Growers, their friends and families, and others interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at the new, $21-million San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier, Calif., are invited to attend an open house on Thursday, May 23, 2002, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Center, operated by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, is located at 9611 S. Riverbend Avenue.

Visitors can join an informal, 30-minute walking tour that will give them a glimpse at research laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instruments, and temperature-controlled chambers where non-chemical treatments for zapping insects or decay organisms that can attack crops after harvest are tested..

The single story, 78,000-square-foot research center, completed in 2001, is staffed by chemists, entomologists, geneticists, plant pathologists, plant physiologists, hydrologists, agricultural engineers, and soil scientists, and others. With a total of more than 80 specialists working at the center's labs, offices, greenhouses, fields, and orchards, the 140-acre complex ranks as one of the largest federally managed agricultural research facilities in California. The center accommodates staff formerly located in Fresno.

For further information about the event contact Sharon MacIsaac, USDA-ARS San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center, (559) 596-2850.