Good Fruit Grower

January 2014

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Ray Fuller was one of the first certified-organic tree fruit growers in Washington. helan orchardist Ray Fuller, who's grown fruit organically for the past 30 years, was honored with the Silver Apple Award by the Washington State Horticultural Association at its annual meeting in December. Though Fuller uses different production techniques from most of the state's tree fruit growers, he's been deeply involved in mainstream industry affairs, and particularly in research. "I saw that research was going to help me get to where I wanted to go," he said. "I've always been science-based." He served on the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission's apple advisory committee for over a decade and was an advisory board member when Washington State University was establishing its new Sunrise Research Orchard near Wenatchee. He's also encouraged researchers to do field trials in his own orchard. Fuller took over the family farm overlooking Lake Chelan, Washington, right after graduating from WSU with a degree in general agriculture. His father, Graydon, who died in 1977 while Ray was in college, had moved the family to Chelan after retiring from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Utah. Graydon planted about 28 acres of orchard, but focused primarily on raising bulls. by Geraldine Warner Fuller had no interest in cattle and gradually converted the pasture to orchard, farming conventionally, since that was all he knew about at the time. Within a few years, he became concerned about the spray program he was using. It seemed that spraying for one pest just led to a need to spray for another, and he was worried about the effect of pesticides on his family, since their home was at the orchard. He decided to try growing a few acres of fruit organically. This was in the early 1980s, when information was hard to come by, particularly as the Internet didn't yet exist and few organic materials were available. He read all the books he could find on organic agriculture and tried to figure out how to apply the practices to tree fruit production. It was not a philosophical decision or a desire for an alternative lifestyle. He was looking for a way of farming that made sense to him. C Silver Apple Award winner Ray Fuller approaches organic production from a scientific point of view. 16 JANUARY 1, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER PHOTO BY GERALDINE WARNER A common sense ORGANIC APPROACH

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