IDFTA Summer  Tour 2001

June 16-19

Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon

Pear, Sweet Cherry and Apple Country

in the

Columbia River Gorge

A world-class landscape extends more than 100 miles east of Portland, where the Columbia River carves a dramatic canyon between the states of Oregon and Washington. This is the Columbia River Gorge, largest national scenic area in the United States:  a land of natural contrasts between rain forest and desert, sea-level passage and alpine meadows. A network of hiking trails climbs from lowland forests to windy ridges on both sides of the Gorge. The river itself hosts the best board-sailing conditions this side of Hawaii, and the nearby snowcaps of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams offer downhill and cross-country skiing well into spring.

The Columbia Gorge is home to more than 70,000 people, and they've created a rich culture. There are historical museums and art centers, fine dining, theaters, wineries, a wealth of recreational opportunities and much more.

When Congress established the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986, it recognized two goals:  preservation of the natural environment and enhancement of the local economy. Since that time, scenic area managers and local communities have worked to find the balance between those two disparate, yet complementary goals.

The Columbia Gorge is also a place of history. Its geologic origins date to massive flows of lava millions of years ago, carved much more recently by tremendous icy floods at the end of the latest glaciation. Native Americans settled here at least 10,000 years before the first European explorers. Lewis and Clark came down the Columbia Gorge, and the Oregon Trail pioneers followed soon after, pausing briefly before continuing their journey westward. Sternwheelers and railroads, hydroelectric dams and aluminum plants became the engines of later industry.

All this and much more is explained in detail at the region's interpretive centers in The Dalles and Stevenson, as well as historical museums in communities throughout the Columbia Gorge.

Orchard Country

Visit the Columbia Gorge in June 2001 to see pear, sweet cherry and apple orchards in one of the most scenic fruit-growing landscapes anywhere in the world. The towns of Hood River and The Dalles are surrounded by orchards. In the background of almost every orchard are the snowcapped volcanic peaks of Mt. Hood in Oregon and Mt. Adams in Washington and the dramatic gorge of the Columbia.

Hood River Valley

The Hood River Valley is one of the nation's agricultural showpieces, famous worldwide for its pears. More than 15,000 acres of the 20-mile-long valley are planted in orchard, and more than 30% of the United States' winter pears (Anjou, Bosc and Comice) are grown here, as are over 11% of the nation's Bartlett pears. The valley's Newtown Pippin apple is considered the highest quality in the world. Over 220,000 tons of apples, pears and cherries are produced annually from this fertile valley. The fruit industry is the Number One economic factor in the Hood River Valley.

The Dalles

The Dalles, a town of 11,000 people 20 miles east of Hood River, has a much drier climate, 10 to 15 inches of rain annually versus over 30 inches in Hood River. The reduction in rainfall, increase in sunshine and the deep and productive volcanic soils make The Dalles an idea location for growing sweet cherries.

Sweet cherries on over 7500 acres are grown for fresh market, mostly export to Asia and for processing. Bing is the major fresh market variety and Royal Ann (Napoleon) is the major processing variety. The trend is to increase fresh market production with plantings of the newer varieties Chelan, Tieton, Lapins and Sweetheart.


IDFTA Oregon Summer Tour

June 16-19, 2001

June 16, Saturday Pre-Tour

For this optional pre-tour, buses will depart from the Hood River Inn at 7:00 a.m., travel west to Portland and pick up additional participants at a Portland Airport hotel before traveling south into the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley, with its temperate marine climate, is ideal for growing ornamental trees and shrubs as well as fruit trees and rootstocks. Nurseries thrive near the north Willamette Valley towns of Newberg, Dundee, McMinnville, Woodburn and Canby. We are scheduled to visit Meadow Lake Nursery and TRECO Nursery, two tree fruit rootstock and finished tree nurseries. Propagation methods for rootstocks and finished trees, including tissue culture, shoot cuttings and stoolbeds, will be seen and the merits of newer apple, pear and cherry rootstocks discussed.

Vineyards and wineries have become a major part of the agricultural scene in the Willamette Valley. We will visit Erath Vineyards winery for a tour and tasting.

Midafternoon we take the scenic drive up the slopes of Mt. Hood to Timberline Lodge, a National Historical Landmark, at 6,000 feet above sea level. There will be time to explore the wildflower meadows, enjoy the scenery and have dinner before returning to Hood River by about 8:30 p.m.

June 17, Sunday

5:00-7:00 p.m.--Summer Tour Registration at Hood River Inn.

7 p.m.-- Introduction to the pear, apple and cherry industries of the Columbia Gorge region by the research and extension staff of Oregon State University (OSU).

June 18, Monday

8:00 a.m.-- Depart from the Hood River Inn for visits to Hood River Valley apple and pear orchards and the Oregon State University Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Tour stops will include:

1) Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center: This stop will focus on pears and apples. The Station has one of the NC-140 1994 Gala dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstock trials. We will look at a new line of pear rootstocks that offer the promise of size control, precocity and excellent fruit size. We will also observe the use of interstems in pear production. The Station has the oldest pear block in the Pacific Northwest trained to a Tatura trellis.

2) Flotow and Associates Orchards (Andy von Flotow). This orchard is located on the lower west side of the Hood River Valley. The orchard is producing 10-year-old Ultra Red Gala on M.9 and Royal Gala on M.26 under high-density Slender Spindle and V trellis systems. Additionally we will see Jonagold which have been grafted to Ultra Red Gala and Braeburn. This is one of the few growers in the Valley who uses Kaolin clay extensively.

3) Annala Orchards (Tim and Bev Annala). Located on the west side of the lower Hood River Valley, the Annalas produce apples and pears. We will be specifically looking at 5th to 9th leaf Columbia Red d’Anjou and Forrell pears under higher density (11 x 16 and 9 x 17) conditions. 

4) Halliday Orchards (Wilbur and June Halliday, Scott and Jodi Halliday, Mike and Debbie Halliday). The Hallidays farm approximately 300 acres of pears, apples and cherries in the upper Hood River Valley. They have both standard and high density pears. We will be looking at 10-year-old Columbia Red d’Anjou pears planted under high-density under both single and double conditions. Additionally we will see 6-year-old Royal Gala trees on M.9 rootstocks trained to an MIA system.

5) George Ing (George and Muriel Ing). The Ing orchard was planted in 1989 and is located on the lower east side of the Hood River Valley. George produces Bartlett, Bosc, Columbia Red D’Anjou, and Red Clapp (Starkrimson) pears under what for pear growers is very high density (8 x 12). The trees are trained to a central leader to be picked with an 8 ft ladder (10 ft on some of the lower sides of the terraced trees). He also has 105 apple, 65 peaches and nectarines, and 23 apricots, and plums in a variety collection. This will be the last stop of the day, and George and Muriel will be our hosts for a pre-dinner hour.

4:00 p.m.--Reception at the George and Muriel Ing home.

June 19, Tuesday

8:00 a.m.-- Depart from the Hood River Inn and drive east 20 miles to The Dalles sweet cherry district. Tour stops will include:

1) Traditional Orchard. The Dalles is a very traditional cherry production region. Cherries have been grown here for nearly 150 years. Although present orchards are not that old, many approach 50 years and consist of large trees on full size rootstock. Bing and Napoleon (Royal Ann)  are the traditional varieties.

2) Orchard Renewal. Napoleon trees grown for brine are no longer profitable. Many growers are destroying Napoleon orchards and replanting with newer fresh market varieties. One grower has decided to try to graft his mature Napoleon trees with a new fresh market variety to save time and eliminate problems with replant disease.

3) Cherry grower rootstock/training system trial. We will visit a large grower trial and see cherry trees on Gisela and Weiroot rootstocks. In addition, the grower is experimenting with several different training systems including central leader, Spanish Bush, multiple row and some ideas of his own. Varieties include Bing, Rainier and Lapins. Hear what the grower thinks about each of these combinations and what works best for him.

4) A commercial Sweetheart/Spanish Bush orchard on full-size rootstock. It's a unique combination to say the least. Growers in The Dalles are excited about the potential of the new Sweetheart variety from B.C., Canada. This grower has combined it with the Spanish Bush training system to produce a pedestrian orchard. Will he be able to achieve his goal using a full-size rootstock?

5) OSU variety/rootstock/training system trial. Two varieties, 15 rootstocks and three training systems make this research plot a highly interesting and educational stop. Bing and Napoleon are combined with Weiroot, new Gisela releases and several French rootstocks and grown on Spanish Bush, Vogel Central Leader and Steep Leader training systems.

6) New variety trial. Over 25 new varieties, mostly from the Summerland Research Station in British Columbia, are grown in this plot for university and grower evaluation.

7) Packing House tour. The majority of the fresh fruit grown in The Dalles is exported to Asia, primarily Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. While in The Dalles we will visit a modern cherry packing house and discuss the use of modified atmosphere packaging with one of the pioneers in this technology that helps extend the shelf life of cherries.

5:00 p.m. -- Arrive back at Hood River Inn. One bus will continue on to a Portland Airport hotel.