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Smart Horticultural Practices - KoGa participation in international master's course

In February and March 2024, KoGa participated in the lecture series “Smart Horticultural Practices” that was a joint project of GIZ, Green Innovation Centre India and Competence Centre for Fruit Cultivation at Lake Constance (KOB).

Screenshort from the alternanz lecture by Dr. Michael Blanke
Screenshort from the alternanz lecture by Dr. Michael Blanke

Among others speakers, Dr. Anton Milyaev and Dr. Michael Blanke gave lectures on flower induction, alternate bearing, and dormancy in apple. The lecture series was organized and coordinated by Dr. Manfred Büchele, the chair of Competence Centre for Fruit Growing at Lake Constance (KOB) as a part of a Master’s program of the YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (Nauni, Himachal Pradesh, India).


Anton Milyaev und Michael Blanke (University of Bonn)


KoGa with HortiBonn and LWK NRW at the 56th DGG Conference in Braunschweig - Topics range from soil fatigue and nitrogen balance in the soil to sustainability in horticulture

From February 28th to March 1st, 2024, 185 scientists from all horticultural disciplines - including a large number of young scientists - gathered for the well-attended 56th annual conference of the German Horticultural Science Society (DGG) and the Federal Association of Students and Graduates of Higher Education Studies in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture (BHGL) at the Thünen Institute in Braunschweig to present and discuss current research findings in horticulture as well as to network.

From left to right: Eike Lüdeling (University of Bonn), Elisabeth Schwitzky (University of Bonn) and Michael Blanke (University of Bonn). © Michael Blanke/ HortiBonn
From left to right: Eike Lüdeling (University of Bonn), Elisabeth Schwitzky (University of Bonn) and Michael Blanke (University of Bonn). © Michael Blanke/ HortiBonn
Simone Röhlen-Schmittgen (Hochschule Geisenheim).  © Michael Blanke/ HortiBonn
Simone Röhlen-Schmittgen (Hochschule Geisenheim). © Michael Blanke/ HortiBonn

The keynote address was delivered by a graduate of our Bonn institute: Prof. Beatrix Wächter-Alsanius earned her doctorate for her work on apple replant disease here in Bonn in 1990 before continuing her career in Quebec, Washington, and most recently in Sweden. In the second keynote address, Prof. Traud Winkelmann presented progress in researching and combating apple replant disease due to repeated planting with Rosaceae, as well as the BIS1 gene as a reliable bioindicator.

The main focus of this year’s DGG conference was on soil and substrates, with a particular emphasis on peat replacement using primarily organic materials. Overall, a wide range of topics were covered through approximately 60 presentations and about 50 posters. The Green Challenge, focusing on peat-free cultivation of Chinese cabbage, attracted lively interest with 6 student teams participating. The evaluation considered not only the appearance of the seedlings but also the audience’s assessment of the project presentations.


The University of Bonn and the Agricultural Chamber (LWK) NRW each had 3 presentations. Dr. Michael Blanke presented on the sustainability of plastic use in horticulture, highlighting areas for improvement and current research projects, while Elisabeth Schwitzky discussed nitrogen mineralization in orchard soils and humus fractionation from her doctoral thesis and the long-term fertilization trial in Klein-Altendorf compared to a parallel trial in Dresden. Marcel Moll from Prof. Ralf Pude’s Renewable Resources working group reported on quality improvement and reduced blossom end rot in tomatoes through calcium application. The LWK NRW presented research results on tomatoes, potatoes, and nitrogen supply in vegetable cultivation. Also of interest were the development of new IP guidelines for fruit growing (Osnabrück), modeling of apple harvest processes, and a contribution from Geisenheim on mechanizing the cultivation of Torminalis trees for agroforestry systems.


The conference proceedings are freely accessible at:

The 57th DGG conference will be held in Essen from 28th February to 2nd March, 2025.


Michael Blanke, University of Bonn


Spanish Zucchiolo wins Fruit Logistica Innovation Award (FLIA) 2024

Every year, the visitors of the Berlin Fruit Logistica have the chance to see (and taste) new innovative fruit and vegetable products and vote for their favourite candidate at a polling station.

Zucchiolo. © Michael Blanke
Zucchiolo. © Michael Blanke

The 2024 Fruit Logistica in Berlin attracted ca. 66,000 visitors from 145 countries. The majority of their votes for this year’s Fruit Logistica Innovation Award (FLIA) went to Zucchiolo, a ca. 15 cm round, yellow or green zucchini-like fruit (photo) with a wide range of uses and social aspect. The Zucchiolo of the Spanish Unica Fresh Co. Is suitable for cooking, salad and snack. The samples available for tasting had pale yellow, seedless firm flesh with a pleasant taste.  

As a novel approach, 50% of the proceeds of the Zucchiolo sales goes to supporting cancer prevention projects and degenerative human diseases, supporting the health claims of fruit and vegetables. 


Michael Blanke, University of Bonn


Passing on the KoGa coordination

After eight years as coordinator of the Competence Center Horticulture (KoGa), Dr. Hannah Jaenicke has handed over her duties at the end of 2022.

The KoGa would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jaenicke once again, who has given the KoGa a face over all these years, has shown a lot of presence and has been involved in numerous third-party funded projects. Thank you, Hannah, and a similarly good hand in your future tasks!

Dr. Jan Ellenberger has been KoGa coordinator since January. He studied agricultural sciences in Bonn, worked as a research assistant in the KoGa project TOMRES from 2019 to 2021, and received his PhD from the Chair of Horticultural Sciences in 2022.

HortiBonn participation at the 31st International Horticultural Congress in Angers – France

From August 14-20, 2022, 2333 scientists from all horticultural disciplines met for the 31st International Horticultural Congress (IHC) in Angers, France.

Picture: © hortibonn
Picture: © hortibonn

The Congress took place at the Congress Center of Angers, which is located next to the Botanical Garden, and at the University which is 7 walking minutes away. Clouds, wind and occasional showers offered a welcome refreshment in high summer temperatures. In 25 Symposia with diverse topics from fruit growing to greenhouse technology, participants were updated on the current state of play in horticultural research. Among the hottest topics were biostimulants, biodiversity, climate change and digitalization in horticulture. Among the most challenging moments for conference attendees were the digital poster sessions, some of which featured up to partly 3 simultaneous presentations in the same noisy room.

The HortiBonn team attended the IHC with a delegation of nine participants, who were involved in 11 presentations: Prof. Dr. Eike Lüdeling gave an inspiring keynote speech on “Forecasting tree phenology in a climate change context”. Dr. Hannah Jaenicke presented a study on biodiversity in apple orchards. Dr. Michael Blanke showed a new approach to develop a freshness index for bell pepper fruits and possibilities for long-term CO2 storage in orchard soils. His presentations were complemented by two posters on long-term soil temperatures and light deprivation as a herbicide. Zoe Heuschkel presented her consumer study on the introduction of a new sustainability label in fruit production. Nils Siefen explained the possibilities of a LiDAR sensor for characterizing apple tree canopies based on his study conducted at the Kompetenzzentrum Obstbau Bodensee. Posters on fruiting walls in apple orchards and dormancy release in Prunus avium L. were presented by Lars Zimmermann and Esteban Soto, respectively. Charlotte Hubert from the “INRES Nachwachsende Rohstoffe”, who was temporarily adopted by the HortiBonn family, also visited the congress and gave a talk on the reaction of Mentha genotypes to different UV-treatments. Christine Schmitz completed the HortiBonn travel group as a listener.

Also successful were the initiatives promoted jointly with US colleagues to appoint Prof. Alan Lakso and John Palmer as honorary members of the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science) and Profs. Luca Corelli-Grappadelli and George Manganaris as the new chairman and vice chairman of the Fruit Crop Section of the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science).

Besides the scientific program we had many opportunities to make contacts with other researchers during the coffee breaks and evening events. Some of us took part in one of the technical tours, while others made use of conference downtime to visit the nice city of Angers. Technical tours included trips to Inagro, where the role of apple trees to enhance the micro-climate in cities was shown, to hortival, a big producer of ornamental plants, and to the CTIFL de La Morinière, a pome fruit and berry research station. One evening we visited Terra Botanica, a theme park dedicated to plants. The typical French gala dinner included extraordinary food like snail crumble, followed by a nice party with live music after the dinner (including a stage dive by the conference chair…).

We are already looking forward to IHC 32 in Kyoto in 2026.

Authors: Dr. Michael Blanke and Christine Schmitz