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Kate M. Evans, Lisa J. Brutcher and Bonnie S. Konishi

Inventory control of trees and fruit samples in the Washington State University apple breeding program has been simplified by the use of bar codes. Tree labels incorporate individual bar-coded identities that can be scanned in the field when taking measurements or collecting samples. Bar codes on fruit sample labels also simplify data recording as well as improve the efficiency of the program by greatly reducing the risk of errors. The interface of bar-code identities with data organization and statistical software makes data analysis more straightforward.

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Kate Evans, Lisa Brutcher, Bonnie Konishi and Bruce Barritt

Selecting for crispness instrumentally in fruit from apple (Malus ×domestica) breeding programs is notoriously difficult. Most breeders rely on sensory assessment for this important characteristic. Following the 2009 harvest, we used a computerized penetrometer to assess firmness and texture of apple selections from the Washington State University's apple breeding program and 16 standard reference varieties. Data were compared with sensory data from the apple breeding team. In addition to the expected high correlations between the various firmness measures of the computerized penetrometer and the sensory firmness values, our data also show a significant correlation between the computerized penetrometer crispness value and the sensory crispness value, thus demonstrating the benefit from using this equipment rather than the industry standard Magness–Taylor penetrometer.

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Lisa J. Brutcher and Carolyn F. Ross

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Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Anita Nina Azarenko, Lisa Brutcher, Annie Chozinski, David D. Myrold and Russell Ingham

Organic growers are required to maintain or improve soil chemical, biological, and physical properties and thus need to integrate biological processes into fertility management. However, few guidelines exist for satisfying tree nutrient demands ecologically. Sound nitrogen (N) management is a key component for overall orchard productivity whereas poor N management may result in multiple environmental impacts, including runoff to surface or leaching to groundwater sources. Many growers substitute synthetic inputs with rapid-release, approved N fertilizers that have little effect on long-term soil health and fertility. The authors seek an alternative approach for synchronizing nutrient availability with tree demand that relies on managing soil biological communities to attain their maximum potential functionality and thus meet tree nutrient demand. This paper outlines a new conceptual framework with which to evaluate a variety of soil functions that are quantified using biological, microbial, and biochemical properties in relation to overall orchard performance. By combining information gathered from soil faunal indices (nematode community structure and diversity analyses) with data obtained by biochemical and microbial analyses of the soil samples, a new, in-depth view of soil communities and their response to management practices will be obtained. As a result, a better understanding of the effects of differing management practices on soil fertility and community structure will be gained. This approach is currently being investigated by our group in organic and integrative sweet cherry orchards. Our goal is to determine which soil parameters may be used to help orchardists optimize soil health while maintaining orchard productivity. Furthermore, we wish to validate a number of assumptions that are commonly made regarding each soil parameter tested across multiple management, soil, and climate types.

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Marc A. Dilley, Lisa J. Brutcher and Cameron P. Peace

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Marc A. Dilley, Lisa J. Brutcher and Cameron P. Peace