Apples, pears, and prunes go from backyard to big business


The 1920s were a time of experimentation with new crops and new production methods. Land that had first been plowed only a few generations earlier for wheat, oats, and barley was now growing specialty crops, such as hops for beer, flax for linen, hemp for rope, and grapes for wine. Prunes were a big crop, with thousands of acres of hillside lands planted into orchards. As AES researchers improved methods of growing, drying, and packaging prunes, investors flooded the world market with more prunes than could be consumed.

Research turned to other tree fruits with the establishment of two new branch stations to support the apple industry in Hood River and the pear industry in Medford. In particular, growers asked the Station to address problems of large-scale, long-term storage of apples and pears. Researchers studied postharvest diseases before and after packing, and recommended that packers sanitize the water system and apply fungicides at packing. Today, apples and pears are available year round, thanks to methods developed to control postharvest decay beginning in the orchard and continuing until the fruits are sold.

Media Image: 
pear pickers
Caption Text: 
Women picking in a Comice orchard. (Photo courtesy of OSU Special Collections & Archives, P020:439.)