Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm


The Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm is located 10 miles from the Cornell campus. It is a primary location for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' historically important vegetable research. The 260-acre farm includes a 30-acre organic parcel, certified by NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC, for organic vegetable and grain research. Well-known by local citizens, the farm is popular for its field days, which give local commercial farmers and amateur gardeners the chance to learn about state-of-the-art planting and best management practices. Specialized farm equipment, such as a small plot herbicide sprayer, is designed for precise cultivation and management of small research plots. The farm is managed by Cornell AES as a site for interdisciplinary research aimed at optimizing vegetable production systems for the Northeast.

Research project highlights

purple and white potatoes cut open on a wood table

Rice variety trials & management practices

Researchers are evaluating how to best grow rice in New York state, a potentially lucrative crop that can thrive on flood-prone land. This project identifies varieties that perform well in our area, best management practices, economic feasibility and ecological benefits. 

Read more about the rice project in the Cornell Chronicle.

Researcher: Jenny Kao-Kniffin

Kale, cabbages and cherry tomatoes

This research focuses on the breeding and genetics of vegetable crops, in particular the development of novel kale, cabbage and cherry tomato varieties, with traits desired by the food industry and consumers alike. Exciting recent cherry tomato variety releases include: the bright Yellow Submarine, the deep purplish-red Moonshadow, and the striped and firm Cherry Ember.

Researcher: Phillip Griffiths

Cover crop breeding & variety trials

The Moore Lab conducts cover crop breeding and variety trials of several cover crop species including cereal rye, hairy vetch, winter pea, and crimson clover. Researchers are focused on cover crops adapted to New York state and the Northeastern US, selecting especially for vigorous, winter hardy, early-flowering, and productive varieties. Cover crops are important for sustainable cropping systems and provide many ecosystem services.

Researcher: Virginia Moore

Potato breeding program

Testing the newest breeding lines of potatoes with best potential of production in New York, to develop appropriate cultivation practices, utilization recommendations and yield assessments, to guide local growers.

Researcher: Walter De Jong

Optimum use of herbicides

Research on the optimum use of herbicides for vegetable crops informs the development of appropriate labeling.

Researcher: Antonio DiTommaso

Malting barley variety trials

Organically managed malting barley variety trials assess spring and winter varieties for best quality and yield. The agronomic data collected provides crucial, tangible guidance to New York growers who aim to meet the growing demand from local breweries.

Researcher: Mark Sorrells

Cucurbits, peppers, peas and beans

This program aims to breed new varieties with improved nutrition, flavor and other desirable traits, and with good resilience in ecologically based production systems. Recent work at this farm includes squash variety breeding.

Researcher: Michael Mazourek

Community connections

50 years of weather recording

Thompson Research Farm has been collecting daily weather data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for over half a century. NOAA representatives from NWS Binghamton recently presented the farm team with the Honored Institution Award for 50 years of service. Local weather data is essential for accurate weather reporting, and supports farmers and growers who rely on it.

Photo: NOAA representatives Joanne LaBounty, Observation Program Leader, and Dave Nicossa, Meteorologist-in-charge, with Thompson Research Farm staff (in red, from left to right): Quin Walpole, Rick Randolph, Steve McKay, and Ryan Maher.

Food Donations

Thompson Research Farm has a long history of donating large amounts of fresh produce to local food banks and non-profit food networks. Since 2004 the farm has donated more than 2 million pounds of produce, including potatoes, corn, peppers, cabbage, beets, onions, melons, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes to help combat local food insecurity.

A group of people by are standing by a weather station with a certificate
A forklift loads pallets of food into a truck.


Thompson Research Farm Staff

Rick Randolph

Farm Manager, Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

Cornell AES

Rick Randolph
Ethan Tilebein

Field Assistant, Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

Cornell AES

Ethan Tilebein
Quin Walpole

Field Assistant, Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

Cornell AES

Quin Walpole
Liam Trojnor-Riley

Field Assistant, Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

Cornell AES

Liam Trojnor-Riley
  • lst35 [at] cornell.edu