December 2004

 

Is it important that the fruit you grow tastes good?  Not only is it important, IT’S CRITICAL!  A large share of our fruit enjoys a price premium in the market place.  That premium is based on flavor, not perceived, or hoped for, but great taste in every bite.  Is flavor one of the factors in your management decisions?   Are you willing to pull a block of trees because you can’t get it to pick with great flavor?  I know of a local grower that did just that!  A different grower mentioned in a conversation that one of his buyers told him to never send that variety again, “it has no flavor”.  If your fruit goes into a direct marketing channel your more likely to hear back about flavor.  What about fruit that disappears into the wholesale side?  To what extent are you willing to go, to be able to supply good tasting fruit?  Read the following from a friend in New Zealand:

 “Have been out of the office for near on a month running technical seminars around the country. ZESPRI (a New Zealand marketing organization) is making a significant change to how it is going to pay growers. They will be getting paid not only on how much fruit they submit, but also on the taste of the fruit, as our offshore marketing staff (backed up by sensory research) believe we can do a lot better if we can get growers to produce a better tasting crop. So we have been out telling growers what we know on that subject.” 

How extensive is your horticultural knowledge on practices that increase or decrease flavor?   Stay tuned to future newsletters for tips.

 

LEARNING IS NOT COMPULSORY………NEITHER IS SURVIVAL!

 

Just around the corner is your Western Colorado Horticulture Association’s annual convention!  This year’s program will focus on issues critical to your farm’s survival…..marketing and labor.  A new addition to the convention schedule will be a workshop on Wednesday evening.  This session will be a two hour program on the basics of table grape production.

Each year your Hort Board works hard to find experienced pro’s to come and share their knowledge and wisdom.

 

Here’s a preview of the experts filling this year’s program:

 

Mel Omeg is a sweet cherry grower in The Dalles region of Oregon.  From his start 38 years ago he has built Omeg Orchards

to it’s current size of 350 acres.  Omeg orchards employ 10 full-time and 200 seasonal Hispanic workers.  For the past 8 years

Mel has been a guest lecturer at Oregon State University’s graduate program in personnel management.  He’s proud of the fact

that his retirement and estate plans are completed and he’s well on the way to finishing his farm’s succession plan.

 

Brent Warner is the British Columbia industry agri-tourism specialist.  For the past 23 years he has helped growers with the production and marketing of their crops.  He is the longest serving member of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association board of directors.  He has co-authored “Marketing on the Edge” a guide to marketing for progressive growers, and is responsible for creating and launching a number of grower marketing associations in British Columbia. 

 

Jennifer Hashim is an Extension Farm Advisor with the University of California.  Her expertise in table grape production has been sought from as far away as Australia, Greece and Peru.  Jennifer’s interests are primarily in table grape production with an emphasis on growth regulators and cultural practices to improve fruit quality.  

 

David Donaldson owns and operates USAMEX Ltd., a company based in Arkansas that sources, documents and transports migrant labor into the United States.  David’s credo: "We have the character, knowledge and people skills to make our work visa system a great benefit for those who need good workers. Many place their trust in us. We can never betray that trust." 

 

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

 

That quote reminds me….. this year’s hort program will host representatives from the EPA and OSHA.  As most of you know, both these organizations levied substantial fines to Western Slope growers this last year.  Your attendance at their sessions is optional….their fines are not!

 

Every year as the cold temps settle in for the winter I get a few calls regarding the storage of chemicals.  Will this freeze?  Does it destroy it if it does?  I contacted a number of manufactures reps, dug through the literature and even read labels!  The material formulation is the greatest factor that determines it’s sensitivity to low temperatures.  Is it a powder or a liquid?  Most powders are not at risk.  BUT, powders are commonly packaged in water soluble bags.  The polymer used in these bags contains a percentage of moisture that will freeze and cause the bag to crack.  So even though the powder isn’t at risk, the bag is!  Liquid pesticides are generally formulated around a solvent base or a water base.  The solvent base materials are usually not in danger.  One tech rep told me his solvent based product was stable down to 40 below!  If that temp shows up you’ll have other concerns!  Often, if a material is subjected to freezing, a precipitate will settle to the bottom of the container.  With some materials shaking the jug and warming the product will dissolve the crystals and solve the problem.  The safe decision is always to store your pesticides in a protected area!

 

 

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