Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WSDA fruit tree certification gets state-of-the-art greenhouse

Karla Salp

Director Sandison cuts greenhouse ribbon with project partners
WSDA Director Derek Sandison had the rare opportunity to dedicate a new greenhouse for the agency’s Fruit Tree Certification program on May 11.

For decades, WSDA has been renting space from Washington State University at their Prosser research station. There, WSDA conducted tests on new nursery stock to ensure that the plant materials entering our state’s nurseries were free of disease.

However, the increasing demand for disease-free plant materials for Washington’s booming fruit tree industry and the limitations of the existing greenhouse meant that it was time for WSDA to have a greenhouse of its own.

Building the greenhouse has taken several years and was the result of a remarkable partnership between WSDA, WSU, and the tree fruit industry. About 35 people attended the dedication ceremony – an indication both of the strong partnerships involved in building the greenhouse as well as the importance of the certification program to Washington’s fruit tree industry.

Dedication attendees get a greenhouse tour
Attendees at the dedication were treated to a tour, which included the three separate greenhouse bays. The newly dedicated 5,000 square foot state-of-the-art greenhouse is fully automated, featuring improved temperature and irrigation controls. Each growing bay is computer-controlled to maintain temperature ranges at which different fruit tree pathogens thrive.

The increased space and advances in the greenhouse technology enable WSDA fruit tree certification specialists to test trees at a greater rate than they have been able to in the past.

By screening for these fruit tree diseases, WSDA can ensure that Washington fruit tree nursery stock remains disease-free. This promotes not only the health of Washington orchards but ensures that Washington fruit trees can also be exported anywhere in the world.

Wish you could have been there? If you missed the dedication ceremony, you can still watch it on Facebook!