Washington State University has hired two new researchers — a cherry breeder and an entomologist — to support the tree fruit industry.

Per McCord is tentatively scheduled to start April 1 as the new cherry breeder at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, where he will lead the university’s stone fruit breeding and genetics program with the goal of developing new sweet cherry cultivars for the Northwest. He will replace Nnadozie Oraguzie, who stepped down in early 2016.

McCord has been a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s sugarcane variety development program in Canal Point, Florida. He also has experience with alfalfa and potato genetics. His sugarcane expertise will transfer well to tree fruit, said Rich Koenig, interim chair of WSU’s Horticulture Department.

Meanwhile, the university also has hired tree fruit entomologist Tobin Northfield to focus on IPM research at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

Tobin Northfield. James Cook University photo

Northfield, who earned his Ph.D. at Washington State University, currently is a senior lecturer at James Cook University in Australia where he works in insect biodiversity and pest management in cacao fruit.

Northfield roughly fills a slot vacated by Jay Brunner’s retirement, said Vince Jones, also a WSU entomologist in Wenatchee and chair of the search committee. Northfield is scheduled to start sometime late this summer.

A photo of Per McCord was not immediately available.