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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

NCW Tree Fruit Days brings research, practicality to orchardists

By Gabriel Garcia The Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE — Orchardists and agriculture researchers from around the state gathered this week at the Wenatchee Convention Center for NCW Tree Fruit Days.

NCW Tree Fruit Days, Tuesday through Thursday, was hosted by Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension program and meant to provide orchardists with the latest orchard research.

“This is our annual meeting to help make sure growers have the latest researched-based information and also an opportunity to learn from each other so that they not only learn about new research and information, but also help apply that information to improve production, profitability, environmental sustainability,” said Tianna DuPont, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center regional specialist.

The three days focused on different fruits.

Tuesday kicked off as pear day, followed by stone fruit day, such as cherries, and Thursday was apple day.

The research information presented ranged from fruit disease, insect/pesticide and bird management; horticulture, and marketing research. There were also panel discussions by orchardists sharing their experiences on certain issues.

Along with getting information from presentations, collaborating was another reason orchardists said they liked to attend the event.

“So networking is really important. We learn the most from our colleagues and our friends,” DuPont said.

Around 200 orchardists and researchers gathered each day of the event. DuPont said growers from Wenatchee to Tonasket attend Tree Fruit Days, as well as a few from outside North Central Washington. More than 100 people watched the events online. Dupont said both orchardists and researchers chimed in virtually from out of state, Canada and Israel who wanted to learn about new research.

Vendors who specialized in agriculture products and services also set up booths to interest orchardists in their businesses. Those ranged from tree nurseries, chainsaw equipment, plant biostimulants, pollination equipment, pesticide products, weather tracking technology, and orchard real estate agents.

“It’s really important for growers to have a chance to interact with those vendors because they are part of our industry,” DuPont said. “They’re not only coming to learn from us, but they are coming to learn from them (vendors).”

The event is co-sponsored by Northwest Cherries, Pear Bureau Northwest, NCW Fieldmen’s Association, and the Okanogan Horticultural Association. DuPont said having sponsors and vendors is what keeps the event free for the growers.

Semi-retired grower Ken Machtley, of Cashmere, attended all three days. He has an orchard on his property he managed for 40 years until he retired two years ago for health reasons, but he said he still helps oversee operations. He said he wanted to know what was going on in the orchard industry.

Machtley also said he used the events to earn credits for his pesticide recertification, but what he liked most was learning about scientific research, as he considered himself an academic and has a college education.

“It’s quite an opportunity for academics if you want that, but there’s also a good measure of practicality for the person who isn’t tied to academics, who says, ‘I got this problem and just want it to go away,’” Machtley said.

Matchtley added with the combination of researchers, vendors, and experienced orchardists, there was a lot to learn during NCW Tree Fruit Days.