Auvil Fruit named outstanding grower
Del Feigal accepts the outstanding grower award on behalf of Auvil Fruit Company from IFTA board member Neal Manly.
The International Fruit Tree Association honored Auvil Fruit Company as its outstanding grower of the year during its annual conference in Pasco, Washington, in early March. The award recognizes the company’s role as a leader and innovator in the tree fruit industry.
Presenting the award, IFTA board member Neal Manly said Auvil continues to evolve its production techniques, which are decades ahead of the industry. The company has used platforms for decades and has for many years used lifts on tractors for tree training and pruning. Today, it is using a mechanized harvest-aid platform with bin filler that the company developed in cooperation with a fruit handling company. Following the tradition of company founder Grady Auvil, it is still introducing new varieties, such as the Aurora apple.
Auvil Fruit Company has welcomed groups from around the world to visit its packing facilities at Orondo and orchards at Orondo and Vantage. Del Feigal, manager of the Vantage ranch, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Dr. Don Elfving, an expert in the use of bioregulators to manage tree growth and cropping in tree fruits, was named outstanding researcher by the International Fruit Tree Association during its annual conference in Pasco, Washington, this week.
Elfving, a research horticulturist with Washington State University in Wenatchee, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Davis. After earning a doctorate in plant physiology from the University of California, Riverside, he was appointed pomologist at Cornell University, New York, where he focused on management of apple tree growth with bioregulators, rootstocks, and other techniques. In 1979, he joined the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, and in 1993, he joined WSU. He has focused on techniques to induce branching in cherry and apple and researched cyclanalide, which is now labeled as Tiberon.
Outstanding extension educator
The IFTA named Karen Lewis outstanding extension educator. Lewis has been Washington State University Extension educator for Grant and Adams Counties for the past 23 years.
She grew up in Panama and moved to Arizona with her family when she was in high school. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from the University of Arizona and worked for a time as the Arizona state extension specialist in fruit, nut, and vine crops. Lewis currently is focusing on the integration of new technologies in perennial tree systems and people.
Industry service award
The IFTA presented its industry service award to Pete Van Well, Jr., president and general manager of Van Well Nursery in Wenatchee, Washington.
After graduating from Washington State University and serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Pete joined his four brothers and father, Pete, in the family nursery business, which was established in 1946. He took over as president and general manager after his father died in 1973. The nursery has introduced several new fruit varieties, including Scarlet Spur Red Delicious, Gale Gala, Cameo, and Auvil Early Fuji.
Van Well is a past chair of Tree Top, Inc., and the Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute and has served as president of the Washington State Nursery Association. He has served on the Washington State Horticultural Association’s board, the IFTA Research Committee, and the Cherry Institute board, and represents Van Well Nursery in the International New-Varieties Network. He has a 90-acre apple and cherry orchard independent of the nursery and has traveled frequently to Lebanon in the past few years to help reestablish the nursery industry following the country’s civil war.
Manly, chief marketing officer with Willow Drive Nursery, Ephrata, Washington, received a special award for his work on behalf of the IFTA and dedication to the tree fruit industry.
Maurice “Mo” Tougas of Northborough, Massachusetts, was appointed president of the IFTA to succeed Larry Lutz of Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, Canada. Tougas has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in education. Before farming full time, he worked as an extension agent for the University of Massachusetts in Worcester County for three years. His son André joined the family farm after graduating from Cornell University. They have more than 20 varieties of apples, as well as peaches, cherries, plums, berries, and pumpkins, and sell all of their fruit at the farm.
Tougas was elected for a further three-year-term on the IFTA board, along with Rod Farrow of Waterport, New York; Tim Welsh from Wenatchee, Washington; and Mauricio Frias from Curicó, Chile.