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Research Reviews – Busted!

Written by Kathy Coffey*, WA Tree Fruit Research Commission. updated Nov 2020.

The WA Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) is a grower-funded agency which gives grants to scientists for work on tree fruit “…which will or may benefit the planting, production, harvesting, handling, processing or shipment of tree fruit of this state” (from our RCW chapter 15.26). The WTFRC is headed by a 10-person board appointed by the WA Apple Commission, WA State Fruit Commission and the WA State Department of Agriculture. The WTFRC is spearheaded by Dr. Ines Hanrahan, the Executive Director.

The WA Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) presents research reviews annually for cherry and stone fruit, apple horticulture/postharvest, apple crop protection and technology. This year’s reviews will be held virtually.  WTFRC also administers the organization of the pear research review as part of a federal marketing order.  These one-day meetings showcase presentations from researchers who have been funded to conduct work.

When asked to write a short article about what people should know about WTFRC’s research reviews,  I thought it best not to assume that everyone reading this would know what the heck a research review was.  So, here is a brief run-down on these annual meetings.

When my youngest son was growing up, his favorite show was Mythbusters.  The premise of the show was to state a hypothesis and to see if it could be verified, or “busted”.  In the vein of this long-running show (and since we are talking science here), below are some statements we have heard about our annual meetings and whether they are “Verified” or “Busted”.

Statement:  Research Reviews are attended by those who are invited.  The average grower/industry member does not usually attend.
Busted! While many people who attend are regulars, we are always trying to encourage all growers and any member of the tree fruit industry to attend the reviews. Currently, attendance is online only.

Statement:  The information is only for large growers or packers and really cannot help me in my orchard.
Busted! Information presented at the meetings is pertinent to all growers, regardless of size and scale of operation, crop produced (apples, pears, cherries, stone fruit),  or type of operation (organic, conventional).

Statement:  Advisory committee members are industry members who invest their time in helping the WTFRC board decide what research should be funded.
Verified! We are very honored that so many individuals have volunteered his/her time to participate and help guide the research direction of WTFRC.

Statement:  You must be invited to join a committee; you cannot ask to join; it is a closed group.
Big-Time Busted! We are always looking for a wide range of people to serve on our committees.  We want your input and ideas.  You will benefit from making new connections with committee members and in helping build a stronger collaboration throughout a range of segments of WA state tree fruit industry professionals.  Contact me and I can fill you in on committee member roles and responsibilities so that you can decide if it’s right for you.

Statement:  The money for research funding comes from the state.
Busted! You, the grower, fund all projects that WTFRC approves.  These funds are collected from the first handler as part of your research assessment.  These are your dollars at work, and this is your opportunity to receive the full benefit of your investment.

I hope that this brief, and educational/mildly humorous article helped bust some myths about research reviews.

Below are the dates for this year’s research reviews. A full agenda will be posted on our webpage approximately two weeks ahead of the respective review ( Excerpts of currently funded or highlights of past projects are posted frequently on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about our committees, please contact Amy May at

I cannot wait to meet you (in-person or remotely, depending on state regulations) at one of our upcoming events.

Research Review Date Location
NW Cherry/Stone Fruit Nov. 12, 2020 Virtual
Technology Dec. 3, 2020 Virtual
Apple Horticulture/Postharvest Jan. 27, 2021 Virtual
Apple Crop Protection Jan. 28, 2021 Virtual
NW Pear Feb. 17, 2021 Virtual

Casual portrait of Kathy Coffey.*Kathy Coffey, formerly the WTFRC’s Administrative Officer, recently retired but was with the Commission for 16 years.

Washington State University