May 12, 2021
Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission grant awards for cherry set

In 2021, the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission approved $1,396,455 to help fund 27 new projects in the areas of cherry, apple and technology.

In cherry research, the commission approved $191,630 to help fund seven new projects. The Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission (OSCC) is co-funding six projects at 25% of the total funding request.

2021 new cherry project details:

Project Title: X-disease vector identification and acquisition from low titer trees

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): T. Northfield, T. DuPont, S. Harper, A. Marshall

Total Funding Amount: $110,570

Length: 2 years

The project will focus on three objectives: 1) Evaluate leafhoppers as potential x-disease phytoplasma vectors. 2) Assess potential for vectors to acquire x-disease phytoplasma from trees with low titer levels. 3) Develop a website at to update the list of known leafhopper vector status, organized by subfamily.

Project Title: Evaluating replant strategies for x-disease infected orchards

Organization (s): Oregon State University, Washington State University

PI (s): A. Thompson, B. Sallato, S. Harper

Total Funding Amount: $116,091

Length: 3 years

The goal of the study is to provide orchardists with science-based replant strategies for x-disease infected orchards. Orchardists continue to report x-disease infections in new plantings or in young blocks. Questions frequently asked in this context are: Do infections in young orchards arise from roots that have survived in the soil, infected trees from the nursery, or leafhoppers moving between orchard blocks? How relevant are remaining roots in the spread of the disease? The team will answer these questions by evaluating the survival of roots and infection rate of replanted orchards following the removal of an x-disease infected orchard under three common replant strategies.

Project Title: Canine detection of Western X disease in controlled and field settings

Organization (s): Rogue Dogs

PI (s): H. Smith

Total Funding Amount: $41,164

Length: 1 year

The goal of this project is to find repeatable, effective, and efficient methods of early infection with x-disease using canine teams.

Project Title: Towards identification of LCD linked volatile biomarkers

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): L. Khot, S. Harper, B. Sallato

Total Funding Amount: $62,310

Length: 1 year

This project aims to screen infected and uninfected cherry plant parts, i.e., limb, leaves, stem, and fruit tissues of the Bing cultivar at different growth stages to identify potential volatile biomarkers associated with x-disease and/or LCD infection. Once biomarkers are identified, the platform will be tested in controlled and field environments. An array of outreach is planned including: Fruit Matters article, webinar, field demonstration, and grower meetings.

Project Title: Coordinating SWD and X disease management

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): E. Beers, T. Northfield

Total Funding Amount: $77,437

Length: 3 years

This project will expand sampling to determine the effects of preharvest SWD programs on post-harvest leafhopper populations and integrate programs that will optimize cherry pest and disease management for our region. Recent efforts to control leafhoppers in Washington have focused on post-harvest management, in part because control efforts for direct pests such as SWD may be limiting leafhopper numbers prior to harvest. The team will evaluate the impacts of changing SWD control measures on management of the leafhoppers that vector x-disease.

Project Title: Isolation and in-vitro culturing of the x-disease pathogen

Organization (s): Washington State University

PI (s): C. Peace, J. Watts, L. Porter, S. Harper

Total Funding Amount: $59,000

Length: 2 years

This project aims to facilitate wider research efforts to understand the interaction between pathogen presence and x-disease expression in sweet cherry by developing an effective method to culture the pathogen (Candidatus Phytoplasma prunii) that causes x-disease. This would enable scientists to have access to live samples of the pathogen year-round and will unlock the ability to work easily and directly, independent of the tree dormancy cycle, with the pathogen.

Project Title: Nutrient management for high quality sweet cherries

Organization (s):               Washington State University

PI (s):                                    B. Sallato, M. Whiting, C. Torres

Total Funding Amount: $ 45,430

Length:                                               3 years

The goal of this project is to improve nutrient management strategies from an understanding of the nutritional composition of good and poor fruit quality. The team will undertake a prospective analysis of orchard growing conditions, tree and soil health, irrigation management and nutrient composition and its relationship with the quality parameters: size, firmness, and storability. This research approach will permit an in-depth analysis of fruit nutritional content and fruit quality, identify predictors, determine nutrient extraction/demand, and begin to develop fruit-specific nutritional management strategies for sweet cherry.

– Ines Hanrahan, Amy May, and Mackenzie Perrault, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission


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