genetic traits available in varieties on NY farms.