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2022 WA Tree Fruit Research Commission Grant Awards for Cherry

Date: January 2022

Authors: Paige Beuhler and Ines Hanrahan

For 2022, the WA Tree Fruit Research Commission approved $701,654 to help fund ten (10) new projects. The Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission (OSCC) is co-funding nine (9) projects at 35% of the total funding request. The Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute (NNII) contributed $80,000 to a total of four (4) projects.

2022 New Cherry Project Details:

Project Title: Developing a Leafhopper Degree-day Spray Program for Cherry IPM

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): Nottingham, L.; Northfield, T.; Adams, C.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $242,873

Length: 3 years

The project aims to develop degree-day phenology models for C. reductus, and any other leafhopper vectors found in high enough abundances, to develop more precise spray timings. Models will allow growers to time sprays to target nymphs, thus killing the insect before it becomes capable of vectoring the phytoplasma. Adult phenology curves will allow management advisors to recommend sprays at timings prior to adult development, thus targeting the more susceptible nymph stage while preventing the more dangerous adult stage. In addition, the team will continue insecticide screening to improve product recommendations corresponding to timings. Therefore, this project will enhance growers’ spray precision and material choices, which will improve efficacy, reduce spray costs, slow the rate of resistance, and advance our overall understanding of leafhopper biology. The team aims to have the degree day models available both on DAS, for real-time tracking, and through the Tree Fruit extension website for free.

Project Title: Canine LCD Detection Skills Applied to Nursery and Orchard Settings

Organization (s): Wenatchee Kennel Club, Washington State University

PI (s): Pheasant, L.; Serban, C.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $45,500

Length: 1 Year

The Wenatchee Kennel Club (WKC) will train six to eight LCD detection dog/handler teams to increase detection proficiencies and to facilitate the transition to field environments. As a control, eight to ten LCD detection dog/handler teams in Idaho will continue training in parallel with WKC. This project aims to provide a structured integration of LCD detection dogs into the nursery and orchard settings using the following sequence: (1) Increase LCD detection proficiencies in controlled indoor/outdoor settings (2) Develop next-step training protocols to facilitate transition into field experience (3) Provide introductory field experiences to enhance LCD detection dog confidence and skill (4) Improve sample management and analysis (5) Provide education and extension on “Canine LCD Detection Skills.”

Project Title: Sweet Cherry Bud Cold Hardiness Model

Organization (s): Oregon State University, Washington State University, WSU AgWeatherNet

PI (s): Galimba, K.; Hoheisel, G.; Khot, L.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $87,341

Length: 1 Year

The goal of this project is to replicate the data collection performed in 2020-2021 to improve and validate the constructed models. By the conclusion of this project, growers will have access to cold hardiness models for the four cultivars on AgWeatherNet and will have characterizations of both how accurate the models are, and how they could potentially improve with more data collections in the future. The following tasks will be performed in 2022:

-Gather an additional season of weekly phenology and lethal temperature data using Bing, Chelan, Sweetheart, and Regina buds gathered in Washington and Oregon to improve the current model.

-Make the sweet cherry cold hardiness models publicly available on AgWeatherNet and update them with 2021-2022 data.

– Quantify the uncertainty in the model after the two years of data collection, validate the model, and predict if and how additional collections would improve model accuracy.

Project Title: Physiology-Based Identification of X-Disease Infected Cherry Trees.

Organization (s): Oregon State University, Washington State University, WSU AgWeatherNet

PI (s): Galimba, K.; Thompson, A.; Serban, C.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $106,672

Length: 3 Years

This project aims to develop a physiology-based assay of detecting x-disease in cherry trees using leaf starch accumulation as an indicator. It will first characterize the degree of leaf starch content changes in sweet cherry trees with verified Candidatus P. Pruni infections (both established and new), using lab-based methods. Then, scientists will identify accurate, efficient procedures to test leaf starch content in a field setting, by comparing methods such as iodine tests and spectroscopy. The team also plans to explore other potential physiology-based methods for identification to determine if any of them can be developed further as X-disease identification tools.

Project Title: Towards Identification of LCD Linked Volatile Biomarker

Organization (s): Washington State University, USDA-ARS Wenatchee

PI (s): Khot, L.; Harper, S.; Serban, C.; Rudell, D.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $162,551

Length: 2 Years

This is a continuation of the 2020-21 funded project that explored the feasibility of a portable field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) to screen infected and uninfected cherry trees sampled plant parts, i.e., limb, leaves, stem, fruits; of the highly susceptible ‘Bing’ cultivar at different growth stages to identify potential volatile biomarker release and associated detection of X-disease and/or LCD infection.


  1. Volatile biomarker-based early X-disease and LCD infection detection for ‘Bing’ and ‘Skeena’ cultivars using FAIMS technique.
  2. Develop a comprehensive understanding of the associated volatile biomarkers release using CG/MS technique, and
  3. Conduct pertinent extension education and technology demonstrations.

Project Title: Studying the Infection Progression of LCD Pathogens in Young Trees.

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): Harper, S.; Shires, M.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $127,673

Length: 2 Years

This project will study infection progression in young trees using all available genotypes of the three pathogens, both singly and in mixed infections, in contained greenhouse conditions. It aims to measure pathogen accumulation throughout the plants over time and observe the effects of single and mixed infections on plant vigor and growth. This data will allow the team to define the risks to young trees, aid the development of early detection tools, and give growers a greater understanding of the risks and needs for active management in young plantings and in the nursery environment.


  1. Determine how rapidly diverse isolates of LChV-1, LChV-2, and/or the X-disease phytoplasma can infect young trees and establish a systemic infection after inoculation.
  2. Determine the effect of coinfection with LChV-1, LChV-2, and/or the X-disease phytoplasma on infection progression and plant health.

Project Title: Dispersive Distance of Cherry X-Disease Vector Leafhoppers Within Managed Sweet Cherry Orchards

Organization (s): Oregon State University

PI (s): Adams, C.; Galimba, K.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $68,541

Length: 3 Years

This project will develop methods for consistently marking vector leafhoppers that does not impede movement and allow for positive identification upon recapture. Also, scientists will describe dispersive distance and rate of movement over time of key leafhopper vector species, within cherry orchards and will determine the rate of movement relative to prevailing wind direction and outside orchard habitat.

This knowledge will help inform the risk of spread from infective trees, and the risk from insects outside the managed orchard.

Project Title: A Robust PNW Sweet Cherry Breeding and Genetics Program

Organization (s): Washington State University, Oregon State University

PI (s): McCord, P.; Galimba, K.; Peace, C.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $568,335

Length: 3 Years

The sweet cherry breeding and genetics program in Prosser, WA, serves as an important source of sweet cherry varieties for the Pacific Northwest. Since the re-launch of the program in 2018, significant improvements have been made. The infrastructure of the breeding program has been expanded with a new molecular lab, new equipment for fruit quality analysis, expanded greenhouse space, and a hoop-house for making crosses. The breeding pipeline has been re-started in earnest. The majority of seed produced is from bi-parental crosses targeting industry-relevant traits, and embryo rescue has been successfully implemented for early ripening and interspecific crosses. More than 4,000 new seedlings (Phase 1/P1) have been planted over the past three years. Five new selections have been planted in replicated and randomized Phase 2 (P2) trials at Prosser, Pasco, and Hood River, and three selections have been advanced to on-farm Phase 3 (P3) trials for pre-commercial evaluation.

Continued support from the WTFRC and OSCC will allow Dr. McCord, co-PIs, and cooperators to strengthen the program by conducting further rigorous and accurate evaluation of new selections, including protocol development and deployment of an externally funded optical sorter for fruit grading. One important element of evaluating new selections is testing the effects of plant growth regulators (PGRs).

This support will also allow for necessary increases in the numbers of targeted crosses, viable seeds, and seedlings transplanted to the field following DNA testing. Finally, the requested funds will support proper maintenance of program orchards to ensure that the trees are healthy, and that data is relevant and robust. These efforts are expected to result in more regular releases of truly superior sweet cherry varieties for Pacific Northwest growers.

Project Title: SWD In-Orchard Movement and Overwintering Population Dynamics

Organization (s): Oregon State University

PI (s): Adams, C.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $127,343

Preliminary data suggest that post-harvest SWD populations continue to build within the orchard through October and November, into the 10s of thousands once weekly sprays have stopped. Understanding the population dynamics and overwintering habits of SWD populations in the PNW is critical to successful management practices. For example, if flies leave the orchard and immigrate back into orchards in the spring when fruit begins to ripen, protecting only the borders with early-season sprays might be a way to reduce pesticide costs. However, if SWD remains in the orchard all season then a late-season spray or an attractive bait like GF-120 applied in October when other food sources are scarce, might eliminate overwintering populations completely. In addition, certain microclimates or niche habitats within an orchard may be providing refuge for overwintering populations.


  1. Expand preliminary overwintering trapping data to include more orchards with variable border habitats. (Year 1)
  2. Correlate terrain, vegetation, and microclimate temperature data with trap counts to determine if specific in-orchard habitats are more favorable to overwintering SWD. (Year 2 & 3)
  3. Determine if overwintering SWD can be targeted with off-season sprays or attractive baits. (Year 3)

Project Title: Experimental Orchard for X-Disease and Little Cherry Disease Research

Organization (s): USDA-ARS

PI (s): Cooper, R.

Total Funding Amount for All Years: $118,703

The proposed experimental plot will be used by USDA and WSU researchers to conduct studies on epidemiology and control of X-disease and little cherry disease under field conditions. The experimental orchard will be located 4-5 miles from the nearest possible commercial cherry orchard. This isolation reduces the likelihood that the experimental plot will threaten commercial orchards with X-disease. Each tree will also be confined within 6x6x6’ mesh enclosures. All trees will be removed after the completion of the studies.


Paige Beuhler (Administrative Officer):, 509 665 8271 ext. 2 Ines Hanrahan (Executive Director):; 509 669 0267

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