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Our Mission

To discover new, relevant growing information in the tree fruit industry and provide firsthand data to those who seek to make their business more profitable.

Red Apple

Why We Exist

Change in the fruit industry is outpacing the research that’s available to growers. In addition, the gap between current research and what’s relevant to the industry is growing. LTI aims to bridge that gap with a focus on profitability to back your business decisions. 

  • Provide useful, progressive, relevant in-the-field research data

  • Transparency to grower members

  • Focus on farm profitability so members can make good business decisions

  • Openness to all research topics that are important to grower members

  • Verify concepts that work for our specific growing region

How We Operate

LTI is based on an 80-acre high-density orchard in the heart of Michigan's fresh market fruit-growing region. Currently, we have 60.3 acres of conventional production, 5.9 acres of certified organic production, and 4.5 acres of transitional organic production. Members will have the opportunity to receive the latest trial data, influence research topics, as well as attend informational meetings and demonstrations.

Trials will also be done off-site where the varieties and environment are conducive to gathering accurate research data.

Why You Should Be Involved

Your involvement in the industry is more than just a passion, it’s a business. Growing fruit is a fast changing, expensive, complex business that is far from perfected.  Minor adjustments to your growing practices can greatly increase profitability. Growers invest a lot into their crop and should have confidence that their agronomic decisions are backed by the best information available. By becoming a member of LTI, you are investing in your operation’s profitability and long-term success. 

Who We Are 


Tye Wittenbach

Hi, my name is Tye Wittenbach. I am a 5th generation Michigan farmer with a passion for the apple industry. My passion for the industry began at an early age while growing up on the family farm, Wittenbach Orchards LLC. My father and grandfather, Mike and Ed Wittenbach, taught me the importance of staying at the forefront of growing technology. I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in AgriBusiness Management and went on to pursue my Masters of Science in Horticulture. My time at Michigan State taught me the importance of the business aspect of the industry as well as the research side. My experience in academic research helped me recognize a need in the industry for first-hand on-farm research. The result of this recognition led our team to found LTI Ag Research. As the manager of LTI Ag Research, I will offer growers and vendors the opportunity to see innovative products, horticultural techniques, and general growing practices in Michigan that will help you operate a more profitable business.

About: About

John Rasch

Hi, my name is John Rasch.

Paul Umlor 

Paul has been in the Ag Retail industry since 2005. Continued education in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) research, and nutrition management are all of the topics that keep me engaged and moving forward in production agriculture. I also have a drive for leading productive collaboration within the industry. When not working, I enjoy rock hunting, ice fishing, traveling, volunteering at church, or anything with my wife and two young boys. 

Dan Zemaitis 

Dan grew up working in orchards from early on. He decided to continue his family's multi-generational involvement within Michigan's fruit-growing industry and obtained a degree in Agribusiness at Michigan State University. He worked as an orchard crop consultant at Wilbur-Ellis after college which furthered his curiosity of perfecting our growing practices. More recently he became involved with establishing LTI Ag Research and has taken on a new position as an orchard farm manager at Riveridge Land Co.

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