Research funded by the last farm bill seeks ways to help cherry growers detect little cherry virus. Washington Farm Bureau member April Clayton and her husband run Red Apple Orchard, raising organic apples and cherries. She says the disease infects cherry trees through insects.
“Basically, once they bite or land on the tree, the pathogens from the bugs transfer to the trees, and then the tree becomes infected. It leaves the fruit underdeveloped and under color, so it doesn’t make grade for the market. Unfortunately, the pathogen is then spread through the root system, and there’s no treatment for it. So, we physically have to remove the tree and there’s no way that you can replant another tree because you could possibly infect the next tree that you put in.”
Clayton says the farm bill funds research through her local land grant university.
“We live next to the Washington State University Tree Extension Research Center. Thankfully, because of the farm bill Washington State University received under a million dollars through the farm bill. So, this money will go to help fund research and testing, because right now the only way you can test for the virus is right at harvest time. So, with more research, we’ll know more, and we can stop this.”
Clayton encourages farmers and ranchers to advocate for farm bill research programs.
“Get out there and make sure your local papers know and your local congressmen, as well as your state and U.S. Representatives. It’s important that you talk to your representatives, let them know what’s happening. With less than two percent of the population farming, it’s up to us to let our representatives know what we need for the farm bill.”