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Marvin Pritts

marvin pritts


137 Plant Science
(607) 255-1778

My goal as a professor with a teaching, extension and research appointment is to seamlessly integrate these three activities into one program that is scholarly, credible and relevant to the multiple audiences that benefit from my program. One of my goals is to be a good communicator with many different audiences. I intentionally seek out audiences that range in age from preschool to adult, and range in expertise from novice to professional. I also strive to be broadly informed about the many issues that affect the food system so I can be a useful resource, and am frequently asked to speak to Cornell alumni. I served as department chair for 13 years, having played a major role in the merging of departments between the Geneva and Ithaca campuses, and the creation of the new School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS). My new position is Director of Undergraduate Studies for SIPS since August, 2015.

Research Focus

My research is focused on developing sustainable production methods for berry crops. A major focus is on environmental modifications, primarily using high and low tunnels, to produce tender crops (e.g. blackberries) in colder climates, and to extend the season into fall for strawberries and raspberries. Managing weeds is a major challenge for berry growers and using non-herbicidal approaches (such as integrating cover crops and reduce tillage planting systems) is a significant component of my research program. Also, using cultural practices to reduce damage from pests (e.g. black root rot, Phytophthora root rot, tarnished plant bug) is another facet of my research. Finally, I am interested in better understanding some of the basic physiological responses of berry crops to the environment and developing ways to improve plant growth and productivity.

Outreach and Extension Focus

I believe that we have a responsibility to help educate all citizens (not just commercial growers) about issues that affect their lives. In my case, this education involves issues of food choice, sustainability, food safety and food quality. One of my professional objectives is to be a credible resource on these broader issues, in addition to developing a high level of expertise in berry crops. The audience for my extension program is national. Many of my presentations are given to out-of-state audiences, many phone calls come from out-of-state, and the printed materials and electronic resources are written for a regional audience. Berry crops are the most widely grown of all fruit crops, so the audience is dispersed throughout the entire northeastern United States and Canada. In addition to commercial berry crops, I have worked on developing Good Agricultural Practices materials to improve food safety on the farm. I also attempt to allocate a portion of my outreach efforts to non-commercial audiences, both youth and adult. Occasionally I present and consult internationally. I strive to inform all audiences about the many issues that affect the food system.

Teaching Focus

My goal as a teacher is to share my passion for learning with students with the goal that they too will become life-long learners. I teach a 3-credit course on berry crop production on alternate fall semesters (PLHRT 4420). This course involves a great deal of application of principles learned in other courses. Farm visits are an important component of the class. I also teach Hands-On Horticulture to non-majors (PLHRT 1102). In this class, students are introduced to a new horticultural concept each week and allowed to develop skills using related techniques (e.g. flower arranging, grafting, pruning, etc.). I also co-teach a leadership course (LEAD 5100) for grad students because our students often lack an opportunity to learn about their own strengths, how to build teams, how to resolve conflicts and develop personnel management skills. I also teach a course for incoming freshmen and transfer students that introduces them to college life, faculty, research opportunities and career possibilities (PLSCI 1110). I co-teach an international agriculture course (IARD 4020/6020) that travels to India in January and I have led class trips to Cuba, Nicaragua, Belize and Costa Rica. I am also active in community education efforts through the Cayuga Nature Center and Cooperative Extension, and am eager to instill a love of plants and the natural world in people of all ages.

Awards and Honors

  • CALS Faculty Award for Outstanding Service (2014)
  • SUNY Chancellor's Award for Faculty Service (2014) SUNY
  • Distinguished Service Award (2012) North American Strawberry Growers Association
  • CALS Outstanding Faculty Award (2012) CALS Alumni Association
  • Distinguished Service Award (2011) North American Raspberry and Blackberry Growers Association

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Pritts, M. P. (2019). Niels Ebbesen Hansen: A man with a vision for the unfathomable. Journal of the American Pomological Society. 73:110-114.
  • Pritts, M. P. (2019). The Status and Future of the Strawberry Industry in the United States. HortTechnology. 29:11-24.
  • Pritts, M. P. (2017). Hands-On Horticulture: A course for building enrollments in plant science courses. HortTechnology. 27:704-709.
  • Pritts, M. P., & Pritts, A. A. (2017). George M. Darrow: Dean of Small Fruits. Journal of the American Pomological Society. 71:ar 8, 59-61.
  • Harbut, R., Pritts, M. P., & Cheng, L. (2016). Changes in morphological, biochemical and physiological traits in strawberry in the northeastern United States during one hundred years of breeding. J. Amer. Pomol. Soc. 70:194-206. Journal of the American Pomological Society. 70:194-206.
  • Gallagher, E. J., Mudge, K. W., Pritts, M. P., & DeGloria, S. D. (2014). Growth and development of Illini Hardy blackberry (Rubus subgenus Eubatus Focke) under shaded systems. Agroforestry Systems.
  • Pritts, M. P., & Park, T. D. (2013). Proposed Learning Outcomes for Four-year Horticulture Programs in the United States. HortTechnology. 23:237-240.
  • Acuna-Maldonado, L., & Pritts, M. P. (2013). Seasonal patterns of carbohydrate and nitrogen accumulation and depletion in strawberry are affected by fruiting but not day neutrality. Journal of the American Pomological Society. 67:95-103.
  • Pritts, M. P. (2012). Managing farming systems, landscapes, pests and pathogens to improve consumer acceptance of berries. Acta Horticulturae. 926:579-585.
  • Maldonado, L. A., & Pritts, M. P. (2009). Carbon and nitrogen reserves in perennial strawberry affect plant growth and yield. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 133:735-742.

Presentations and Activities

  • New York UPick Guidelines for COVID-19. UPick Guidelines. May 2020. New Hampshire Cooperative extension.
  • Pruning blueberries. New England Fruit and Vegetable Conference. December 2019. Land-grant universities of New England. Manchester, NH.
  • The story of how one crop became unsustainable. Telluride Speaker Series. October 2019. Telluride House. Ithaca, NY.
  • Smith Woods Old Growth Forest hike. Smith Woods Old Growth Forest hike. July 2019. Cayuga Nature Center. Trumansburg, NY.
  • Smith Woods Old Growth Forest hike. Smith Woods Old Growth Forest hike. July 2019. Cayuga Nature Center. Trumansburg, NY.
  • Landscaping: A Walk in the Park. FFA Convention. May 2019. FFA. Syracuse, NY.
  • Advances in horticulture and animal-based systems for food security. Agrivision 2019. January 2019. Confederation of Indian Industries. Hyderabad, India.
  • Innovations in sustainable agriculture. Agrivision 2019. January 2019. Confederation of Indian Industries. Hyderabad, India.
  • Old Growth Forest Tour. October 2018. Ithaca College Department of Biology. Trumansburg, NY.
  • Can strawberries be grown sustainably? Frank W. Kari Endowed Lecture. October 2018. Univ. of Illinois. Urbana, IL.