Senator Byrd Plants Bluebyrd Plum Celebrating 20 Years of ARS Research
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Judy McBride, (301) 504-1628, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 10, 1999
KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va., Aug. 10--U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia
today planted a plum tree named in his honor at the Appalachian Fruit
Research Station here in celebration of the station's 20th anniversary. In
1979, Senator Byrd dedicated the 500-acre research facility operated by the
Agricultural Research Service, the chief research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
"Senator Byrd has been a staunch supporter of the research conducted at
Kearneysville," ARS Administrator Floyd P. Horn said at the planting
ceremony. "It was with this in mind that Ralph Scorza, the ARS
horticulturist who released the new plum, named it Bluebyrd."
"Scientists at this laboratory strive to develop the science, technology and
genetic base that will produce more and better fruit crops while minimizing
disruptions of the ecosystem," Horn continued. "With this new plum tree,
we're giving consumers a new, sweet-tasting plum. We're also giving growers
a high-quality, consistently high-producing European-type plum for the
mid-Atlantic and other fruit growing regions of the United States." Bluebyrd
is available in nurseries for the first time this year.
Released in 1998, Bluebyrd has been successfully tested under cold winter
conditions in Kearneysville and in Geneva, N.Y. First selected and tested in
1968 at ARS' Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center, Bluebyrd ripens
during the first week of September at Kearneysville. With deep purple skin
and amber colored fruit, this plum consistently produces heavy crops when
cross-pollinated. The plums are sweet and flavorful, and the hardy trees
Other fruits developed by the Kearneysville researchers include two peaches,
two pears and a nectarine, station director Dariusz Swietlik said.
Kearneysville researchers also developed particle film technology, a
non-toxic alternative to pesticides, which protects apples, pears and
peaches from some insects and diseases while improving fruit yield and
quality. In addition, discoveries of station researchers have been turned
into two commercial products to control diseases naturally on fruit after
harvest: Aspire, a yeast-based product, and Biosave 110, a bacteria-based
The researchers have found other alternatives for protecting fruit trees
from pest insects and mites, including non-toxic sugar esters, beneficial
insects and flowering cover crops to attract beneficial insects to the
orchard. They also developed a mathematical model to predict the occurrence
and appropriate control measures for fire blight, a devastating disease of
apple and pear trees worldwide.
Engineering research at Kearneysville has produced a prototype for an
automatic apple inspection system and mechanical harvesters for blueberries,
blackberries, raspberries and oranges. The scientists also developed new
culture systems for growing strawberries in a soil-less medium or in
hydroponics for higher economic return.
Other developments at Kearneysville include a hydroponic system to produce
lettuce, basil and other horticultural crops in aquaculture waste water.
This not only provides nutrients for the plants, but also removes pollutants
from the waste water, which can be safely returned to the environment.
Scientific contacts: Ralph Scorza or Dariusz Swietlik, ARS Appalachian Fruit
Research Station, Kearneysville, WVa.; phone (304) 725-3451 X-322 (Scorza),
X-326 (Swietlik); fax (304) 728-2340; email@example.com,
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