Washington's apple and pear growers have given Washington State University a $27 million gift for tree fruit research, funded by a special tax on fruit. It's the largest gift in the university's history.
The money will be donated over the next eight years, and will help WSU do research on emerging diseases in fruit trees and develop new products and new ways of packaging fruit for overseas shipment.
"Washington is already on the world's stage in terms of fruit research," said WSU spokeswoman Kathryn Barnard LaPointe, noting the school has successfully recruited researchers from as far away as England and New Zealand. "This just cements that position."
About $11 million will go to establishing six endowed chairs, to help bring top researchers in the industry to WSU. Another $11 million will be used to create an endowment to establish new positions in tree fruit production regions. The aim is to accelerate the transfer of new information and technologies to Washington growers and shippers.