The USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory plays an important role in two research centers established in the Pacific Northwest: the NorthwestNurseryCropsResearchCenter and the NorthwestCenter for Small Fruits Research. These organizations are unique coalitions consisting of commodity organizations, scientists in ARS, and the Agriculture Experiment Stations of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The goal of the centers is to build strong research programs dedicated towards those crops in the Pacific Northwest.
Northwest Nursery Crops Research Center
The Northwest Nursery Crops Research Center is a consortium among USDA-ARS, the nursery crop industries and Agriculture Experiment Stations of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington that emphasizes communication, coordination, and cooperation on research to solve production problems.
Nursery Crops in the Pacific Northwest
Nursery crops have become one of the major agricultural commodities in the United States, providing jobs and long term benefits to the environment. In 1998, the average person in the U.S. purchased $203 (retail) worth of nursery plants resulting in a wholesale nursery crop production worth $12.1 billion nationally and $910 million in the Pacific Northwest. Greenhouse and nursery products rank as the number one commodity in Oregon with a dollar value of $564 million in 1999. The nursery industry is extremely diverse, growing over 5000 different varieties, but any one grower may be highly specialized, growing only one species of plant.
History of the Center
In 1992, the NorthwestNurseryCropsResearchCenter was conceived with the goal of bringing together the nursery crop industries of Idaho, Oregon and Washington with researchers from the respective Agricultural Experiment Stations and ARS to solve problems of regional importance. The NorthwestNurseryCropsResearchCenter is still in its infancy, developing the infrastructure needed for survival as a sustained entity. In 1995, 1998, and 2000, the Center received recurring funding to increase the number of ARS researchers studying nursery crop problems and to facilitate the establishment of collaborative research projects. These projects are leading to development technologies and methodologies that will make the Pacific Northwest Nursery industries more productive and competitive and to maintain the high quality of their products.
Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research
The NorthwestCenter for Small Fruits Research is a consortium among USDA-ARS, the Small Fruits Industries and Agriculture Experiment Stations of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington established to enhance profitability and sustainability of the small fruits industry in the Pacific Northwest through research in genetics, pest management, berry and grape processing, and production/physiology.
Small Fruit Crops in the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a major producer of small fruit crops such as strawberries, blueberries, caneberries, cranberries, and grapes. The small fruit industry in the Pacific Northwest is primarily directed towards processing rather than fresh market applications. Fruit is processed as frozen whole berries, puree or juices (including wine) and has numerous applications.
History of the Center
In the late 1980’s, growers and processors of small fruit crops and researchers from the three Pacific Northwest states came together to formulate a vision of a research center that could meet the diverse needs of these industries. Representatives from these groups took the vision of a research center to Congress, which resulted in a series of congressional funding appropriations directed towards building small fruits research programs in the Pacific Northwest. A portion of these funds were used to build an addition to the existing Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory building in Corvallis, which was completed in 1994. The building addition now houses research programs evaluating genetics, pathology and insect pests of small fruits crops. The NorthwestCenter for Small Fruits Research administers a peer-reviewed funding program that supports research on small fruits crops. Over $2.4 million in small fruit research grants have been awarded through the Center since 1992.
The paramount goal of the Center is to develop research programs that enhance berry and grape product quality. A second goal is to provide a link between the broad scientific community and the practical needs of the industry. A third goal is to augment the transfer of current information about the industry to interested parties and enhance information transfer within the industry.