Federal Funds Approved for Tree Fruit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will help fund several projects to expand economic opportunities for Washington tree fruit growers.

A total of $324,000 was allocated under the Farm Bill for agricultural projects in Washington State, including:

• Pear Bureau Northwest ($7,500) to produce a series of short videos showcasing pear growers from Washington’s Wenatchee, Yakima, and Mid-Columbia pear growing regions

• Washington Apple Commission ($29,500) to increase sales in India by training wholesalers and retailers how to handle, display, and store perishable products

• Washington State Fruit Commission ($25,000) to increase market share by educating Mexican consumers about Washington apricots and conducting a marketing program

• Washington State Fruit Commission ($20,000) to conduct a consumer-focused marketing program to increase sales of Washington cherries in Mexico

• Washington State University ($44,241) to develop a microbial food-safety risk assessment, collect data, and conduct educational outreach to the apple industry

• Northwest Agriculture Business Center ($40,700) to support a farm-based Community Supported Agriculture learning center to attract new farmers to agriculture and instruct them on marketing directly to consumers.

Other grants were awarded for projects pertaining to the cranberry, potato, and Christmas tree industries in Washington.

Help Find Lost Ladybugs

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists are asking for help in surveying for once-common ladybeetle species that are now hard to find.

Researchers with the Agricultural Research Service at Cornell University in New York and South Dakota State University are asking the public to photograph every ladybeetle possible and send the photos to Cornell so researchers can make an inventory of the insects. They are particularly interested in rare species, such as the nine-spotted, two-spotted, and transverse lady beetles.

More than 400 ladybeetle species are native to North America, but some have become extremely rare, perhaps displaced by development, pesticides, and non-native species, the researchers say.

Visit the Web site at www.lostlady bug.org for tips on photographing ladybeetles and submitting photos.

Wine Scholarships

The Washington Wine Foundation will offer three sets of scholarships for 2010, totaling more than $10,000. The Horse Heaven Hills Wine Growers Scholarship will provide $1,500 to a student pursuing viticulture and/or enology in a Washington State university or college. ­College support is also available from the Walter J. Clore and John Farmer Scholarships, which vary from $500
to $2,000 awards. Applications are online at www.wash ingtonwinefoundation.org and must be ­postmarked by November 30.

Apple Crop Value Rises 25 Percent

The value of Washington State’s 2007 apple crop was a record $1.75 billion, up from the previous record high of $1.4 billion the previous year, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture. The total value of Washington’s agricultural production last year was $8.5 billion, 23 percent higher than in 2006. Apples were the top-valued crop.

Grapes and pears also set record high production values in 2007, with grapes valued at $172.2 million, an 18 percent increase from 2006, and the pear crop valued at $178.2 million, a 12 percent increase.

Values of other tree fruit crops were: cherries, $327.1 million; peaches, $8.9 million; nectarines, $7.3 million; and apricots, $7.1 million.

Blueberries had the highest average value per harvested acre for 2007, at $13,421 per acre. Nonstorage onions were next, and Washington apples ranked third-most profitable at $11,048 per acre.