My work has made commercial fruit and berry growers and storage operators in my region more profitable. The harvest maturity program impacts more than 10 million bushels of fresh apples every year. The forced-air cooling on berries technology has allowed two very large berry growers to increase shelf life and marketability of their strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. The MAP technology on the sweet cherries is still in the experimental stages. The production and storage methods that our team teaches stakeholders are sustainable, both economically and environmentally.
impact statement issue
Working with farmers and extension allows me the best of both worlds: research (applied) and using that research to increase grower profitability. My program is depended upon by over 400 commercial tree fruit and berry growers in my five-county territory. They demand the harvest maturity program to tell them the optimum time to pick apples and pears. This program helps them maximize quality and storage, while minimizing diseases, disorders, and lack of flavor. They demand to be on the cutting edge of new technologies to keep them competitive in the global marketplace. Our applied research (and collaborations with scientists at Geneva, Cornell, and worldwide) allows this. The consumers also care because they get better quality fruit that is safe and produced in a sustainable way.
impact statement response
For six years, I have operated a successful harvest maturity program and am researching ways to increase shelf life and marketing windows in sweet cherries and berries. My workshop and talks on the use of forced-air cooling on berries have given our growers an inexpensive way to extend shelf life. I gathered the forced-air cooling information from several sources, and several growers have adapted this technology. My research on the use of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) in sweet cherries has led to growers wanting to test these inexpensive bags on different varieties to see if they can extend shelf life up to five weeks. The MAP technology was brought to my attention by researchers at Geneva, and we have extended their lab tests to the field.
impact statement summary
I am part of a four-member regional agricultural extension team called the Lake Ontario Fruit Program. We work with commercial tree fruit and berry growers and other industry personnel, principally in Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, and Wayne counties. My area of programming is fruit quality management. I deal mainly with post-harvest and storage issues and have projects to extend shelf life, fruit quality, profitability, and sustainability. I also test apples and pears during harvest, and provide picking recommendations for growers to harvest their fruit to maximize optimal storage and quality.