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Tree Fruit, Blueberries, Ag Census

Posted by | January 23, 2008

Neither Rain nor Heat

RainGard and Raynox protect valuable tree fruit crops from rain and sun.
RainGard and Raynox protect valuable tree fruit crops from rain and sun.

As consumers, it’s easy to take for granted the perfectly shaped and colored produce we purchase in supermarkets. But food growers face a plethora of issues that threaten the profitability of their operations.

For tree fruit growers, too much sun or too much rain can spell disaster. The sun’s radiant energy can burn the skin of apples in much the same way as it can your skin. And rain at the wrong time can cause cracking in cherries, resulting in fruit useless in the high-value fresh market.

Larry Schrader, a horticultural scientist based at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, developed RainGard and Raynox to protect fruit against two of nature’s slings and arrows. Both are carnauba wax-based protectants. Carnauba is a food-quality plant derivative used in a wide variety of products.

The Washington State University Research Foundation (WSURF) owns patents on both products and licenses them to FruitGard. Schrader and partner Richard Baskin founded FruitGard LLC in 2003 and licensed both products from WSURF. Seattle-based Pace International manufactured and distributed FruitGard’s products for the past 5 years. Now FruitGard has been bought by Pace International, a leading supplier of packinghouse and orchard technologies. Pace plans to market RainGard internationally. Raynox is already used around the world on more than 40,000 acres of apple orchards. Licensing fees from the products will help fund research and innovative technologies at WSU.

For more information on Raynox, RainGard and a short video interview with Schrader on his research, please visit http://youtu.be/WCQg_eC-Czc.

Food Technology for Better Nutrition, Economic Growth

Fruit and vegetable powders add value to otherwise wasted agricultural byproducts. For more information, visit the Columbia PhytoTechnology Web site: columbiaphytotechnology.com
Fruit and vegetable powders add value to otherwise wasted agricultural byproducts. For more information, visit the Columbia PhytoTechnology Web site: columbiaphytotechnology.com

A dehydration technology developed by Columbia PhytoTechnology (Columbia) and WSU associate professor of food science, Kerry Ringer, has received funding to take the technology to the next level. The technology meets consumer demands for highly nutritious foods at the same time as addressing industry concerns about costs.

Dehydrated fruit and vegetable powders are key ingredients in many foods. To date, however, the powders have been either low in nutritional quality or expensive. Current dehydration technologies typically require high temperatures to effectively dry the ingredients, which saps them of nutritional value. Longer drying times result in better quality powders but drive costs up. Many powders contain carriers, often maltodextrin or other starches, which further reduce the final product’s nutrition quotient.

Columbia’s technology custom tailors drying times to get the best product at a reasonable cost. By using damaged or bruised fruit, the technology recovers profit from the loss columns of producers’ and processors’ books. Located in rural Carson, Wash., Columbia hopes to play a role in the economic development of the area by dovetailing tech jobs into the area’s forestry base.

“We’re focusing on dehydration of blueberry puree, blueberry juice and blueberry extract supplied from a Washington fruit processing company,” said Ringer. “This project will demonstrate the development of value-added products that bolster profit margins; the types and numbers of jobs in agriculture, Washington’s number one industry; and by giving options to ag producers for processing waste.”

Stand Up and Be Counted

The Census of Agriculture: it's not just a good idea, it's the law.
The Census of Agriculture: it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

Stand up and be counted by the Census of Agriculture. The Census of Agriculture, taken every five years, is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other areas. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future and their responsibility.

The Census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Through the Census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture and they can help influence decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture for years to come. By responding to the Census, producers are helping themselves, their communities and all of U.S. agriculture.

A Web cast about the 2007 Census of Agriculture (with CSREES Administrator Dr. Colien Hefferan and NASS Deputy Administrator for Programs and Products Carol House), is available via streaming Windows Media at: http://tinyurl.com/28vxll.

If you have questions or need help with the census, call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). For online info, or to complete the census questionnaire, please visit: www.agcensus.usda.gov.