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Sun World debuts high-tech innovation center in Wasco

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In this file photo from December 2020, research scientist Esther Niu works to extract DNA in Sun World's new innovations facility in Wasco. The specialty-fruit breeding company breeds plants to produce the tastiest, best-looking grapes and stone fruit with the longest-possible shelf life.

Local specialty crop breeder Sun World International LLC threw open the doors Friday of a new, state-of-the art research and development center in Wasco focused on fulfilling consumer and grower expectations while also coming up with new varieties more tolerant of drought and extreme heat.

The Palm Desert-based company with more than 2,000 customers in 15 countries hosted tours of its 140-acre campus outfitted with advanced scientific laboratories and surrounded by commercial orchards, vineyards and homes. The facility began operations in December 2020 but hadn't been open to visitors until this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic.