Willow Drive Nursery is leading the way in new apple rootstock as the only tree fruit nursery in Washington with the fire blight-resistant Geneva series from Cornell University in New York.
It could have a significant impact on the apple industry on the East Coast and in Washington, said Ken Adams, Willow Drive's president.
Fire blight is a disease that kills trees. Growers manage it with sprays. Fire blight-resistant rootstock has been under research and development for years.
Propagation has been difficult and Geneva hasn't rooted well in beds, Adams said, but tissue culture is being used to increase rootability. Willow Drive is working to increase its numbers, and more nurseries are getting Geneva licenses, including some in Portland, he said.
The Geneva 11, 41, 935, 890 and 214 will be produced the most, he said, and gradually will replace the standard Malling 9 through 26 rootstock.
It will be two or three years before the Geneva is sold in any quantity, he said.
-- Dan Wheat