MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center at Traverse City, Michigan, received funding for $50,500 of facility improvements from the MTFC in 2019. Photo: Gary Pullano

Jul 2, 2019
Michigan Tree Fruit Commission funds 2019 upgrades

The second installment of a refrigeration system upgrade and the first installment of a pesticide building remodeling and upgrade at Michigan State University’s (MSU) Clarksville Research Center were the two big projects funded by the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission (MTFC) in 2019.

The second installment to the refrigeration system upgrade brought the MFTC’s total contribution to the project to $318,822 with another $106,274 contributed by MSU AgBioResearch.

“This shows the efforts to leverage grower dollars collected through the MTFC with other sources of funding,” said Jim Nugent, a fruit grower from Suttons Bay, Michigan, and MTFC chair.

The MTFC’s $152,649 contribution to the pesticide building remodel and upgrade is also leveraged with the other half of the $305,297 cost coming from MSU AgBioResearch. As with the refrigeration system upgrade, the MTFC’s contribution is spread over two years because of its size.

“The MTFC is committed to ensuring the cutting edge, research infrastructure is in place to keep fruit growers competitive in a global economy,” said Phil Korson, president of the Cherry Marketing Institute and MTFC supporter. “The research stations must be equipped to deal with the challenges – present and future – fruit growers face.”

The Clarksville Research Center also received $46,600 for equipment and $10,000 for operations from the MTFC in 2019.

MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center at Traverse City, Michigan, received funding for $50,500 of facility improvements from the MTFC in 2019. The improvements include LED lighting, upgrades to the chemical mixing area and expanded chemical storage. The NWMHRC also received $6,000 for equipment and $10,000 for operations.

MSU’s Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center at Benton Harbor, Michigan, received 2019 MTFC funding of $23,000 for a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) detection system, $25,000 for apple tree plantings, $13,178 for drain tile, $3,464 for cabinets and workbenches and $10,000 for operations.

MSU’s Trevor Nichols Research Center (TNRC) at Fennville, Michigan, received $33,333 from the MTFC in 2019 for one-third of the cost of a new research pole building. MSU AgBioResearch is contributing another one-third of the cost and industry funding is being pursued for the last one-third.

The TNRC also received $14,000 for contract pruning, $10,100 for equipment, $10,000 for operations and up to $10,000 to make up any shortfall in maintenance chemical donations from agribusiness partners.

“MSU, fruit growers through the MTFC, agribusiness, commodity organizations – everyone is involved. Everyone is a partner,” Korson said.

The MTFC also provided $55,000 of funding in 2019 for research plot maintenance that could be used at any of the four research stations.

A producer referendum established the MTFC in 2014 to collect an assessment on Michigan’s apples, cherries, peaches and plums. The funds are used to support tree fruit research, research infrastructure and, if needed, support MSU Extension positions that growers want, but MSU is unable to fund. A referendum continuing the MTFC for another five years was recently passed by growers.

All assessments collected by the MTFC go to projects. The MTFC has no employees and no overhead costs. The minor expenses the MTFC does incur are paid for by commodity groups in the tree fruit industry

“All of the money collected is used to get answers – answers that fruit growers need,” Nugent said.

– Dean Peterson, correspondent

Above, MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center at Traverse City, Michigan, received funding for $50,500 of facility improvements from the MTFC in 2019. Photo: Gary Pullano

MSU refrigeration unit boosted

Storage Control Systems (SCS) of Sparta, Michigan, has a long-standing affiliation with Michigan State University’s (MSU) Clarksville Research Center, one that was extended with the completion of a recent project partially funded by the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission (MTFC).

The second installment to the refrigeration system upgrade at Clarksville brought the MTFC’s total contribution to the project to $318,822 with another $106,274 contributed by MSU AgBioResearch.

The system was renovated by Storage Control. According to SCS President Jim Schaefer, the original refrigeration system at Clarksville was installed by his father, Caryl, in 1986.

“We tore out the direct expansion Freon system that my dad put in in 1986,” Schaefer said. “Fast forward 32 years, Storage Control Systems retrofitted the refrigeration components of that system. We tore out the direct expansion Freon system and put in Frigadon chiller technology, changed the coils and piping, and gave them back 400 square feet of a compressor room they didn’t need anymore.”

Schaefer said the compressor room sits outside now in a chiller that’s only 40 horsepower.

“It’s pretty efficient technology, food safe, limits their Freon leak potential. It’s energy-efficient. It provides far less shrink,” Schaefer said.

“People aren’t buying Frigadon chillers just because it’s efficient,” Schaefer said. “You can change the temperature differential of the coil. You change the whole coil dynamics to get down to a 3-4 degrees’ temperature differential and you don’t shrivel your fruit. One study we did showed if you put in a chiller on 20 CA rooms you can sell $40,000 more a year in apples just in shrink (control).

“The new refrigeration system, installed by Storage Control Systems, replaced a 31 year-old failing system,” said Corey Noyes, Clarksville farm manager. “The new system features a state-of-the-art control system that allows for remote system management and monitoring.

“It will provide reliable refrigeration in nine rooms with a total capacity of approximately 15,000 bushels to the tree fruit research programs at MSU for many years to come. Without the generous support of the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission this project would not have been possible.”

– Gary Pullano, associate editor





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