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Idaho's Fruit & Nut Center

Pomologist Essie Fallahi has spent more than two decades cultivating fruit trees in the Gem State.

Esmail "Essie" Fallahi of the University of Idaho, image
Photo caption
Esmail "Essie" Fallahi helps push fruit forward in the Gem State.

Over the past 23 years Esmaeil “Essie” Fallahi, an Iranian American pomologist (fruit and nut scientist) at the University of Idaho’s research center in Parma, has brought some 30 fruit- and nut-bearing trees to southwest Idaho. The center opens to the public during Fruit Field Day in early September.

Q What have you brought to Idaho?
Pluot, Fuji and Gala apples, Asian pear, quince, persimmon, and almond.

Q How did you know they’d succeed?
Like the Elburz Mountains north of Tehran, southwestern Idaho has four seasons with a cold winter and gradual spring, which is extremely important for fruits’ developing flavors. In the summer, warm days and cool nights preserve all their flavor and color components.

Q Why fruit trees?
The world population is growing, and no matter what job you and I have, we need lunch. On the other hand, everyone can produce fruit. Our discoveries help farmers produce higher-quality, more novel fruit.

Q Do we need so many kinds?
People like to try different things. It’s up to us researchers to show that we can grow them, and to our extension center to teach people how to use them.

Q Where can we taste some of the fruit?
You can check during harvest times at Henggeler Packing Company (208-452-3535) and Purdums Produce (208-452-4098) in Fruitland, Idaho. And there are two farms near Caldwell: Symms Fruit Ranch (208-459-4821, and Williamson Orchards (208-459-7333,

Photography by Sylvia Plachy

This article was first published in September 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.