Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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There are many good reasons for growers to use A report card for juice grapes A A sustainability project for Washington's juice-grape industry is under way. by Melissa Hansen team ofWashington State's juice grape industry members and university scien- tists has begun a three-year project to develop a sustainability guide for grape growers. The project is funded through a Washington State Department of Agriculture block grant. Craig Bardwell, senior viticulture specialist for National Grape Cooperative's Grandview, Washington, processing facility, says that many retailers now require some type of sustainability program that documents production practices of the foods they purchase. Welch's, the retail label for National Grape Cooperative's products, is feeling pressure from such retailers. Sustainable programs already exist for Concord and juice grape growers in Michigan (Grape*A*Syst) and New York (Vine Balance) and for Washington's wine grape growers (Vinewise). "As far as juice grape growing areas go, we're the only ones that don't have a program in place," Bardwell said during a winter grape meeting. He noted that juice grape industry members, recognizing the need to be proactive in the sustainability area, approached Washington State University grape researchers, Drs. Joan Davenport and Doug Walsh, to help develop a sustainability program specific to Washington's needs. Davenport received a WSDA block grant for about $65,000 to develop a sustainability report card for juice grape growers. Bardwell said that strong encouragement to develop a sustainability program is coming from National Grape Cooperative's headquarters in Westfield, New York. "They want each of their growers to complete this process prior to harvest in 2012, even though it will be a prototype. We're really under the gun to get this accomplished." He assured growers that the program is not designed to be a big burden on farmers or change their grape grow- ing practices. "But it's a way to assess your cultural prac- tices and identify some areas where you could improve from the standpoint of economic sustainability and environmental sustainability." Report card details Davenport, who leads the project, stressed that it is a voluntary program, although processors are very involved in the project. Major juice grape processors involved include: FruitSmart, J.M. Smucker, Milne Fruit Products, National Grape Cooperative, Tree Top, and Val- ley Processing. Dr. Michelle Moyer, extension viticulture specialist, is also part of the team. For the report card, a list of common viticultural prac- tices will be defined and evaluated for sustainability based on national juice grape industry standards, Daven- port said. Management areas include canopy, irrigation, nutrition, pest, and soil, along with continuing education. This year, the report card will be developed, program specifics reviewed with participating processors, and the program field-tested with growers. Year two (2013) will be spent fine-tuning the report card and developing an action plan that growers can use to identify strategies to improve their practices. The program will again be reviewed by the processors and field-tested by a targeted percentage of growers. A final sustainability report card, supported by a Web site, will be launched in year three. At the end of the process, Washington juice grape growers and processors will have a guide that documents their sustainable practices. Bardwell stressed that the report card is being designed to be completed by the grower and will not require third-party auditing. It's not a pass-fail program, he said. • GOOD FRUIT GROWER MAY 1, 2012 39 "Improved soil conditions… Dramatic savings!" "We purchased an AerWay Aerator from Burrows Tractor earlier this year to deal with some serious soil compaction problems we were having. We definitely needed to put some life back into our vineyard and pasture land to improve production. We had learned about aeration while attending the Grape Society meetings earlier this winter. With the AerWay Aerator, we expect to see improvement in the soil conditions and some dramatic cost savings by making fewer passes through the field throughout the season." RICK WILLSEY Red Willow Vineyards Yakima Valley, Washington State Shown here with 1,500 pounds of weight. NU FILM 17® NUFILM 17 has been used as a sticker- spreader on apples and tree fruits for over 35 years. During this period, it has demonstrated one very important thing… NU FILM 17® Reliable In Its Performance NUFILM17 is the best value insurance you can buy to protect expensive pesticides and help them perform properly under various weather conditions. Since it is gentle to the crop, NU FILM 17 has not caused russet or other problems. NU FILM 17® Is Consistent & Others may say they have similar products, but put your trust in those company consultants that recommend NU FILM 17. They are watching out for your bottom line. For additional information or for the phone number of your local Miller representative, call: 800-233-2040 Miller Chemical & Fertilizer Corp. Hanover, PA17331 ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS AVAILABLE Call Today UNITS

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