New approaches to frost control

The height of the vines influences how they fare during cold weather.

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  • Fruit from the Prairie

Fruit from the Prairie

  • April 1st, 2010

The five members of the Romance series of sour cherries, released in 2003, surround Carmine Jewel, which was released in 1999. All are very dark and sweeter than the tart cherries produced in the United States.

Fruit production doesn’t get much attention at Canada’s 52° north latitude, but plant breeders [...]

  • Tree planter pays dividends

Tree planter pays dividends

  • April 1st, 2010

Yakima Valley Orchards designed and built its own three-row tree planting machine.

Yakima Valley Orchards used to plant trees by hand, with workers digging holes with shovels. Now, it has a three-row planting machine that has cut labor costs in half. But, Travis Allan, operations manager, said the real value [...]

  • It just got out of hand

It just got out of hand

  • April 1st, 2010

Phil Brown Welding officially started business in 1964, after some years as an unofficial provider of specialized fruit industry equipment.

“My dad was a fruit grower,” Phil said. “We started building machines for our use, and then began building stuff for the neighbors. It just got out of hand.”

His brother, [...]

Hand-held thinning tool

  • April 1st, 2010

Much of the research in orchard innovation involves automation and robotics, but not every orchard can accommodate technology like mechanized harvesters and mechanical thinners. That’s why a Washington State University engineer is also looking for technology that could augment hand labor.

Dr. Qin Zhang, a biological systems engineer for WSU, [...]

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  • April 1st, 2010

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  • Chemical thinners are inconsistent

Chemical thinners are inconsistent

  • April 1st, 2010

Penn State’s Dr. Jim Schupp says that the inconsistent results with chemical thinners led to researcher interest in mechanical thinners.

After a decade of searching for effective chemical blossom thinners for Pacific Northwest stone fruit growers, researchers are still empty-handed.

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission has evaluated chemical thinners for [...]

  • Retrofitting an apple packing line

Retrofitting an apple packing line

  • April 1st, 2010

A Yakima, Washington, grower-packer operation wanted to upgrade its optical sorting capability but didn’t want to make expensive changes to the entire line. By retrofitting the outdated optics with a new system, color and size grade adjustments can now be made quickly with a few computer keystrokes.

Mike Saunders, Apple [...]

Stretching storage of Honeycrisp

  • February 15th, 2010

As production volumes increase for Honeycrisp apples, the need for a longer marketing window becomes more important. Researchers like Ines Hanrahan are looking for ways to stretch storage of Honeycrisp beyond Christmas.

With consumers and retailers clamoring for the popular variety, growers have responded to the strong demand by planting [...]

Searching for cherry cracking strategies

  • February 15th, 2010

When researching rain-induced cracking of sweet cherries, it’s obvious that rain is a requirement. Two years of research, though yielding little rain-induced cracking, have shown potential for reduced cracking from some materials, as well as a varietal difference in the timing of susceptibility to cracking.

The Washington Tree Fruit Research [...]

  • Matching trellis to variety and site

Matching trellis to variety and site

  • February 1st, 2010

Rocks are plentiful in this block of Syrah that will be trained to the vertical shoot positioned bilateral cordon.

Bringing out the terroir of Grand Rêve Estate Vineyard has been an involved process, says vineyard manager Ryan Johnson, requiring a number of different training systems in the small parcel on [...]

  • Time to test drive WA2

Time to test drive WA2

  • February 1st, 2010

WSU selections available for tasting, during a new variety showcase at the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting.

Washington apple growers are being offered the opportunity to evaluate Washington State University’s new variety WA2 in their orchards.

WSU has licensed the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission to make WA2 available to [...]

  • Next-generation harvester

Next-generation harvester

  • February 1st, 2010

The harvester has four suction tubes for each worker to use. Fruit travels up the tube to an electronic scanner on the platform. Packable fruit and culls go into separate bins.

After testing prototypes of their apple-harvesting system in Washington State in 2009, Picker Technologies and Oxbo are fine-tuning the [...]