Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Early cherries creep into the picture behind the solar panel that will power this irrigation field

The Research Unit has been breeding cherries for quite some time. When you initiate a breeding program you accumulate as much useful or potentially useful germplasm as you can. We have a ridiculously wide ranging collection of cherries. The Yoshinos at the Tidal Basin may be 3 weeks away, but many of the less common species and cultivars are opening up in the Cherry Fields. We have a self-guided tour displaying many of these more obscure but still beautiful taxa. This weekend will be good but so will next weekend.

The solar panel in front of the cherries will provide electric power to run the satellite control for irrigation in this research unit nursery. The story, as I remember it, is that it would have cost 30,000 dollars to install an electric line to the field; we would then, of course, have had to pay for the electricity. The Panel and the batteries cost 28,000 dollars. Good deal huh? Apparently a cooperative arrangement was brokered during the opening show for the "Power Plants" exhibit last year. Alfred State College, a member of SUNY, designed and coordinated the installation. I have some doubts about the siting of the panel; there's nothing else visible in the entire center of the Arboretum that isn't "natural", still it's a very good thing we have done and its conspicuousness will make it an educational tool.

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