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Good Fruit Growers of the Year

Dear Good Fruit Grower:

For some in Washington State, the selection of the Rice family as the Good Fruit Grower magazine’s highest honor might come as a surprise in that they, first, are a fruit-­growing family outside of our state, and second, they do not know the Rices.

I first got to know John Rice when I was appointed to the U.S. Apple Association board of directors ten years ago.  John had served Pennsylvania growers well during his years as a director and was a voice of consistent leadership in that organization; he worked tirelessly to bring all our apple-growing regions in the United States closer together by stressing our common interests above our regional differences.  While Washington production was huge, our political clout was small; but our voices could become harmoniously loud when blended with that of our apple-producing big-state brethren from New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and others.  During my terms on the board and in my years as an officer and finally chairman, my goal was to endeavor to bring the U.S. apple industry more closely together to work for our common good.  John Rice was my mentor and good friend.  I saw myself as merely carrying on the good work he had started.

When my wife was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer a few years ago, John’s words of kindness and support were heartfelt and uplifting; you see, John lost his first wife to cancer many years prior.

Less well known is that John was a licensed Gettysburg Battlefield guide during his college years.  Growing up in Gettysburg left him with a lifelong interest in that conflict…an interest I share with him.  We have visited the battlefield together on a number of occasions and plan to make additional future visits.

I have also toured Rice Fruit’s packing and orchard operations, and one can readily see this is a modern, progressive orchard operation that has blended the individual family members strengths into a powerhouse organization.

Good Fruit Grower magazine is truly a national publication, read and referenced both in and outside the United States.  That you have stepped to the plate in acknowledging a family outside of Washington as your 2011 winner is both groundbreaking and fitting.  You could not have chosen more appropriately.  My personal congratulations to both you and the Rice family.  Well done!

Bruce Grim
Washington State Horticultural Association, Wenatchee, Washington

Spraying with sprinklers

Dear Good Fruit Grower:

I enjoyed the article in the December 2011, issue of Good Fruit Grower about using a sprinkler system to apply chemicals (“Spraying with sprinklers”). My father, Harry Hurlburt, along with Les Barbee, Montgomery Irrigation, and, I am sure, others, tried using overhead sprinkler systems in the early 1970s to spray their orchards.

Dad and Montgomery Irrigation designed the overhead sprinkler system so that every set had the same number of heads. They also installed electric valves that could be automated. They calculated how long they could run a set until the water started to drip off, and they calculated the flow rate from the sprayer. ( I do not know how, probably based on how long it took to fill a bucket.)

So, they would start the water and the chemical, then the sprinkler controller would take over and move the water at the set time. And around and around the field they would go until the tank was empty.

BUT, this left all the chemical on the top of the leaves and fruit. The next irrigation would wash off the residue.
I think that they decided that part of the reason for the poor control was that they did not get complete coverage of the tree like you would get from an airblast sprayer.

What we need to remember is that they were using Rainbird #30 sprinklers with 9/64 nozzles on a 60- by 60-foot spacing. Talk about old school. Nothing like the irrigation system that I saw in the article.

I believe that everyone stopped using this approach after a few years. Glen Dahman and Jim Ballard would be the only people that I know who might remember the ­experiments.

Thanks for your writing.

Carl Hurlburt
Granger, Washington