Good Fruit Grower

December 2012

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Nursery trees are selling fast S Gala, Fuji, and, of course, Honeycrisp are in big demand. by Geraldine Warner trong prices for apples during the past few seasons have prompted a spurt in orchard renewal and expansion, tree nurseries report. Demand for certain varieties and rootstocks is such that nurseries are tak- ing orders for trees that will be planted as far out as 2020. Washington nurseries should have a big crop of trees to sell for planting in 2014, but growers need to order early to make sure they find what they want, said Pete Van Well, Jr., at Van Well Nursery in East Wenatchee. "The Honeycrisp thing seems unreal, so people are trying to get Honeycrisp." Two years ago, nursery tree production in Washington was reduced significantly by a November freeze. Van Well said part of the current surge in planting could be because growers had to delay their plans. Neal Manly, chief marketing officer at Willow Drive Nursery in Ephrata, Wash- ington, said three varieties—Honeycrisp, Gala, and Fuji—account for the bulk of the company's commercial open-release variety sales. Red sports of Honeycrisp are particularly sought after. Willow Drive has been very hesitant to promote its Royal Red Honeycrisp for fear of stimulating demand that it can't meet, he said. "The backlog of orders is so big we don't want to create a frenzy." Gala and Fuji Paul Tvergyak at Cameron Nursery in Eltopia, Washington, said many growers are planting Gala and Fuji on new ground with the idea of removing their older blocks in three or four years when the new plantings are in production. Nurseries report that the preferred Fuji strain is Aztec, which was discovered in New Zealand. Tvergyak said the variety owners have done a good job of market- ing it and making sure trees are available. It's been around for 10 to 12 years, so it's been planted in a wide range of sites and conditions. "All the bugs have been pretty much worked out," he said. "It's almost becoming like Red Delicious, where you know every- thing you need to know about it. It's grower friendly and gives high production." Growers have also been planting more Red Delicious. "When you take a look at where Reds are priced this year, it's profitable to do that," Manly said. "We have seen an uptick in Red Delicious in the last three to four years. Reds will continue to be a viable product as long as they're selling for that price. It's a low-input variety, easy to manage, and grower friendly." Although the variety is on an upswing, it still constitutes a minor part of Willow Drive's tree inventory, he said. Tvergyak has seen a similar trend. "I've had a couple of orders for Red Delicious, which is not totally surprising. Basically, our industry is still geared around Red Delicious. Warehouses are set up to run Red Delicious and are saying to growers, 'Plant fifty acres of Reds while you're planting a hundred acres of something else.'" 40 DECEMBER 2012 GOOD FRUIT GROWER •Over the years, I have come to demand a high quality product when purchasing fruit trees. With Willow Drive Nursery, I know that what I am getting not only meets my expectations, but gets my orchard off to a profitable start. With Willow Drive Nursery, I truly believe you get what you pay for…a quality tree and a positive experience. - Brenton Roy, Prosser, WA •Willow Drive's method of storing and shipping trees gets my orchard off to a profitable start. I value the flexibility of planting on my schedule without the added labor of heeling the trees or binning them up. Overall, Willow Drive's system saves me time and money. - Cragg Gilbert, Yakima, WA •Willow Drive saves me money in the long run. I get an excellent size tree that is ready to produce fruit the year I plant it. The way the trees are palletized for me makes planting very efficient because they are well organized and they are easy to move around in the field. - John Verbrugge, Wapato, WA Unlike Any Other Storage/Shipping System In The Industry. In the Midwest, where inclement weather almost wiped out this year's crop, growers are still planning on updating their orchards, reported Katie Schuld at Summit Tree Sales in Lawrence, Michigan. "Most of the growers had trees ordered before the freeze ever hit, but we've not seen a lot of cancellations in orders," she said.

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