Agriculture, Central New York, Consumer, Education, Food, Health

New York Crops (and Christmas Trees) will be Better Than Ever

Christmas Trees like these are shipped in from all over the country to New York, but the best ones to get are the ones that are closest to home. (c) 2016 AP Bebeto Matthews

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By Amanda Caffey SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — You may have been buying the wrong Christmas trees, but a new standard will let you know which ones are the good ones.

The New York State Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Ball, announced that over one million dollars will be awarded to eight projects to strengthen the state’s specialty crops. These projects include research initiatives, protection programs and promotion of locally grown crops.

More and more, we are seeing Christmas trees brought in from around the country and these trees may be cheaper, but many of them are drying out and dropping needles by the time they get to a buyer’s living room. Not only are these trees a disappointment to the consumer, they are also a fire hazard. A new standard will ensure that the trees being sold in New York are fresh.

“This will make people who may have been buying a fake tree feel better about coming out to a family farm and choosing and cutting their own real tree,” said Christmas Tree Farmers Association Executive Director Mary Jeanne Packer.

The SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry will be partnering with the Christmas Tree Farmer’s Association and Cornell University will be working on the remaining projects. Interim Dean for the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell said that she is excited for the students to get hands on experience and find out what they really want to do.

There are six research projects:

  • Kale: Students and professors at Cornell University will be working with small farm owners and consumers to determine which Kale varieties grow well and test the best.
  • Onions: Stemphylium Leaf Blight (SLB) has been attacking onion crops for 3 years and Cornell University professors will be working on a remedy to protect the crops.
  • Apples: Research labs at Cornell will also be developing a more efficient way to keep apples fresh while they are in shipping and storage.
  • Mushrooms: The Cornell Small Farms Program will be working with their clients to introduce log-grown Shiitake Mushrooms as an additional crop on their farms.
  • Garlic: Cornell University will address the Fusarium disease that affects garlic grown in Central New York.
  • Christmas trees: SUNY-ESF students and professors will be working with the Christmas Tree Farmer’s Association to establish a freshness standard for selling fresh trees.

Two additional state-wide initiatives will evaluate and adjust the time that water is held and promote the Farm-to-School program.