Notes from Organic Tree Fruit section:
Dr. David Granaststein, WSU: Organic is a fast growing category for apple and pear growers and for retailers. Retail sales grew 11.2 percent in 2014.
Organic apple acreage grew by 165 percent since 2008, while all apples grew just 13 percent. Washington State is the dominant player in organic apples, representing 90 percent of organic apple acreage.
Frank Padilla, VP produce and meat at Costco Wholesale: We’re seeing continued strong growth in consumer demand for organic, which includes fresh produce and other products meeting certain standards.
Costco estimates 2015 will bring $3.6 billion in organic sales for all categories. Fifty one percent of families buying more organic last year.
Produce sales at Costco breakdown as follows: 75 percent conventional, 14 percent organic and 11 percent hot house.
Howard Nager, VP of marketing, Domex Superfresh Growers: Organic in 2014 represents 6.9 percent of US produce sales. Sales of conventional apples fell five percent while organic apple sales grew nearly 14 percent.
Dr. Andrea Bixby-Brosi, WSU: Little Cherry Disease is a serious disease that causes cherries to be unmarketable.
Management of insect vectors (mealybugs) using organic compounds is currently being investigation. Conserving natural enemies (predators and parasitoids) is one management tactic for organic growers.
Notes from Pollination and Fruit Set section:
Manchurian crab apple diseases, pollination biology, bee behavior and even the concept of artificial pollination all came up in the science-packed morning session “Pollination and Fruit Set.”
Several researchers discussed how they proved how pruning and chemical treatments allayed China’s crab apple fungus concerns enough for the nation to reopen its markets to U.S. apples.
Two researchers, one Skyped in from the University of Arizona, discussed bee behavior and ecology.
Meanwhile, Matt Whiting of WSU’s Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser walked growers through his concept of using a mechanical sprayer to pollinate cherries, skipping bees altogether.
Yakima area commercial beekeeper Eric Olson’s reaction: “I don’t think I’m going out of business any time soon.”
– by Good Fruit Grower staff