Research highlights 2020

Cornell AgriTech research impact was felt broadly across New York state's food and agriculture industries last year. New fruit and vegetable varieties and discoveries in disease and pest management in 2020 will help shape the success of producers and processors for years to come. Exciting new research grants awarded last year will also enhance our ability to deliver innovative solutions to New York industries, which will help our state stand out as a global leader in food and agriculture.


Peer-reviewed papers in 2020


Peer-reviewed research citations to date for current faculty


Grants started in 2020 to begin ground-breaking research

Plant breeding successes

Our breeders are committed to releasing new varieties of fruits and vegetables that help ensure the continued prosperity of New York farms and food businesses. Our latest varieties will help growers expand offerings to consumers in an increasingly competitive market. These new varieties stand out for their superior flavor, texture, color, yields and ease to produce.

Cordera (NY 56)

"For us, disease resistance makes the performance of NY 56 stand out in our orchard.  Of course, it always comes down to flavor, and we think it has that too."

- Mark Bowker, orchard crop expert at Wegman’s organic farm

Pink Luster (NY 73)

"NY 73 has generated substantial interest at our orchard given how pleasingly different it is from the routine common list of apples. Some of the visitor comments we have heard are that it has beautiful color, medium to large size making it fun and easy to pick, wonderful mild tart flavor and very smooth enjoyable skin texture."


- John Halsey, owner of the Milk Pail in Southampton, New York

Firecracker (NY 109)

"Unique varieties like this help my orchard standout. I started testing this apple and the other new apples in my orchard because I wanted to offer something new, exciting tasting and visually appealing to my retail and u-pick customers."


- Keith O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Orchards in Lafayette, New York

"It’s a great introduction to life beyond the red tomato. It’s like a classic red tomato in terms of flavor, but there are brighter notes, especially if you let it sit on the vine. Then you get bright fruit flavors."

- Petra Page-Mann, co-owner of Fruition Seeds about the Cherry Ember tomato

Innovative research to support crop health

Our faculty worked across disciplines this past year to find innovative solutions for a wide range of disease, pest and crop production issues facing growers. Using the latest technologies, our faculty are helping farmers rise above these challenges.

Man looks at apples in an orchard.

Since 2013, a mysterious phenomenon has been killing apple trees across North America, leaving growers panicked and scientists bewildered. The phenomenon has been named rapid apple decline (RAD) for its sudden onset, which causes apple trees to quickly deteriorate and die. Two scientists from Cornell AgriTech are analyzing apple tree roots as a potential cause.

Hand holds white grub pests

Kyle Wickings, associate professor of entomology, is using acoustic technology to develop efficient and affordable ways to manage soil-dwelling pests — and prevent damage from the predators they attract. The new project will take place over 18 months in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, which has been one of Cornell’s long-standing partners for sustainable turfgrass research.

An organic soybean field

Organic field crop farmers in the Northeast and Upper Midwest are facing an increasing number of challenges related to more extreme weather events and pest and disease outbreaks. Sarah Pethybridge, associate professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology, will examine how the rolled-crimped rye system impacts the management of white mold, a disease that commonly affects organic soybeans.

Man drives tractor

Like most plants, proper nutrient uptake is critical to vine health and fruit yield. But identifying deficiencies in nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and other key nutrients is a challenging, labor-intensive and expensive process for vineyard managers. Terry Bates, senior research associate at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory, and Justine Vanden Heuvel, professor of horticulture, are developing more innovative measuring mechanisms to help growers improve vineyard nutrition.

Exclusion netting system over berries.

The infestation rate of spotted winged drosophila is greater in late-season berries, such as blueberries and fall raspberries, resulting in many New York state growers not wanting to grow late-season berry plantings. Research from Greg Loeb, professor of entomology, indicates that exclusion netting might be a viable control mechanism.

An image of Earth.

A multidisciplinary, Cornell-led team of scientists has been selected for a $750,000 NASA grant to combine their expertise in remote sensing, climate and earth system computer modeling, plant pathology and genomics to better understand how plant pathogens that travel the globe with dust particles might put crops at risk, especially in places where people struggle to eat.