You Can Grow It: Fruit Field Day #2

Jim Duthie shows us what to expect Friday in Parma.

Last week on “You Can Grow It,’ our garden master Jim Duthie gave us a taste of what Idaho’s fruit industry will have to offer at the annual Fruit Field Day at the University of Idaho Parma Research Center.

Numerous varieties of delicious peaches, plums, apples and grapes are just a sample of the work being done there to produce bigger, better fruit, while also finding ways to conserve land and water resources.

Today, Jim has the second part of his series about the Parma Research Center, and how the fruits of their labors are really paying off for Idaho.

Here at the University of Idaho’s Agriculture Research Center near Parma, they grow nearly 20 varieties of apples, more than 60 varieties of peaches and nectarines, several types of plums and pluots, and over 100 varieties of grapes. All with one goal in mind.

“Finding ways that our growers in Idaho and in the Pacific Northwest can stay competitive with the rest of the world,” said Dr. Essie Fallahi.

Dr. Essie Fallahi is Director of Pomology at the center. He says that all of this research adds up to one sweet result -- putting Idaho on the map for growing some of the best fruit in the world.

“A number of factors are in favor of Idaho, and I think that the state of Idaho is just the beginning of a huge step forward as far as economy is concerned,” said Fallahi.

With land and water resources becoming scarcer around the world, they’re finding safe and natural ways to grow more fruit, while still maintaining high quality.

And as our climate undergoes changes, some fruits are being grown in parts of Idaho where they have never been grown before.

“And that’s why we have a large number of people moving here,” said Fallahi.

And they’re establishing more orchards and wineries.

Some research projects focus on different methods of growing grapes, like managing the grape canopy.

Some varieties produce huge clusters with larger berries, on the same sized vines as other varieties.

“One of the main reasons that a lot of buyers overseas, they prefer Idaho fruit over other locations, is that we have warm days and cool nights,” said Fallahi.

Idaho’s unique climate makes for better-tasting fruit and naturally enhanced color.  No chemicals needed for that.

Research in irrigation is helping to conserve water.

“And the purpose of that is, what is the volume, the least volume of water that you can apply to trees to produce the highest fruit while having the highest quality,” said Fallahi.

One project is this super high-density apple orchard.

Trees are trained to grow along a tall, single line, producing more fruit in a smaller space.  

Orchards can produce nearly four times as much fruit on the same amount of land.

Fallahi also developed a non-toxic, clay-based, organic spray that protects apples from sun damage.

“In a way, it is like a hand lotion,” he said. “If I did not have any of the cover, this fruit would be sunburned. So this is an extremely good tool to protect the fruit.”

It also resulted in larger apples.

“The consumers of the world, they have so many choices, and our goal is making our fruit superior, so superior that they go for that.  And I’m so glad that we have been successful,” said Fallahi.

Finding new ways to make Idaho’s fruit industry more efficient with natural resources and energy, and reaping the benefits of a global marketplace.

The annual Fruit Field Day at the Parma Research Center is Friday, August 16 starting at 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. The center is located four miles north of Parma on U of I Road.

It’s free to the public, and you’ll get to sample all of the delicious fruit that’s grown there, as well as learn more about new growing techniques and new varieties of fruit being developed.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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