The Yakima Valley, Wenatchee Valley and Columbia Basin Regions of Washington State are considered the deciduous "tree fruit baskets" of the United States. Our dry weather, warm springs, hot summer days combined with cool autumn nights are ideal for the commercial production of the largest and best-tasting tree fruits in the nation. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington State is the leading producer of apples, pears, and sweet cherries in the USA. Washington is a leading producer of plums, prunes, peaches, nectarines, tart cherries and apricots as well. Tree fruit can be produced on the west side of the state as well, but precipitation patterns and plant disease management can make fruit production quite a challenge.
Red areas reflect the distribution of tree fruit orchards in Washington State. The figure is from the Washington Fruit Survey 2006.
As a Washington resident, you might be tempted to grow your own fruit trees and capitalize on these weather conditions - and you can! The objective of this website is to provide you with the information that you need to be your own fruit provider and enjoy the beauty of tree fruits at flower bloom and at fruit harvest.
Be forewarned, backyard fruit trees may not be for everyone, especially Washington residents who live in the major fruit-producing areas. With all the fruit trees in our area, the incidence of fruit pests is quite high and they will find your fruit trees. Homeowners who plant apples, pears or cherries will discover that they need to protect their fruit from the ravages of insects and this often necessitates pesticide use each and every year. If these insect pests are not controlled, they will infest nearly every fruit on the tree and they will spread from your tree to your neighbor's tree or a commercial orchard. For those of us lucky enough to live in these fruit-producing areas, it is far easier and cheaper to drive to a local fruit stand or farmer's market than deal with wormy fruit or handle pesticides every year.
Believe it or not, State Regulation RCW 15.09.060 states that a property owner is responsible for controlling pests that can jeopardize the tree fruit industry in Yakima.
The Horticultural Pest & Disease Board has the role of enforcing RCW 15.09.060. The first step that is taken by the board is educating the homeowner on proper care of their trees and to prevent the formation and spreading of pests to the farmers.
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