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Source: Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Graphic by Jared Johnson/Good Fruit Grower

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) awarded almost $2.5 million for apple horticulture, crop protection and postharvest research in 2018.

Following its January Apple Research Review, the board voted to provide funding for 36 new and continuing research projects. The tables above list the projects approved for the 2018-19 funding cycle. These projects focus on a range of topics identified as priority research areas by the Washington apple industry, including apple breeding, orchard systems, pest management, postharvest decays, disorders and food safety.

Some of the projects were specifically funded to provide resources to address emerging issues in food safety: new tools that could be used for codling moth management in organic apple orchards; honey bee health; and extension and research activities to support the extensive new plantings of WA38, the new Washington State University apple variety to be sold under the brand name Cosmic Crisp.

Each of the specific projects funded are identified by the principal researcher and where they work, the title of the project, the proposed life of the project in years, and the funding provided in the current year. While total 2018 funding exceeds the apple research income from the 2017 crop, funding for many of these projects came from WTFRC strategic contingency funds to address high priority emerging topics where additional information is needed.

It is hoped that by providing these resources, the scientists on many of these projects will be able to leverage grower funds in seeking additional support from larger federal and state grant programs, such as the USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, among others.

Much of the work funded for this year is nearing completion, with harvest underway. Industry members who are interested in learning more about the continuing and final outcomes of the 2018 funded research should plan to attend the 2019 Apple Research Review to be held January 23-25 at the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee. Please contact Kathy Coffey at the WTFRC offices (509-665-8271) for more information regarding attending the review. •

—by Mike Willett

Willett is with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.