Fruit growers to donate $27 million to WSU

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- The state's apple and pear growers have voted to donate $27 million over the next eight years to support tree fruit research at Washington State University, the largest single gift in the Pullman school's history.

The growers voted to tax themselves $1 per ton of fruit and dedicate the money to research. Growers of cherries and stone fruit also voted, but declined to approve the special assessment.

Washington is the nation's top apple producer, and the tree fruit industry is a $6 billion business in the state. One-third of that business is tied to exports. The announcement was made at WSU's research center in Prosser on Tuesday morning.