Moving to Orchard Mechanization Is Tough, But Necessary

Reading this month’s cover story on the move to mechanize the apple industry, I couldn’t help but think of the irony that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, writes David Eddy on


The state Legislature established the commission in 1969 to “promote and carry on research and administer specific industry service programs, including but not limited to sanitation programs, which will or may benefit the planting, production, harvesting, handling, processing, or shipment of tree fruit of this state, which shall collect assessments on tree fruit in this state and which shall coordinate its research efforts with those of other state, federal, or private agencies doing similar research.”

While sanitation was a real concern for the burgeoning industry, in part because exports were becoming a very big deal, the commission’s overarching goal was the eventual mechanization of many orchard tasks, including harvest.

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