Jul 19, 2019
Kate Evans to lead WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center

Professor and horticulturalist Kate Evans is the new interim director of the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center (TFREC) at Wenatchee.

Selected this summer to lead WSU research into sustainable tree fruit production for Washington and the world, Evans will begin her term as interim director on Aug. 26.

Kate Evans

She replaces outgoing director Jim McFerson, who led the program for nearly four years.

A WSU faculty member since 2008, Evans is a professor in the Department of Horticulture, part of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

Based at Wenatchee, she leads WSU’s pome fruit breeding program developing improved apple scions and pear rootstocks.

Evans took over from retired WSU apple breeder Bruce Barritt for the final stages of selection and release of the new WA 38 apple, Cosmic Crisp, a highly anticipated, juicy, flavorful, and long-storing variety for Washington growers.

She holds a doctorate in plant molecular biology from Durham University, United Kingdom.

“With almost three decades of experience managing agricultural research that puts better varieties in growers’ hands, Kate has clearly demonstrated her ability to share and deliver the kind of valuable knowledge that’s at the core of the WSU Tree Fruit mission,” said André Denis Wright, dean of CAHNRS. “She understands the needs and challenges that our growers face, and has the scientific and leadership abilities to direct the tree fruit research team as they work to support Northwest producers.”

“The Pacific Northwest fruit industry is one of the largest in the world, and our growers depend on WSU research for better plants, practices, and ideas,” Evans said. “As a scientist, it’s been exciting for me to help breed new varieties ideally suited for our growing conditions, market needs, and consumer preferences. Now, as interim center director, I’ll support WSU research that boosts the health and potential of our fruit economy.”

The center’s prior director, McFerson came to the WSU tree fruit program in August 2015 after managing the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

“Jim has provided strong direction and served the state well as director at Wenatchee,” Wright said. “He helped strengthen the bridge between industry and WSU research. We are grateful for his service, and wish him well in the next stage of his career.”

Scientists at WSU have been improving our knowledge of tree fruit for more than 100 years.

Launched in 1937, the TFREC is home to collaborative research by WSU and USDA scientists exploring all phases of orchard culture, including breeding, pest control, fruit harvesting and handling, fruit maturity, storage, grading and packaging, as well as the basic science of plant physiology, entomology, plant pathology, soil science, horticulture, economics and biochemistry.

Learn more about WSU Tree Fruit research.


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