MSU Extension Office- Flathead County is proud to provide a variety of resources and programs to valley residents.  Below is a highlight of several of the programs that are currently taking place. For all Extension events go to our Calendar to see what is going on with Extesnion.

Upcoming Events

Small Acreage Landowner Workshop Series starts February 6, 2019 through March 13, 2019 from 6pm-8pm located at the Gateway West Mall United Way Conference Room. Cost is $125 per person with scholarships available. 

Flathead County Hay Producers Ranked Number One!Flathead County Hay Field

The Montana Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage Program continues to be important to Flathead County hay producers.  Flathead County is rated number one in weed free forage production in Montana.  The Flathead County agriculture agent inspects over 1,500 acres as a service to 22 producers of weed free hay and straw.  This hay is needed by horse owners packing into the back country, riding at horse shows or rodeos and traveling out of state.    This program is a preventative measure to reduce the introduction of regional "designated" noxious weeds onto private, county, state and federal lands.

For more information, please feel free to contact The Montana Department of Agricultrue. The Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage Program Coordinator is Rory Ruffner at 406-444-7819 or


Sweet Cherry Research Trials 2011-2013

The cherry growers are enthusiastically watching for the results of this research. Funding was obtained for this project from the Montana Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture.

To assist Montana cherry growers identify new varieties to meet market demands for later cherries and larger fruit, MSU Agriculture Extension Agent Pat McGlynn, established a sweet cherry variety research trial. Seven replicated trials around Flathead Lake were established in 2010 in grower’s orchards– one organic and six conventional. Data has been collected on vigor, winter hardiness, bloom and harvest dates, size and flavor. All six test varieties came through with flying colors. Three including Attika, Pine Dale Ruby and Glory appear to be standouts. Full production is expected in 2014 for the first time. Evaluations will be made at that time. Funding was obtained for this project from the Montana Department of Agriculture through the Growth Through Agriculture and the Specialty Crop Block Grant programs.

For more information please see our annual report and grower comments. 

Annual Report March 2013
Sweet Cherry
Variety Trials
on Flathead Lake

In early 2009, a number of cherry growers from
Flathead Lake individually came to speak with Dr.
Pat McGlynn, Montana State University Extension
Agent, about challenges facing the industry.
McGlynn called together a group of cherry growers,
both independent and Monson Food Co-op
members, to discuss the situation.
The majority of orchards around the lake are
planted with Lamberts and Lapin sweet cherries.
The cherries are well-suited to the Montana climate
and the flavor is world renowned. More than half
of the small acreage cherry growers belong to the
Monson Food co-op. The co-op sends the Flathead
Lake cherries to Washington for processing. In the
past, Washington cherries were finished processing
just as Montana cherries were harvested. However,
Washington has continued to plant later varieties of
cherries on higher elevations and are now harvesting
at the same time as Montana’s crop. Because of this,
the processing plant becomes overwhelmed and
Montana cherries are refused. The sustainability of
the Flathead orchards has been in question.
An advisory group of Flathead Lake cherry growers
was assembled. This group included independent
contractors, Monson food co-op board members,
organic and conventional growers. They decided
that research was needed to test the new varieties of
cherries that had been developed at Washington State
University under Montana conditions. These varieties
had been bred to be larger, firmer than, and just as
delicious as the Flathead Lambert and Lapin. The
timing of these cherries needed to be investigated.
A later cherry would help mitigate the processing
challenges of fruit sent to Washington State. Earlier
cherries would help roadside stand owners compete
with cherries being trucked into Montana markets
from the west coast. Firmer cherries would be more
suitable for international packaging and transport.
In the spring of 2010, the group was awarded $9,912
from the Montana Department of Agriculture
(MDA) Growth Through Agriculture Program. This
funding was for the trees and supplies to establish
six research plots on grower’s orchards. Additional
funding of $14,638 was given to the project from
the MDA Cherry Research and Market Development
Program. This funding allowed the project to contract
with Dr. Matt Whiting, Horticulture Extension
Specialist at Washington State University and to
hire a part-time research technician to assist with the
project for the first year. The MDA Specialty Crop
Block Grant program granted the cherry research
project $29,425 to continue consultant and assistant
support for two additional years. With these grants,
the project had funding for three years of study.
Figure 1: Flathead Lake cherry growers Bruce Johnson, Tom
Lawrence and Joe Hurst join MSU Extension Agent Pat McGlynn in
Prosser, Wash., to study high density production techniques. Photo
by Pat McGlynn

Six research plots were established on Flathead Lake
cherry grower’s orchards in 2010. The hosts included:
Dick Beighle, Gerald Bowman, Barry Hansen, Wade
Rediesel, Mark St. Sauver and Louise Swanberg. An
organic plot was planted in May 2011 on the Allen
Rodgers' orchard.
The later varieties tested were Regina, Hudson,
SR500/Pine Dale Ruby, Attika and Skeena. The
earlier variety tested was Santina. Sams were being
used as a pollinator for Regina. Eight trees of each
variety were planted in the same sequence on the
seven orchards. Glory/Goodwin was added in 2011.

Variety and Rootstock Timing
Santina/Mazzard 8 days before Bing
Regina/Gisela 6 12 days after Bing
Attika/Mazzard 7 days after Bing
Skeena/Mazzard 12-15 days after Bing
Hudson/Mazzard 14-21 days after Bing
Pine Dale Ruby/Mazzard 21 days after Bing
Glory/Goodwin Timing to be determined
Lapin for comparison 10-12 days after Bing

In 2012, flowering data was collected every other day
from late April through May. Pollination was at risk
due to cool, rainy temperatures during flowering. The
honey bees were unwilling to leave their hives. One
weekend, the temperatures rose to 70º F and the bees
managed to get the job completed.
Fruit was allowed to grow to maturity during this
third year of establishment. In previous years, cherries
were removed in order to force the energy into roots
and branching.
The Extension office purchased a brix meter to
document sugar levels in the new varieties. The first
year of brix testing in the Flathead reflected the
same results as fruit grown in western states. Taste is
paramount to the selection of new varieties. The goal
of the project is to make recommendations based on
hardiness, taste, size and firmness. It is agreed that
producing a larger cherry without the flavor that the
Flathead is known for will not meet the criteria set by
the advisory committee. Size of the initial fruit was
recorded in 2012, even though it will take until the
2013 season to have full-sized cherries.
An annual report with 2011 data was distributed to
growers at the Annual Cherry Growers meeting in
March 2012. This report was also available on the
Flathead Cherry Grower website to the general public
and other producers. A research update was presented
at the March meeting by trial participant Dr. Louise
A field day and research tour was held on June
28, 2012. This tour was attended by over 30 local
growers and members of the Montana Department
of Agriculture staff, Extension agents and
administration, and media. A number of the grower
hosts presented their impressions of the new cherries
and the overall effectiveness of the trials.
Dr. Matt Whiting, project consultant and horticulture
specialist from Washington State University,
demonstrated pruning techniques and answered
grower questions about new varieties at the field day.
Whiting is involved in breeding and testing many of
the latest sweet cherry varieties. He conducts research
across the Pacific Northwest and internationally.
Figure 3: Linda Watters, research technician, using new brix meter
to determine sugar levels in new varieties. 

All of the test varieties are producing exceptionally
well. All have proved to be winter hardy, tolerant of
Montana’s pH and quick to establish. New growth
was recorded on some varieties at 6-8 feet in the
second year.
Goodwin/Glory: Only five trees were available in
2009. In 2011, 20 more were planted. The 2013
season will be the first year to produce fruit. Harvest
dates will be determined in 2013.
Hudson: Hudson is late cherry developed in New
York. Trees should fruit in 2013. Size and timing will
be recorded this year. Wholesalers claim this variety
is the latest cherry on the market. Montana timing is
still to be determined.
Santina: Santinas are proving to be a large, tasty, fast
growing, early cherry. Trees have been exceptionally
vigorous putting out 8’ shoots the second year.
Attikas: Attikas are a standout for size and firmness.
The cherries can remain on the tree for over a weekand-
a-half once ripe and allow for delayed harvest and
transportation. These cherries were measuring 9- and
10-row their first year. Data from 2013 should really
demonstrate their potential.
Pine Dale Ruby: Pine Dale Ruby was a heavy
producer. This variety was the latest to be picked in
2012, averaging 10 days after Lapin. The Pine Dale
Ruby was heavily branched and may be extremely
adaptable to the pedestrian orchard style of pruning.
Skeenas: Skeenas were a favorite for flavor and color.
Size will be more accurately depicted in the 2013
season. Harvest was about 4-5 days after Lapin.
Regina: The Regina is a winner in Washington
but has not proven as vigorous or productive under
Montana conditions. The timing is about the same
as Lapin. Pollination issues seem to be a continual
challenge with this variety.

The Flathead Lake cherry growers were once
again hit hard by the Washington State cherry
industry in 2012. The Montana Lamberts were
denied access to the market due to a bumper
crop of cherries in the west that filled processing
plants. Growers who sell to the Flathead Lake
co-op are currently being encouraged to tear
out Lambert trees and transition to new, later
varieties. The research data from the test plots
will be completed just in time to help growers
decide which varieties to plant.
A second field day is scheduled for July 2013
to showcase the research plots and allow area
growers to examine trees for color, size and
productivity. During the field day, alternative
pruning methods will be displayed that create
pedestrian orchards. The Spanish Bush and
KGB pruning methods will be demonstrated by
Oregon State University Extension horticulture
specialist Lynn Long. Pedestrian orchards allow
harvest to be conducted from the ground, thus
speeding up the picking process by eliminating
ladders. This also provides a safer environment
for workers. Dr. Matt Whiting will be available
to answer grower questions on specific varieties
during field tours.
New varieties and high production techniques
will be instituted by the industry as early as
spring 2014. A number of research participants
who have seen early results are transitioning to
new varieties in 2013.
The growers have taken over the management of
the research plots. They will continue to evaluate
and share outcomes of test varieties with
colleagues in the industry and MSU Extension.
New distribution outlets and markets are being
explored by a number of growers.

SKEENA ™ USPP #11,392
Commercially introduced in 1997, Skeena™ is a very
attractive round cherry with dark red to black color. This
large, firm sweet cherry has good tolerance to splitting
and is self-fertile. The tree is very productive, spreading
and precocious.

This is a late blooming cherry
from The Czech Republic. It is
a large, dark cherry with dark
flesh. The fruit has good quality
for fresh market. Fruit is firm
and has a long stem.
REGINA ™ USPP #11,530
Regina™ is a new variety from
the Jork Experiment Station in
Germany that has large, firm fruit
and an exceptional tolerance to

Hudson is from New York. This late-season, black
sweet cherry is firm, sweet, medium to large in size and
crack resistant.

SANTINA ™ (13S-5-22) U.S. Plant Patent Pending
Santina is an early, black cherry from the Summerland,
B.C. plant breeding program. It matures about eight
days ahead of Bing with a sweeter flavor than other
early dark cherries. It produces good sized fruit with
oval shape and bright black skin and flesh. Despite
being self-fruitful, Santina does not appear to overset.
This whole tree mutation of
Bing was discovered on the
Wenatchee Heights. The fruit
has a deep, dark red skin with
dark flesh. Pinedale Ruby™ has
excellent storing characteristics.

Update: Invasive Cherry Fruit Fly in Montana
Tom Lawrence, field researcher for the Flathead
Lake Cherry Pest Control Board, first identified
a single male collected in a lure trap along Blue
Bay on September 1, 2011; this identification
was confirmed by the Flathead County Extension
Office in Kalispell, the MSU Schutter Diagnostics
Lab in Bozeman, and the USDA-ARS Systematic
Entomology Laboratory in Washington DC.
The 2012 data collected by Lawrence shows a
dramatic increase in SWD populations along
Flathead Lake. What is alarming is the jump in
numbers after harvest and continuing past freezing
temperatures. The need for post-harvest sprays is
evident. Fruit crops that harvest later in the season
including raspberries, apples, pears and plums
could also be at risk from this indiscriminant,
invasive insect.
This insect was first discovered in California
in 2005. It then spread quickly to Oregon,
Washington, western Canada and Florida. In
2011, it was found in Montana, New York, North
Carolina and Michigan. Across the country this
pest has been attacking blueberries, blackberries,
raspberries, grapes, strawberries and elderberries.
APPEARANCE: Adult SWD are small light brown
flies (1/16th to 1/8th inches long) with prominent
red eyes, similar to related fruit flies commonly found
in homes. Males have a diffuse black spot near the tip
of each wing; female wings are entirely transparent.
Larvae are the most damaging stage. They are white,
slender, and worm-like with a total body length
slightly longer than that of the adults. Adult SWD
feed on nectar as well as yeasts and bacteria growing
on rotting fruit.

DAMAGE: Unlike most Drosophila species, which
attack only rotting fruits, SWD attacks sound
marketable fruits during the ripening process.
Females cut slits in the skins of cherries and other
fruits, laying eggs just underneath the skin. In
cherries, the egg-laying slit leaves a small round
sunken spot on the fruit. There may be multiple
egg-laying slits in each cherry. Newly-hatched
maggots burrow into the fruits to feed. These pests
may be especially damaging to later ripening fruit
such as, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and

LIFE CYCLE: There are likely to be two or three
generations per growing season in Montana. Based
on 2010 climatic data (Oregon State Univ., http:// ), the
Polson area could see overwintering females become
active in mid-June, with eggs being laid in July and
early August.

LOOK-ALIKE SPECIES: A native species, the
western cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis indifferens,
also infests cherry fruits during the larval stage.
Adults are easy to distinguish from those of SWD.
However, the larvae of western cherry fruit fly look
remarkably similar to larval SWD, and are only
separable by examination under magnification.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Montana State University and Montana State University Extension prohibit discrimination in all of their programs
and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status.

Flathead County
800 South Main Street
Kalispell, MT 59901
Contact Us:
Montana State University Extension
Flathead County Agriculture Agent
800 South Main Street
Kalispell, MT 59901
office: 406-758-5553
Flathead Cherry Report

Cold Hardy Grape Research

 Cold hardy hybrid wine grapes were planted in 2011 at four locations across western Montana. This three year research project is testing 12 varieties of the newly developed crosses between European vinifera and the native North American grape. Site location has proved to be the most important consideration when establishing a successful vineyard. Grapes prefer a south to southwest slope, well-drained soil, out of the wind and adequate water.

This research grant is in its third year. We have found that grape vines need a weed and grass free area of about 3 feet around the plant the first three years of growth and are very susceptible to herbicide damage. Plants grow best on a south facing slope that is not in a frost pocket. Because of our short growing season, grape clusters should be trimmed to around 12 per plant which allows maximum growth directed to the fruit.

Grapes for Research Trial

Red Wine Grape

Leon Millet Petite Pearl Ba ltica Rondo Castel

White Wine Grape

Louise Swenson Wh ite


La Crescent (MN I 166) Frontenac G ris (MN I 1 87) Osceola M uscat

Table Grape Somerset Red Brianna Wh ite

Additional Grapes Recommended

Red Wine M arachel Foch Marquette Regent* Chancel l or*# Traminette*

White wine L Acadie Blanc St. Pepin LaCrosse

A l penglow Prairie Star Table Vanessa

Petite Jewel Red

*Recom m ended in Flathead Lake Area because these are less hardy than ot hers.

#May have disease pr oblems and is suscepti bl e to crown gall.

Note: Recomm end ed varieties have growth characteristics that may not suit them to all areas i n weste rn Monta na and have va rying qualities for wine making, consul t with us on these va ri eties for more i nformation. Recomm ended ta ble grapes may be somewhat less hardy than trial grape

The Montana State University Extension is an A DA/EO /AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and

Provider of Educational Outreach.


Cold Hardy Grape List

Hops Research 

 The hops trial, located south of Whitefish, is in its fourth year. The project has recently been awarded a second Growth Through Agriculture grant to obtain processing equipment. Hops grow well in the Flathead Valley. The research is being conducted to identify which varieties will best meet the needs of Montana brewers.

Revised: April 23, 2014


Montana Hop Research Project announces expanded variety research trials in cooperation with national hops research center.


We’re pleased to announce collaboration between the Britz Ranch Hops Research Project near Whitefish, Montana and Great Lake Hops, one of the two private hops research, propagation and breeding centers of its kind in North America.


This collaboration is resulting in access to 22 additional varieties for 2014. This will make the Britz Ranch Research Plot the largest hop variety field trials between the Yakima Valley and Southern Michigan, with 39 total varieties in the field trials for 2014.


To follow the progress of the research project, go to our Facebook page “Glacier Hops Ranch” and “like” it.

New 2014 hop varieties

  1. AlphAromavf 1151 – 2013: New Zealand super alpha aroma
  2. Cashmere Higher alpha acid content than Cascade and twice as much humulene. Provides smooth bitterness with mild aroma.
  3. Cluster L-8: Classic all-purpose, original “C” citrus hop
  4. Columbia vf1152 – 2013: developed for Budweiser in 1960s; favored by brewmasters in 6 out of 6 brew tests; overruled by head brewer at the time.
  5. Copper (aka T212) new proprietary variety bred at Great Lakes Hops
  6. Crystal: super aroma, often used with Magnum
  7. Fuggle H: USA version of classic, with higher oils and more potent than original.
  8. Glacier: all-purpose aroma flavor with low cohumulone level that brews a very smooth, balanced beer.
  9. Horizon: high alpha / aroma variety
  10. Magnum: German extract/bittering hybrid
  11. Newport: new high alpha bittering variety
  12. Santiam; all-purpose aroma hop bred from Tettnanger/Hallertauer noble cross
  13. Sererbriankavf 2013 “Silver Hop” ; Russian noble aroma hop. Name translates in Russian to “smooth tongue”
  14. Southern Brewer: South African high alpha aroma variety
  15. Southern Cross: New Zealand high alpha aroma variety
  16. Spalter Select: a superior Noble aroma hop used in ultra-premium beers. Pairs well with Magnum.
  17. Ultra: Noble cross, reports of good yields in northern growing areas.
  18. Vojvodina: Yugoslavian high-alpha aroma hop; “Super Golding” with double the alphas of Golding.
  19. Wye Challenger: English Svaloef cross, unusually higher alpha profile
  20. Yeoman: high alpha aroma. Robust bittering variety with high oils.
  21. Zeus: super high-alpha commonly included with CTZ, but different. Makes a “heady” IPA
  22. Zenith: high alpha aroma variety bred at Wye College in England.


Second-year 2013 hop varieties

  1. Amallia: vigorous, native New Mexico variety with strong orange citrus notes
  2. Brewer’s Gold: heirloom American hop
  3. Cascade: by far, the most popular craft brewing hop among Montana brewers.  
  4. Centennial: sometimes called “Super Cascade”, has nearly double the alpha profile.
  5. Chinook. Popular super alpha hybrid, dual purpose bittering/flavoring hop
  6. Columbus (aka CTZ): very high alphas & oils. high bittering qualities.
  7. Galena: vigorous super-alpha bittering-type hop
  8. Golding: Classic English aroma hop
  9. Liberty: noble aroma variety
  10. Mount Hood: noble aroma variety, most popular variety in Hallertauer breeding program
  11. Multihead: Newer native New Mexican variety; not much is known.   Floral aspects, can produce double cones. Good all around hop.
  12. Neo 1: Native New Mexican variety, “super lemon” citrus aspect
  13. Northern Brewer: Good versatile all-purpose hop with high-oils.
  14. Nugget: high alpha bittering / flavoring variety in the US and Germany
  15. Sterling: improved Saazer type. a noble / American aroma type
  16. Tettnanger: Noble-type aroma variety derived from Swiss Tettnanger clone.   Dual purpose hop.

39: Willamette: a widely grown, quality aroma / flavoring “workhorse” hop

 Hops Varieties

 Hope for Hops pg 1 Daily Interlake March 17, 2013 Article

Hope for Hops pg 2

Hope for Hops pg 3

Hope for Hops pg 4

Hope for Hops Daily Interlake Article

 2014 Hops in Flathead Business Journal

      2014 Hops in Flathead Business Journal pg 2

2014 Hops in Flathead Business Journal pg 3

2014 Hops in Flathead Business Journal pg 4

2014 Hops in the Flathead Business Journal

Glacier Hops Ranch pg 1   Glacier Hops Ranch pg 2

Glacier Hops Ranch pg 3 2015 Glacier Hops Ranch Article


Wolfe Harvester                                              Wolfe Harvester in Action

Fruit Tree Research

 The Columbia Falls Wildcat Peace Garden located at Columbia Falls Junior High School is hosting a research trial of apple, pear, and plum trees. The three-year study is being conducted to determine the feasibility of a commercial fruit industry and establish production guidelines. Varieties are being monitored for winter hardiness, rate of growth, fruit size, pest problems and production rates.

Fruit Tree Variety List

Small Dark Fruit Research

Small Fruit Variety List                                2014 Dark Fruits Article in FBJ

2015 Dark Fruit Trial at FVCC Article            2015 Dark Fruits Spotlight in Flathead Beacon





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