Reopening of Chinese apple market is welcome news for growers

Industry grateful as biggest apple crop ever prepares to ship.

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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 [...]

More rules proposed on child labor

  • January 1st, 2012

Proposed new rules from the federal Department of Labor would further restrict the kind of work young people may do on farms—and might even restrict farmers’ rights to allow their own children to work.

The new labor rules were proposed in September. During a three-month comment period, some 6,000 comments [...]

Georgia peach growers use H-2A

  • January 1st, 2012

Peach growers were conspicuously absent from the list of fruit and vegetable producers who suffered crop losses when some 11,000 seasonal farm workers failed to show up for harvest.

The reason? Most of Georgia’s peach crop is picked by H-2A workers. They didn’t shun Georgia after the state passed anti-illegal-immigrant [...]

H-2A is not for everyone

  • January 1st, 2012

One of the biggest of the many problems with the H-2A foreign guest-worker program, from the grower’s point of view, is the inability of the Department of Labor to clearly provide answers to questions about the rules, says Dan Fazio, director of the Washington Farm Labor Association.

Two agencies within [...]

  • U.K. growers try to lower residues

U.K. growers try to lower residues

  • December 1st, 2011

Jerry Cross is in charge of entomology and plant pathology at East Malling Research, where trials to minimize residues on fruit were successful.
Geraldine Warner

A “name and shame” policy by the British government several years ago prompted apple growers to make efforts to reduce the residues on their fruit.

The [...]

Good Stuff

  • December 1st, 2011

Ty Snyder promoted
C & O Nursery of Wenatchee, Washington, has promoted Ty Snyder to the position of orchard manager. Snyder has worked at the nursery since 2006 and earned an associate degree in agriculture from Wenatchee Valley College. He is managing the company’s Rocky Reach and Grant Road [...]

  • Collaborative research

Collaborative research

  • December 1st, 2011

An autonomous vehicle is being developed as part of the project “Comprehensive automation for specialty crops.”

The last Farm Bill not only provided an unprecedented amount of funding for research to benefit specialty crops, but changed the whole culture of tree fruit research in the United States.

It’s led to major [...]

  • Working with less labor

Working with less labor

  • December 1st, 2011

Availability of labor will determine how quickly orchard automation is adopted, says Denny Hayden.

A widespread shortage of workers to harvest Washington State’s 2011 apple crop could prompt growers to look to technology to reduce their labor needs.

The labor issue is the defining issue for the industry and will determine [...]

Good Point

  • November 1st, 2011

It is time for the federal government to act. It’s not as if Congress doesn’t know there is a need, and it’s not as if there isn’t a solution. After 15 years of effort and conflict over immigration reform, labor-intensive agricultural producers in the United States still face harvest [...]

  • Safety regulations nix customized platforms

Safety regulations nix customized platforms

  • November 1st, 2011

A worker uses a Girette to prune trees.
Courtesy Flathead Cherry Growers, Montana

Regulators in British Columbia, Canada, have developed safety documentation for the elevated, mobile work platforms widely used in the province’s orchards—but have sidelined locally designed equipment that reflected local farming conditions.

WorkSafeBC, the organization that regulates workplace safety [...]