Starting in December, Washington State tree fruit and grape growers will be asked for information on their acreage, varieties, and rootstocks for an industrywide survey that will be compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The last grape and tree fruit acreage survey was published in 2006. Dan Kelly, assistant manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, which is serving as the lead organization, said his association received funding of $99,500 towards the $240,000 cost of a new survey through the federal Specialty Crop Research Initiative program. The rest of the funds have come from industry donations and in-kind contributions.
The survey will be launched during the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting in Yakima, December 6–8, when growers will have an opportunity to fill out the survey on a computer. The NASS will also mail out survey forms to all tree fruit and grape growers in the state to fill out at home. All growers with more than five acres are encouraged to respond.
The questionnaire will ask growers about the age, variety, rootstocks, and density of existing plantings, and about their intentions for the next five years in terms of topworking, replanting, removing trees, or planting new acreage. In addition, it will ask how much acreage they have in organic production and how much is certified.
Kelly said all the major tree fruit and grape industry groups are supporting the survey, which will be helpful as they plan their activities. It will also be useful for growers who are thinking of planting or replanting to know how widely certain varieties are planted before they make a decision. When compiling the results, NASS will consolidate minor varieties into one of two “other” categories—one for new varieties, and one for older varieties of which there is minimal production.
In January, NASS will begin contacting growers who have not responded or who need help filling out the survey. Results should be published next summer.
Tree Top, Inc., the Pear Bureau Northwest, Northwest Farm Credit, and the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers have helped fund the survey. NASS and the Clearing House are providing in-kind contributions.