WSU to Plant New Research Orchard Today through Friday

WENATCHEE, Wash. – Literally thousands of young fruit trees will be planted at the new Washington State University research orchard near the Palisades Road southeast of Wenatchee on Highway 28 Wednesday through Friday.

Map Showing Location of New WSU Tree Fruit Research Orchard
Map Showing Location of New WSU Tree Fruit Research Orchard. Click image for a larger version

Media are welcome to cover the plantings beginning this afternoon and should contact Jay Brunner, director of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center here, to make arrangements.

Washington nurseries, including VanWell, C&O and Columbia Basin Nursery, donated all of the trees. Similarly, local growers and businesses have donated equipment needed for the planting.

WSU employees, members and staff of the Washington State Tree Fruit Commission as well as hired local labor will plant as many as 7,000 trees today and several thousand more Thursday and Friday.

The first planting will be of a 5-acre, general apple horticulture research block. It will be composed of Granny Smith variety apples and will be planted as a high density block of 1,400 trees per acres.

A second, 2-acre block is designed to facilitate research on the epidemiology of plant pathogens in apples. It also will be planted as a high density block, but one acre will be planted with Fuji apples, the other with Red Delicious.

Other additional blocks for the study of insect pest control – including apple, pear and a small cherry block – will be planted later in the week. Brunner said that, in some cases, the trees will be useful for research by next year. However, the majority will require three years of growth before they bear enough fruit for research plots.

The WSU Board of Trustees approved the purchase of Sunrise Orchards in March 2006. Because of encroaching housing development, the university sold 70 of its 100 acres in Wenatchee to the Wenatchee School District three years ago. The school district bought the land for future expansion, so WSU has been able to maintain its research orchard here.

The WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center office, labs and shop will remain on the 30 acres still owned by WSU in Wenatchee. The new site includes 150 acres of orchard property, 20 acres of highway frontage and 137 acres of undeveloped land.

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