Michigan Tree Fruit Commission – Working in new ways to advance the industry

Fruit is big business in Michigan. In fact, the Great Lakes State has a lot to brag about. But like so many other specialty crops, fruit
doesn’t typically generate much funding support from the private sector. That prompted the formation of the Michigan
Tree Fruit Commission in 2014. Apple, cherry, peach and plum growers pay
a per-pound tax based on production volume. That money is used for investments in research
and outreach at Michigan State University. MSU has four off-campus facilities throughout
Michigan that conduct research and outreach on behalf of the tree fruit industry. Grower dollars are matched by the state of Michigan and thus far equate to close to $3 million. All funding goes directly toward infrastructure,
equipment and professional development. One significant equipment investment is a
small-scale apple grading line for use by researchers and MSU Extension educators. The grading line quickly rates apples using
high-powered imaging software based on color, weight, external blemish detection and internal
damage. This unique partnership is helping growers
to remain competitive and sustainable, and ultimately helps to enhance the reputation
of Michigan’s tree fruit industry.