WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Apple and pear organizations in Washington have appointed a new committee to advise Washington State University on how to spend $27 million in new industry-provided research endowments.

The endowment advisory committee may meet for the first time during the Dec. 5-7 annual meeting of the Washington State Horticultural Association in Wenatchee, said Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

The independent committee will advise and oversee the expenditure of investment earnings from three endowments, McFerson said.

One $11 million endowment will fund support personnel and equipment for six WSU-paid faculty chairs for apple and pear research. Another $11 million endowment will create five positions tied to WSU research and extension centers and supplementing county extension for accelerated transfer of new information and technologies to Washington growers and shippers. A $5 million endowment will support research orchards in Wenatchee and Prosser with development of technologies and practices.

Apple and pear growers voted in August to double their research and outreach assessments on their crops to raise the endowment money. Collection of an additional 2 cents per box of apples and pears will begin next summer and go for eight years or until $27 million is raised.

The committee will advise WSU on planning and management of the Prosser and Wenatchee research orchards.

The committee will help in the selection of the endowed chairs and information and technology positions. The committee will review annual reports from each chair and provide performance feedback on programs and positions to the WSU dean.

The committee needs to think about the short and long term in setting research priorities in ongoing or new programs, McFerson said.

Despite budget cutbacks, WSU has made strategic investments in priority areas including tree fruit research, McFerson said. He has not heard, he said, of any decisions by WSU not to fund the endowed chairs.

-- Dan Wheat

Advisory committee members

The seven members of the advisory committee, the companies they work for and the organizations that appointed them are:

Jason Matson, Matson Fruit Co., Selah, Fresh Pear Committee

Gregg Gentry, Zirkle Fruit Co., Selah, Washington Apple Commission

Jake Gutzwiler, Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherry Growers

Alan Groff, Foreman Fruit Co., Wenatchee, Washington State Horticultural Association

Tom Butler, Washington Fruit and Produce Co., Yakima, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission

Sam Godwin, Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Washington Growers Clearing House Association and Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association

Bruce Allen, Columbia Reach Packing, Yakima, Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.

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