Essie Fallahi

University of Idaho pomology program leader Essie Fallahi at UI’s annual Fruit Field Day in Parma Sept. 6.

Kylara Papenfuss and her Payson Fruit Growers colleagues often attend Fruit Field Day in Parma, Idaho, even though their company operates elsewhere.

“We have growers who meet here and get information,” said Papenfuss, whose company is in Utah.

The University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center, and its internationally recognized pomologist Essie Fallahi, have hosted Fruit Field Day for 23 years. Hundreds turn out to see Fallahi and other UI scientists showcase established and new varieties of wine and table grapes, tree fruits and nuts — a broad lineup for a growing region that’s colder than many others.

Water supply and irrigation, and population growth, are among major issues facing agriculture in the area, said Fallahi, who started the UI pomology program 30 years ago.

About 80 crops are grown around Parma, which is near the Oregon border.

The region has extensive irrigation infrastructure. Fallahi said he and colleagues have spent some 25 years working on irrigation advances that target the fruit industry.

Frequent attendee Jim Zamzow, of Nampa-based lawn-and-garden retail chain Zamzows, said he has focused on soil improvement in recent years. He follows production-agriculture research and best practices, which he said growers of various sizes can use to improve soil.

“And I come for service, to contribute,” he said. “I see lots of people I know.”

The Sept. 6 field day showcased new cultivars of table grapes, peaches, nectarines, apples, plums, quince, Asian pears and other alternative fruits as well as cutting-edge practices for orchards.

UI has said Parma-based research on almonds and walnuts shows these crops have production-scale commercial potential for the state.

Fallahi and colleagues in the past year also have been working on Fuji and Honeycrisp apple irrigation, fruit nutrition and various new field practices, among other projects.

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