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  • Cornell AgriTech
  • Agriculture
  • Food
  • Fruits
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Fowler Farms is a six generation family owned farm in Wolcott, New York, and the largest fresh apple producer in New York state. In total, the farm grows 30 different apple varieties, including several developed by Cornell on over 2,500 acres. We recently spoke with Austin Fowler, vice president of sales and marketing, to learn how Cornell AgriTech has supported the farm over the years.

How have Cornell AgriTech apple varieties impacted sales at Fowler Farms?

It's all about flavor and taste and Snapdragon and Ruby Frost really hit it out of the park. These Cornell AgriTech developed varieties have opened new markets for us. We’ve been able to ship to almost all 50 states. We also sell a fair amount of these varieties to those on the West Coast and in the Northwest, which is one of our largest competitor regions.

There’s also a marketing benefit to having Cornell apples. As soon as we tell customers an apple was developed by Cornell, they immediately say, “Oh, well it must be good!" There is definitely credibility associated with Cornell AgriTech developed apples.

What makes a good apple?

What people want in a good apple is flavor. [Good apples] really need sugar, thin skin and a lot of juice. When someone bites into an apple and says, "Oh, wow," you know it’s the perfect combination of those factors. There's a lot of apple varieties out there, especially some of the newer ones that really deliver on taste. As apple growers, we have a lot of competition in the produce aisle with berries, grapes and other fruit. It’s really important that Cornell AgriTech help us up our game with apple varieties that present that "wow" factor.

What has your interaction with Susan Brown been like?

I've been around our six generation family farm for almost all of my adult life. Throughout that period, we've had a really great relationship with Susan Brown. Year after year she puts in a lot of work to develop apples with the “wow” factor I’ve described. I know it takes her a tremendous amount of time and resources to do that. We appreciate what she does for us and that she’s always working with the New York apple industry.

What does success look like for the New York apple industry?

Success is to be recognized worldwide as a renowned region. We have one of the best growing micro-climates along the shores of Lake Ontario and several climates across the state that are unique in the world. We also have amazing apple varieties like Snapdragon and Ruby Frost that are attracting a lot of interest. Anytime the New York apple industry can be looked up to or envied by other growing regions is a form of success, and we’re well on our way.

Why is Cornell AgriTech research important to the future of the industry?

Cornell AgriTech is important for companies like ours and other growers because the future is unknown. What really helps is to have a partner that can help with managing new diseases and invasive species, growing new apple varieties and implementing new technologies. As an industry, we don't have the time, energy or resources to be experts like those at Cornell AgriTech. I think it's really important that the industry respect and take advantage of AgriTech’s expertise so that we can grow some of the best apples in the world.

Header image: Susan Brown, Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science, holds apple varieties she developed at Cornell AgriTech. Photo by Jason Koski

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