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Scholarships, Sunburn, Garden

Posted by | June 6, 2007

Did You Know?

Seven students majoring in organic agriculture at WSU have been selected as the first recipients of the Pacific Natural Foods Organic Agriculture Scholarship, the first scholarship dedicated to the new organic agriculture systems major at the university. The students each received scholarships awards of just over $1,400. The scholarships were made possible by a $10,000 donation from Pacific Natural Foods to WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences in 2006. The Tualatin, Ore., firm manufactures natural foods sold nationwide in mainstream grocery and natural food stores.

For more information about organic ag education at WSU, please visit:

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

The Sunburn Doctor Is In

“Sunburn of apple,” says WSU horticulturist Larry Schrader, “costs growers millions of dollars annually.” While solar radiation causes burning in both fruit and humans, fruit is also susceptible to high air temperature burning.

Growers have long been using water as their frontline defense against sunburn. Since heat causes burning, evaporative cooling caused by over-trellis misting knocks the heat out of the burning loop.

“The problem is,” Schrader said, “growers don’t know when to turn on the irrigation or when to turn it off.” As a result, most growers are using more water than they need to and still may not prevent sunburn.

Enter the sunburn doctor with the fruit-surface temperature sensor. Schrader calls the device an “artificial apple” and, placed in an orchard, the sensor provides an accurate estimate of the surface temperature of sun-baking fruit.

“It took some time to develop just the right color and the right contents to do that. The prototype is very close to a real apple surface,” Schrader said.

The sensor informs growers about when to apply RAYNOX, a sunscreen for apples developed by Schrader, or turn on the evaporative cooling. Growers get more pack-out per acre and use less water. “It’s a win-win for the water side and the fruit side,” said Schrader.

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Top: Larry Schrader holds a prototype of the fruit-surface temperature sensor. Bottom: Organic orchardist Ray Fuller says the sensor “answers a problem for industry in a way I can put dollars and cents to.”

Students to Design, Build Display Garden

Thousands of students have passed through the trio of greenhouses built in 1951 and situated on Wilson Road. This week, the venerable greenhouses were torn down.

Gone—but not without a trace. At the suggestion of recently retired WSU President V. Lane Rawlins, the two-thirds-acre site of the old greenhouses will be reused as a Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Display Garden. Phil Waite, associate professor of landscape architecture, is heading up the project.

“The design of the garden will be focused on keeping some of the history of the previous users of the site in place,” Waite said. “This way, the thousands of alumni who worked or took classes in the greenhouses will have a place they can come back to that leaves a record of their history in the new use.”

Waite and his students will design and build the display garden over the course of the next four or five years. While Waite has created conceptual plans that elegantly fill the site, it’ll be up to students to create working designs—and to build from those plans. “Horticulture and landscape architecture students from four different courses will be directly responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of the garden,” Waite said.

For a longer version of this story, including conceptual drawings by Phil Waite, please visit:

Even as the old greenhouses were being carefully removed (some of the material will be recycled into the display garden), new greenhouses were being built across the street from Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe.