WVU Plant Pathologist on Team Compiling Free Web Portal to All Apple Research


Dr. Alan R. Biggs, a plant pathologist at West Virginia University’s Tree Fruit Research and Education Center is a member of a national team that is developing the first comprehensive apple production portal for eXtension.org.

eXtension is an interactive online learning environment that delivers researched-based knowledge developed by the nation’s land-grant university experts. The web site will provide region-specific apple cultivar and rootstock descriptions and recommendations to commercial producers, nursery professionals, Extension educators, Extension Master Gardeners, home gardeners and consumers.


“A wealth of information regarding apple varieties and rootstocks has been amassed by researchers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico over the past 50 years, but in large part is inaccessible to the public,” Biggs explained. “Diverse and dynamic educational tools such as interactive maps, searchable databases, videos and online courses will be developed and housed at eXtension.org, creating a commons of information critical to the apple industry.” The researcher said these resources will help increase the adoption of new and existing apple cultivars and rootstocks ideal to particular regions.

As growers increase their understanding of the importance of these choices, crop characteristics will greatly improve and, he said, the incidence and impact of industry-critical pest and disease problems will be reduced.


West Virginia’s tree fruit industry usually ranks among the top 10 states in apple production, and among the top15 in peach production. Ninety-five percent of the state’s tree fruits are grown in the four Eastern Panhandle counties. The Davis College operates the WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Research and Education Center (KTFREC), located in Kearneysville (Jefferson County) in the heart of the state’s fruit industry. Research and Extension efforts at KTFREC have helped the state’s fruit industry remain competitive nationally, Biggs said. 


The online community will provide region-specific apple cultivar and rootstock descriptions and recommendations to all. “Producers will have access to valuable information that will increase production efficiency and profitability over the long term and contribute to the sustainability of their operations and the industry as a whole,” Biggs said. “Increased knowledge among home gardeners and consumers on the significance of regional apple production will bolster industry and regional economic and sustainability efforts.”




Hatch Act


The principal counties served are Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, and Hampshire (95% of the commercial fruit industry is in the state’s eastern panhandle)


Dr. Alan R. Biggs
Professor of Plant Pathology, Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Extension Specialist
West Virginia University - Kearneysville Tree Fruit Research and Education Center
P.O. Box 609, Kearneysville, WV 25430

Phone: 304-876-6353
Fax: 304-876-6034