Thursday, July 30, 2015

Get Your Fresh, Local Blueberries Now

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Fresh blueberries at Hafner's farm in Lysander. Photo courtesy of Hafner's
It is peak blueberry season in New York state and New Yorkers should get out and support the state’s increasing number of growers.  

The New York State Berry Growers Association estimates there are more blueberry plantings in New York than ever before as a result of several factors. 

From the demonstrated health benefits of eating blueberries and increased consumer demand for locally grown berries to New York’s climate, excellent soils, and ample water supplies, the Growers Association is seeing more people making the long-term investment necessary to bring a planting of blueberries into production.

“Blueberry season may be a short season but it is a very productive season and I couldn’t be happier for our growers who continue to rank well in production year after year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “I encourage all New Yorkers to support their growers this season which is as easy as stopping by your local farmers’ market or pick-your-own farm.”

New York growers plant over 40 different varieties of blueberries across the state to provide the delicious fruit for New York consumers for as long a period as possible. From “Duke” and "Patriot” varieties that can be harvested in early July to “Bonus” and “Elliott” that can be harvested into the middle of September, New York consumers can find local blueberries for about ten weeks.  

Peak season is late-July into early August. 

Blueberry bushes take about eight years to become fully productive. In 2014, 700 acres of blueberries were harvested across the state. While about the same acreage is expected to be harvested in 2015, more of that acreage should be approaching full production, resulting in more supply to New York consumers. 

“Many New York State blueberry growers have a bountiful crop this year," said Dale-Ila Riggs, president of the New York State Berry Growers Association. "The summer weather and frequent rains have made the berries plump and sweet." 

New York State was the 11th largest blueberry producer in the nation in 2014. Growers harvested 1.6 million pounds of blueberries last year and produced a crop worth $2.8 million.

New York state grown blueberries are now available at select grocery stores, farm stands, farmers’ markets and pick-your own farms across the state. A map of farmers’ markets across New York State, many of which offer fresh, local blueberries, can be found here or by county here.

Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to prepare and serve for consumers. When preparing blueberries there is no peeling, pitting, coring or cutting involved.  Blueberries can be eaten fresh out of hand and go well with other New York produced fruits in a fruit salad or with New York yogurt.  

They are also making an appearance in New York’s beverage industry—now used in products such as Blueberry Wine made at Blue Sky Farm and Winery in Delaware County and Nine Pin Ciderworks’ Blueberry cider made with blueberries harvested at Indian Ladder Farms in Albany County.

Blueberries are not only delicious but they provide a variety of health benefits. The fruit is reported to have one of the highest antioxidant contents among all fruits and vegetables. They are also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese, and have been found to maintain healthy bones, lower blood pressure and manage diabetes. 

Learn More About Beef Operations at Upcoming Tours

Beef cattle at the 2013 State Fair

The Cornell Cooperative Extension Northern New York Regional Livestock Team will present Beef Pasture Walks Aug. 4 in Rutland Center and Aug. 6 in Canton. 

The pasture walk programs will include discussion of establishing a feeder calf pool and grading feeder calves and a review of best practices for vaccination programs.

At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4, Dave and Evelyn Hawthorne of Centerdale Farm, Route 126 and Community Drive, Rutland Center, near Watertown, will host a tour of their pastures. The operation has 65 cow/calf pairs of black Angus cattle on more than 75 acres of improved pasture. 

They worked with the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District to make fencing and water improvements. The farm also has excellent cattle handling facilities.

At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Shawn and Mercy Spellacy, 275 County Route 29 southeast of Canton, will host a tour of their Devon and Hereford beef operation. They run 30 to 40 cows on some reclaimed forestland and also graze the animals in wooded areas. They have recently added a stream crossing and water lines to distant pastures. Their breeding program includes an Angus bull.

Registration is not required but appreciated.

For the Rutland Center walk, contact Dairy and Livestock Educator Ron Kuck, Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County, 788-8450,

For the Canton walk, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension NNY Regional Livestock Team Leader Betsy Hodge, CCE St. Lawrence County, 379-9192,

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Get Your Sweet Corn Now

Sweet corn at Delaney's on Onondaga Hill
More sweet corn is available now in Onondaga County.

About a week or so ago, Hafner's in North Syracuse started selling its butter and sugar corn and Delaney's on Onondaga Hill opened this week with their butter and sugar corn. Williams Farm Stand in Cicero also is selling its homegrown corn.

New York's Red Meat Production Up 3 Percent from Last Year

From the USDA:

Total red meat production for New York totaled 3.1 million pounds in June 2015, up 3 percent from the 3 million pounds produced in June 2014 and up 11 percent from May 2015, said Blair Smith, state statistician of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York Field Office.

Commercial cattle slaughter totaled 3,100 head, up 7 percent from June 2014. The average live weight was down 21 pounds from the previous year at 1,141 pounds.

Commercial calf slaughter totaled 2,000 head, 62 percent below June 2014. The average live weight was up 76 pounds from last year at 198 pounds.

Commercial hog slaughter totaled 3,700 head, up 12 percent from June 2014. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 229 pounds.

Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter totaled 5,200 head, 41 percent above June last year. The average live weight was 105 pounds, up 7 pounds from a year ago.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Farmers Must Remember to Sell to Only Licensed Farm Product Dealers

From the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball is reminding farmers that in order to protect themselves against non-payment and to ensure they are paid in full and on time, they should sell only to licensed farm product dealers. 

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets maintains a current list of licensed farm product dealers on its website and will provide a hard copy upon request.

The Agricultural Producers Security Law, under Article 20 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, requires farm product dealers to be licensed in order to buy or receive farm products from New York producers in excess of $10,000 annually to resell at wholesale.  

They must also provide security in the form of a bond or letter of credit, and they must contribute to a security fund, offering additional financial protection to farmers in the event of a default in payment.

In order to preserve a producer’s eligibility for the financial protections available under the Agricultural Producers Security Law, the producer must:

**  Sell only to licensed farm product dealers.
**  Stop selling product to a farm product dealer who is 120 days delinquent on payment.  Unpaid transactions that occur after the 120-day period will not be eligible for financial protection
** File a claim of nonpayment with the Department within 365 days of delivery of the farm products.

Farm product dealers’ licenses expire April 30 each year and must be renewed for the license year beginning May 1.  

Forms to apply for the license are available at  To renew an existing license, farm product dealers can call 518-485-0048

How Do Famers Keep Their Cows Healthy

Educational blog entry from

See it at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SUNY Announces Farm Initiative

From the Associated Press:

COPAKE — Some New York state college students will have the chance to live and work on a farm while studying agriculture, food sciences and other related fields.

The State University of New York system on Monday announced a partnership with the FarmOn! Foundation that’s meant to give students hands-on experience in everything from planting the seeds to cooking what they grow and serving it at catered events.

The first participants will come from SUNY Cobleskill, Morrisville State College and the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Participants will stay on a farm in Columbia County.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says the partnership is the first of its kind.

New Video Series Puts Out the Truth on Dairy

Here is a cool new thing being offered for people who want the truth about the dairy industry.

Go to to check it out. The videos are put out by

USDA Week in Review

Check out this video from the USDA, which deals with drone danger, new workplace technology and a monument designation celebration.:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 19 is National Ice Cream Day

Sunday, July 19 is National Ice Cream Day.

In the event you are brain dead and can't think of a way to celebrate (have some ice cream!!), here are some ways area ice cream shops are noting the day:

Carvel: Buy one get one free for ice cream cones

Dippin' Dots: Free sample of newest flavor, Redberry Sherbet

Friendly's: Today and Sunday, $1.99 buy one and get one free of a single scoop of ice cream in a dish or a cone

Baskin Robbins: Giving away an ice cream cake. Go to @baskinrobbins on Twitter and be the first person to @reply with the correct answer to the cake trivia.

Stewart's Shops: Has specials on its floats and ice cream sodas.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cuomo Announces Invasive Species Awareness Week

Wild parsnip looks like yellow Queen Anne's lace. Its sap can burn your skin.
New York state’s second annual Invasive Species Awareness Week is July 18 through 26.

Not every organism that comes from abroad is a problem, but a few have become invasive, causing serious financial and environmental damage.

Because nearly half of all new invasive species infestations are found by concerned citizens, the public is asked to be “eyes and ears on the ground” by learning about a few key invasive species threats to our region. With invasive species, the best offense is a good defense—an ounce of prevention is worth megatons of control efforts.

Asian longhorn beetle, emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid are the most destructive forest insect pests, and Japanese knotweed and wild parsnip are two of the more difficult invasive plants to control. 

Learn how to identify these and others at  or contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or state Department of Environmental Conservation office.

For a list of fun and informative invasive species events coming up next week in the North Country, including many kid-friendly programs, go to

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dairy Margin Protection Program Enrollment Deadline Sept. 30

From the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Enrollment for the 2016 Dairy Margin Protection Program is currently underway.  

Dairy farmers can now sign up for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Margin Protection Program at their local USDA Farm Services Agency office.  

The program provides financial assistance to participating dairy operations when the margin, or the difference between the national all-milk price and national average feed cost, falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. 

“As a farmer, I know that the agriculture industry is faced with the challenge of unpredictable conditions—from the weather to market cycles," said Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. "Enrollment for the Margin Protection Program is now open and I encourage our dairy farmers to explore this opportunity to invest in a risk management tool that could help ease some of the economic hardship when margins fluctuate.”

Dairy operations, large and small, that produce milk commercially are eligible to participate in the program for a premium. 

Participating dairy producers have the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation and have the option of adjusting that level during the open enrollment period each year. Currently, 48 percent of New York’s dairy producers are enrolled in the 2015 program.

Enrollment for the 2016 program began July 1 and ends Sept. 30. For more information, visit the USDA’s Farm Service Agency’s website at To find a local FSA office, visit  

In addition, the USDA has an online resource available to help dairy producers decide which level of coverage will provide them with the strongest protections under a variety of conditions. 

The tool, available at, allows dairy farmers to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Partnerships Will Boost NY Beverage Industry

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Two new partnerships to further support and grow the beverage industry in the Finger Lakes region have been announced.

A new partnership between Taste NY and the New York Wine & Culinary Center was unveiled following a successful listening session with beverage industry stakeholders during Gov. Cuomo’s Capital for a Day in Rochester.  

In addition, $200,000 will be provided to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva for research on hops and malting barley, the two major ingredients in the production of beer.  

Capital for a Day was created by Cuomo to bring state government directly to the people it serves. The day-long event partnered state officials with residents, local leaders and stakeholders to examine first-hand the needs of a community and how New York state government can build upon its strengths and make a positive impact on its residents.

The New York Wine & Culinary Center, a premier attraction in the Finger Lakes that showcases New York’s dynamic agriculture, food and beverage industries through its classes, events, and farm-to-table restaurant, is partnering with Taste NY to further expand its dedication to New York-sourced products and ingredients, as well as promote and educate visitors about the diversity of New York agricultural products.
As part of the partnership, the New York Wine & Culinary Center will incorporate the Taste NY experience into its culinary and beverage educational classes.Recipes used in classes will include New York state products and will list the local farmers and suppliers of ingredients to familiarize students with the wide variety of New York agricultural products. 
The New York Wine & Culinary Center also will modify the majority of its promotional material with the addition of the Taste NY logo, such as its newly launched wine and culinary center farm-to-table food truck which features the branding.  

The food truck offers a menu that represents an extension of the cuisine of the Upstairs Bistro, the culinary center's popular restaurant, and uses nearly 100 percent New York state products on the road. 

The food truck will be on the move this summer at various events, wineries, breweries and more. 

Taste NY branding will also be added to the menu at Upstairs Bistro to reflect its dedication to local sourcing. It continues to offer a 100 percent New York wine and beer list, as well as a large number of spirit and cider products from the state.

The state will provide $200,000 to Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station for research into hops and malting barley, the two primary ingredients in beer.

The money, included in the 2015-16 state budget, builds on $133,242 previously provided by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority.

The experiment station is in the second year of a multi-year research plan aimed at testing the growing stock for malting barley, evaluating disease resistance of various varieties and evaluating which varieties are best suited to New York's climate.

The research being conducted by Cornell University will help meet the growing demand of hops and barley for use in farm-based breweries. Cuomo’s Farm Brewery Legislation, which has spurred the rapid growth of craft brewing in New York state, requires farm brewers to increase the percentage of New York-grown hops and all other ingredients in farm-brewed beer from 20 percent today to 90 percent by 2024. 

The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, the most recent official statistics available, shows that 7,679 acres of land in New York was used to produce barley, while 19 acres of land was in use for growing hops. 

A Cornell Cooperative Extension hops expert estimates that more than 300 acres of land is in use statewide now to grow hops, with the number growing by 75 to 100 acres a year and with larger farming organizations considering large-scale hops growing operations.


Morrisville State College Horse Wins at Vernon Downs

News from Morrisville State College:

Morrisville State College’s horse racing programs notched another victory, this time with one of its Standardbreds, at the Vernon Downs harness racing track.

The July 6 race was a mark in both the driver’s and horse’s career. 

Driver Cole Wimmer, of Camden, an instructional support assistant at the college, raced Mr. Wiskers to the win, claiming his first career pari-mutuel driving victory. 

Wimmer is a 2006 graduate of the college’s equine racing management, Standardbred program. 

“It was a lifetime mark for Mr. Wiskers,” said Keith Cluff of the three-year-old Bay Colt’s maiden race, his first for money, earning him $1,500 for his share of the purse. 

Mr. Wiskers, owned by the Morrisville College Foundation, is trained by Cluff, director of the college’s Standardbred program with assistance from Krystal Koster, a junior in the college’s equine racing management, Standardbred program.

The colt, donated to the college last October, is one of two Standardbreds racing at Vernon Downs this summer. The second, Stirling Dusty, recently celebrated a second-place finish.

Wimmer was elated, giving credit for the win to Mr. Wiskers, who underwent surgery last fall to remove a bone chip from his hock and spent 60 days being rehabilitated at the college’s own equine rehabilitation center.

Mr. Wiskers shares a victory with Thoroughbreds, Hot Idea and Don’t Back Down, who raced to victory in June at the Finger Lakes Racetrack.  

Both of those Thoroughbreds are trained by Dr. Clyde Cranwell, associate professor and director of the college’s Thoroughbred program, with assistance from students in the college’s Thoroughbred program.

Happy Tapioca Day

Tapioca pudding photo from the USDA
Happy Tapioca Day.

Just what is tapioca? According to, it is "a starch that’s made from the root of a plant whose scientific name is Manihot esculenta. This plant is native to much of South America and the Caribbean, but it is grown worldwide today. The world’s main producers of the plant are Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand."

Some people think tapioca is gross because of the small little pearl-like things in it -- I've heard people refer to them as little eggs or eyeballs.

But I've got to say, I LOVE tapioca pudding. Wish I had some right now.

The Best Time of the Year in New York

Isn't it great to live in New York, folks??

We're getting into the heart of the fresh produce season, and nothing's better than that. We've already picked sweet strawberries locally and now it's time for peas, raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries and everyone's favorite -- sweet corn.

I implore everyone to get out there and visit a farmers' market or farmstand. Or, check out the produce section of your supermarket -- many of them carry fresh veggies and fruits from local farmers.

New York FarmNet Seeks Farm Managers for Survey

Information from New York FarmNet:

NY FarmNet is seeking middle managers working in farm businesses for a new research effort that hopes to determine attributes of successful managers, as well as identify areas for improvement. 

Survey results may be used to develop educational programs for farm managers.

"Middle managers play an important role in the success of agriculture. However, limited research exists related to the current skillset of on-farm middle managers," said NY FarmNet Executive Director Ed Staehr. "Information obtained from this study will provide valuable information for furthering and developing agricultural managers with the necessary skillsets to ensure long-term successes and sustainability of the agricultural industry."

The definitions are as follows:

Middle Managers -- A key employee that is controlled and controls. A middle is responsible for a designated area of the business, may or may not supervise employees, and may or may not serve as a junior partner. Most middle managers have some decision making authority, while senior managers are ultimately responsible for the decisions of middle managers.

Senior Managers -- A senior manager controls and is not controlled. Senior managers have final decision making authority for all, or a portion of the business. Senior managers are responsible for the decisions made by middle managers. For the purposes of this study, a senior manager must have full or partial ownership of the business; otherwise they are a middle manager.

The survey link is:

For more information, contact (607) 255-4121.

National Farmers' Market Week is Aug. 2-8

A farmers' market in the U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 2 through 8 as "National Farmers' Market Week." 

This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week in honor of the important role farmers' markets play in local economies. Throughout the week,the U.S. Department of Agriculture will celebrate thousands of our nation's farmers' markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

Throughout the week, USDA officials will celebrate at farmers market locations across the country. On Saturday, Aug. 1, Anne Alonzo, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service – which conducts research, provides technical assistance, and awards grants to support farmers markets – will kick off the week at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the oldest in New Mexico and is ranked as one of the top 10 farmers' markets nationwide.

To find a summer farmers' market near you, go to

Farmers' markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient and healthy products from local producers. With support from USDA, more farmers' markets offer customers the opportunity to make purchases with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program; and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs.

Supporting farmers markets is a part of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Organizations Receive Money to Connect Farmers with Schools

From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Several new initiatives to better connect New York schools to local growers and producers across the state to ensure the use of fresh, healthy foods in school meals across the state and boost the agriculture industry were announced Friday.  

A total of $6.7 million in grants to 26 organizations statewide will help increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in high need communities.

Through the Department of Health's new Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program, the department is working with local organizations to implement strategies to combat obesity and other chronic diseases in high-need school districts and their surrounding communities. 

Six organizations in Western New York will receive grants totaling $1,448,001. Grant awardees will work directly with school districts and food retailers in these areas to improve access to nutritious foods as well as increase opportunities for daily physical activity.

Those obtaining grants are:

Onondaga County Health Department, Syracuse, $250,000
Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, $250,000
St. Lawrence County Health Initiative INc., Clifton-Fine, Gouverneur, $250,000
Clinton County Health Department, $250,000
Chautauqua County Health Network, $250,000
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, $198.001
Erie 1 BOCES, $250,000
Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, Rochester, $250,000
Genesee, Livingston, Steuben, Wyoming BOCES, $250,000
Capital District Community Gardens, $250,000
Glens Falls Hospital, $250,000
North Country Healthy Heart Network, Malone, Salmon River, Brushton-Moira, $250,000
Research Foundation for SUNY Cobleskill, $250,000
Seton Health Foundation, Hudson, Rensselaer, Troy, Schenectady, $250,000
County of Broome, $250,000
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, Fallsburg, Liberty, Monticello, $249,718
Nepperhan Community Center, Yonkers, $250,000
Orange County Department of Health, Newburgh, Port Jervis, $250,000
Rockland County Department of Health, East Ramapo, $250,000
Western Suffolk BOCES, Wyandanch, Shinecock, Glen Cove, $250,000
Fund for Public Health in New York, North and Central Brooklyn, $249,945
Fund for Public Health in New York, East Harlem and Brooklyn, $249,845 
The Institute for Family Health, Bronx, $250,000
JSI Research and Training, $504,120

Sweet Corn Ready to Pick in Central New York

Sweet corn ready to be picked at Emmi farms in Lysander.

Homegrown sweet corn is hitting some local stands this weekend.

A sampling of area farmers say they are close to picking fresh sweet corn.

Brian Reeves in Lysander said he'll have fresh sweet corn in the stands Sunday, July 12. Tony Emmi, also in Lysander, said this weekend also is a possibility for the first picking of sweet corn.

JoAnn Delaney, of Delaney Farm in Onondaga, said she is about three weeks out.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Produce Growers Should Wait 24 Hours After Rain to Harvest Crops

From Cornell University:

To protect consumers from foodborne illness, produce farmers should wait 24 hours after a rain or irrigating their fields to harvest crops, according to new research published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Rain or irrigation creates soil conditions that are more hospitable to Listeria monocytogenes, which when ingested may cause the human illness Listeriosis. Waiting to harvest crops reduces the risk of exposure to the pathogen, which could land on fresh produce.

Cornell scientists, along with other agricultural researchers from around the country, are conducting more food safety research in order to set rules, standards and guidelines for the Food Safety Modernization Act, which became law in 2011.

“We’re looking at the science that helps governmental entities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and private entities create policies that keep our food supply safe,” said Daniel Weller, a doctoral student in the field of food science and the lead author of the new work, “Spatial and Temporal Factors Associated With an Increased Prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in New York State Spinach Fields.” 

The other authors are Martin Wiedmann, Cornell’s Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety, and Laura Strawn, assistant professor at Virginia Tech.

Factors such as proximity of a field location to water and other landscape features also play important roles in the presence of Listeria. 

The researchers tested fields in a variety of locations throughout New York and found that after rains or irrigation, the chances of finding Listeria were 25 times greater. But, after the fields dried at least 24 hours, the chances of detecting Listeria dropped dramatically, to levels similar to baseline.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed rules allowing farmers to apply “wait periods” after application of irrigation water. This would allow for “potentially dangerous microbes to die off,” said the FDA.

Through a combination of weather data, GIS technology and data driven information, technology allows farmers and producers to take a systems approach managing food safety.

“Current technology tools are improving food safety and increasing consumer confidence in food products,” Wiedmann said.

The Center for Produce Safety funded this research.