Jul 20, 2021
Midwest Apple Improvement Association adds 65 years’ experiences to its team

With the growing season accelerating, the Amherst, Ohio-based Midwest Apple Improvement Association is strengthening the support it provides to its more than 1,000 members by adding two industry veterans to its team.

Bill Pitts – with his deep background in horticulture – as horticultural consultant will work with growers as they increase Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA)-licensed apple production on their orchards.

Karen Burkhart – with her extensive production and marketing experience – as senior vice president, Atlantic operation, will promote MAIA’s apples to distributors and retailers and support grower marketing programs. Both will also be heavily involved in helping identify and market MAIA’s future varieties.

Bill Pitts and Karen Burkhart,

“We are incredibly excited to bring such strong talent onto the MAIA team, especially at such an important time for our association,” Bill Dodd,, MAIA president, said in a news release. “We’re past 1,000 members and growing. Our flagship EverCrisp is gaining widespread appreciation and fandom at farm stands and retail. And we’re moving further down the process of bringing newer brands like LudaCrisp and Rosalee toa wider audience. Karen and Bill aregreat additions to help us reach our goals.”

Prior to MAIA, Pitts had been with Wafler Nursery in Wolcott, New York. since 1979, when he joined the apple producer while still in high school. Over his 42 years with Wafler, Pitts worked in all aspects of the orchard and nursery, including production, tree sales, shipping, evaluating new varieties and root stocks, efficiency and quality control. He retired from Wafler this past spring. He resides in Sterling, New York.

Burkhart has a B.S. in agriculture from Ohio State University, majoring in pomology. She started her career at Hilltop Nurseries in fruit tree sales for two years. She then joined Knouse Foods Cooperative where, for 24 years, she served as the pesticide and raw fruit coordinator, reviewing grower spray records for all incoming raw fruit and coordinating grower maturity and storage studies for fruit quality.

Burkhart lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Midwest Apple Improvement Association is an organization that was founded by growers and is maintained by growers to produce apple varieties that are available to all U.S. and Canadian growers.

Work continues to incorporate disease resistance and other favorable characteristics. Hard cider selections that can be produced in today’s high density growing systems are also in the testing stage. Learn more here.

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