Horticulture orchard to have more crops planted

Students will be able to work in orchard; orchard had to move locations



A worker picks apples in the R.B. Tukey Orchard on WSU’s campus Oct. 7.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter

Workers began planting crops at WSU’s R.B. Tukey Horticulture Orchard this spring, two years since the location was established, but the orchard will still have new crops planted.

There will be a variety of crops planted in the orchard, said orchard manager Deb Pehrson. The crops will include apples, pears and a wide selection of berries.

“We are trying to show people what diversity there is, even with cultivated crops,” she said.

Students will also have the opportunity to work in the orchard, Pehrson said. There will be about 1,050 trees planted per acre.

Because of the educational opportunity the orchard provides, the number of trees will always be changing, Department Chairperson Amit Dhingra said.

“We will see which ones are useful,” he said. “We do some research with them, and once they are done we want to bring in a new population of trees.”

The orchard switched locations in 2018, she said. It was originally located at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, but it was moved to a new location because the airport is expanding, Pehrson said. The new orchard is located next to the Pullman campus.

“We weren’t really in the runway, but we were in the runway protection zone,” she said. “They don’t want … things growing [there], so we had to lose over half our orchard.”

Some people wanted to stay at the old location and plant in different areas, she said. The chairman was worried that the airport or someone else would want the land, which would require the orchard to be relocated.

Moving an orchard is a long process, so the teardown of the old location started in 2016, Pehrson said.

“We boxed everything up in 2017,” she said, “and we finally moved into the new buildings on the new site in November 2018.”

The new location was chosen because it was close to campus, Pehrson said. However, the new orchard is 10 acres while the former one was 22 acres.

Because of COVID-19, the number of people working in the orchard will be less than usual, Pehrson said.

During the spring and summer, four people worked there, she said. Now there are six people working in the orchard.

There is a fruit sale every Friday and Saturday. The money the orchard makes from selling fruit that is not used by students for projects will go toward operation costs, Pehrson said.

The orchard is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays at 1452 Johnson Rd.