Why is there so much fruit in Central Washington?
Our soil is primarily decomposed lava and volcanic ash. Most trace elements are present in adequate amounts for healthy trees. The two primary elements lacking are boron and zinc. These are applied both to the soil and as foliar nutrients annually. Nitrogen is the primary fertilizer used. Other foliar nutrients are applied as indicated by soil and leaf testing.
Our climate is particularly suited to pome (apples and pears) and stone fruit (cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums) production. Our lack of rain and low humidity allows us to avoid or readily control many of the fungus diseases that plague other growing regions. We are, however, forced to irrigate. Rains cannot be relied upon.
Our history of fruit production has left us with one of the greatest concentrations of horticultural expertise in the world. Washington State University is world renowned. University, chemical distributor, and industry horticulturists are all available to any grower asking advice. These, with nurseries and growers, cooperate to provide research and field testing of new varieties, new hort/horticultural practices and new and safer chemical answers to fruit pests. This means we can contribute to the safest, most varied, most convenient, most economical food supply in the history of the world.
Are you organic growers?
We attempt to use horticultural practices that have the least impact on your health and ours, and the environment, consistent with sound fiscal prudence. Farmers are the original stewards of the land. We live in the midst of our orchards, and are the first affected by careless action.
This does not always translate to “organic.” If a safer, non-organic product can allow us to make one application in place of two or several organic sprays, we will do so. Often a housekeeping practice or mechanical answer is the best. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has made the application of miticides unnecessary for years.
We follow the research into softer chemicals and non-chemical solutions, and avoid anecdotal remedies suitable for home gardens, but not for intensive agriculture.
What are all the propellers for?
These are “wind machines,” used for frost control just before and during blossom time. Two or three degrees can save a crop. If there is an inversion (warmer air above, colder on the surface) these propellers on towers can force the warm air down and mix it with colder air, raising the temperature of the tender buds above the danger point. Older ones have the engine on the tower with the blades; with newer ones, the engine is on the ground with a shaft through the tower to drive the blades.