West Central Michigan Research and Extension Center

May 4, 2022
Research station trees boosted by Michigan group

For the third time, Michigan State University’s (MSU) newest research station, the West Central Michigan Research and Extension Center (WCMREC) in Hart received $75,000 from the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission (MTFC).

“It was a three-year plan to help get the station established,” said Jim Nugent, a fruit grower from Suttons Bay, Mich., and MTFC chairman.

Much of the MTFC’s $75,000 contribution to the WCMREC in 2022 will be used for apple tree planting. The balance will be combined with the second $9,000 of a two-year commitment for establishing an irrigation system to finish developing the station’s irrigation well and mains. The MTFC will also contribute $10,000 to support station operations in 2022.

MSU’s Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) in Benton Harbor received $11,875 from the MTFC for a deer fence, a plum variety trial and equipment that included a fruit texture analyzer.

“The analyzer is used to measure fruit quality,” said Bill Shane, station coordinator and tree fruit educator. “It measures firmness and ease of penetration which both relate to shelf life.”

The SWMREC also received $15,741 from the MTFC in 2022 for skilled labor and materials for field research on cherries, nectarines and peaches.

“This is for temporary summer help,” Shane said.

The MTFC funding was matched by another $15,741 from MSU.

MSU also provided another $8,936 for equipment at SWMREC and the MTFC contributed $10,000 for station operations.

MSU’s Trevor Nichols Research Center (TNRC) in Fennville received $20,000 from the MTFC in 2022 for a wet lab renovation.

The wet lab will contain an exhaust hood and other accessories needed for handling chemicals and solvents safely, said John Wise, MSU entomology professor and TNRC research and Extension coordinator.

“We’ll use this lab when handling pesticide residue samples and doing other lab work,” Wise said.

The other work will include tasks such as bioassays and evaluating field samples from tree fruit research. The $20,000 funding contribution from the MTFC was matched by $10,000 from the Michigan Blueberry Commission and $10,000 from MSU.

The TNRC also received $15,000 for contracting orchard pruning.

“Contract pruning is the most efficient means of maintaining an increased research acreage without increasing full-time staff,” Wise said.

The MTFC also provided the TNRC $1,499 for station equipment and $10,000 for station operations.

Michigan State University’s West Central Michigan Research and Extension Center received $75,000 from the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission for apple tree planting and irrigation. Photo: Michigan State University and Gary Pullano

MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) in Traverse City received $20,000 from the MTFC for new orchard plantings, $9,000 for plot establishment and maintenance and $10,000forstationoperations.

MSU’s Clarksville Research Center in Clarksville received $18,000 for repairs to a refrigeration system used for fruit storage. The station received $9,200 for equipment to repair and install support systems in orchards. It also received $3,500 for equipment repairs and $10,000 for station operations.

The MTFC was established by a producer referendum to collect an assessment on Michigan’s apples, cherries, peaches and plums to support tree fruit research.

— Dean Peterson, FGN Correspondent

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