You can try hundreds of different types of Idaho fruit in Parma this week — for free.

Idaho agricultural scientists in rural Parma are at the forefront of pomology and viticulture research, helping Idaho growers produce better peaches, apples and grapes. This Friday, local residents can try the fruits of their labor — for free.

The 23rd annual Fruit Field Day at the University of Idaho’s Parma Research and Extension Center showcases the cutting-edge research in the fields of fruit science and grape cultivation. Visitors will be able to sample hundreds of different varieties of grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums, Asian pears, quince and other “alternative” fruit, all grown by University of Idaho researchers and staff on roughly 100 acres in rural Parma.

“Here, you can wish any fruit and you can have it,” said University of Idaho professor Esmaeil “Essie” Fallahi.

Fruit Field Day will also honor Fallahi, the event’s founder, for receiving the American Pomological Society’s highest honor for his research. Fallahi’s family grew fruit in Iran for several generations, and he founded the University of Idaho’s pomological and viticulture research programs in 1990. Now, he directs the center’s research — studying everything from how to help Idaho farmers improve fruit taste and longevity to developing more efficient, environmentally friendly uses of water and pesticides that still produces quality fruit.

“We are competing with the world, and we are competing extremely well,” Fallahi said. “They are ordering our apples by name: Idaho apples.”

While hundreds of people are expected to flock to Parma for a chance to try the rare and varied fruit, Fallahi said it’s also a tremendous educational opportunity for all growers in the area — even amateur gardeners — to learn more about the craft.

The Parma research center’s ongoing experimentation helps Idaho fruit growers stay competitive in the national and world market, Fallahi said. The research center has 180 different genotypes of table grapes alone, Fallahi said, many of which he and his team brought to Idaho from places like Iran and Tajikistan.

Attendees can also learn about advances in Fuji and Honeycrisp apple irrigation, fruit nutrition, chemical and hand thinning, and safe use of pesticide and herbicide, according to a University of Idaho press release. Pesticide applicators and managers who attend the event can earn two pesticide education credits.

There will also be a presentation on the potential for expanded almond and walnut crops in Idaho. Fallahi said California growers, in particular, are increasingly interested in adding or moving operations to Idaho because of cheaper land and more lenient state regulations.

Fallahi said Idaho was a “golden state” for agriculture, especially for fruit growers. Hundreds of people attended Fruit Field Day last year, and he was excited to introduce even more local residents and farmers to the exciting things happening in Idaho agriculture.

“There are so many possibilities,” Fallahi said.

Fruit Field Day events start 8:30 a.m. Friday at the U of I Pomology Research Orchards and Vineyards on 31727 Parma Road, down the road from the main Parma extension offices.


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Reporter Nicole Foy is helping the Idaho Statesman expand coverage of agriculture, farming and food across Idaho. Agriculture and food production has long been an important part of Idaho’s economy, with dairies, international agribusinesses and food processors among the state’s top employers. Many Idahoans have close ties to agriculture, even as houses continue to replace farmland, especially in Boise and throughout the Treasure Valley.

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Investigative reporter Nicole Foy covers Latinos, agriculture and government accountability issues. She graduated from Biola University and previously worked for the Idaho Press and the Orange County Register. Her Hispanic affairs beat reporting won first place in the 2018 Associated Press regional awards. Ella habla español.