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April 15, 2016
Orchardists learn best ways to grow new Cosmic Crisp apple
By DAN WHEAT
ROCK ISLAND, Wash.
— Techniques to minimize
“blind wood” are the most
important for orchardists to
know in growing Washing-
ton’s new apple, the Cosmic
Crisp, a leading expert says.
Blind wood is too much
limb spacing between fruit
and results in fruit growing
on the outer edge of the tree
canopy, where it is more sus-
ceptible to sunburn.
Girdling and notching
bark produces more shoots,
reducing blind wood and
clustering fruit closer to the
stem of the tree, Stefano
Musacchi, Washington State
University endowed chair
of tree fruit physiology and
management, told growers at
field events on April 7.
Girdling and notching is
best done in late February
and early March, he said.
Blind wood also is held in
check by summer mechani-
cal pruning, he said.
About 50 growers at-
tended a morning talk at the
WSU Roza Research Or-
chard north of Prosser in the
morning and another 50 at-
tended the same presentation
in the afternoon 120 miles to
the north at the WSU Sunrise
Research Orchard south of
Musacchi; Tom Auvil,
research horticulturalist at
the Washington Tree Fruit
Research Commission; and
Kate Evans, WSU ap-
ple breeder, all based in
Wenatchee, spoke at both
Photos by Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Stefano Mussachi, Washington State University tree fruit physiologist, shows growers a Cosmic Crisp
apple tree in spindle tree style at the WSU Sunrise Research Orchard near Rock Island, Wash., on
April 7. Commercial plantings of the new variety will start next spring.
events. Evans said they hope
to offer another field day
in June to demonstrate me-
chanical pruning of the new
The Cosmic Crisp, also
known by its breeding name
WA 38, is a much anticipat-
ed release of the WSU apple
breeding program, with 48
growers selected by draw-
ing to plant the first 600,000
trees in the spring of 2017.
Enough trees will be propa-
gated by nurseries that draw-
ings won’t be necessary in
the following years.
Growers have ordered
more than 1 million trees for
2018 and more for 2019.
The apple was bred from
Enterprise and Honeycrisp
varieties in 1997 and has
a sweet, tangy flavor that
ranks high in taste, texture
and beauty and has many
qualities of the popular Hon-
eycrisp with fewer horticul-
tural challenges, Evans has
Cosmic Crisp is a type
four variety, Musacchi said,
meaning it has long branches
and a lot of blind wood. The
variety also responds quick-
ly to nitrogen and too much
causes excessive growth, he
Cosmic Crisp was plant-
ed in both research orchards
in 2013 on two different
rootstocks and using the Eu-
ropean V-trellis, spindle and
biaxial types of tree archi-
A Cosmic Crisp apple leader was pruned the winter before last
causing this year’s flower clusters in the proximity where horticul-
turalists want apples to grow.
V-trellis promotes better
distribution of flower clus-
ters but isn’t suitable for
mechanical pruning, Musac-
chi said. He said he prefers
biaxial because two stems
instead of one divides vigor,
holding it down, and rows of
two stems in the same plane
form a fruiting wall, increas-
ing light to fruit.
Auvil said pollenization
varieties should be planted
every 30 feet in high-density
Cosmic Crisp plantings.
Lynnell Brandt, president
of Proprietary Variety Man-
agement in Yakima that is
coordinating the commer-
cialization of Cosmic Crisp
for WSU, attended both
Angel Farias, manag-
er of a Valley Fruit Co. or-
chard near Royal City, said
the Wapato-based company
plans to plant WA 38 next
spring at the orchard he
manages and sent him to the
field day to learn about it.
“I came to learn ways to
grow it right,” he said. “You
don’t want to start off on the
88 th Annual California State
FFA Leadership Conference
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
From left, Miles Sheldon and Tracy Starich of Tim Hea
Brandt Agricultural Products talk with FFA
Tyler Pruet /Capital Press
students at the 2015 California convention
Calif., pract f Stockton,
bolts at th
e 2015 Cal
generated nearly $500,000
FRESNO — An address by state Food and Agriculture
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
Thousands of FFA students pack the Selland Arena in
Fresno each year for the FFA’s California state
convention, which this year will be held April 21-26.
Secretary Karen Ross is among the scheduled highlights of
the 88th annual California State FFA Leadership
Conference, to be held here April 21-26.
Ross will attend the morning general session on April 25
in Selland Arena, where more than 5,000 FFA members
pack the stands each year for rock concert-style assemblies
while attending numerous other activities at the city’s
downtown convention center.
With the theme “Electrify,” students in high school FFA
programs throughout California will converge to participate
in contests, hear inspiring speakers, attend a career fair and
other activities and elect a new slate of officers for 2016-17.
“California FFA members, you have continually proven
that with your power and light, great things happen,” the
state leadership team of Joelle Lewis, Sydnie Sousa, Breanna
Holbert, Trevor Autry, Danielle Diele and Tim Truax told
members in a welcoming message on the convention’s
“We challenge you to bring all of your energy and passion
to create new relationships, celebrate successes and meet
your potential!” the group wrote.
The event kicks off with various speaking, interview and
parliamentary procedure contests on April 21-22 and its
Opening Session in Selland Arena is set for 8 p.m. April 23.
In eight arena sessions, students will hear remarks from
national FFA representatives, outgoing state officers and
other dignitaries and enjoy performances by the state band,
choir and talent contest participants.
The scheduled appearance by Ross comes as the CDFA’s
three-year-old agriculture-themed license plate program has
for education. The
department in January handed out $249,352 in the second
round of grants from the CalAgPlate program, including
$212,000 for FFA leadership and development programs.
“Agricultural education helps to connect consumers to our
farms and ranches and provides a greater appreciation for
California’s agricultural diversity,” Ross said in January.
A popular conference feature each year is the career fair, at
which California community colleges and university ag
programs are joined by such out-of-state entries as Iowa State
University and Utah State University as well as companies
such as Nutrena CropScience and Brandt Agricultural
Products. This year’s career fair will be held April 25.
“This is a great networking opportunity,” fair organizer and
California State University-Fresno student Kelsey Dugan said
at last year’s conference. “It’s to get to know people and
communicate with each other, to meet people in the industry,
and from there they can successfully integrate into the
university or to working.”
Students will vote on officer candidates on April 25 and the
new slate of officers will be announced in the final session on
April 26. Lewis, a San Luis Obispo resident who is the current
state president, was among 59 candidates for state office last
year, including 35 who were interviewed and 12 who were
named as finalists.
California’s FFA convention is one of the organization’s
biggest and follows the Oregon FFA State Convention, which
drew 1,400 students to Oregon State University on March 18-
21. Washington state’s will be held May 12-14 in Pullman,
Wash., and Idaho’s was held April 6-9 in Twin Falls, Idaho.