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Posted on Oct 29, 2015

Can cherries fight fat?

NCW — Cherries fight fat? Sliced pears that don’t turn brown? Studies will soon be underway to test those ideas.
Two dozen ag projects across the state — with several aimed at North Central Washington crops and farm practices — received federal funding last week totaling $4.1 million.
Awards for individual projects range from $43,000 to $250,000 and will go to ag commissions, associations, nonprofit organizations and Washington State University. Washington State University is the grant recipient for 10 of the projects.
All projects are to be completed within 2.5 years.
The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and will be channeled through the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
The state agency selected projects for funding “that will directly benefit producers in the near term to address plant disease, water use efficiency and other critical issues,” said a WSDA press release.
Here is a sampling of projects that could benefit NCW growers and producers:
$247,878 to WSU for ensuring that grapevine stock is “clean” of viruses and parasites to improve the health of state vineyards.
$249,191 to WSU for training and managing orchards producing Cosmic Crisp apples, a new variety (formerly called WA 38) developed by a university breeding program.
$249,971 to WSU for studying micro-irrigation to increase water efficiency in vineyards.
$248,608 to WSU for studying the use of overhead anti-hail netting for reducing sunlight and heat that stresses tree fruit.
$240,000 to the WSDA for expanding and improving pesticide application training courses for workers in various crops, including tree fruit and forests. Much of the funding will be used to buy new equipment.
$204,466 to WSU for experimentation to hinder ripening and browning in sliced pears. Preliminary trials at Crunch Pak in Cashmere have already shown promising results.
$100,000 to the Pear Bureau Northwest to fund the USA Pear Road Show in southern China. The show, contained in a truck trailer that unfolds in supermarket parking lots, will serve as a mobile classroom to educate Chinese consumers about American pears.
$60,000 to the Washington State Fruit Commission to study the effects of sweet cherry consumption on gut health and impacts on obesity. The goal is to create an association between cherries and health, similar to the success of the blueberry industry.
Other projects are aimed at improving crops such as hops, potatoes, onions, carrots, raspberries, and fir trees, and also training workers in new food safety regulations and Good Agricultural Practices certification.


— By Mike Irwin, Wenatchee World