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Campus Area Farms

High tunnels at East Ithaca

Ithaca, NY
Campus Area Farms manages 325 acres on 11 small farms in and around the Cornell Campus that are easily accessible for faculty and students. Research includes breeding research on popular food crops, such as corn, small grains, potatoes and pumpkins. Researchers investigate possible genetic improvements that would make these crops more suitable for growing in New York and other comparable climates. One exciting new project is a multi-acre trial of different grasses dedicated to biofuels to see which are most adaptable to New York and other comparable climates.

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Research Highlights

  • Industrial hemp research trialsThe Industrial Hemp Research Project evaluates 17 different varieties of industrial hemp grown either for grain, fiber, or both, for their performance in New York state. A group of scientists evaluates the research crops for anything from disease resistance, yield, and how hemp would fit into cropping systems in the Northeast, to the plants' interactions with insects, and the kind of microbes that grow on hemp. A breeding program is working on establishing local seed production, to make it easier for New York farmers to obtain seeds within the state.
  • The Small Fruit Research Project is focused on developing sustainable production methods for berry crops. Unheated high and low tunnels are used to produce tender crops (e.g. blackberries) in colder climates, and to extend the season for strawberries and raspberries. This program also develops and tests agricultural practices that reduce damage from pests and manage weeds without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
  • Cornell’s Weed Science Teaching Garden features more than 100 of the Northeast’s most tenacious, and often frustrating plants know to farmers and gardeners, some reducing yields or spreading crop diseases. But sometimes weeds can also help restore depleted soil. While some are poisonous to humans or animals, others are not only safe to eat, but tasty and nutritious. The weed garden serves Cornell’s students from several majors, scientists, and agricultural professionals alike. It is open to the public. 
  • New biocontrol strategies are tested on a plantation of 120 young hemlock trees, for their effectiveness to combat hemlock woolly adelgid an invasive insect pest now killing hemlocks all over New York state. Hemlocks are a foundation species that creates new habitat, and protects gorges and watersheds. Finding effective biocontrol methods fast is essential for the survival of these giant trees and the species that depend on them.
  • The Small Grains Breeding & Genetics Research Program identifies superior genetic information in small grains such as oats, wheat, rye and barley. It aims to improve yield, nutritional quality, disease resistance, and other characteristics that increase the crop value and production efficiency.
  • The cucurbit breeding project produces cucumber, melon and squash varieties, as well as peppers for disease resistance, superior flavor and adaptation to the Northeaster US. This project is working with the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, which aims to develop and deliver improved vegetables varieties selected for superior performance in organic growing systems.
  • Another breeding project develops new potato varieties adapted to the Northeast that meet the ever-changing needs of the regional potato industry. Recent releases include 'Marcy', a high-yielding cultivar designed for making potato chips, 'Adirondack Red', a red-skinned, red-fleshed specialty variety, and 'Lehigh', a widely-adapted, scab-resistant, yellow-flesh line.
  • Research projects on tomatoes focus on breeding fresh market varieties for disease resistance, in particular early and late blight. Onion variety breeding focus on pest and disease resistance, in particular Botrytis leaf blight, which results in huge losses for onion growers.
  • The CALS Bioenergy Feedstock Project is devoted to exploring the many species of field grass that grow in the Northeast. The project researches warm- and cool-season perennial grass varieties, to provide farmers and producers with information on planting and managing grasses and other crops for feedstock and bioenergy.