By KEVIN WALKER
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Apple Committee (MAC) announced a number of research grants for 2018. MAC funds research each year for the benefit of state apple growers.
Sixteen projects by 10 different researchers were announced at the board of directors’ February meeting, for a total of $216,710.
A governor-appointed board of growers selects an apple grower from his or her region to serve on the Michigan Apple Research Subcommittee, according to Diane Smith, MAC executive director. The subcommittee looks at MAC’s research priorities and, based on those as well as the budget, recommends funding to the board, which gives final approval on the projects for the year.
MAC looks for projects that increase demand for apples, improve apple quality and consistency, improve production efficiency and enhance food safety systems. MAC wants to support innovative research that helps achieve the group’s mission by enhancing the reputation of Michigan-grown apples, improving Michigan growers’ share of sales in target markets and aiding the profitability and sustainability of the state’s apple industry.
“MAC accepts proposals from many different research institutions and centers of excellence,” Smith said. “We are fortunate to have a world-class agricultural institution right in our back yard with Michigan State University, and most of the proposals we receive are from MSU researchers.
“For 2018, projects were funded on research projects ranging from harvest technology to pest management, to varietal research.”
Matt Grieshop, an associate professor in the department of entomology at MSU, received $8,448 to test whether ozone in water will work on apple pests when used as a spray pesticide. Grieshop said this method, the use of ozonated water on apple as well as other crops such as grape, are already being used; however, he said there are little real data on its effectiveness.
“If we can go out and spray our trees with ozonated water, we can eliminate pesticide residue in apples – if the experiment works,” he said.
Grieshop explained ozonated water as a pesticide is great because the chemical reactions involved with ozone in water means there will be little residue on the product. “There’s a lot of growers that have been playing with this, but no one knows for sure if it works.”
Other funded project titles include “Optimizing Apple Thinning; Improving Orchard Establishment and Early Returns Via Containerized Nursery Trees,” “New Apple Models to Predict Development and Maturity of Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji” and “Management of Codling Moth Using Sterile Moth Releases.” For more information, visit www.michiganapples.com