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History of

the Program

Clean Plant Center Northwest

Beginning in 1955 as the Interregional Research Project IR-2 at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Washington, the program’s goals were to:

  • Obtain cultivars of desirable deciduous fruit trees

  • Verify their virus-freedom by intensive diagnostic procedures

  • Maintain the cultivars in contained repositories

  • Distribute propagating materials to cooperators as foundation clones for research or for release to industry.

In 1992 the program was renamed as National Research Support Project-5 and continued providing these essential services to the U.S. fruit tree industry, as well as developing, evaluating, and implementing new technologies for the virus detection and the elimination of viruses. This program was credited with significant reduction in disease incidence in the supported crops across the U.S. and was estimated in 2003 to provide benefits to nurseries, growers, and consumers on the order of $227 million per year.

In 2008, the NRSP-5 program in Prosser, WA became part of the newly founded National Clean Plant Network, leading a nation-wide effort with supporting centers at Foundation Plant Services in Davis, CA, and the Southeastern Budwood Program in Clemson, SC.

We continue to obtain, diagnose, and retain desirable pome and stone fruit cultivars in contained repositories to prevent reinfection, with outdoor budwood blocks for local production.

The fruit tree program was one of two specialty crop programs that formed the NCPN in 2008. However, work to provide virus-tested propagation stock to the fruit tree industry predate NCPN by over 50 years. In the late 1950s, the University of Washington and University of California, Davis independently developed clean plant programs for fruit trees in response to severe disease problems, notably buckskin disease of cherry and peach (also known as peach X, Western X, or X-disease) caused by the X-phytoplasma. Clemson University in South Carolina developed a clean plant program in the early 2000s in response to a disease outbreak of plum pox virus in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. While the three programs collaborated through professional organizations and exchanged material, the formation of NCPN has enhanced communication and provided a structure for continued commitment to collaboration through personnel and institutional changes.

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Clean Plant Center Northwest

Beginning in 1955 as the Interregional Research Project IR-2 at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Washington, the program’s goals were to:

  • Obtain cultivars of desirable deciduous fruit trees

  • Verify their virus-freedom by intensive diagnostic procedures

  • Maintain the cultivars in contained repositories

  • Distribute propagating materials to cooperators as foundation clones for research or for release to industry.

 

In 1992 the program was renamed as National Research Support Project-5 and continued providing these essential services to the U.S. fruit tree industry, as well as developing, evaluating, and implementing new technologies for the virus detection and the elimination of viruses. This program was credited with significant reduction in disease incidence in the supported crops across the U.S. and was estimated in 2003 to provide benefits to nurseries, growers, and consumers on the order of $227 million per year.

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A IR-2 program greenhouse at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture and Extension Center in Prosser, Washington in the 1950s.

In 2008, the NRSP-5 program in Prosser, WA became part of the newly founded National Clean Plant Network, leading a nation-wide effort with supporting centers at Foundation Plant Services in Davis, CA, and the Southeastern Budwood Program in Clemson, SC.

We continue to obtain, diagnose, and retain desirable pome and stone fruit cultivars in contained repositories to prevent reinfection, with outdoor budwood blocks for local production.

 
Foundation Plant Services

On July 1, 1958, two University of California - Davis programs, the virus-tested grape program and the virus-free cherry stock program, were officially combined and given the title Foundation Plant Materials Service (FPMS). The first Foundation Orchard at FPMS was planted in the mid-1960s and by 1972 consisted of fruiting, flowering and rootstock cultivars of almond, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum that were registered with the California Dept of Food and Agriculture. In 2003, FPMS was renamed Foundation Plant Services (FPS) to better reflect the mission to provide a broad range of plant-related services as well as elite plant materials.

Currently, FPS has two Foundation Orchards, the Goheen Orchard, planted in 2004, and the Russell Ranch Orchard planted in 2011. Together they cover approximately 16 acres planted with 1,700 trees, with peaches, cherries and plums comprising the top three fruit types. The FPS orchards are an elite source of propagation materials of commercially important Prunus scion and rootstock cultivars as part of the California Fruit & Nut Tree Registration and Certification Program. FPS is supported in part by the California

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FPS employees Matt Gallagher (left) and Mike Cunningham in the Goheen Foundation Orchard.

Fruit Tree, Nut Tree, and Grapevine Improvement Advisory Board, established in 1988, which is funded through a 1% annual assessment on gross sales paid by producers of deciduous pome and stone fruit tree, nut tree, olive tree, and grapevine nursery stock.

 
Clemson Clean Plant Center

The Clemson Clean Plant Center began working to reduce the incidence of viruses in the Southeast in 2000. The interest in a virus-testing program was grower-led, and arose in response to the detection of plum pox virus in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s and a high incidence of pollen-borne viruses in peach orchards in the Southeast. The Southeastern Budwood Program is the result of close collaboration between the fruit producers, the nurseries, and the virology lab at Clemson in which growers host budwood blocks, tested for economically important viruses by Clemson, from which nurseries collect budwood for June-budding for a fast turnaround for tree production. The Southeastern Budwood Program has been providing a source of budwood that is negative for important target viruses for the Southeast for more than 20 years.

The Prunus foundation at Clemson was initiated in 2010 when Clemson joined the newly formed NCPN. Over the last decade, the Clemson Clean Plant Center has worked closely with other fruit tree centers to establish a small Prunus foundation to house cultivars that are popular in the Southeast and with low chilling hour requirements.

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The Prunus screenhouse at Clemson’s Musser Fruit Research Farm was constructed in 2010 to house cultivars with low chilling hour requirements.