Jul 24, 2015
Recap: IFTA’s 2015 Regional Summer Tour

Innovation and dexterity are in ample supply in the Washington state fruit industry. This was on full display during the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) summer tour in mid-July.

At Stemilt Ag Services – Saddle Mountain West – Dale Goldy pointed out the farm is located near many other farming operations that lends to efficiency. The site is basically flat with good soil drainage. Local labor can be hard to attract due to the distance from city populations.

Yakima Valley Orchards at the Columbia View ranch features a pedestrian orchard that could offers some manpower efficiencies that could reduce labor challenges. Getting rid of those pesky ladders could become a reality with such an approach.

At Hi-Point Orchard in Basin City, Rick Orizco focuses apple production on an effective thinning program and by pruning for short and productive wood.

Jim Doornink at Doornink Fruit Ranch prunes at bud swell, counts buds and tries to prune closer to crop load.

Bruce Allen operates Chiawana Orchard near Yakima at 1,200-foot elevation. His Honeycrisp production approach includes under-tree micro and overhead cooling. They thin at bloom time with lime sulfur and fish oil.

Jason Matson of Matson Fruit Co. fertilizes his Honeycrisp blocks into the drip line daily.

Brent Milne at McDougall & Sons – Whispering Rocks Orchard – takes advantage of early entry into the market due to gravel and sandy soils, very warm, south aspect with gentle slope to the south.

Bill McCombs at Valley Fruit Co. – Royal 1 Orchard – manages Gala, Red Delicious and Fuji on the south side of the Royal Slope, providing ideal conditions for growing high-quality fruit.

Tim Welsh, IFTA president, showed off plantings at Winchester Orchard near Quincy of Nicoter 2-top versus tall spindle systems. It’s an organic operation that was purchased in 2007 for production of new apple varieties.

McDougall & Sons’ Prospector Orchard near Quincy uses Cameron Select Honeycrisp on a steep V system.

For more coverage from the tour, check out the following links:

Gary Pullano





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