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WSU Publishes Prosser Station History

PROSSER, Wash. — Research accomplishments of the first 85 years of Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center near here are reported in a new booklet written by Ed Proebsting, horticulturist emeritus who worked 42 years at the station.

“A History of Accomplishment: Agriculture’s Implicit Partnership With WSU – Prosser” isn’t a scholarly work. Rather, Proebsting said it is intended to be read by the public. It draws heavily upon the memories of 26 present and former IAREC scientists who worked at the station during the latter half of the 20th century.

The station began with legislative authorization in 1917 and planted its first crops in 1919.

Proebsting credits risk-taking entrepreneurs in agriculture for taking research results and making them work in commerce.

The resulting synergy between research and application of results to commercial agriculture shaped Washington’s irrigated agriculture, which today is a vital part of the state’s economy.

Among topics treated are:

  • Development of Washington’s premium viticulture and wine industry.
  • Helping establish Washington’s frozen apple juice concentrate industry.
  • Introduction of the Rainier cherry as part of IAREC’s 40-year breeding program.
  • Revolution of the state’s Hop culture through selection of more productive clones that matured over several weeks, and development of virus-free plants from these clones.
  • Research on virus-free fruit trees going back to he 1940s has made IAREC a world leader in the technology for establishing and maintaining virus-free fruit trees.
  • Introduction of a spectrum of natural enemies of the Russian wheat aphid has controlled the pest, which had cost farmers up to $10 million a year.
  • Earlier maturing dry bean varieties with shorter vines and resistance to virus and root rot dominated production in Washington, other Northwest states, the West, Middle West and Canada for many years.
  • Weed, insect, nematodes and disease research on a broad variety of crops benefits Washington’s agricultural economy.
  • A vast amount of research has improved irrigation technology, helping the desert to bloom with more than 150 commercial crops.

The 56-page booklet can be ordered from Director, WSU-Prosser, 24106 N. Bunn Rd., Prosser, WA 99350-8694. The cost is $3.00 plus $1.30 shipping.

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