‘Cosmic Crisp’ Apple Breeder to Lead Washington Research and Extension Center

The Washington apple breeder who helmed the final stages of selection and release of the state’s new apple, ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ is the new interim director of the Washington State University (WSU) Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center (TFREC) at Wenatchee.

Professor and horticulturalist Kate Evans will begin her term as interim director on Aug. 26. She replaces outgoing director Jim McFerson, who led the program for nearly four years.

A WSU faculty member since 2008, Evans is a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, part of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

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Based at Wenatchee, she leads WSU’s pome fruit breeding program developing improved apple scions and pear rootstocks.

‘Cosmic Crisp’ Apple Breeder to Lead Washington Research and Extension Center

Kate Evans, WSU

Evans took over from retired WSU apple breeder Bruce Barritt for the final stages of selection and release of the new WA 38 apple, ‘Cosmic Crisp,’ a highly anticipated, juicy, flavorful, and long-storing variety for Washington growers.

She holds a doctorate in plant molecular biology from Durham University, U.K.

“With almost three decades of experience managing agricultural research that puts better varieties in growers’ hands, Kate has clearly demonstrated her ability to share and deliver the kind of valuable knowledge that’s at the core of the WSU Tree Fruit mission,” says André Denis Wright, Dean of CAHNRS. “She understands the needs and challenges that our growers face, and has the scientific and leadership abilities to direct the tree fruit research team as they work to support Northwest producers.”

“The Pacific Northwest fruit industry is one of the largest in the world, and our growers depend on WSU research for better plants, practices, and ideas,” Evans said. “As a scientist, it’s been exciting for me to help breed new varieties ideally suited for our growing conditions, market needs, and consumer preferences. Now, as interim center director, I’ll support WSU research that boosts the health and potential of our fruit economy.”

The center’s prior director, McFerson, came to the WSU tree fruit program in 2015 after managing the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

“Jim has provided strong direction and served the state well as director at Wenatchee,” Wright said. “He helped strengthen the bridge between industry and WSU research. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in the next stage of his career.”