To help the burgeoning fruit industry in the area, the Western Agriculture Research Center north of Corvallis recently hired Rachel Leisso, who will work on small fruit research with an emphasis on apples. She will also be working with Zack Miller and Katrina Mendrey on cold injury and pest management in apple production. Leisso has a doctorate in horticulture from Washington State University and has worked at the Tree Fruit Research Lab in Wenatchee, Washington.

Western Ag superintendent Zach Miller said in a news release that Leisso's expertise as a plant pathologist and her experience analyzing post-harvest apple qualities will be valuable. He said, "To have the capacity to provide a detailed analysis of samples for market qualities not only in apples, but for wine and berry varieties as well, provides a critical service the apple and small fruit industries in Montana."

Darrin Boss, at Montana State University in Bozeman, said that the Corvallis research center is unique from the other six state research centers because it has specific projects dealing with small fruits and apples. He said, "WARC has a long and important history of conducting research and programs that support Montana's agricultural industry and the Bitterroot Valley." The research centers are administered by the MSU College of Agriculture.