Cornell Vegetable Program Enrollment

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Soil Health

CVP Soil Health

Excess rains and droughts of the past decade pointed out the poor health and productivity of soils on many local vegetable farms. Coupled with high fuel prices and high fertilizer prices, growers have been eager to improve their soil management efforts. Reduced tillage leads to less fuel use and legume cover crops allow the farmer to grow nitrogen fertilizer, reducing their need for conventional fertilizer and the fuel and labor to apply it.

The Cornell Soil Health Test can be used to determine your field's soil management for percentage of water-stable aggregates. A soil with low % water-stable aggregates has  poor crop emergence, more crusting, more runoff, reduced root growth, increased root diseases, and fewer beneficial microbes to cycle soil nutrients.

Vegetable farms using conventional tillage and few cover crops had an average of just 18% water-stable aggregates, while farms using reduced tillage or extensive cover cropping averaged 36-39%. Innovative growers are now beginning to adopt both strategies to improve soils even more.

In addition, the Cornell Vegetable Program is working with a number of conventional and organic vegetable growers on increasing the use of a wide range of cover crops to fill open niches in rotations to improve soil health and grow nitrogen.






Relevant Event

2021 Empire State Producers EXPO

January 12 - January 14, 2021

How to Take a Soil Sample

Amy Ivy, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: January 14, 2019
How to Take a Soil Sample

Soil sampling is an important part of managing your crops, but it's important to do it correctly. In this video, ENYCHP vegetable specialist Amy Ivy demonstrates how to take a soil sample.


High Tunnel Best Management Practices for Long Term Soil Health and Fertility

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 19, 2018
High Tunnel Best Management Practices for Long Term Soil Health and Fertility

These best management practices were selected by experienced high tunnel growers and extension staff as a result of a four year project tracking economic, soil and irrigation water data from high tunnels across New York State. They can be used remedially, or implemented in a new high tunnel system.

Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

Darcy Telenko, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 19, 2016
Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

One challenge to adding cover crops to your vegetable production system is that herbicides with residual activity may interfere with cover crop establishment and growth. Residual herbicides are a key management tool in vegetable production, especially for management of difficult weeds and their potential to help control herbicide-resistant weeds. Here are some questions to consider when utilizing a cover crop and how well it will work with your herbicide program.

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: August 17, 2015
Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

This website enables growers to use a broader range of cover crops to improve soil health in many ways. Cover crop descriptions, seeding, seed sources, cost and management challenges are included.




Soil Health Grant Offers Cover Crop Evaluations and the Cornell Soil Health Test

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 22, 2014

The Cornell Vegetable Program just received a two year grant to work with vegetable, potato and dry bean growers in the Cornell Vegetable Program Region to increase or diversify their cover cropping, and/or to reduce tillage. For cooperating growers soil sampling, soil testing, and interpretation for the Cornell Soil Health Test (CSHT) will be free. Evaluation of biomass, weed growth, nitrogen produced, crop response, etc. can be done for new cover crop plantings being tried. Reduced/zone-tilled crops planted side by side with conventional crops can also be evaluated. Field days are part of this grant, as is assistance for grower discussion groups/grower-to-grower networking.

More money than ever is available as an incentive for adoption of good soil health practices!

SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: June 7, 2013
SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation

A section of the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) website, the cover crop topic room provides educational materials developed from cover crop research. Topics include selection and management, economics, establishment, rotations, soil and fertility management, water management, pest management, and no-till.

Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures

Last Modified: April 22, 2013
Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures

Cover crops are an important tool that farmers can use to generate benefits and services on the farm and for society, including improved soil health, nutrient supply to cash crops, weed suppression, insect pest management, forage production, pollinator resources, and clean water and air. There are many different cover crop species to choose from, and each cover crop species has different abilities to provide the services described above. Planting a mixture of cover crop species is one strategy that can be used to enhance and diversify the benefits that a cover crop provides. This article will describe some of the basic concepts to consider when planning a cover crop mixture, such as meeting different farm management objectives, selecting complementary species, and methods for establishing cover crop mixtures.

Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 7, 2013
Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

The problem with using conventional tillage practices for onion production on muck soils is that it results in the subsidence of muck via wind and water erosion and oxidation of organic matter at a rate of one foot every 10 years, which is not sustainable for preserving these non-renewable natural  resources for long-term productivity. Onions are one of the most valuable vegetable crops produced in New York State with the majority of the 13,000 acres being grown on muck soil. Producing onions using conventional tillage practices results in degradation of soil health and increased subsidence.


more crops
Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

more crops

Upcoming Events

Storage Crop Facility School: Large-Scale Vegetable (Potato and Cabbage)

December 1, 2020

Speakers from across the Northeast will be presenting on challenges and updates surrounding large-scale potato and cabbage storage. Join us for this FREE online event to hear about storage innovation and updating facilities, decreasing storage diseases, storage funding programs, and farm food safety considerations for storage facilities.

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Storage Crop Facility School: Smaller-Scale Mixed Vegetable Storage

December 8, 2020

Join us for this FREE online event to hear the latest information on smaller-scale storage and storage of mixed vegetables. Speakers from across the Northeast and Midwest will be presenting on cold storage construction, humidity and ventilation management, tactics for better storage of produce, decreasing diseases in storage, funding opportunities, and farm food safety considerations for storage facilities.

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2020 NYS Processing Vegetable Advisory Meetings

Event Offers DEC Credits

December 15, 2020 : Snap Bean Advisory

Processors and growers of snap beans are invited to this FREE online meeting to review the 2020 season and comment on pests and other issues that were encountered. Reports of the 2020 research projects funded by the New York Vegetable Research Association/Council will be given. A group discussion period will include the review of research priorities for the coming year. 0.75 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23 will be offered.

Event Offers DEC Credits

December 15, 2020 : Green Pea and Sweet Corn Advisory

Processors and growers of green peas and sweet corn are invited to this FREE online meeting to review the 2020 season and comment on pests and other issues that were encountered. Reports of the 2020 research projects funded by the New York Vegetable Research Association/Council will be given. A group discussion period will include the review of research priorities for the coming year. 1.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23 will be offered.

Event Offers DEC Credits

December 16, 2020 : Beet and Carrot Advisory Meeting

Processors and growers of beets and carrots are invited to this FREE online meeting to review the 2020 season and comment on pests and other issues that were encountered. Reports of the 2020 research projects funded by the New York Vegetable Research Association/Council will be given. A group discussion period will include the review of research priorities for the coming year. 1.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23 will be offered.

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