We were able to attend the 24th annual Fruit Field Day at the University of Idaho's Parma Research and Extension Center. While much of the research is geared toward commercial growers and there is plenty of focus on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, there is still a lot of good information to be gained for a home orchardist wannabe like me.
The number of species and varieties that are researched is here is well beyond the scope of the home food forester: grapes, peaches, apples, plums, quince, pears, nectarines, cherries, almonds, walnuts, jujube, haskaps, persimmons, pawpaws, strawberries, blackberries, and maybe some fruits and nuts I've forgotten or don't know about. Research often starts with 20 or more new varieties of a given species to see how each variety performs over many years in this climate. Research topics include high-density planting, minimal irrigation, and pollination options.
All in all I enjoyed the field day. It's good to see research being done and results disseminated that we permaculturists can adapt to own situations. Here are few photos and highlights:
This is the fruit I brought home: multiple varieties of apples, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, and quince. I'll be saving and planting seeds.
This is the wall of apples. Appletrees are placed just three feet apart and are espaliered along seven wires strung at 15-inch intervals. They are working growing rows at different angles. They are also using interesting pollinators like manchurian crabapples.
This was my favorite research project: a table grape that has been given no irrigation water at all. It's a variety from Iran that is already proving to grow well in Idaho.
Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation. --Oysterband
I emailed and called Esmaeil Fallahi this morning. He said his email is down, but while chatting with him he recalled the table grape that was mentioned. This non-irrigated variety was next to a lane of other grapes that were being irrigated, so there was seepage that occured from the irrigated variety into this one. He also mentioned that the variety had very small grapes on it, maybe because of the minimal water. After the Idaho Fruit Field Day he is quite busy, so he mentioned that I could call him back in a month and we could talk longer to get more info. Also he mentioned that there are quite a few independent papers written about what he is doing, and with enough time in the search engines we may be able to find more specific info on all the different varieties of fruit that he is working with. :-)
My Food Forest - Mile elevation. Zone 6a. Southern Idaho <--I moved in year two...unfinished...probably has cattle on it.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Jed. He made this tiny ad: