Opinion: Good Taste Is Grower-Friendly

David Eddy

“Grower-friendly” is a term I haven’t heard as much in recent years. Growers might not like it, but that’s a good thing. If you’re planting trees or vines because they are easy to grow, you’re making a huge mistake.

What you want are trees or vines that are consumer-friendly. They produce fruits and nuts consumers want to buy. Seems obvious, but as one deep-thinking grower I interviewed not long ago told me, a thing is only obvious after it becomes obvious.

Such is the case with good-tasting fruit. I can recall attending the annual Washington State Horticultural Association conference for the first time back in the late 1990s, and picking up a huge, beautiful Red Delicious apple from a box just outside the doors to the hall where the keynote lecture was to be given. The apple not only didn’t taste that good, it was mealy. I thought that was odd in such a place and time, but I soon got an education inside from the lecturer, Bruce Barritt.

Barritt, who started Washington State University’s (WSU) apple breeding program, implored those in attendance to grow good-tasting apple varieties that consumers wanted. That seemed pretty obvious, but I’ll never forget the grumbles from the growers, one of whom no doubt produced the apple I’d just tossed into a trash can. Barritt said he was tired of the state’s growers telling him that they produced the best Red Delicious on earth. If consumers didn’t want to eat them, what was the point of growing them?

It’s About Taste

Flash forward to a completely different scene earlier this summer at Dave Wilson Nursery. It was my first formal fruit tasting, and it was an eye-opening experience. I’d been to several fruit tastings before, but this was my first in which we actually put pen to paper and graded each of the fruits on a number of categories. Virtually the only talk was of the fruits’ taste. Sure, there were a few comments about texture or appearance, especially when it was particularly remarkable. But talk of taste dominated, which is only natural.

If you listen to consumers talk about food, they talk about taste. When it comes to apples, they certainly don’t talk about typiness. Most have never heard the word, which shows just how far off base those Red Delicious evaluations were getting.

The people in Extension and at the nurseries deserve a lot of the credit for that, I think. Like at the Dave Wilson event, there was some great-tasting fruit from the WSU breeding program at last December’s Hort Show. As I say, I just don’t recall taste being a big factor just a dozen or so years ago when variety selection was
discussed. It was all about the precocity of the tree, its resistance to disease, or other grower-friendly attributes. But while nice to have, they’re not nearly as grower-friendly as good-tasting fruit.

Grower-friendly growth habits are great if you’re a gardener. But if you’re a professional fruit grower, “grower-friendly” means good taste for the consumer — and more cash for you.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
sclerotinia
Disease Control
February 23, 2017
Spot Sclerotinia Before It Stops Your Vegetable Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this malady that goes by many names. Read More
2017 Florida Strawberry Picking Challenge winners
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big Winner for Charity
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Florida potato field in bloom.
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Sucking, Chewing Pests
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Farms Get Bigger Even as the Number of Farms Decline
A new report from USDA shows long-term trends continuing: fewer farms and fewer acres used in farming even as individual operations get bigger on average. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync With Crop Needs
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture Growing [Opinion]
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Cartoon sketch of a citrus seed machine
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Seed
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
Food Safety Modernization Act moving at snail's pace
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping Forward
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conference
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
The Latest
Disease Control
February 23, 2017
Spot Sclerotinia Before It Stops Your Ve…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this malady that goes by many names. Read More
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big…
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Farms Get Bigger Even as the Number of F…
A new report from USDA shows long-term trends continuing: fewer farms and fewer acres used in farming even as individual operations get bigger on average. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync Wit…
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Se…
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping F…
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conferen…
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wi…
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honor…
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to…
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More