Good Fruit Grower

October 2013

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Preparing for change Stefano Musacchi expects to be ready to help pear and apple growers when problems arise. by Geraldine Warner PHOTO BY T.J. MULLINAX Italian pomologist Dr. Stefano Musacchi is an expert on the biaxis tree training system and will work on a systems trial with WSU's new apple variety WA 38. To see a video scan the QR code or go to http://bit. ly/18YeuD8. Go to www.goodfruit. com to learn more about Musacchi's background. "We grew up with Zaiger Genetics and Dave Wilson Nursery. We first experienced the flavor of the Pluot® and passed on that experience to our community. We often hear customers at our local farm stand say things such as, "you have to experience it, or you can't explain the flavor of a pluot". I call this our return on experience. Generations of support has led us to where we are and what we are about today. We are farmers, we create the experience, we support it, but most of all we are a part of it. Dave Wilson Nursery has been with us every step of the way to stay fully vested in our community and helping to create the experience". Craig Wallis and Bill Loretelli Loretelli Farms, Modesto, CA 75 Years & Growing 1938 - 2013 Dave Wilson Nursery 19701 Lake Road Hickman, CA 95323 (209) 874-1821 Fax 874-1920 Toll Free 800-654-5854 14 OCTOBER 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER W hen Dr. Stefano Musacchi arrived in Washington State in August, he knew the expectations were high. Musacchi, a world-renowned pomologist from Italy, was appointed to a new position at Washington State University created with funding from a special grower assessment to enhance tree fruit research. Musacchi arrived with plenty of ideas about how to help Washington apple and pear growers but no intention to revolutionize the industries. "My idea is that you don't have to be a revolutionary person," he told Good Fruit Grower. "I think the best work that a researcher can do is to try to understand and improve what's possible to improve in the short term and think ahead, because we like to be stable in life until things force you to do something different. The growers will have problems in the future, and I hope we will be ready to fix problems when they arise." Pear growers in Europe have been forced to adopt more labor-efficient growing systems, largely because of high labor costs. In Washington, however, many growers still find they're able to succeed growing pears on big old trees. "I wish that the pear growers can make money for a long time with the traditional systems," Musacchi said, "But at the same time they have to be ready to change or start to look for different solutions that will make more profitable what they're doing now." Musacchi is well-qualified to help both the apple and pear industries. He's visited Washington State several times since 2010 and has been learning where he can play a role in collaboration with other scientists. In apples, he sees potential to help growers with one of their most profitable but problematic varieties, Honeycrisp. He'd like to test shade netting in various colors, which has the potential to reduce sunburn as well as protect the trees from hail and improve fruit color. Horticultural solutions need to be variety specific, he stressed. "I cannot imagine that a high-value crop like Honeycrisp can be managed without a net because if you have one year of hail, you lose such a high amount of money that probably in one year you repay your investment," he said. Apple systems He's also heading a new trial planted at WSU's research orchard comparing WSU's new variety WA 38 on three different training systems: slender spindle and a V system—two systems commonly used in Washington State—along with the biaxis system that Musacchi pioneered while at the University of Bologna. When mature, the biaxis system forms a fruiting wall that produces high-quality fruit and is suited to mechanization. Originally, the biaxis system involved planting a tree that had been grown in the nursery with two leaders,

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