New OSU scientist will make fruit quality top priority

October 10, 2011
Yan Wang
Yan Wang, new post-harvest physiologist at OSU's Mid-Columbia Ag Research & Extension Ctr in Hood River. (Photo: Caixia Li)

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Oregon State University has hired a scientist in Hood River to help the area's growers produce fruit that can travel the globe and still look and taste like it was just picked.

Yan Wang is based at OSU's Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

 Wang's work focuses on ways to preserve and enhance tree fruit quality, prolong marketability, and reduce post-harvest damage with primary emphasis on pears and cherries. Specifically, he's looking at how to maintain quality and prevent damage to fruit during storage and transport through the use of plant growth regulators, food additives, wax coatings and certain storage conditions.

He's writing a grant proposal to work on alternatives to the pesticide ethoxyquin to control scald in pears, a major issue in the long-term storage of Anjou pears. He's also seeking support for research on modified atmosphere packaging and wax coatings to make fruit last longer.

Another area of focus is finding ways to extend post-harvest life and reduce post-harvest splitting and surface pitting in sweet cherries. "Sweet cherry pitting is a big issue in the Northwest," Wang said.

"Yan’s position is critical to the tree fruit industry in the mid-Columbia region," said Brian Tuck, director of the Mid-Columbia center. "He'll provide the link between our producers and the consumers, assuring that the high quality of fruit we produce is what the consumer sees when they purchase our fruit in the store. Maintaining fruit quality after harvest is critical to the sustainability of our industry."

Wang earned his undergraduate and master's degrees in China and his doctorate at the University of Georgia in 2001. He worked at JBT FoodTech in California for nine years where he led research in physiological disorders and decay on post-harvest produce and tested and developed new products and methods to extend the shelf life of produce.

He enjoyed the job, he said, but his career goal has always been to work for a university.

"I like the clean air here, compared to southern California," he said with a laugh. "I like the four seasons." Wang is married to Caixia Li, and they have a 10-year-old daughter, Sarah.

Author: Rachel Beck
Source: Yan Wang, Brian Tuck