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
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under 55 Years Old
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus Greening Research
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Postbloom Fruit Drop symptoms on Florida ctirus
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Postbloom Fruit Drop
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimum Wage by 30% by Next Year
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
a trio of peaches
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Specialty Crops
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Receives Cornell’s Excellence in IPM Award 
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine Industry
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Florida [Opinion]
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach
Disease Control
January 20, 2017
Don’t Let Stemphylium Leaf Spot Stump Your Spinach Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
The Latest
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under…
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus G…
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Post…
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimu…
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Speci…
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Rec…
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine In…
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
Farm Marketing
January 20, 2017
Direct Marketing Revenue Topped $8 Billi…
USDA has released its first-ever survey on direct marketing, and it shows that the local food industry is huge. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Disease Control
January 20, 2017
Don’t Let Stemphylium Leaf Spot St…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s…
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Grapes
January 19, 2017
U.S. Challenges Canadian Trade Measures …
Trade enforcement action challenges British Columbia regulations that unfairly exclude U.S. wine from grocery store shelves. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel …
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
Fruits
January 19, 2017
Funding Available to Improve Ag, Food Sc…
USDA announces $18.9 million for ag education at 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the heat gets turned up on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Southwest Growers Are Best Prepared for …
Almost half of all Southwest operations are grooming its next generation of leadership — an alarmingly low statistic, but one that is the highest in the country, according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More