There's a tug of war between Washington state and Oregon over where to base a new researcher working on diseases that cause blueberries to rot.

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There’s a tug of war between Washington state and Oregon over where to base a new researcher working on diseases that cause blueberries to rot.

The Obama administration’s new budget would add a scientist to the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research in Corvallis. Fruit rots, often caused by fungus, are a major concern of berry growers.

Washington growers, amid a rapid expansion that has seen production triple in recent years, want the scientist to be in Mount Vernon, a major growing area, the agricultural publication Capital Press (http://bit.ly/KLseqB) reported.

“We have ongoing concerns that the small fruits research center’s research is pretty heavily focused toward Oregon,” Alan Schreiber, administrator of the Washington Blueberry Commission, said.

“We’re desperately in need of a small fruit pathologist in Washington, and this is the first position to come up in a while,” he said.

The center’s research director, Bob Martin, said the scientist would be better off in the campus environment at Oregon State University.

“I understand the Washington point of view,” Martin said. “Most small fruits research programs are located in Corvallis. But I think we can do better if we have a technician up there and the research program here.”

The center has 15 researchers, including two in Idaho and one in Prosser, Wash. The remainder work out of the center’s Corvallis home on the Oregon State University campus.

Washington growers have asked the Oregon Blueberry Commission for support, but it balked and decided on more study, the Capital Press reported

Federal agriculture officials eventually will decide the question, Martin said.

Schreiber said he believes Washington’s production this year will approach 70 million pounds, the projection for Oregon’s.

Information from: Capital Press, http://www.capitalpress.com/