Cherry Exports

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration met with shippers last month in Yakima, Washington, to explain how a congressionally mandated bill will affect 2009 cherry exports, as well as to learn how the agency may be able to make practical adjustments to the regulations to help the fruit industry meet the new requirements.

According to Robert Shaffer, Jr., a cargo security inspector for TSA, by the 2009 season, in 50 percent of all cherry shipments on passenger aircraft, every box will need to be screened. By 2010, every box will have to be inspected. Shaffer emphasized that to make the process efficient enough to accommodate the demands of a perishable crop, such as cherries, shippers themselves will have to assume the burden and expense of overseeing the certification process.

There are alternatives for shippers, such as using cargo-only aircraft or shipping cherries by ground to Canada, then using Canadian passenger aircraft to reach overseas destinations, but with 50 percent of the exports shipped on passenger planes, some amount of screening will need to occur.

Shippers who export extremely perishable products, like cherries, are encouraged to contact the TSA or the Northwest Horticultural Council, phone (509) 453-3193, for more information or to request an application to become a Certified Cargo Screening Program participant.

Early, Long-Storing Yellow Apple

Blondee is a new, long-storing yellow apple variety that ripens five days before Gala.

Blondee was discovered by orchardists Tom and Bob McLaughlin of Portsmouth, Ohio. The original limb is in a remote orchard high above the Ohio River, overlooking Kentucky. It has been under test with International Plant Management, Inc., for eight years and has been planted with cooperating testers in numerous locations around the country.

Blondee has a clear, yellow skin and smooth finish with nonprominent lenticels. The flesh is exceptionally firm for an apple in that season and has a sweet, crunchy texture. It has some resistance to browning.

The fruit holds well on the tree for up to two or three weeks and holds well in common storage with little loss of firmness or flavor. It is an excellent choice for U-pick and retail operations because of its long ripening period and because it matures at a time when there are few other high-quality yellow varieties available, according to International Plant Management.

The tree is strong and upright. It has moderate susceptibility to fireblight, similar to Golden Delicious. It is an annual bearer, with good blossom set and hardiness.

Wally Heuser, of International Plant Management, said in a press release that Blondee was an exceptional find and he has been excited about it during the several years of testing. "Its storage abilities are among the best I’ve seen for a new apple and exceptionally better than any other apple in or near its ripening season. I have stored Blondee in my little walk-in cooler for twelve months, and it was still good eating. It stored much better than Gala or even Golden Delicious."

Rob Crane of Crane Orchards in Fennville, Michigan, has tested Blondee in his U-pick operation. "Our customers were very impressed," he said in the press release. "Everyone loved it. It has five things that we always look for in the perfect apple: excellent flavor, good keeping ability, great color and finish, holding ability on the tree, and tree health."

Blondee is available for 2010 plantings. Call International Plant Management at (800) 424-2765 for more information.

Climate Change

Agricultural producers in Washington State, including fruit grower and packer Warren Morgan of Quincy, are joining university researchers, natural resource conservationists, and advocates for agriculture to take an in-depth look at the risks presented by global climate change, as well as potential opportunities.

The Agricultural Working Group on Climate Change Mitigation will explore how climate change will impact growing conditions, yields, commodity prices, input costs, and other factors.

The group will also look at the positive role agriculture can play in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere in plants, reducing the impact of emissions from other sources.

Leaders of the group are Chad Kruger of Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Kirk Cook, a hydrogeologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Information, including meeting schedules and names of the panelists, is available at the Web site, www.ecy. under "Forestry and Agriculture."

Wine Sales

Family Wineries of Washington State is a new organization formed to seek reform of regulations governing the sale of wines in the state.

Washington is the second-largest wine-producing state in the country, with more than 540 wineries. Forty-two wineries joined the new organization during the start-up phase.

Family Wineries is seeking reforms to refocus the Washington State Liquor Control Board to concentrate on its core missions of protecting public safety and collecting taxes and to allow free market forces to control sale and distribution of wine in the state.