[NAFEX] Fwd: Good story

Lon Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Fri Sep 3 17:43:59 EDT 2004

Fruit news from the NW.

Begin forwarded message:

> By Lane Bettencourt - IPT
> PARMA -- With many colors, tastes and variations, the University of 
> Idaho's Fruit Field Day showed visitors the surprising variety of 
> fruit that can be grown in Southwest Idaho.
> The familiar red delicious apple was there, of course, but tables also 
> showcased 20 other varieties with names such as ultima, buckeye, and 
> pink lady.
> More than 30 varieties of peaches could be found, some flat and shaped 
> like doughnuts. If you looked one place, you saw "pluots," a cross 
> between a plum and an apricot. Others offered Asian pears, persimmons, 
> quince and almonds -- all grown locally at the U of I Research and 
> Extension Center.
> More than 100 people showed up for the free event, from commercial 
> growers to certified master gardeners to backyard hobbyists.
> All were encouraged to walk around and sample the offerings, then rate 
> them on a scorecard. Afterwards, some toured the fields and orchards 
> where the fruit was growing.
> "I've never eaten an Asian pear," said Evelyn Arendts, who drove up 
> from Mountain Home with husband Charles to get ideas for their garden. 
> "We might (plant) one, but we wanted to come here before deciding what 
> to buy."
> Most of the fruit varieties shown at the event will probably not wind 
> up in supermarket produce bins.
> The purpose of researching so many varieties is to narrow the 
> candidates to the ones that have appeal to consumers and grow well in 
> the local climate.
> Dr. Esmaeil "Essie" Fallahi, a UI scientist considered to be the 
> father of Fruit Field Day, said in a global marketplace, fruit growers 
> must remain competitive.
> This factor is especially true in a small state like Idaho that relies 
> on exports to maintain a healthy fruit industry, he added.
> "We simply don't have the population to consume everything we grow 
> locally," Fallahi said. "We have to stay on the cutting edge or we'll 
> be left behind."
> Fallahi is widely credited with demonstrating to skeptics that a wider 
> variety of fruit can be grown in Idaho than was once thought.
> Table grapes serve as one example. For a long time, Idaho was 
> considered too cold for them to be grown successfully.
> "About nine years ago Essie got a bee in his bonnet that we ought to 
> grow table grapes here," said Ron Mann of Payette, president of the 
> newly formed Idaho Table Grape Association. "Everybody wanted to laugh 
> him out of the universe."
> Now, Mann said, more than 100 acres have been planted by 38 different 
> commercial growers. Several thousand more acres are planned in the 
> next decade.
> Starting with 60 varieties, Fallahi and others pared that number down 
> to about 10 that were of good quality and relatively tolerant of Idaho 
> winters.
> Mann said all 600,000 pounds of table grapes grown in Idaho this year 
> have already been snapped up by commercial buyers, most of them in 
> Alaska.
> "Buyers have told me, 'You have the finest grapes we've ever tasted,'" 
> he said.
> Idaho's table grape harvest is in September and October. Mann said 
> this is an advantage in marketing, because it comes between seasons 
> for two large competitors -- July in California and February in Chile.
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