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Apples, Cranberries, Organics, Potatoes

Posted by | November 22, 2006

It’s a Fact

More than half of all apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from orchards in Washington state. Washington apples are sold in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Americans eat approximately 19.6 pounds of fresh apples annually, compared to about 46 pounds consumed annually by residents of European countries.

On Solid Ground is a weekly, electronic newsletter for the friends and stakeholders of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), WSU Extension and the WSU Agricultural Research Center.

New Weed Weapon for Cranberries

WSU Extension horticulturist Kim Patten has conducted field trials and collected data on a commercial herbicide registered for field corn that is effective in killing both annual and perennial weeds while not injuring cranberries. The herbicide is derived from a plant extract, and poses no environmental concern for surface or ground water. In terms of increased yield and reduced weed-pulling labor, Patten estimates the weed control benefit from this herbicide is worth up to $1 million a year to Pacific Northwest cranberry growers. Some growers have reported a $1,000 per acre savings in the costs of labor costs used to pull weeds from new plantings.

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Organically Speaking

Many organic wastes contain nutrients and organic matter that can benefit plant growth and soil productivity. Recycling these materials onto land captures nutrients that would otherwise be lost and helps sustain the resource base. But, organic wastes also may contain pathogens and small amounts of toxic materials, which can become pollutants if the materials are not managed properly.

The research of WSU Extension specialist Craig Cogger, located at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, focuses on evaluating nutrient availability from organic materials to determine appropriate rates and timing of applications for crop production. In addition, he studies organic agricultural systems, including organic amendments, cover crops, and soil quality.

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Delicious and Nutritious

Research geneticist Charles Brown has been working on genetically increasing the nutritional value of potatoes, specifically in terms of antioxidant, protein, iron and provitamin A content. Potatoes rich in naturally occurring antioxidants–which have been associated with reduced levels of certain cancers, heart disease and macular degeneration–can give rise to new products and market niches for growers and processors.

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