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Researcher who confronts challenges on the muck wins award from Cornell

Staff Reports Posted 9 November 2018 at 8:54 pm

Photo from Cornell University: Christy Hoepting, right, accepts an award for “Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach” from Kathyrn Boor, dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

A senior extension associate who has worked on the muck and with Western New York vegetable growers for 17 years has been recognized by Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Christy Hoepting of Albion on Monday was presented an award for “Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach.” Kathryn Boor, the dean of Cornell’s CALS, praised Hoepting for developing a highly innovative and responsive program.

Hoepting is part of a five-person team in the Cornell Vegetable Program. The team covers 13 counties along Lake Ontario in Western New York. She specializes in the management of onions and cool-weather crops such as cabbage and broccoli. Her highly productive and responsive approach emphasizes applied research and innovation.

Over 17 years with the program, Hoepting has earned a great level of trust with growers and recognition as a regional and national onion expert, Boor said.

“Christy’s work epitomizes the Land Grant mission of CALS — to tackle the challenges of our time through purpose-driven science,” Boor said. “Thank you, Christy, for supporting this enduring commitment.”

Hoepting currently chairs a multi-state committee to address the management of onion pests and diseases. Her research scouting program has resulted in a 50-74 percent reduction in insecticide sprays.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Christy Hoepting is shown on the muck with growers, discussing research projects on the fertile farmland.

Hoepting has conducted hundreds of on-farm research trials in plant pathology, entomology, weed science, cultural practices and crop nutrition, presented at scores of stakeholder and scientific meetings, and published many articles and research papers.

She scouts farm fields relentlessly, tracking the movements of insects and disease pests. She meets with grower on the muck on Tuesday mornings during the growing season for “Donut Hour,” where she and the farmers share what they are seeing in the fields.

“We’re part of a team working together to make sure the vegetable industry in Western New York is viable and sustainable,” Hoepting said about the joint effort among farmers and researchers.

The job changes every year, with vigilance required to protect the local crops.

“Agriculture is never dull,” she said. “The weather is such an unpredictable planner all the time. We never get the same weather two years in a row.”

She is based out of Knowlesville with the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension. The Extension in Orleans has been very supportive of her research projects, and also provides some space in a barn so she can dry onions.

She also works with onion growers in Potter, Sodus and Oswego and even makes trips to Orange County.

Her focus is on-farm applied research.

“We’re finding answers on the farm,” she said. “That’s my way of helping the growers.”

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