Reopening of Chinese apple market is welcome news for growers

Industry grateful as biggest apple crop ever prepares to ship.

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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 [...]

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 [...]

Concerned about labor

  • January 1st, 2012

Mark Rice, like almost every other commercial fruit grower, is concerned about his future labor ­supply. Rice needs about 100 workers during harvest, and about 30 in winter for pruning.

“This has been a popular destination for migrant farm workers,” he said of Adams County, where R & L Orchards [...]

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 [...]

What changes will you make in 2012?

  • January 1st, 2012

Many growers, particularly on the West Coast, didn’t have enough workers to pick their fruit last fall. The new year has just begun, but already fears are surfacing about not finding enough workers for the next harvest.

Good Fruit Grower asked orchardists across the country about their work force plans [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

H-2A program requirements

  • January 1st, 2012

The federal H-2A foreign guest-worker program allows employers who are short of workers to bring people into the United States to do seasonal agricultural work.

The program’s many requirements include the following:

• Recruitment

Employers must demonstrate that there are insufficient U.S. workers to do the work by attempting to recruit U.S. [...]

  • 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 [...]

  • 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 [...]