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By Blaine Friedlander
  • Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture
The Cornell Orchards Store – long a retail outlet for the university’s apples, fresh cider and other fruit grown at the Cornell Orchards, along Route 366 – will close Jan. 31.

Beyond that date, a return of the public retail portion of the orchards is uncertain, as the operation has been struggling financially for many years. Administrators from the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station in Ithaca are exploring options for future seasonal retail apple sales.

“Our robust Cornell Orchards research and outreach operation will continue serving the public and the Cornell community, as it has for decades,” said Jan Nyrop, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, which operates the orchards.

“There will be no pause in our apple sales to wholesalers,” Nyrop said. “We are currently exploring options for limited seasonal retail apple sales to begin after harvest this year.”

The Cornell Orchards Store opened in 1952. It has two full-time staff members as well as seasonal employees; the university is helping them to find new positions on campus.

The Cornell Orchards, established in 1910, produces about 10,000 bushels (210 tons) of apples. It will remain a research and extension operation, a “living laboratory” to support about 300 students with hands-on learning opportunities, who work on 10-15 faculty research projects for apples, grapes, stone fruits and berries in support of New York state’s fruit industry.

Some examples:

  • Greg Peck, assistant professor of horticulture, teaches a class on orchard management and uses the orchard to develop fruit production systems that deliver long-term economic and environmental viability of commercial tree fruit.
  • Chris Watkins, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and professor of horticulture, conducts research on extending the storage life of apples.
  • Justine Vanden Heuvel, associate professor of horticulture, teaches a class at the orchards on viticulture and conducts research on sustainable wine grape production systems in cool climates, and
  • Lailiang Cheng, professor of horticulture, examines fruit metabolism in apples and grapes, and how they respond to carbon and nitrogen.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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