By Tianna DuPont, WSU Extension Tree Fruit Specialist
Washington leads the nation in organic tree fruit production with 93 percent of national production. Currently, 10 percent of Washington’s apple acres are organic, and a 40-percent increase is estimated. More than nine million boxes of organic fruit were processed last year. Organic fruit is estimated to contribute $500 million to the state economy by 2018.
To help meet those estimated increases, last month WSU hosted a full day intensive workshop on organic orchard floor management. The goal was to provide growers with research-based production information that meets certified organic standards.
The workshop sold out, boasting a crowd of sixty-five growers and industry professionals participated in this workshop, including experts from California, Canada and Washington. The attendees learned about organic nitrogen and weed, water and soil management.
Participants learned key concepts and developed plans to apply what they learned. Eighty-five percent of participants surveyed said they learned a good or great deal as a result of the workshop, and 70 percent planned to apply their new knowledge. Attendees also said they plan to adjust their orchard floor management by using new tools, applying new materials, and practicing new processes, all informed by their participation in the workshop.
WSU Tree Fruit plans to host other organic workshops regularly.