The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) dedicated the agency’s new state-of-the-art greenhouse, built to support the state’s tree fruit industry, at a ribbon cutting ceremony May 11 in Prosser.
“We now have a modern greenhouse that will make it easier to protect the fruit tree industry from virus diseases,” WSDA Director Derek Sandison said. “This larger greenhouse, with its automated features, improved temperature controls and watering system, will give us an increased capacity to test registered mother trees at a rate greater than we’ve been able to do in the past.”
The greenhouse, which measures about 156 feet by 30 feet, is located at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (WSU-IAREC). The greenhouse is nearly 4,800 square feet and is built on 7.5 acres leased from WSU.
It includes three separate growing bays with individual temperature controls that better duplicate temperature ranges where fruit tree viruses can thrive. This makes symptoms readily discernable, increasing the effectiveness of virus indexing. The facility also features work areas for potting and a walk-in cooler. A separate storage building houses equipment.
It replaces a smaller, traditional, WSU-owned greenhouse that had minimal temperature control and was used by WSDA staff for decades.
The Fruit Tree Planting Stock Certification Program has nearly 35,000 registered mother trees that serve as a source for the propagation of trees that will provide millions of high quality trees to the tree fruit industry each year. The trees are grown by WSDA-certified nurseries that acquire stock from the Clean Plant Center- Northwest, also located at WSU’s IAREC, which is part of the National Clean Plant Network. It is one of only three clean plant centers for fruit trees in the U.S.
Washington fruit trees are sold worldwide. Producing nursery trees free of viruses is key to the success of Washington’s fruit trees, including apple, pear and cherry industries. Viruses can reduce yields, affect fruit quality and impact trade.
Construction of the greenhouse and installation of specialized equipment took more than two years to complete. The project cost $750,000 using funds provided through assessments on nurseries that sell Washington-grown fruit trees.
Fruit tree nursery growers and representatives from WSU and WSDA attended the dedication.
The new greenhouse is located at 24106 N. Bunn Rd., Prosser, on the WSU IAREC site.