FAB FRUIT: The thousands of trees at Cornell University's research orchard are tended for a single goal: to grow apples with just the right mix of sweetness, tartness and crunch.

FAB FRUIT: The thousands of trees at Cornell University's research orchard are tended for a single goal: to grow apples with just the right mix of sweetness, tartness and crunch.

APPLE 2.0: The orchards, part of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, are essentially a 50-acre lab devoted to developing apples. The station has released 66 apple varieties over more than a century including Cortland, Macoun and two new entries at farm markets this fall: SnapDragon and RubyFrost.

OLD IS NEW: The researchers here have access to cutting-edge technology, but the mechanics of their breeding work is similar to what their counterparts have done for generations. Pollen is collected from unopened blossoms and applied to female parts of another tree's flower. It can take four years before a seedling produces fruit ready for tasting.