Everest Seedless grapes

Big Red Berries (and Grapes and Apples and Tomatoes and Cukes …)

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Take a tasty tour through the produce aisle with a cornucopia of Cornell-created fruits and veggies

By Lindsay Lennon

With hundreds of acres of test plots, orchards, and vineyards, Cornell has nurtured the development of more than 250 varieties of fruits and veggies since 1880, with more added to the list each year.

Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell AgriTech (formerly the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station) have created some of the most recognizable and unique varieties of produce on the market.

With many breeds widely adopted by growers, it’s possible some of your favorite foods—whether you enjoyed them in your wineglass last night or picked them off a tree last fall—were made by Big Red scientists.

Here’s a sampling of those Cornell-created comestibles:


More than five dozen varieties of New York’s signature fruit were created at Cornell—and even the most casual apple lovers likely recognize their names.

Empire, among the most popular, is a sweet-and-tart cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious.

There's also juicy Jonagold, honey-like with a tinge of tartness; RubyFrost, with a crisp texture and well-balanced flavor; and the extra sweet and crunchy Snapdragon, so flavorful it could stand in for dessert.

RubyFrost apples
RubyFrosts, ready for picking.


Over the last century, AgriTech has developed nearly 60 varieties of table, wine, and juice grapes.

Among the biggest head-turners are the sweet, plump Everest Seedless (seen in the top photo, above)—a blue table variety from 2018—which packs the fragrant, jam-like flavor of a Concord into each juicy bite without the dreaded seeds.

For traditionalists, the white Marquis created in the 1960s boasts a thick skin, spherical shape, and those eye-catching cascading clusters that are irresistible to pluck. On the vino side, Cornell has developed a slew of wine grapes, including a recent addition from CALS Professor Bruce Reisch ’76: Aravelle, a Riesling-Cayuga White hybrid 42 years in the making.


Red strawberries
Dickens strawberries.

With the oldest berry breeding program in the country, Cornell continues to create new varieties of nature’s candy.

In 2018, the bright red Dickens breed of strawberries—named for its ability to “yield like the Dickens,” says its creator, CALS professor Courtney Weber—was released; it boasts a peak-summer taste and just the right amount of firmness, perfect for snacking and preserves alike.


Also in 2018, Weber announced the fall-bearing Crimson Treasure raspberry, which is larger and maintains peak flavor longer than regional rivals. It’s the third in a series, following the vivid magenta Crimson Giant and the dark-and-weighty Crimson Night.

A person touching a raspberry plant
Crimson Treasure raspberries.


Cornell’s cherry breeding program has released an array of these pop-in-your-mouth stone fruits. A dozen of them are of the sweet variety—including the Royalton, known for its delicious taste and deep purple skin, and (our clear favorite) the Cornelian, a red, olive-shaped fruit great for jellies and tarts, and also for flavoring sherbets and distilled spirits.


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It’s no accident that you can almost always find a crisp, unblemished cucumber at the store—and in large part, you have Cornell scientists to thank for it.

A corinto cucumber
Corinto cukes.

Most cukes are purchased for fresh consumption—and they provide extremely high yields in short harvests, both outdoors and in greenhouses.

So Cornell breeders have developed a slew of varieties to help growers maximize their potential.

They include the popular Marketmore; the compact Spacemaster; and the disease-resistant Corinto, which is also tolerant of heat and cold.

In fact, most U.S. slicing cucumbers stem from a program headed by renowned vegetable breeder and longtime crops professor Henry Munger ’36, PhD ’41 (as his Cornell Chronicle obituary noted)—so, whether you’re cutting them up for crudité or shredding them into a tzatziki sauce, the cukes in your crisper drawer may have a Cornellian relative.


The names of some of the tomatoes bred at Cornell are as dreamy as their distinct flavors and vibrant colors.

Buckets of different colored grape tomatoes
Galaxy Suite grape tomatoes.

The Galaxy Suite of organic grape tomato varieties includes Starlight, a yellow fingerling; Midnight Pear, a dark purple variety; and the cosmically marbled-and-striped Supernova. Their creator, plant breeding and genetics professor Phillip Griffiths, lauds their shelf life and high growth yield for farmers.

Hannah's Choice melon
Hannah’s Choice melon.


Four Cornellian melons have made their way to market over the decades.

Fans of this juicy, palate-cleansing fruit family can obtain these Big Red-born seeds from a variety of vendors for home growing.

Hannah’s Choice, a deep orange muskmelon hybrid, is bursting with melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

Trifecta, a sweet and firm variety, is great for slicing, cubing, or scooping into balls for fruit salad.


Several varieties of this sweet-and-sour stone fruit have Big Red origins, including a quartet released in 2005: the winy, mildly astringent Blues Jam; Geneva, part of the Mirabelle plum family, which is widely used in France and Germany for brandies, compotes, and preserves; Jam Session, a well-balanced blue plum with yellow-green flesh; and the elegant, flavorful Rosy Gage.


Habanada peppers
Habanada peppers.

In 2015, Cornell released the Habanada—what its creator, CALS professor Michael Mazourek, PhD ’08, calls the first truly heatless habanero pepper. With a thin, crispy skin and bright floral flavor, the Habanada was Mazourek’s attempt at creating a version of this traditionally fiery breed for friends who are averse to spicy foods.

Other Cornell-bred peppers include the Peacework, a sweet and flavorful red bell variety that produces early in the growing season.


Cornell has created about 50 varieties of the starchy veggie—and they come in various colors of the rainbow.

Among the most striking in appearance is the Adirondack Blue.

Optimally bred for New York growing conditions, it boasts shiny cobalt skin (and succulent flesh to match), with a rich, earthy taste that’s great for every preparation, from mashing to grilling.

Adirondack Blue potatoes
Adirondack Blue potatoes.

Its companion, the Adirondack Red, has swirled pink flesh and moist texture that’s great for potato salad—but truly shines when roasted with spices and a drizzle of oil.

Top: Everest Seedless grapes. All photos provided.

Published May 22, 2023


  1. Trace Adkins, Class of 1982

    What hasn’t Cornell done?! And things that benefit the world!

  2. Jona Gold, Class of 1900

    Yeah, take that Harvard Economists, whose ill-laid plans gets us into a recession, while taking a break with a Jonagold!

  3. Elizabeth D Lynch, Class of 1990

    It would be so cool if Cornell offered a sampler seed packet or a way to grow some of their creations. I would buy them!

  4. Linda Burton

    We are proud of these wonderful varieties, especially Ruby Frost and Snapdragon apples! They are always in our refrigerator as long as they are available in our grocery store. Please advise us how we might purchase the strawberries, raspberries, and plums. Now, if you could only produce a tasty, late blight resistant tomato that actually has that old-fashioned tomato taste and yields well! Cornell breeds for late blight resistance, but the tomatoes have mediocre flavor.

  5. Ginny Sieben, Class of 1994

    Hmmmm…. What about the orange/yellow cauliflower, which DNA David Garvin isolated in the 1990s? Keep up the great work all you university scientists!

  6. Ron Laby, Class of 1997

    In the cherry section is cornelian “cherry”, a type of dogwood, being confused with the stone fruit (or am I the confused one 😀)?

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