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AgWatch | Cosmic Crisp takes root

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A new breed of apple, WA 38, now known as Cosmic Crisp, is heading toward market. The first crop is expected to hit the market in 2019.

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Look for Cosmic Crisp apples planted this year to be in stores in 2019. More than 50 state apple growers spent this spring planting a total of 630,000 Cosmic Crisp trees, the apple variety expected to rival Red Delicious in the future. In the next two years, 10 million more trees are expected to be planted, according to an article in the June 15 Capital Press. 

Cosmic Crisp, a cross between a Honeycrisp and Enterprise, was bred by a team at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. It plays well for taste and texture with consumers and is easier to grow and store than Honeycrisp.

The expectation is the apples will sell for about the same price as Honeycrisp, which sells for $50 to $70 a box wholesale. Other varieties sell for about $30. Red Delicious sells for about $15. Orchardists need about $17 a box to break even.

Sugar water works, growers say

Spraying sugar water on ripening cherries keeps the birds away — or it will once they learn it upsets their digestive system, according to a report in the May 15 issue of Good Fruit Grower. http://wwrld.us/sugarcure/ Some birds, including starlings and robins, apparently can’t digest sucrose (common table sugar). Doing so results in diarrhea and a stomach ache, which is enough to deter the birds once they experience the discomfort. Fructose, though, is another matter, since that is the type of sugar they’re after in the cherries.

The sugar water trick has been tried, though is not as effective, on blueberries and apples, especially Honeycrisps, Fujis and Galas.

The effectiveness of the sweet repellent has yet to be scientifically researched. And no mention of what it does for yellow jackets.

Sweethearts make strides

Sweetheart cherries are surpassing Bings in market share. A report in the May 30 issue of Good Fruit Grower says Washington State University economists found the high yield Sweethearts are more profitable than Bings over the 25-year life of the trees. Other factors could apply, though, for growers considering a change.

Fibro expands to Tacoma

Fibro Corp., the Chinese egg-carton making company that opened a 38,000-square-foot facility in Olds Station in 2012, is expanding — to Tacoma.

According to an article in the June 2017 Seattle Business Magazine, Fibro is turning a former Parker Paint factory into a manufacturing facility that will employ about 200 people. In addition to making molded cartons out of recycled paper, the facility will include a research division and eventually will be the assembly site of the cutting edge machines that form the cartons.

About 50 workers will remain at the facility in Wenatchee. The company purchased property in East Wenatchee to expand its operation, but costs of extending power to the property and a worker shortage didn’t make expansion here feasible. The company forecasts building five new plants in North America. in the next five years.

State’s first hemp crop in the ground

A farmer in Moses Lake is growing 75 acres of industrial hemp, under state supervision. Shane Palmer is the first to get seeds in the ground, according to a story in the June 9 Capital Press.  He expects to harvest in September. His family’s 3,000 acres also includes crops such as corn, peas and hay. His is one of two licenses approved so far by the state Department of Agriculture for the pilot program. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation also has been issued a license, with five other applications in the works so far. 

Hemp can be used to make fabrics and textiles, yarns, paper, carpeting and industrial oils.

Mid-size orchards continue fight for independence

Consolidation remains the trend in the apple industry where mid-size operations face an ever-increasing struggle to stay competitive, according to an article in the June 4 issue of The Spokesman-Review. 

Census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the state had 8,446 farms between 50 and 219 acres in 1997. That dropped to 7,276 by 2012. Similar stats are reported nationwide. One of the reasons is the investment required to stay up with the big guys. New technology, from automation to short, high yield trees, boosts production for those who can afford it. For those who can’t, it’s an uphill battle to deal with ever-increasing pressure on the bottom line. That pressure includes new regulations to continued encroachment from development.

AgWatch is a collection of agriculture-related news from across the region. If you have an industry-related story idea, call Nevonne McDaniels at 664-7151 or email: mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com.

Reach Nevonne McDaniels at 509-664-7151 or .