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John Carter crowned king

The Dalles, Oregon, cherry grower John Carter was named 2010 Cherry King during the annual Cherry Institute meeting held in Yakima, Washington. Carter was the 67th king to be crowned by the institute.

Rick Derrey, who presented the award, said that Carter’s interest and involvement in cherry research is legendary. Carter has been credited for helping restart the cherry breeding program of Washington State University and has been an advocate for the cherry rootstock program at Michigan State ­University.

Carter moved from southern California to The Dalles in the mid-1970s after purchasing an 80-acre cherry orchard. With an engineering background, the novice farmer watched his neighbors, sought advice from extension agents, and applied his science training to fruit production. Today, he farms 350 acres of cherries and apples.

He’s been active and held leadership positions in many industry organizations, including the Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission, the commission’s research committee, the Oregon Cherry Growers Cooperative, National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation, and Oregon Horticultural Society, to name a few.

Carter was named Grower of the Year by Good Fruit Grower magazine in December during the Washington State ­Horticultural Association’s annual meeting.

Pear Bureau staff change

Dennis James, director of marketing at the Pear Bureau Northwest, has left his job to take a brief break in his career before seeking new challenges.

James joined the Pear Bureau staff in 2001 and modernized the domestic marketing program for Northwest pears, according to information from the Pear Bureau. He introduced an in-house data system to provide category analysis for customized retail programs and encouraged retailers to carry more varieties of pears and display them more prominently.

Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau president, said James instituted dramatic changes to the domestic pear promotion program that will be beneficial to the pear industry in years to come. James left the bureau in late January.

Michigan fruit grower Ben Lacross wins national office

Michigan fruit grower Ben LaCross of Cedar has been elected chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. The committee helps Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 learn more about agriculture, network with other young farmers, and become future leaders in agriculture and Farm Bureau.

LaCross, 32, took over as chair of the 16-member national committee in February, serving a one-year term. He was elected during the American Farm Bureau’s national convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

The second-generation farmer, his wife, Kelsey, two young children, and his parents grow tart cherries, sweet cherries, and plums on 700 acres, primarily in Leelanau County, near Traverse City. They also own and operate Leelanau Fruit Company, which processes cherries, plums, strawberries, and peaches. Ben and Kelsey also operate a 40-acre apple orchard.

Clark recognized for fruit breeding work

University of Arkansas fruit breeder Dr. John R. Clark has received the Spitze Land Grant University Faculty Award for Excellence.

Clark, who has directed the fruit breeding program at the university’s fruit substation at Clarksville, Arkansas, since 1983, works with peaches, grapes, nectarines, blueberries, and muscadines, but is best known for his work with blackberries. He has developed and codeveloped, with his predecessor, Dr. James Moore, 36 fruit cultivars, 26 of them patented. Arkansas-bred blackberries are grown across North America and in other ­countries.

Clark released the first primocane-fruiting blackberry varieties, Prime-Jim and Prime-Jan (named after Jim and Jan Moore) and Prime-Ark, as well as a long series of floricane-fruiting and thornless varieties named after Native American Indian tribes.

He has released several varieties of fresh-market freestone peaches, processing cling peaches, nectarines, table grapes, and blueberries. In 2009, he released two new white-fleshed peach varieties, White Diamond and White Cloud.

Clark was president of the American Society for Horticultural Science in 2009. He has published many research publications and is widely recognized for his work with university intellectual property rights and licensing agreements.

The award is given annually to one University of Arkansas tenured faculty member with more than ten years of ­service, and includes an unrestricted cash award of $6,500 from a fund established by Robert G.F. Spitze and the late Hazel Taylor Spitze. It was first given in 1995—to James Moore. Similar Spitze awards programs exist at some other land-grant ­universities.