Reopening of Chinese apple market is welcome news for growers

Industry grateful as biggest apple crop ever prepares to ship.

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Reduced risk?

  • March 1st, 2012

A three-year study just completed in Michigan apple orchards showed that reduced-risk pesticides—which growers are now adopting—are more damaging to the functional ecology of the orchards than the products they are replacing.

Orchards using these reduced-risk pesticides have fewer beneficial organisms to help control pests, so growers will likely incur [...]

How to conserve beneficials while fighting stinkbug

  • March 1st, 2012

Penn State University entomologist Dr. David Biddinger provided some rules of thumb growers can apply so as not to destroy all natural enemies and the integrity of integrated pest management programs as they go about controlling the brown marmorated stinkbug.

Insecticide selection—Choose the product least harmful to natural enemies, but [...]

Contractors are a source of workers

  • February 15th, 2012

Using farm labor contractors can be beneficial for both employers and workers, as they can turn sporadic seasonal work into full-time employment, says Dan Fazio, executive director of the Washington Farm Labor Association. Contractors are widely used in California, but are much less common in the Pacific [...]

Inmates available

  • February 1st, 2012

Inmates are available to work in Washington State orchards for the same hourly wage as other ­employees receive.

Dan Fazio, executive director of the Washington Farm Labor Association, said the Department of Corrections has a work-release program that is much different from the highly publicized program that McDougall and Sons, [...]

Good Point

  • February 1st, 2012

Arsenic in apple juice. Apples, pears, and cherries on the Environmental Working Group’s latest “Dirty Dozen List.” Canned fruit contaminated with BPA, a chemical in the lining of cans. A dangerous synthetic pesticide—pick your specific agricultural chemical—should have its registration pulled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Brushfires of these [...]

  • Grape program feels budget cuts

Grape program feels budget cuts

  • February 1st, 2012

Dr. Thomas Henick-Kling is hopeful research funding will be restored in the next Farm Bill.

Though the viticulture and enology program at Washington State University has largely heldits own during the last five years of drastic cuts from state allocations, viticulture and enology researchers are feeling the squeeze from ­Congress’s [...]

Sell food safety from the top down

  • February 1st, 2012

Food safety means different things to different people—sanitation, temperature control, personal hygiene, quality assurance, regulations—but what it really boils down to is human behavior, says a Kroger food safety manager. Changing behavior starts at the top and must be “sold” to employees if food safety is to be embraced.

Last [...]

Refugees available for orchard work

  • January 15th, 2012

For growers who find the H-2A foreign guest-worker program too daunting, hiring refugees might be a way to ease labor shortages.

World Relief is one of ten organization that contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to help refugees who come to the United States get settled and find jobs.

Mark [...]

Who’s in charge?

  • January 15th, 2012

Roles of industry organizations

Organization
Responsibility

Washington State Horticultural Association
•Education (annual meeting)
•State legislative and regulatory issues
•GRASSP food safety program

Northwest Horticultural Council
Federal legislative, regulatory, technical,   and food safety issues
•Foreign trade and phytosanitary issues

Washington Growers Clearing House Association
Statistics on fruit prices and shipments
•State legislative and regulatory [...]

Prison worker experience was positive

  • January 1st, 2012

Hiring prisoners to pick the tail end of their apple crop was a “last ditch” effort, but Scott McDougall believes it paid off. With 8,000 bins of an exclusive club variety left to pick, only 50 workers left in his harvest crews, and winter weather fast ­approaching, he was [...]

Good Point — Labor outlook is poor

  • January 1st, 2012

Frank Gasperini

Who would guess that, with unemployment at or just below double digits for three years, basic industries such as agriculture, food processing, restaurants, and others would experience labor shortages? Who would guess that, at the same time as agriculture—one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy— [...]

Hort leaders discuss top issues of coming year

  • January 1st, 2012

David Douglas
President, Washington State Horticultural AssociationDavid Douglas, 37, works for the family growing and packing operation, Douglas Fruit Company, which is located in Pasco, Washington.

Douglas earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in business administration from the ­University of Washington. He manages the field staff, and [...]