Earlier this month, PNW Ag attended the Pre-Harvest Cherry Tour, hosted in Oregon. We spoke with Dr. Ashley Thompson, the OSU Extension Tree Fruit Horticulturalist for Wasco and Hood River County, to learn more about the event.

Dr. Ashley Thompson: I work with cherry and pear growers in a region we call the Mid-Columbia, and today we are at the Pre-Harvest Cherry Tour. This event has been held for, I'd say, at least 30 years. This is my sixth year doing the Cherry Pre-Harvest Tour. And this is one of our favorite events. Today we have a turnout of about 100 folks.

What we like to do here is to give farmers information about what's up and coming and what they may want to be thinking about for the future of their farms. Right before harvest, it also gives them a good idea of how the cherry crop looks as we're driving around, we're looking at different crops at different orchards.

Today we started off looking at some new varieties coming out of WSU, which hopefully will be commercialized. They're very exciting. We got to see some autonomous tractors, which was incredible. Very cool. Incredible. And I think those two things are so incredibly important to the industry because they're cutting edge and they're the things that I think will take us into the future and the future of farming.


We need to be looking for the best possible cherries, cherries that we can export. And we need to be thinking about how can we reduce our carbon emissions. We need to be thinking about how can we reduce our labor and how can we save money. Things like those autonomous tractors and some of the other electric vehicles we saw here this morning are great starts to that.

Then we wrap it up here in this beautiful picnic grove. We hear updates from our faculty at Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and we get to hear from local community organizations to talk about things that really are important to the growers. We just heard from Leslie Tamora. She's with Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers, and she's done an incredible job advocating for our industry through all of these changes related to ag overtime, ag labor housing.

It's wonderful to get people up to date. That's another part of this is that, you know, so many people don't read their emails. So this is an opportunity for them to come out and hear exactly what's going on. It's nice that they get to socialize with each other as well. So when they don't want to ask questions like today, but they'll ask each other.

Pre-Harvest Cherry Tour 2024

Photographs from the 2024 pre-harvest cherry tour held near The Dalles, Oregon.

Gallery Credit: Pacific Northwest Ag Network

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