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Blueberries, Green Industry, Cherries

Posted by | April 18, 2007

It’s a Fact

One of Washington’s top 40 agricultural commodities, the 2005 blueberry crop was valued at $19 million. Both consumption and production of blueberries has increased over the past decade. The U.S. consumed just shy of 50 metric tons in 2005 (up from just under 30 metric tons in 1994) and, in 2005, produced nearly 290 tons of high- and lowbush blueberries. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and Vitamins C and E. (Sources: USDA-NASS, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Washington Blueberry Commission)

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.

Washington’s Green Industry

At more than $326 million in 2005, the nursery and greenhouse industry is Washington’s eighth most valuable commodity in terms of production, according the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. But the economic impact of an industry is typically much greater than direct production. In the nursery and greenhouse industry, value is added in both sales and jobs by factoring in, for example, sales of lawn and garden equipment and the employment of workers in the landscape services and architecture sectors.

A study by WSU economist David Holland and doctoral student Sanjoy Bhattacharjee demonstrates that the economic impact of the “green industry” was an estimated $2.48 billion in sales (in 2002 dollars) and employed more than 43,000 people. Holland and Bhattacharjee consider this estimate conservative because it includes only those goods and services generated within the state.

“It’s a huge, diverse industry,” said Rita Hummel, WSU Puyallup associate professor of horticulture. “It’s like a spider web, and there are many strands in the web.” WSU researchers and Extension educators support that web in many ways, from Master Gardener and pesticide recertification programs to stress and pest resistant plant variety development and techniques for producing planting containers from recycled materials.

For more information, please visit the WSU Agriculture Web site

Cherry Trees Are Branching Out

High-density tree-fruit orchard canopy designs increase yields of early producing fruit. For growers, this means bigger bucks per acre. But high-density growth in sweet cherry orchards often fails to achieve this goal. Cherry trees tend to be apically dominant: they want to grow up (Figure A) and not out (Figure B). Traditional pruning methods for inducing lateral branching in sweet cherry trees “discard growth that otherwise could contribute to canopy development and buds that otherwise might be induced to form useful fruiting wood,” said Don C. Elfving, a scientist at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. Likewise, chemical treatments alone, as well as cutting, scoring, and notching to promote lateral growth, all have limited or inconsistent results.

Elfving and research technologist Dwayne Visser have demonstrated that using commercially available growth-inducing bioregulators combined with selective nicking, notching, scoring, or bark scraping greatly improve lateral branching. The key to success, the researchers report, is getting the growth promoter in direct contact with active, living tissues. “Using this approach virtually assures that the investment in products and labor to induce lateral branching will produce excellent results,” said Elfving.

For more information, please visit the Stone Fruit Physiology Web site: