Utah State University professor hopes fruit tree science project blooms and grows

Data is currently being collected through website

Wesley Crump, Utah State University Extension assistant professor, seeks input from Wasatch Back residents who grow apple and peach trees for the Wasatch Back Fruit Tree Citizen Science Project.
Courtesy of Wesley Crump
To participate in the Utah State University Extension’s Wasatch Back Fruit Tree Citizen Science Project, visit For information about the Utah State University Extension in the Wasatch Back, visit
Wesley Crump, Utah State University Extension assistant professor, seeks input from Wasatch Back residents who grow apple and peach trees for the Wasatch Back Fruit Tree Citizen Science Project.
Courtesy of Wesley Crump

Wesley Crump is overseeing an effort he would like to see take root in Summit and Wasatch counties.

The Utah State University Extension assistant professor is introducing the Wasatch Back Fruit Tree Citizen Science Project, where he is tapping into the experience and knowledge of local residents who have grown and are growing apple and peach trees.

“I’m interested in better understanding what fruit trees can survive and thrive and produce along the Wasatch Back,” he said. 

One way this could be accomplished from a more traditional academic standpoint would be to plant a research orchard where Crump could collect data off of trees for an extended amount of time.

“While I would love that for the future, right now, just starting out and not having land or other resources available, I wanted to outsource the data collection to those in the community,” he said. “I want to collect data from those who are growing fruit trees, and aggregate the information into a usable document or database that could become a resource for those who are thinking about planting trees in the area in the future.”

Crump plans to make the information available online.

“That way people could see what types of trees have been growing, how they’ve done and whether growing fruit trees would be a feasible option for them,” he said.

Anyone growing fruit trees in Summit and Wasatch counties is invited to submit their data, according to Crump.

They can do so by visiting

“We’re not quite at the full data-collection stage because it’s been a long and cold winter, and spring is not fully here yet,” he said. “So we’re just now getting a few responses.”.

Crump will collect data until the local fruit trees start flowering.

“One of the key metrics that I’m interested in right now is bloom time, when the trees are getting ready to be pollinated,” he said. “We need to understand when that time is so we can overlay weather and climate data on top of that. Once you do that, you will start to see and get a better understanding of whether trees are putting their flowers out too early.”

If trees blossom too soon, they put their fruits at risk to freeze during cold snaps, Crump said.

“The next key metric I’m looking at is the harvest in the fall,” he said. “That’s when we’ll be able to see all the information we collected about the tree. We’ll see what date it bloomed, and whether or not it did produce fruit. If it did, we’ll be able to assess what date the fruit was deemed ripe.”

Crump will then assess the information and learn about temperatures and elevations that are best for the trees to grow.

“I’ve been thinking about doing this type of research for a while,” he said. “I think it is beneficial that there is an active relationship between the (Utah State University) Extension and community, because there are a lot of ways citizen science projects can be utilized to accomplish goals and develop resources.”

Citizen science projects are nothing new in data collecting and research, Crump said.

“It’s something that has been done with water-collection and testing projects, and I was interested in applying it to fruit trees to see what variety could work in this location.”

Participation in these types of studies also helps the public better understand the research, according to Crump.

“But there will always be concerns, because I don’t have total control over the people who are providing me data,” he said. “So there will always be questions about quality control and other subjective things that could inject variability. But I think if you understand that, and you publicize that with the results, then the pros, I think, outweigh the risks.”


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