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Apples

Old Clarkston apple orchard
Spring 2013

Fruitful history

Apple production was initially spread more evenly across eastern Washington. The planned agricultural community of Vineland (see “The perfect city,” WSM Fall 2012) included more than 900 acres of continuous apple orchards. According to Lyman’s History of Old Walla Walla County (including Asotin County), Vineland and adjacent Clarkston had “every conceivable advantage of soil, climate, scenery, water supply…”

Apples grown there included Winesap, Yellow Newtowns, Spitzenberg, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, and “assorted varieties.”

The September 12, 1916, edition of the Spokesman-Review reported that 60 carloads of choice apples were about to be packed in Vineland, Clarkston, and Lewiston, Idaho, for export trade: “The first carload … » More …

Spring 2013

How Washington tastes: The Apple meets Cougar Gold

Much of Carolyn Ross’s work involves training people to quantify their taste. The sensory evaluation panels that she and her graduate students organize assess taste attributes in fruit and other foods and beverages such as sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and astringency. And “mouth feel,” which contributes enormously to the taste experience.

But for these panels to arrive at a consensus of, say, how sweet a given apple is, or how tart, or how much it crunches in relation to other apples, everyone must agree on the intensity of those attributes.

Before the panel members can evaluate a given food, they will train for a number of … » More …

First Words
Spring 2013

Tastes like Beethoven

The 1909 National Apple Show in Spokane featured competitions, band concerts, vaudeville shows, and 1,525,831 apples. Spokane schools closed for a day so all the students could visit the exhibition, which spread across three and a half acres and featured intricate displays such as a giant American flag composed of apples and boxcars full of neatly packed apples.

Growers, shippers, bankers, and hundreds of the merely curious from around the Northwest flocked to the exhibition to revel in the fruit that Washington grew so well. When everyone had had their fill of the spectacle, the whole show was packed onto a special train and shipped … » More …

Fall 2010

Tree Top: Creating a fruit revolution

Book review

In the September 10, 1951, issue of Life magazine is a picture of a bulldozer mounding apples in the Yakima dump. Seven acres of apples worth $6 million dollars rotted as pigs rooted through them, the result of failing foreign markets and high tariffs. At the time, if Washington’s apples didn’t sell, orchardists paid $5 a ton to have their culls hauled off to rot.

Culls are rejected from the fresh fruit market due primarily to shape, size, or color, but they are perfectly sound for such traditional uses as juice. The photograph aptly illustrated the need for a processing company like Tree … » More …

Spring 2010

Finally, a Washington apple

A Washington apple? you say. You might respond, correctly, that Washington and apples are almost synonymous. After all, we produce more than half of the nation’s eating apples. Visit a market in Mexico, Thailand, Houston, or Saudi Arabia, and there, you will find Washington apples.

Still prominent among the selection is the iconic Red Delicious. Up through the 1980s, it represented more than three-quarters of Washington production. But now, other varieties, the sweet Gala, the tart Granny Smith, the intensely sweet-tart Pink Lady, are steadily usurping the Red’s status.

But neither in the era of the Red’s dominance nor in this new age of increasing … » More …

Winter 2001

Washington apples—best of the best

ALTHOUGH DEBATE will continue over the benefits of organic versus conventional farming, Washington State University scientists have established that organic production of apples is more sustainable than conventional apple production. Soil scientist John Reganold, soils graduate student Jerry Glover, horticulturist Preston Andrews, and agricultural economist Herbert Hinman reported the results of a six-year study comparing organic, integrated, and conventional apple production in the cover article of the April 19, 2001 Nature.

n 1994 the researchers planted four acres of Golden Delicious apples within a Yakima Valley commercial orchard. Plots of equal size were managed according to organic, conventional, and integrated farming practices. Integrated farming … » More …

Winter 2002

A summer job that meant something

An entomology undergrad combats the worm in the apple

When they hatch, they’re so tiny you can barely see them. Then they eat. They bore their way inside an apple and consume it from within. After two weeks, they’re half an inch long, pinkish orange, and engorged, with tiny dark heads. They’re also translucent, so if you look closely, you can see their food moving along their digestive tracts.

They’re codling moth larvae, the number one adversary of Washington apple orchard growers and the subject of her fascinating summer of research at the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Food and Environmental Quality Lab. With faculty members … » More …