Good Fruit Grower

December 2013

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Steve Zediker will preside over the Washington State Horticultural Association during a year of change. A year of CHANGE hange. Steve Zediker, a tree fruit modern varieties such as Fuji and Gala, and juice grape grower at Sunusing a consistent spacing of five feet ood Fruit Grower will nyside, Washington, has been between trees and 13 feet between rows. provide live coverage doing a lot of thinking about that When he planted his last Gala block lately. in 2007, he hesitated about the spacing. of the Washington By the time Zediker, incoming presi"What I was really planning at the time State Hort show. Visit www. dent of the Washington State Horticultural was to go with a ten-foot row," he recalled. Association, completes his But then he asked himself why he would for term next December, the want just one block at ten feet when the association might not exist rest were 13 feet apart. It didn't sound videos of convention speakers, in its current form. efficient. photographs of attendees, and A proposal to merge Fruiting wall the Hort Association and coverage of events. This fall, he harvested the last fruit three other Washington from the first block of Fujis he planted tree fruit industry organiby Geraldine Warner a generation ago. The poorly colored BC-2 Fujis, on Mark rootstocks, zations will be put to growers in the coming weeks and will be replaced with a new high-coloring strain. The new trees will be could go into effect as soon as next September. Zediker planted four feet apart and trained with two leaders, and this time the said it's all part of developing a stronger base for the Washington State rows will be ten feet apart. fruit industry. "It's not what I've done, it's what I haven't done," Zediker said, surWhether Zediker would assume presidency of the new, and as yet veying the doomed block. "There's a tree missing between all of those unnamed, organization remains to be seen. If he does, he will be the trees. I have not filled the canopy. We want a complete fruiting wall." first to preside over an annual Hort meeting in the Tri-Cities. For more Over the next few years, he will replant the whole orchard, one irrithan a century, the annual meeting has alternated between Yakima gation set at a time, until it's all ten feet apart. He thinks nine or ten feet and Wenatchee. The addition of the Tri-Cities to the rotation in Decemwill be the ultimate row spacing unless the industry develops a smaller ber 2014 reflects the growth of the tree fruit industry in south central harvesting container than the four-foot-square bin. Washington over the past few decades. And because he has 150 acres of juice grapes nearby, with nine-foot "We're definitely breaking with tradition," he said. rows, he'll be able to use the same narrow equipment in both his grapes Orchard and his 80 acres of orchard. Zediker also has some changes planned for his own operation in the coming year. When he bought the orchard in 1984, as a part-time One of the main reasons to replant is to improve efficiency. Zediker, occupation while working for Farm Credit Services in Yakima, it comwho has been on the Hort Association board since 2001, said he recently prised 12 acres of pears and 30 acres of Red and Golden Delicious, with a read the introduction of a Hort Proceedings from the 1940s that illusfew Criterion and Romes. When he left Farm Credit seven years trated the great progress the industry has made in many areas but later to work full-time on the farm, he began replacing the apples with C G Hort president gears up for mechanization. 10 DECEMBER 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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