ARS in Geneva hosting free tours

On Wednesday September 23, and Saturday September 26, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva will give residents of New York’s Finger Lakes region an extraordinary opportunity to see, smell, and taste some of ARS’s vast collection of apples and grapes as the unit hosts two public tours.ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The mission of the Plant Genetic Resources Unit is to acquire, maintain, characterize and distribute plant genetic resources of selected fruit and vegetable crops to develop new hardy varieties that can stand up to pests, diseases and environmental stresses. The unit’s more than 2,500 varieties of apples include some that are as familiar as the local supermarket’s produce section as well as others that hail from distant and exotic locations.The September 23 walking tour of the orchard grounds will take place from 9:00 to 11:30 am. Highlights of the tour will include the world-renowned apple Kazak collection. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to see the Malus sieversil seeding block, also known as the “Botany of Desire Wild Apple,” from Kazakhstan. The seedlings are scheduled to leave the collection at the end of 2015.On September 26, visitors can see and taste the apple collection from 9:00 to 11:30 am and tour the USDA-ARS cold hardy grapevine germplasm collection from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. The cold hardy grapevine germplasm is an important resource of wild North American grapevine species and plays an integral role in the development of many of the hybrid grapevine varieties grown in the Finger Lakes region and across the Midwest and Northeastern United States.WHAT: USDA-ARS public tours featuring the unit’s apple and grape collections. The tours are free of charge. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Participants are advised to come with appropriate foot gear, sunscreen, bottled water and insect repellent. WHERE: McCarthy Farm 2865 County Road 6 Geneva, NY 14456 Parking is available in the gravel parking area near the equipment barn at the farm entrance. WHEN: Wednesday, September 23 at 9:00 am – 11:30 am Apple Collection Walking Tour Saturday, September 26 at 9:00 am – 11:30 am Apple Collection Walking Tour 11:30 am – 12:30 pm Cold Hardy Grapevine Germplasm Tour For more information, contact:C.Thomas.Chao@ars.usda.gov, Horticulturalist/Apples, Grapes and Tart Cherries Curator, 315-787-2454Rose.Nichols@ars.usda.gov, Administrative Officer, 315-787-2329Susan.Burgess@ars.usda.gov, ARS Special Events Coordinator, 301-504-4885

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