IALR Receives VDACS Research Grant
Monday, October 26, 2015
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) received a Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) grant to promote and enhance the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops and create more economic development opportunities across the Commonwealth according a release from Governor Terry McAuliffe.
IALR’s proposal Strengthen and Develop Asian Pear Market in Virginia will facilitate a two-year study of tree pruning methodology and fruit bagging technology in Virginia Asian pear orchards to improve Asian pear yield and quality, and to develop a standard Asian pear training, pruning, and bagging system for Virginia farmers. Two types of pears are grown in Virginia, European and Asian. The European pear is most commonly available in stores. The Asian pear has rapidly increased its market share in the United States due to its attractive appearance and white, crisp, and sweet flesh. The potential exists to increase Virginia-grown Asian pear production and market share.
According to IALR Scientist Dr. Kedong Da, farm size, soil type, and climate differences have restricted technologies successfully applied in the Pacific Northwest of U.S. from being applied to Virginia’s small-medium sized farms; especially to Virginia organic farmers whose cultivation practice is quite different from commercial growers utilizing mechanical pruning and chemical thinning.
“Like any industry, agriculture depends on quality research and data to remain competitive in a 21st Century economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. IALR was the recipient of one of fifteen VDACS grants. “These grants represent more than a half-million dollar investment in Virginia’s economy that will boost economic development and create jobs in our agriculture sector, furthering our work to build a new Virginia economy. I congratulate these organizations and educational institutions for pursuing innovative research that will help enhance marketing opportunities and food safety for growers across the Commonwealth.”
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore stated that this “announcement is good news for Virginia agriculture and helps bolster the Governor’s efforts to keep the industry at the forefront of his overall economic development strategic plan."