Rutgers professor of plant biology Nicholi Vorsa was named as a 2022 recipient of the Service to Industry Award at the December 2021 Board of Directors meeting of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA). The WSCGA awards are given to individuals for their work on behalf of the WSCGA and the Wisconsin cranberry community.
Vorsa has built a nationally recognized cranberry breeding program at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension in Chatsworth, NJ, where he served as director from 1988 until 2021. The program has released seven patented cranberry varieties with increased productivity and fruit quality. The cultivars have received wide acceptance and are being extensively planted and grown in all U.S. cranberry growing states and Canadian provinces, as well as in Chile and New Zealand.
Vorsa’s program focuses on the development of cranberry varieties with enhanced disease resistance, insect resistance, and adaptation to stresses, such as heat, in addition to genetic modification of fruit chemistry profiles. His research has led to the sequencing of the cranberry genome and identification of genes impacting fruit chemistry, e.g. flavonoids and fruit acids, as well as disease resistance.
The award was presented on January 19, during the 2022 Wisconsin Cranberry School and Conference.
“I am deeply honored by the award from the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers’ Association, the largest cranberry producing state in the US, but I am most honored to have my varieties accepted by the Wisconsin cranberry growers and to have contributed to their farm’s well-being,” said Vorsa.
The WSCGA Board of Directors presents the Service to Industry Award to individuals or groups who have provided outstanding service to the industry and WSCGA. The award is the highest recognition that the WSCGA provides. In addition to Vorsa, this year the Board voted to provide recognition to Kathryn VandenBosch, dean of the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Wisconsin is the nation’s leading producer of cranberries, harvesting more than 60 percent of the country’s crop. Wisconsin’s official state fruit, the cranberry is the state’s number one fruit crop, both in size and economic value.
The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) is a member-based organization designed to cultivate Wisconsin’s cranberry industry and support its growers through useful educational resources, responsible environmental stewardship, sound governmental policies and effective public communications.