Good Fruit Grower

February 15

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GOOD FRUIT GROWER FEBRUARY 15, 2014 21 ethylene gas. Pears are typically chilled after harvest or exposed to ethylene gas to induce their own ripening. He found that fruit quality (aromatic experience) was greater if ethylene gas was combined with 50°F temperatures during the ripening process. "In the past, packing house operators used one or the other—either ethylene or cold tempera- tures. But you need both," he said, emphasizing that for early picked fruit, the ethylene exposure should be 72 hours and not 24. "It's a contentious issue because most operators don't want to seal up a room for 72 hours." Other major research accomplishments during Sugar's three decades of work included identifying pear scab populations resistant to key fungi- cides and developing control strategies and issuing risk advisories; devel- oping strategies to reduce russet in green-skinned pears and enhance russet in Bosc; and developing ripening techniques for earlier marketing of Comice and d'Anjou pears. Interest in fungi So, how did an urban dweller become interested in agriculture? Although Sugar received a degree in English literature from the University of Michigan in 1971, he had a close friend, also an English literature graduate, who got interested in plants and the environment. The early 1970s were the begin- nings of a new environmental awareness. "My friend (who eventually became head gardener at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello) was so inspiring that I caught the bug to study plants and the environment and headed West," said Sugar. He went to the University of Washington to learn the basics of botany and plant ecology. There, he got interested in plant pathology and agriculture and credits his mycology professor for showing him the world of fungi, agriculture, and research. Because plant pathology and agriculture were not areas of study available at UW, Sugar transferred to the Uni- versity of California, Davis, for his master's degree in plant pathology. He received his doctorate in plant pathology from OSU. He began work at OSU in 1978 as an assistant to Porter Lombard at the research station in Medford. Sugar's first few years immersed him in the pear industry, and he learned how to prune, irrigate, spray, harvest, and cut out fireblight. "I learned about general pear orchard operations," he said, noting that he took a brief leave to work on his doctorate in Corvallis, returning to Medford to finish his thesis on postharvest fungal decay of pears. His understanding of basic horticulture was valu- able during his years at the research station because some of the work he did was "purely horticultural." For example, he helped develop new OSU pear cultivars (Cascade, BestEver, and Paragon) and eval- uated pear rootstocks; quantified color development in red pear vari- eties and the effects of rootstock, light quality, and evaporative cooling on fruit red color; and developed growth regulator treatments to be used for enhancing fruit size. "Working with the people in the pear industry and being included in their efforts has been very rewarding, and I feel grateful to have been a part of this industry," Sugar said. • "My friend was so inspiring that I caught the bug to study plants and the environment and headed West." —David Sugar David Sugar is at the center of cold storage testing at Oregon State University's Southern Oregon Experiment Station in Medford, Oregon. PHOTO BY TJ MULLINAX

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