Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section
Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension
I conduct a postharvest science research program with a major focus on apple fruit. My research and extension activities are statewide and include development and conduct of harvest maturity management, postharvest handling, and storage technology from both basic and applied aspects. I am also the Director for Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), and Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and College of Human Ecology.
Apple storage life and quality
Controlled atmosphere storage
My research program is focused on developing the knowledge required for use of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), a new ethylene-binding inhibitor that extends the storage life of apples. This work is now being extended to preharvest 1-MCP applications. I also conduct research on new cultivars of importance to New York growers, on the effects of postharvest techniques on the nutritional quality of fruit, and to better understand the underlying mechanisms in fruit responses to storage conditions such as temperature, atmosphere, and 1-MCP, and the interaction of these factors with the development of storage disorders. Current projects focus on the development of physiological disorders of apples such as internal browning, external carbon dioxide injury and superficial scald.
Outreach and Extension Focus
In addition to being director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, I am directly responsible for developing and conducting the harvest maturity management, postharvest handling, and storage technology component of the multidisciplinary statewide fruit Extension program. I work in cooperation with Extension faculty in various departments, regional fruit specialists, Extension educators, storage operators, and marketers in development, conduct, and evaluation of the Extension program.
Selected Journal Publications
- Al Shoffe, Y., Nock, F., Zhang, Y., Zhu, L., & Watkins, C. B. (2019). Comparisons of mineral and non-mineral prediction methods for bitter pit in ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. Scientia Horticulturae. 254:116-123.
- Zhang, Y., Nock, J. F., Al Shoffe, Y., & Watkins, C. B. (2019). Non-destructive prediction of soluble solids and dry matter concentrations in eight apple cultivars using portable near-infrared spectroscopy. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 151:111-118.
- Doerflinger, F. C., Nock, J. F., Miller, W. B., & Watkins, C. B. (2019). Preharvest aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG) and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) effects on ethylene and starch concentrations of ‘Empire’ and ‘McIntosh’ apples. Scientia Horticulturae. 244:134-140.
- Mahajan, P. V., Caleb, O. J., Gil, M. I., Izumi, H., Colelli, G., Watkins, C. B., & Zude, M. (2017). Quality and safety of fresh horticultural commodities: Recent advances and future perspectives. Food Packaging and Shelf Life. 14:2-11.
- Gapper, N. E., Hertog, M. L., Lee, J., Buchanan, D. A., Leisso, R. S., Fei, Z., Qu, G., Giovannoni, J. J., Johnston, J. W., Schaffer, R. J., Nicolaï, B. M., Mattheis, J. P., Watkins, C. B., & Rudell, D. R. (2017). Delayed response to cold stress is characterized by successive metabolic shifts culminating in apple fruit peel necrosis. BMC Plant Biology. 17:77.
- Leisso, R. S., Gapper, N. E., Mattheis, J. P., Sullivan, N. L., Watkins, C. B., Giovannoni, J. J., Schaffer, R. J., , J. W., Hanrahan, I., Hertog, M. M., Nicolaï, B. M., & Rudell, D. R. (2016). Gene expression and metabolism preceding soft scald, a chilling injury of ‘Honeycrisp’ apple fruit. BMC Genomics. 17:798.
- Watkins, C. B. (2017). Advances in postharvest handling and storage of apples. p. 337-367 Achieving Sustainable Cultivation of Apples Evans, E (ed.), Burleigh Dodds Scientific Publishing, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
- Watkins, C. B. (2017). Post-harvest Physiology of Edible Plant Tissues. p. 1017-1085 Fennema’s Food Chemistry, Fifth Edition Srinivasan Damodaran, Kirk L. Parkin (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl United States .
- Watkins, C. B. (2016). 1-Methylcyclopropene (MCP). p. 83-88 The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks Kenneth C. Gross, Chien Yi Wang, and Mikal Saltveit (ed.), United States Department of Agriculture.
Awards & Honors
- Inducted into Alpha Zeta (2019)
- CALS Alumni Outstanding Faculty Award (2018)
- B.Y. Morrison Lecture invitee, American Society for Horticultural Science (2016)
- Fellow (2015) American Society for Horticultural Science
- Herman M. Cohn Professor of Horticulture (2013)
I regularly provide guest lectures for various academic courses, but I have no formal teaching component.
- PLHRT 9900: Doctoral Dissertation Research
- PLHRT 8900: Thesis Research, Master of Science
366 Roberts Hall
127 Plant Science
Ithaca, NY 14853
chris.watkins [at] cornell.edu
- Food Science and Technology
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey
- Master of Science
University of Auckland
- Bachelor of Science
University of Auckland
Christopher in the news
National 4-H Council awarded New York Gov. Kathy Hochul its Distinguished Alumni Medallion. Cornell Cooperative Extension runs the venerable youth program throughout the state.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
The Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA), a program that brings master’s students from sub-Saharan Africa to Cornell to complete doctorate degrees in horticulture, has now added a second assistantship for African Americans, with the goal of increasing diversity in the plant sciences – a field that lacks minority representation.
- Department of Global Development
- School of Integrative Plant Science
- Horticulture Section