Good Fruit Grower

January 2016

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14 JANUARY 1, 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER I nland Desert Nursery, with just 3.5 acres of table grapes, is likely the largest table grape grower in Washington. Although the nursery's primary goal in growing table grapes is to supply clean plant material to nurseries and growers, Inland Desert's Kevin Judkins says table grapes may have potential for commercial growers in the state. The Pacific Northwest has never been considered a prime location for table grapes. Traditional table grape varieties are too tender for harsh winters of inland regions of the Northwest, which is why California has a lock on table grape production and grows nearly all of the nation's table grape supply. But newer varieties, developed in places like Arkansas and New York, that are cold hardy and disease resistant are helping expand table grape production beyond the Golden State, albeit on a small scale. Idaho growers have been working since the late 1990s to establish a viable table grape industry in a state that built its agricultural reputation on potatoes. Table and wine grapes have been found to thrive in the state's southwestern region known as the Snake River Plain and some believe the area is on the verge of increased table grape plantings. (See "Elevating Idaho table grapes" on page 12.) In Washington, Inland Desert Nursery grows more than 100 grape cultivars and rootstocks to provide clean plant material to growers and nurseries throughout North America. The nursery's plant list relates mostly to wine varietals, but 20 are table grape varieties. Judkins, president of the Benton City nursery, dis- played more than a dozen table grape cultivars during a grape field day held last summer. The August field day, sponsored by Washington State University and the Washington State Grape Society, was held at WSU's Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. "Table grapes have been a consistent piece of busi- ness for Inland Desert," Judkins said, adding that their Grape EXPECTATIONS "Washington will never compete with California's table grape production. But for those interested in niche markets, table grapes in the state have potential." —Kevin Judkins Table grapes grow well in eastern Washington and could be popular in niche markets. by Melissa Hansen PHOTOS BY TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER A rainbow of table grapes grown by Inland Desert Nursery was displayed during a grape field day at Washington State University's research center in Prosser. Kevin Judkins

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