Monday and Tuesday, I attended the 2016 Texas Fruit Conference, put on by the Texas A&M University Extension Service, now known as AgriLife Extension (which is goofy as all get-out, but whatcha gonna do?). I found out about it a few weeks ago, and as it was held in New Braunfels this year (previous years have all been in College Station) there was no way I was going to miss it. The first day's programming seemed geared more toward commercial farming and orchards, and I ended up skipping the reception in the evening to take the kids trick-or-treating, but my interest was piqued. I saw some researchers I'd only ever seen as names online, and met Dr. Larry Stein, who I'd discussed the possibility of planting Carpathian walnuts about a decade ago (the A&M research station in Uvalde was testing some blight-resistant cultivars. I eventually opted for pecan, which Stein informed me was a good choice--the resistant selections turned out to be not resistant at all, and A&M gave up on the great walnut experiment). I ended up picking up several interesting books: Argus Cidery seemed at a bit of a loss during his talk, wandering off into a "It's really hard to grow apples in Texas, so we get ours from out of state" tangent. The Q&A rescued the section, however. I've long been interested in testing the viability of traditional cider apple types in Texas, and asked him if any work was being done with those varieties (most currently-available commercial cider is currently made from dessert apples, resulting in inferior cider). He explained there's a lot of interest in cider apple types in the coops of the Pacific Northwest, but nothing in Texas, because, again, it's hard to grow apples in Texas. Other people jumped in and the discussion moved into providing various fruit types to area distilleries, as fruit infusions are currently very popular, and the fruit used can be "ugly," with blemishes, bruises and the like which would preclude its sale to consumers. After the talk, quite a few people (myself included) gathered around Mickel to continue the discussion.
Chicken Ranch Central