View this text (with more pictures) in the Cornell Orchards Brochure [trifold, .pdf].
You come for the apples, cider and other produce. But did you know that Cornell Orchards is first and foremost a research and teaching site for the Department of Horticulture and other departments in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences? Learn more . . .
More than apples
Cornell Orchards is a working orchard, vineyard and fruit farm managed by the Department of Horticulture. We sell fruit from our research and teaching plantings at our retail outlet, on Route 366 south of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
That site includes our storage and packing facilities, cider press and research lab, surrounded by 37 acres of fruit plantings. ‘The Orchards’ also includes our 100-acre facility in Lansing, where the waters of Cayuga Lake moderate the temperature and extend the growing season. This allows us to grow European wine grapes, peaches and other cold-sensitive crops.
To stretch out the fresh-apple harvest season from mid-summer to late fall, we grow more than 50 varieties – from the latest selections to centuries-old antiques. We sell about 20 for fresh eating and grow others especially for use in our custom-blended ciders.
In addition to apples, we grow peaches, plums, cherries, pears, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, pawpaws, chestnuts, and beach plums. We also sell some produce from our Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville. But we donate the vast majority of that harvest (as well as some of our fruit) to local food charities – more than 80 tons in 2005 alone.
All sales proceeds support our teaching and research programs.
Researching environmentally friendly practices
Our research at Cornell Orchards focuses on developing environmentally friendly, sustainable practices that provide consumers with healthy, high-quality fruit and help New York fruit producers flourish.
We store apples in a cool, low-oxygen environment to help keep locally grown fruit fresher, longer -- practices pioneered at Cornell. In our research program, we are refining new techniques to keep apples crisp after removing them from storage.
Other research topics include:
- Identifying pest- and disease-resistant fruit varieties.
- Testing biological pest controls.
- Developing organic, integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated fruit production (IFP) systems that use fewer pesticides and rely on safer products.
- Studying soil quality and how it affects the health of plants.
- Learning more about how fruit crops take up nutrients from the soil and how keeping roots healthy can keep trees, vines and berries healthy.
- Extending the harvest, early and late.
Teaching the next generation of fruit growers
Several departments use Cornell Orchards as a living lab to give students hands-on experience with all aspects of fruit production. Students can see how different management practices affect crops. They also learn to prune and care for plants, and identify diseases and insect pests.
Extensive new plantings of more than a dozen varieties of grapes are a key part of our new Viticulture and Enology program. Our new program is teaching tomorrow’s grape-growers and wine-makers the specific skills they need to help New York’s cold-climate grape industry thrive.
Graduate students raise money to bring in speakers by harvesting apples to sell in a vending machine in the Plant Sciences Building and at a booth at the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival.
Each year, nearly a thousand pre- and elementary-school children visit the packing house during apple harvest. On tours led by staff, graduate students, and community volunteers, they taste apples, see how cider is made, and learn more about where fruit comes from. Junior and senior high school students visit as part of the 4-H program.
By the numbers:
- Total acres: 37
- Acres of apples: 15
- Apple trees per acre: 200 to 800, depending on their size.
- Oldest trees: 11 original standard trees are more than 90 years old.
- Acres of grapes: 2
- Acres of berries: 4
- Acres of plums: 3
- Total acres: 100
- Acres planted: 40
- Acres of apples: 25
- Acres of pears: 1.5
- Acres of grapes: 3
- Acres of chestnuts: 2
- Acres of cherries, peaches, kiwifruit and pawpaws: 1 each
- Apple trees and grapevines planted in 2006: More than 1,000
709 Dryden Rd. (Route 366) Across from the Vet School (Map)
Store hours: Harvest and sales season usually runs August through April. Days of the week and hours vary by season. Phone: 255-4542, or visit: www.hort.cornell.edu/orchards to find out current hours.
For more information, contact: Cornell Orchards Manager 607-255-4542 firstname.lastname@example.org