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Apple Blossom Queen Margaret Robinson presented a plaque to WSU Extension Educator Tim Smith when he was named Apple Citizen of the Year 2010.

Apple Blossom Queen Margaret Robinson presented a plaque to WSU Extension Educator Tim Smith when he was named Apple Citizen of the Year 2010.

Tim Smith is Apple Citizen of the Year

Tim Smith, a Washington State University Extension educator for the past 25 years, has been named Apple Citizen of the Year 2010 by the tree fruit industry of north ­central ­Washington.

The Apple Citizen of the Year award was started in 1981 to honor the roots of Wenatchee’s Apple Blossom Festival and the leaders that helped the district claim the title of the Apple Capital of the World. The late Grady Auvil was the first recipient.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in biology from Eastern Oregon University and a master’s degree, magna cum laude, in plant pathology from WSU. He began his career as Extension agent for Grant and Adams counties from 1975 to 1982 and has been extension educator for Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties since 1982. He has earned wide recognition for his work on fireblight, replant ­disease, and cherry fruit fly control.

Kirk Mayer, manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, said Smith has outstanding rapport with fruit growers and they depend on his unbiased advice. “I think there’d be a lot of growers in this area who would not be in business without his education, research, and outreach efforts,” Mayer said. “He’s saved the industry millions of dollars.”

In March, Smith received the prestigious Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Outreach and Engagement from WSU for his dedication to helping growers in ­Washington.

Smith said he was honored to receive awards from both his peers at the university and from the industry. Smith will ride in the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival Grand Parade on May 1.

Peach genome released

An international team of scientists has released the peach genome sequence, ahead of schedule. This resource makes development of peaches, and other tree fruits, with enhanced flavor and disease resistance more feasible.

This is the first genome completed for crops in the Rosaceae family, which include apples, pears, cherries, and plums. The data that comprise the peach genome are housed at Washington State University on the Genome Database for Rosaceae (, a Web site funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Having access to even a piece of the genome sequence can save researchers years of work, Dr. Dorrie Main, WSU bioinformaticist, said in a press release from the university. She has been working on the peach genome project since 2001 while at Clemson University, South Carolina. Making the data publicly available means that scientists working to identify the genes controlling important traits in peach or other Rosaceous plants will be able to use and refine the information immediately.

WSU sweet cherry breeder Dr. Nnadozie Oraguzie said the information will be of immediate value in his breeding program and allow him to make faster progress in ­developing superior cherry varieties for Washington and Oregon growers.

The International Peach Genome Initiative involves scientists in Italy, Spain, Chile, and the United States. Sequencing was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute and the Italian government. North Carolina State University was involved, along with Clemson and WSU.