Oct 30, 2012Desmond Layne to join WSU Extension
One of the world’s leading experts in tree fruit horticulture extension, Desmond R. Layne, is joining the faculty at Washington State University (WSU). Layne is one of WSU’s newest endowed chairs created by funding from the state’s tree fruit industry.
Currently the state extension horticulture program leader and extension fruit specialist at Clemson University in South Carolina, Layne will begin his new responsibilities in February 2013. He will be located at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center at Wenatchee.
“Desmond Layne literally sets the national bar for how to deliver scientific information to producers through Extension,” said Dan Bernardo, vice president for agriculture and extension at WSU. “His use of online technology and media brings a whole new approach to providing producers with the information they need when they need it.”
Layne said he is excited about coming to Washington.
“I am delighted to join the world renowned WSU tree fruit team and to positively contribute to its growth and impact toward meeting the challenges and pursuing innovative opportunities to help the Washington tree fruit industry in the future,” he said. “I am particularly impressed with the industry’s level of innovation and the strong partnership that they have forged with WSU. When many land-grant universities are experiencing cutbacks and reducing investment in extension, WSU is expanding and growing – especially in the area of tree fruit research and extension. Indeed, exciting things are happening at WSU.
Canadian by birth, Layne started his work in fruit crops as a teenager, working on tree fruit farms in southern Ontario adjacent to Lake Erie. While a horticulture student at the University of Guelph in Ontario, he assisted his father’s tree fruit breeding and cultural management program at Agriculture Canada, and one summer worked as an integrated pest management scout for fruit crops for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Layne says this experience was pivotal in his decision to pursue graduate education with the goal of conducting research and extension to help fruit farmers as a career.
His graduate work at Michigan State University focused on orchard management and environmental stress physiology of tart cherry. He later spent four years at Kentucky State University conducting research to develop the native-American pawpaw as a new fruit crop and potential high value alternative crop for farmers seeking to diversify away from tobacco. He remains an international authority on the pawpaw and serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit PawPaw Foundation.
Since 1997, Layne has been on the horticulture faculty at Clemson. He has diverse responsibilities to address the research and extension needs of the South Carolina peach industry. His research focus has been orchard systems management and new cultivar evaluation and development.