Idaho considers moving from potatoes to paw paws

March 19, 2007 13:54

If Esmaeil Fallahi has his way, the home of the world-famous Russet potato may soon also welcome persimmons, pistachios, pawpaws, quinces and mulberries. Fallahi, a native of Iran, has been Idaho's fruit guru for almost 20 years, working on everything from improving apple irrigation to finding the best way to thin a plum tree. Now, the University of Idaho professor wants to give the agriculture industry a little more flash in a state best known for its pedestrian potatoes. Fallahi's lab is researching "alternative fruits" - those that traditionally have not been grown in a region - that might have potential in Idaho. They could be as simple as a Fuji apple, where the traditional crop might be red delicious, or as exotic as a jujubi, a medicinal plant that grows in India, Pakistan and Iran. "There is a huge urge for new things, for trying new tastes - a curiosity and urge for something different," said Fallahi, who is hoping these fruits can grow into big bucks for Idaho farmers.

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