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Cherries, apples, grapes – A visit to the Peninsular ARS – Audio

Cherries, apples, and grapes: A visit to Peninsular Agricultural Research Station

Matt Stasiak, Superintendent Peninsular ARS
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (920) 743-5406

3:02 – Total Time
0:20 – Door County suited for fruit production
0:48 – Cherries, apples and grapes
1:14 – Grape research on the station
1:42 – Cherry business in Wisconsin
2:17 – More grape and apple research, cherries bounce back
2:51 – Lead out

Sevie Kenyon: Matt, can you start out by giving us a little picture of the Peninsular Station?

Matt Stasiak: We’re on the eastern geographical thumb of Wisconsin. We stick out to Lake Michigan. We have the lake to the east of us and Green Bay to the west. That modifies our climate, and keeps us cooler in the summer; less cold in the winter; so it allows us to grow some crops that may not be as adapted to the rest of the state, mainly fruit crops.

Sevie Kenyon: Well tell us about the fruit crops. What are the main fruit crops on the station?

Matt Stasiak: Historically we’ve been a cherry producing region that’s tart cherries, that’s the pie cherry, not the sweet cherry that you typically eat fresh out of hand, but the processed cherry that goes into juices, and pies, and pastries, and dried cherries. And apples; probably our second crop. Number three; the big fruit crop is grapes.

Sevie Kenyon: What’s new about grapes. What are you seeing with the grapes?

Matt Stasiak: There’s commercial interest now; people wanting to grow grapes to produce local wines. The food industry has branched out a little more local production, and that has happened with wine. We got serious about five to ten years ago, and put in a number of plantings. It’s a replicated trial, where we’re looking at grape varieties that are well suited to wine production in our climate.

Sevie Kenyon: And Matt can you tell us a little about the cherry business in the state?

Matt Stasiak: Door Country, the Door Peninsula was king fifty, sixty years ago. We were the number one producer of cherries in the country. That changed. Production shifted to Michigan where they grow about eighty percent of the cherries right now. But we still grow about twenty-five hundred, three thousand acres. It’s a small, but it’s still a healthy industry. We try to help them with disease control and insect management. There’s been some changes with more juice production, and then dry cherries have been a boom to the industry.

Sevie Kenyon: Matt, what do you see as the future of your station?

Matt Stasiak: Future of the station I think we’re doing a lot more work with the grapes. But apples production has changed a lot in the past few years and we’re really working hard to increase productivity for apple growers. There’s been a lot of interest in new varieties. Honey Crisp has taken off; it’s a Minnesota variety, but very well received by the growers in Wisconsin. It’s been a great apple for the industry and for consumers alike. And cherries, that is kind of researched, and there’s a lot of interest in the health benefits of cherries. So production is again going up.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Matt Stasiak, Peninsular Ag Research Station, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.