Horticulture Professional Masters Projects

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    Reum, Paul E. (2021-12)
    Over the past two decades, indoor production of Cannabis sativa (cannabis) has been rapidly expanding (Summers et al., 2021) (Wartenberg et al., 2021). Indoor production allows growers to control all aspects of the growing environment including cultivar selection, growing media, water use, nutrients, temperature, humidity control, lighting intensity and lighting quality. The optimized production results in a clean, high-quality final product that is suitable for the pharmaceutical industry or high-end market. Currently, indoor cannabis production is a highly energy intensive and ecologically unsustainable practice. Making a transition from sole-source indoor cannabis production (i.e. warehouse) to greenhouse cannabis production with supplemental lighting will result in lower production costs and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Currently, there is an overall lack peer-reviewed data to support which supplemental lighting technologies lead to the greatest overall yields in greenhouse grown cannabis. Understanding which spectra of lighting are most beneficial to the development of cannabis in greenhouse production would inform producers on which types of lighting technologies they should invest in. Therefore, to address this gap in understanding, we performed a trial of six supplemental lighting treatments: 60:40 Red:Blue LED, 90:10 Red:Blue LED, Red:Blue LED with a Far-Red peak, high pressure sodium (HPS), Red:Blue LED with a UVA peak, and White LED. Two cultivars (‘TJ’s CBD’ and ‘T2’), were grown during their ten week flowering stage, and effects of light treatments were measured in terms of whole-plant wet and dry-weight, stem and leaf weight, flower weight, and final total cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations. Overall, the greatest lighting treatment effects were observed within the TJ’s CBD cultivar, with fewer significant differences found within the T2 cultivar. With the exception of growth and height, the White LED treatment outperformed all other treatments. The white LED treatment led to the heaviest plants as well as increased flower yields and higher cannabinoid concentrations.
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    Schmitz, Connor John (2021-12)
    Hydroponically grown lettuce has been a staple crop in CEA (Controlled environment agriculture) facilities for decades, however, there is still knowledge to be discovered on how to grow most optimally. There are a handful of system designs that have been optimized for growing lettuce and other greens such as NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), DWC (Deep Water Culture), and aeroponics. Many of the parameters that differ among the types of hydroponic systems are well understood in regard to growing lettuce. However, there seems to be little information on the effect of changes in water depth in nutrient film technique (NFT) channels and how that may affect plant growth. As suggested by the name, NFT systems employ a thin layer of recirculating nutrient solution in which the root plants grow. However, it is unknown whether a deeper water column in the same channels will affect yield. A deeper column may also help mitigate detrimental effects of temporary pump/power outages. The objective of this study was to discern whether changes in water depth in NFT channels would have an effect on the growth of lettuce (Lactuca sativa), ’Rex’. Lettuce was grown in a greenhouse in prefabricated plastic channels at four different water depths (0.3 cm [control, standard NFT water depth], 0.5 cm, 1.0 cm, 2.0 cm). The system was designed so that the water depth was the main variable between treatment groups. Over the course of three crop cycles, information on plant biomass (fresh and dry weights of the roots and shoots, root-to-shoot ratio) and morphological cylindrical volume was determined. Changes in water depth led to significant changes in dry weight, but not in fresh weights. Specifically, mean root dry mass from the 0.3 cm group was significantly greater (from 5.9% to 6.2% increases) than the other treatments. Mean dry weight of lettuce heads in the 0.3 cm was also significantly higher (3.1% increase) than the 2.0 cm treatment. In regard to cylindrical volume, the 0.3 cm control treatment had an overall lower mean volume (12.4% decrease) compared with the 2.0 cm depth treatment. There were no significant differences between treatment for fresh weights of the roots or shoots or the root-to-shoot ratio. Overall, based on fresh weight, a deeper water column could be employed in NFT systems to mitigate temporary power outages, to save on energy costs, or take advantage of other design benefits; though more research should test these notions in a commercial facility.
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    Maser, Kady (2021-08)
    Cannabinoids are a large section of the Cannabis market which has created new opportunities and challenges for industry and academia. Breeding Cannabis sativa L. plants to have specific chemical profiles for all aspects of the industry takes time and resources, which requires new methods to help accommodate those needs. These protocols were developed to create less resource intensive methods for testing chemotype segregation of young cannabis plants. This protocol can be used for breeding new cultivars of Cannabis and help cull plants with undesirable chemotypes at a younger age, along with testing plants in a less harmful manner for further growth. Creating two methods, one for HPLC and the other for a LightLab 3 Cannabis Analyzer, provides more options for chemotype determination for breeding and testing of Cannabis and shows the limitations of testing using these methods.
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    The Effect of Irrigation Timing and Duration on Yield and Quality of Aeroponically Grown Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.)
    Laham, Skylar (2021-08)
    As astronauts venture further from Earth for longer durations, as seen with NASA’s return of astronauts to the Lunar surface, the demand for food grown in situ (spacecraft, space habitats, etc.) is likely to increase. Due to the water scarcity related to human spaceflight missions, crop production systems and methods with minimal water consumption and volumes must be utilized, which is why NASA and other spaceflight entities are developing aeroponic systems for the microgravity environment. This master’s thesis examines a modular aeroponic system and evaluates its performance against a deep water culture control. Results showed no difference in shoot fresh weight and dry weight between the deep water culture control and aeroponic treatments, which are encouraging results for aeroponics, both commercially on Earth as well as space applications.
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    Landscape Plant ID Online Course
    Hickey, Deirdre S. (2021-12)
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    Paul, Emily (2021-08)
    Due to the newness of the cannabis industry, there is a lack of published research available to farmers. After meeting with Erik Carbone, a hemp farmer from Berkshire, New York, it was apparent that there is a disconnect that exists between the research that is being done and hemp farmers. This disconnect can lead to the suffering of farmers and can be detrimental to the success of the industry. A survey was created to assess the research needs of hemp farmers while also aiming to understand the accessibility of information that Cornell Cooperative Extension is producing. The goal of the survey was to inform Cornell Cooperative extension on the research needs of farmers and how they may prefer to access resources on hemp, whether it be through blog posts, the CCE website, or email communications. Within the survey, specific questions were asked to determine whether disease, pests, weeds, legal, or marketing topics were most desired by farmers in the industry. The survey questions were developed in collaboration with Dr. Carlyn Buckler, Dr. Chris Smart, and Maire Ulrich, a vegetable specialist from Cornell Cooperative Extension. Many resources were utilized in order to create an effective survey with limited bias and accurate responses. The surveys were then distributed at the Hemp Expo on 11 January 2021, and the Spring CBD Update on 22 April 2021 by Cornell Cooperative Extension. The results demonstrated that legal topics were most concerning for our participants and that email communication of hemp research updates would be preferred in the future. In addition, the results demonstrated what can be improved in future surveys.
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    Galic, Andrei (2021-08)
    Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a high-value crop garnering newfound attention from researchers and consumers. While interest has emerged, a lack of substantiated research still exists regarding effects of adverse weather events on physiological health and secondary metabolite production of hemp. The aim of this experiment was to assess cold tolerance of hemp using the cultivars ‘FINOLA’ and ‘AutoCBD’. Effects of cultivar, plant age, cold acclimation, frequency of cold treatments, and intensity of cold treatments were all considered in regard to their influence on physiological stress, biomass, and cannabinoid profile. In contrast to expectations, few effects of sequential cold treatments existed and were not moderated by cold acclimation, which tended to have negative effects across many responses. This detrimental effect of cold acclimation conditions was further observed in decreased total CBD% and total THC% compared to non-acclimated plants. These findings bear consideration when assessing the unpredictability of a changing climate on the heath and cannabinoid profile of hemp.
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    Barraco, Anthony (2021-08)
    Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) offers the United States a unique opportunity to build a novel industry in a sustainable manner from the ground up. The many end uses of industrial hemp are frequently touted by those in the industry, yet very few applications have come to market in the U.S. Those in operation have limited valuable supply chains, especially in textiles and bio-construction, which are among some of its most popularized uses. More research focus in the U.S should be geared toward aiding the development of the fiber industry for these reasons: 1) hemp crops bred for fiber production are technically a multipurpose crop. Many regard the fibers as the main product of a ‘fiber’ variety. However, the hurd, or inner woody core, can also be an economic & sustainable source of raw material. 2) Fiber hemp can provide small farmers a profitable, fast-growing, rotational crop to diversify their income. This also contributes to better soil health when hemp is included in a crop rotation. For the fiber hemp industry to successfully enter a competitive marketplace, a focus on sustainability should be considered for the future. This focus satisfies multiple purposes: 1) Sustainability serves as a marketing tool for products for which many consumers are looking. 2) Much of the sustainability focus is on building local supply chains. Local supply chains lead to local products for which consumers are becoming increasingly aware. This review analyzes how this nascent industry can fulfill the expectations that have been created for it, while providing strategies for furthering the fiber hemp industry value chain in New York State.
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    Ramsey, Trey (2021-05)
    Public gardens increasingly recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in their work. This toolkit provides concrete ways to address LGBTQ inclusion in gardens. It explains the importance of LGBTQ inclusion, including the challenges LGBTQ people face and the perspectives they can bring to an organization. A description of tools that other organizations have developed with explanations for how gardens can use those tools, including workplace protections, museum LGBTQ inclusion, and considerations for local communities is included. Finally, the toolkit provides summaries of four gardens in different phases in their LGBTQ inclusion journeys, from having LGBTQ inclusion as a small consideration in a broader diversity and inclusion plan to developing specific policies and programming welcoming the LGBTQ community to the garden.