Fruit Research & Extension Center
The Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in Biglerville is situated on 125 acres of fertile land in south-central Pennsylvania, in the heart of the major tree fruit production area of the state. The center's total orchard and land holdings include an additional 55 acres approximately three miles west of Biglerville, near Arendtsville.
The southcentral and southeastern counties of Pennsylvania grow about 80 percent (23,966 acres) of the state's apples and pears and approximately 84 percent (7,774 acres) of the stone fruits (peach, nectarine, plum, and cherry). Located in the area are two major processing companies that manufacture a variety of fruit products such as apple sauce, pie filling, apple juice, and specialty fruit products. Commercial productions of apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries, pears, and plums are valued at approximately $84 million annually.
The center is part of the research and extension division of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. In addition to providing site-specific conditions for research, the facility increases opportunities for growers, consultants, consumers, and students to observe experiments and to consult with scientists. Extension specialists apply experimental findings to local conditions, and, in turn, make suggestions to scientists about new research needs.
The college established a field laboratory at Arendtsville in 1918 and appointed a plant pathologist and an entomologist to work on fruit problems in the region. Closed temporarily as an economic measure in 1936, the laboratory was reopened in 1937 because of the recognition that certain kinds of research could best be conducted in this fruit-producing region. Land and buildings purchased in Arendtsville were remodeled into offices and laboratories, and a greenhouse was added for studies of virus diseases. Three faculty members conducted the center's research programs.
Because of the increased need for fruit research into new cultural practices, pesticides, and virus diseases, the College of Agriculture purchased additional farmland at Biglerville in 1956 and added a plant virologist to its faculty in 1965. A grant from the Musselman Foundation, along with funds from state and federal sources, made possible the construction of new laboratory, office, greenhouse, and service facilities at Biglerville in 1971. The Musselman Building for Agricultural Research and Education significantly expanded programs and services available to the statewide fruit industry. To support much-needed research in postharvest physiology, a new state-of-the-art, computerized, controlled-atmosphere storage facility was built in 1989. Space needed for fruit handling, observations, and storage is provided by this 86 foot by 60 foot metal building. Today, independent studies in entomology, plant pathology/nematology, pomology and postharvest physiology are conducted in orchards, laboratories, and buildings with specialized facilities and equipment, including:
* growth chambers for plant pathogen and insect investigations
* an insectary for raising and studying predatory mites and insects
* an elutriator and other equipment for plant-parasitic nematode extraction and identification
* precision spray applicators
* state-of-the-art pesticide storage and surplus pesticide mixture disposal
* three BallyÆÇ prefabricated cold rooms equipped with steel barrels serving as individual storage chambers
* Oxystat 2ÆÇ Model 930 made by David Bishop Instruments, Sussex, England, to analyze and control up to 62 storage atmospheres
Today, the research and extension facilities and orchards are effectively utilized by scientists in five permanent and two fixed-term positions assigned to the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology. Permanent personnel support for the center consists of seven technical service positions, two secretaries (1.6 positions), and one custodian (50% appointment). Approximately 15 to 20 additional part-time persons are employed annually to support research and extension projects.
The center has an eighty-year history of developing scientific information for the benefit of the fruit industry throughout Pennsylvania, including improved methods of fruit production, better pest and disease control programs, and improved fruit storage methods.
P.O. Box 330
290 University Drive
Bridgeville, PA 17307
Phone: 717 677-6116
Fax: 717 677-4112
© 2008 College of Agricultural Sciences