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Regenerative Agriculture Podcast

Jun 20, 2018

Professor Lynn Long has worked in sweet cherry research and Extension at Oregon State University since 1988. At that time, the main cherry variety being grown was Bing on a Mazzard rootstock, leading to disease and susceptibility to weather pressure. Lynn has been an advocate for diversity in varieties and rootstocks, maintaining a cherry variety trial since 1996, and evaluating nearly 100 varieties and selections for potential adoption by the sweet cherry industry in the Pacific Northwest. He has been instrumental in progressing the use of dwarfing rootstocks and new training systems in commercial orchards. Long has authored many publications and has spoken in grower oriented meetings in 16 countries around the world. 

In this episode, Lynn and I discuss the future of sweet cherry production. Lynn believes the future development of tree fruit will emerge when we begin better managing ‘the other half of the tree' - the root system.  

  • How soil health and compost applications contribute to varietal performance
  • How modern dwarf rootstocks compare to older varieties
  • What is the future of biological and mechanical solutions to automate harvesting
  • Successfully reducing bacterial canker with plant nutrition
  • ...And more! 
Very thought provoking for any tree fruit grower!

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This show is brought to you by AEA, leaders in regenerative agriculture since 2006.

If you are a large-scale grower looking to increase crop revenue and quality, email or call 800-495-6603 extension 344 to be connected with a dedicated AEA crop consultant.





Cherries: Botany, Production and Uses



Episode 12 - Lynn Long - Highlights

2:45 - What are some memorable moments that have lead Lynn to where he is today?

  • In the 90’s, cherry production was focused on one single variety. There wasn’t a lot of diversity at the time.
  • In 1994, Lynn went to Europe and gained knowledge that changed the way cherries are farmed in the US


4:10 - What shift happened, and how did Lynn start managing trees differently?

  • Lynn had been researching cherry rootstock
  • Lynn saw what farms in Germany, France, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe were doing, and brought this knowledge back to help growers understand


7:40 - How does the vigor of modern dwarf rootstock compared to older varieties?

  • A lot of farmers prefer older varieties
  • Dwarfing rootstock seen to be more shallow


9:10 - What has been missing in looking at the “other half of the tree”

  • Everything from research to management has been focused on only half the tree - the top half.
  • We are seeing more and more research being done on what is happening below ground with the tree


11:20 - What are some of the things Lynn has observed to cause him to start to wonder what is happening in the soil profile?

  • Dwarfing rootstock in hard soil affecting the growth and behavior of trees
  • Leaves look stressed and wilted, impacting food quality
  • Keeping microorganisms alive throughout the entire year to affect the health of the ecosystem and the tree


14:20 - What has Lynn learned from compost trials?

  • Struggling orchards turned around
  • Taking stress off the tree by keeping soil cooler
  • How can adding organic soil help the health of the tree?
  • Success Lynn has seen in Chile


18:00 - What has been something that has surprised Lynn?

  • The grower community being open with ideas and their operations
  • Growers who share the most often receive the most


21:30 - What is something that Lynn believes the be true that is different from the mainstream? 

  • Mainstream agriculture is only focusing on the top half of the tree


23:30 - How does managing what is happening below the soil change how we manage above the soil?

  • Issues we are struggling with now may become minor issues later


26:00 - How will the canopy be affected by a changing root system?

  • Getting high-quality fruit all around the tree, not just the top


29:20 - Success in reducing bacterial canker through ecosystem management


33:30 - What is a resource Lynn would recommend?


35:40 - What does Lynn wish he was asked?

  • Where is cherry production going in the future?


37:00 - What does Lynn think the future holds in fruit and vegetable production

  • Labor shortage problem
  • Mechanical and biological solutions to getting cherries off trees without laborers


40:00 - How does Lynn see an orchard of the future?

  • Being able to automate the process of collecting cherries without dropping quality



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