The Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center is a branch of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station of Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Research and Extension faculty, research staff, technicians, a farm foreman and administrative staff work at the Center.
In addition, visiting professors, scientists, graduate and undergraduate students participate in research and Extension activities at the Center.
History: The Mid-Columbia Experiment Station was established by legislative action in 1913. In later years, the name was changed to the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center to reflect both research and Extension activities. Until 1925, research scientists shared offices in downtown Hood River with agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1925, offices were moved near the present location, where they have been since 1952. From 1947 until 1972, the Experiment Station also operated a 20-acre research orchard in The Dalles.
Facilities: Offices, laboratories, greenhouses, an insectary, conventional and controlled atmosphere storage facilities, a multi-bay tunnel system, two on-site residences, specialized environmental field cages, and other equipment are located at the Mid-Columbia Center.
Fruit Production: There are about 24,000 acres of pears, cherries, apples and wine grapes in the Mid-Columbia region. About 50 percent of the acreage is pear and 40 percent cherry. The remainder is mostly apples.
Scientists at the Center specialize in research important to pear, cherry and apple growers.
The Mid-Columbia fruit-growing region of Hood River and Wasco Counties accounts for 40% of the "winter" pears, 20% of the Bartlett "summer" pears and about 20% of the sweet cherries produced in the United States. This fruit production has a farm gate value of approximately $80 million with an additional $80 million in gross value added.
Hood River County leads all 3,300 counties in the United States in pear production. The Dalles fruit growing district is the largest concentration of sweet cherry acreage in the U.S.
Research: Key to our past success has been the five core research programs at the Center - Horticulture, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Postharvest Physiology, and Soil Fertility/Biology and Plant Nutrition . They have been the foundation to our overall tree fruit research programs. Additional projects which provide opportunity for interdisciplinary research are orchard water management, alternative crop production systems, and site-specific tree fruit management. This team approach includes research and Extension faculty from on- and off-campus.
The following summarizes the current programs at the Center:
Entomology: Research efforts focus on arthropod (insects and mites) pests and their natural enemies that are found on pears, sweet cherries and apples in the Mid-Columbia fruit-growing district.
Horticulture: Emphasis is on improving efficiencies of temperate-zone tree fruit systems, with focus on European pear and sweet cherry.
Plant Pathology: Research on diseases of frut trees involves monitoring populations of pathogens and development of disease forecasting systems. Molecular techniques such as PCR and ELISA are used in early detection, pathogen identification, and monitoring. Control of decay includes research with disinfestation systems, resistance to fungicides, biocontrol, and heat.
Postharvest Physiology: Research focuses on improving marketability and fruit quality of sweet cherry and European pear through the modification of temperature and atmospheric storage conditions.
Soil Fertility/Biology and Plant Nutrition: This program focuses on soil fertility and plant nutrition for economically and environmentally sound tree fruit production.
Partnerships: The Hood River County office of the OSU Extension Service is location at the Center, providing a close relationship between research scientists and Extension horticultural and farm management faculty. Extension staff members are actively involved in planning, conducting, and analyzing applied research programs and extending results to the community..
Scientists and research staff at the Center conduct basic and applied field and laboratory research cooperatively with scientists and Extension specialists at OSU and other branch stations as well as from other states and other countries.. Some specialized field research is conducted in orchards owned and operated by growers. Most of the laboratory equipment and two major buildings at the Center were financed by funds from commodity commissions, Oregon Regional Strategy dollars, and OSU. Many local growers serve on one or more commodity commission research advisory committees and support the Center at both the local and state level.
Our Goals: The MISSION of the OSU-MCAREC is for research scientists and Extension faculty to develop a solid base of objective scientific information that addresses the needs of the fruit industry of Oregon as well as the Pacific Northwest. Our VISION is to provide the leadership for basic and applied research relevant to the tree fruit industry. We are committed to increasing profitability, economic growth and the wise use of our natural resources, while strengthening partnerships with the community. Our guiding principles and VALUES are accountability, commitment, integrity, and vision. Continuous research and learning are keys to our on-going success.