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Research Orchards & Facilities (ROF) Endowment

This fund provides WSU Tree Fruit faculty and staff with facility upgrades, keeping our programs productive and responsive to industry needs.

Project Updates

Biosafety Level-2 Core Lab

Based at WSU’s Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Faith Critzer works to support the Washington tree fruit industry by closing gaps in our knowledge about how pathogenic bacteria spread, and sharing best practices with growers and packers.

The Research Orchards and Facilities Endowment enhanced Critzer’s efforts by providing funds to establish a stand-alone Biosafety Level-2 Core Laboratory. This facility helps deploy research-based strategies to keep harmful pathogens out of the fruit supply chain.

The facility received Biosafety Level-2 approval in the spring of 2019. Since then, several projects have begun which will benefit the tree fruit industry, including understanding prevalence and distribution of bacteria on food contact surfaces in apple packing facilities, changes in the apple microbiome throughout storage, and efficacy of irrigation water treatments.

WSU scientists stand together in the BL2 Core Lab
Studying pathogens to stop their spread, scientists at WSU’s BL2 Core Lab include Anjali Krishnan, Alexis Hamilton, Faith Critzer, Robyn Zaches, and Blanca Ruiz Llacsahuanga.
Tobin Northfield sits at microscope in the Entomology Integrated Pest Management Lab.
Entomologist Tobin Northfield’s program benefits from a remodel and upgrades to the IPM Lab.

Upgraded IPM Lab

The upgraded Entomology Integrated Pest Management Lab at Wenatchee helps scientist Tobin Northfield develop sustainable strategies to defeat devastating pests and diseases that threaten apple, pear, cherry, and other fruit crops.

Enhanced with a new roof, HVAC system, floor, ceiling, lighting, benches, and soon, new bench equipment, the improved facility enhances Northfield’s ability to train graduate students working on applied problems, and will enable cutting edge research in insect behavior and biocontrol to address industry needs and compete for external funding.

Newly Funded Project

Modernization Speeds Up Cherry Breeding Program

Thanks to upgrades at the Fruit Quality Lab and Cherry Breeding Greenhouse in Prosser, the ROF Endowment is helping scientist Per McCord accelerate the WSU cherry breeding program, increasing his capacity to test and identify promising new varieties.

The ROF Endowment provided funding in 2019 to equip the Fruit Quality Lab with a combination refractometer and titrator, which allows greater throughput, speed, and accuracy in analyzing flavor and storage quality.

Meanwhile, a remodel of the greenhouse is nearly complete. Funding replaced the decades-old electrical system with modern equipment that allows for proper lighting and temperature controls.

Per McCord sits with cherry tree soil samples.

Future Project

WSU refrigerated storage for fruit handling

Cold Storage and Fruit Handling

Refrigerated storage and fruit handling spaces are priority needs for scientists at the WSU TFREC in Wenatchee.

Cold storage is vital to keep fruit viable for experiments, and with the addition of Endowed Chair Carolina Torres and her postharvest research program, there is an increased demand for dedicated areas. The Center has embarked on a multi-phased expansion for these much-needed cold-storage and fruit handling facilities.

Funding from the ROF Endowment will be used to complete infrastructure changes necessary to support a significant increase of cold storage units planned for the near future.

Long Term Planning

Facilities and Infrastructure Concept Plan

WSU CAHNRS has drafted a forward-looking study of long-term facility needs at both the Wenatchee and Prosser Research & Extension Centers.

Existing facilities were inventoried and priority projects for each campus were identified. This concept plan, developed last fall, will guide future master planning, evolving as needs change and ensuring that WSU tree fruit research remains modern and strong to deliver valuable knowledge to the industry.

Tree Fruit Facilities & Infrastructure Program & Concept Plan front cover