How Penn State Research Has Helped Shape Apple Industry

One glance at a commercial orchard today and you realize these aren't your grandfather's apple trees. Long gone are the 40-foot-high, widely spaced, gnarled and spindly trees of the past. They have been replaced by squat, tightly planted trees loaded with low-hanging fruit.

Key to the transformation has been research conducted at Penn State and other land grant universities, and Penn State horticulture professor Rob Crassweller has been at the forefront of the effort to boost apple production for more than 30 years. In his role as a faculty member with Penn State Extension, he has presented those findings to growers.

The University's College of Agricultural Sciences has been conducting research on apple tree rootstock at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs since the early 1970s, when horticulturists from a number of universities in the Northeast banded together to form a project called NC-140. That federally funded initiative continues today and Penn State will host its annual meeting in November.

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