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California commissions combine

The California Apple Commission has announced a joint management venture with the California Kiwifruit Commission in October. The new arrangement allows both organizations to have separate programs, representing the needs of each industry, while maximizing their resources, said Alex Ott, the Apple Commission’s executive director.

The two fruits have different marketing seasons, but several international markets are similar. Kiwifruit programs that will be managed by the Apple Commission include federal Market Access Program funding, standardization, research, and educational projects. The Apple Commission represents approximately four million boxes of fresh apples; the Kiwi Commission represents between six to nine million trays.

Both are state commissions.

Positions open on Fresh Pear Committee

Pear handlers in the Wenatchee, Washington, district will elect nominees for positions on the Fresh Pear Committee of the federal pear marketing order during the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association meeting on December 11. The meeting begins at noon at the Washington Apple Commission conference room in Wenatchee. All pear handlers may attend nominating meetings.

The Fresh Pear Committee collects assessments for pear research and the promotion and advertising of fresh pears. It also recommends minimum grade, size, and quality standards under which fresh pears are marketed.

The handler positions to be filled are currently held by Scott Marboe (member), Kyle Fagg (first alternate), and Chuck Underwood (second alternate).

State offers housing infrastructure loans

The state of Washington’s Farmworker Housing Infrastructure Loan Program is offering no-interest loans to qualified growers for installing the infrastructure needed to build or preserve farmworker housing on their farms.

Growers must match the loans with their own money spent on construction or repair of housing. The housing must be kept as licensed temporary farmworker housing for the term of the loan, which is normally 15 years.

Examples of projects that would qualify for the loans include: drinking water supply, including wells; drinking water treatment; engineering services for septic and water; excavation and grading; foundations and tent pads; septic systems; and propane installation.

Last year, the program loaned more than $900,000 to 11 growers, resulting in 600 additional beds being available for the 2006 season. About $1.5 million is available for the 2007 season.

The deadline for applications is December 15. For more information, contact Pat Arnold at the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development at patriciaa@cted.wa.gov, or (509) 395-2341.

Vineyard database online

Pacific Northwest wine grape growers are invited to tour a free on-line vineyard management resource developed for Oregorn growers. The Oregon Vineyard Database called OVID is an on-line service used by Oregon’s wine grape growers and winemakers to share information on vineyard sites, soils, plantings, and management practices to help industry produce the highest quality fruit and wine.

Funds from a grant partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and the Washington Wine Industry Foundation provided support for OVID to build additional functions allowing Pacific Northwest grape growers to assess the program and database as a potential template for all grape growers in the Northwest.

Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Wine Foundation, encourages grape growers to take an on-line tour of the management tool and share their thoughts about it with the foundation.

To learn how OVID works, growers can log on to www.ovid.us and click on the link tour of OVID’s member pages. The tour showcases how OVID works and what vineyard information is collected to help growers better manage production.

Tree fruit foundation scholarships

The Washington Apple Education Foundation is offering more than 80 opportunities for college-bound students to receive scholarships. It expects to award $150,000 to students next spring on behalf of Washington’s tree fruit industry.

Application forms may be found at www.waef.org and must be submitted to the foundation no later than March 1, 2007. For more information, call (509) 663-7713 or e-mail jennifer@waef.org.