October 14, 2014

The Scientist: Prof. Chris Watkins Keeps Apples Fresh, Heads CCE

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By CAMILLE WANG

Nowadays, one can walk into the local Wegmans to find dozens of Honeycrisp apples piled in boxes, enticing shoppers with its red-golden skin and sweet, juicy flavor. One may also find delicious Cornell-bred varieties such as the Snapdragon and Rubyfrost, which were released last year. Prof. Chris Watkins, horticulture, studies new and innovative ways of maintaining the flavor and texture of the new apples that consumers love so much.

While his work spans many fruits and vegetables, Watkins said he primarily focuses his research on improving the maintenance and storage of apples, primarily due to the size of the New York apple industry. Honeycrisp apples, for example, have many issues in their delivery to consumers – they are hard to grow, have many storage issues, and are sensitive to browning, Watkins said. But the consumers have spoken, and thus it is up to the growers and researchers such as Watkins to provide the quality buyers are looking for, he said.

Abhishek Shah / Sun File PhotoHappy fruit | Honeycrisp apples, for sale in the Cornell Orchards’ retail store, are more difficult to grow and more sensitive to browning, according to Prof. Chris Watkins, horticulture. Watkins researches ways to improve apple storage methods.

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