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Janet Turner, technician at Oregon State University's Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River, explains a Competitive Orchard Systems trial for pears.

Janet Turner, technician at Oregon State University’s Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Hood River, explains a Competitive Orchard Systems trial for pears.

There are definitely more smiles at the winter horticultural meetings this winter, particularly among apple growers. And good prices have a lot to do with that. Instead of looking back to better times, people are again planning for the tree fruit industry’s future.

One exciting new topic at many of these meetings—designing a competitive orchard system—has popped up in Extension lectures and later in hallway discussions. Educators throughout the United States are promoting the topic as an industry goal for the –coming decade.

Virtually all industries refocus with new directions, new technologies, and new priorities in order to stay competitive and fresh. Tree fruit growers, too, are always looking for new ways to keep consumers interested. This latest approach is entitled "Competitive Orchard Systems for 2015," a coordinated effort by researchers, educators, and growers
in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington State.

Building upon their successes over the past few years in designing a "Technology Roadmap" for tree fruit, educators from these tree-fruit production regions want to move the united approach to education and research a notch higher. COS 2015 encompasses all levels of the tree fruit industry, with the primary goal being profitability for growers. This emphasis on practical research and coordinated Extension services is exactly what the industry and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission have been encouraging for many years. By joining ranks, the core group of scientists and educators have committed to close communication between universities to eliminate duplication of efforts and to speed research necessary to improve competitiveness and profit.

In this issue, Good Fruit Grower presents what some growers across the country are thinking will make the optimum orchard in their future—and what researchers and Extension educators are doing to facilitate those dreams. It’s an exciting issue on an exciting topic—
the first of a new year and the beginning of an exciting future.