Good Fruit Grower

December 2013

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Showcase provides growers a place to taste before they plant by Richard Lehnert PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SCHULD PEACHES and plums Wally Heuser and Paul Rood talk plums during a day of preparation for the Peach and Plum Showcase. Classmates at Michigan State University and now 85 years old, they are pillars of the fruit community. he mood was mighty festive, as you would expect. The room was filled with tables holding heaping trays of ripe peaches and plums, all there to be tasted by 30 or so growers and other people whose opinion on fruit quality really matters. Tough work, tasting all that fruit, but somebody's got to do it. "We used to have these almost every year," said Wanda Heuser Gale. Her family's companies, Summit Tree Sales and International Plant Management, have T The NUTRI-CAL Difference UNLOCKING THE KEY TO CALCIUM Significantly improves quality, firmness, storage been hosting sweet cherry showcases for several years, and this year decided to revive the combination Peach and Plum Showcase as well. Held at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center in Benton Harbor, it attracted some of Michigan's best growers, like Paul Rood; some leading experts, like Wanda's father Wally Heuser; and several peach breeders— Michigan State University's Bill Shane, Randy and Annette Bjorge at Fruit Acres (home of Stellar —Wanda Heuser Gale peaches), and Paul Friday, breeder of the Flamin' Fury series that now stretches 30 varieties and 15 weeks long. Paul Rood and Wally Heuser, both 85 years old and classmates at Michigan State University in the early 1950s, still share a close relationship. Rood obtained a doctorate and has an observer's eye and a scientist's mind when it comes to pears and plums. Other growers look to him for guidance. "Wally was the practical one," Rood said. Heuser became the eminent nurseryman who fostered the adoption of dwarf apple and cherry rootstocks through his leadership in the International Fruit Tree Association and, through International Plant Management, nurtured many new varieties from orchard discoveries and breeding programs through field testing and into growers' orchards. Since stone fruits don't store long, it takes a lot of varieties to fill a marketing season, and each variety needs to be judged according to the niche it fills. Later varieties tend to be sweeter and larger, but early ones are valued for the price they'll fetch. While growers in the eastern United States say good things about peaches and plums from the West, western breeders in their hot, dry climates don't tend to screen for bacterial canker, bacterial spot, and brown rot—diseases that ruin crops in the wetter conditions of the East. And southern breeders look for varieties that require fewer chilling hours than what northern growers need. "We used to have these almost every year." Plums Visit our Web-site for more information: C.S.I. CHEMICAL CORP. 800-247-2480 10980 Hubbell Ave., Bondurant, Iowa 50035 24 PACIFIC NORTHWEST: Walt Grigg: DECEMBER 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER 509-952-7558 Paul Rood planted a six-acre plum orchard this year. "There's not been a lot of recent plum breeding," he said. Rood often participates in test plantings, so he has older plantings of newer plums and some numbered varieties that never were named. He grows both European and Japanese plums. He grows some of the European plums bred at Vineland in Ontario, Canada, such as Vibrant and Vanette. Vibrant is the earliest plum to be harvested. V-63015 is a nice plum, but it drops too easily, he said, and was never

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