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University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
El Dorado County was once part of a thriving commercial pear-growing region in California. In the late 1950s, though, pear decline disease invaded California and quickly devastated nearly all of the county’s pear orchards. The late Dick Bethell, then a UCCE farm advisor, stepped in to help find a way for county growers to keep in business. He tested new disease-resistant rootstocks for the area, helped growers transition to apple production and then create and popularize local agritourism ventures focused on apples, and helped introduce winegrape growing to the area. Today, “Apple Hill” is a highly visited regional agritourism destination with apples, stone fruits, berries, and pumpkins in the fall—thanks in large part to the work of Dick Bethell.
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