Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission's Postharvest Projects
Following Dr. Wally Ewart (Northwest Horticultural Council) in any meeting is difficult because the subject matter of his presentations always leave us with a distraught feeling due to the injustice of the regulatory process (from a scientific basis). It makes me wonder which way to turn when we have operational problems. I'm not here to carp about the politics of the regulatory agencies, but let me relay to you some good news I heard the other day. Evidently a Canadian researcher did a study that concluded that there was no increased risk of cancer from fruit residues, and conversely, a diet without fruit or with reduced fruit increased the risk of certain cancers. We could certainly use some government support like that here in the States.
I'm not going to list or describe all the projects that the Research Commission is managing. It is obvious that the program committee reviewed the current research projects and invited those scientists with information to benefit your operations.
It is more important to explain how the commissioners decide where the critical issues are, and what resources should be placed to address those problems. Given the current political, environmental climate, what should we do to protect our ability to pack and sell fruit?
The Research Commission has decided to focus on two approaches:
Identification of the critical short-term needs of the industry and develop strategies and specific research projects to address those needs.
Identification of long term problems and formulate management/research groups to work toward solutions. It's not wrong for us to address a current hot problem, but if that is how we are planning our research, we will always be behind. We have to change from the silver bullet mentality to a systems approach.
Let me give an example: until recently we were concerned about which fungicide had the broadest spectrum and what dose was needed to provide control. Research was driven by those two needs (product selection and dose). As we lost products we were forced to do even more research on product selection and dose. Today, as we are running out of products, we must look at alternate means of controlling the pathogen. We are now hearing the terms micro-ecology, wound colonization, site competition and inoculum dose.
The Research Commission has organized itself into industry subcommittees to more effectively analyze which problems need research assistance and which problems demand long term considerations. Your participation in this process is essential if we are to identify critical problems and design strategies to develop solutions the industry can use.
The Research Commission will continue to fund projects on sanitation, dump tank inoculation, antagonistic yeast, storage suppression of fungi and etc. However, it is your input and participation that guarantees we are addressing the most important issues.
Jim Doornink, Chairman, WTFRC
14th Annual Postharvest Conference,
March 10-11, 1998