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Cold is hot topic at Expo

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Great Lakes region fruit growers won’t soon forget 2012, the year that Mother Nature, for the first time in the lifetimes of all but a few, froze them out of the fruit business. But the

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Grape growers to visit Capitol Hill

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Washington State diversified farmer Brenton Roy wants to see more of the state’s wine grape industry attend a national grape policy conference held annually in Washington, D.C. He believes so strongly in the value of

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Planning for continued success

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Those are among the reasons why the main theme of the association’s annual meeting, December 3 to 5, will be succession planning, says David Douglas, retiring president of the Washington State Horticultural Association and part

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Looking for a bipartisan solution

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Apple harvest season last year brought home to Dale Foreman just how important a reliable labor force was to his apple-growing operation. Some of his apples went unpicked because of a labor shortage in Washington

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Good Point: Proving safe produce is safe

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Safe food is an unobjectionable term. No one wants unsafe food.

To assure the safety of the produce sold to consumers, private grocery store chains have already imposed ever greater contractual standards on their suppliers of

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Pillars of agriculture

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American farmers can call up images from two very different historical threads when describing themselves.

Farmers are rugged individualists, pioneers who tackled the unfriendly frontier, rifle in one hand, guiding the plow with the other, spouse

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Land-grant mission still relevant

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Dan Bernardo

Washington State apple, pear, and grape growers have agreed to tax themselves assessments to raise nearly $35 million to support future research and extension at Washington State University. Is that a sign of lack

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Neonicotinoids and bees

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A spate of new studies came out this spring, all of them seeking to link neonicotinoid insecticides to mortality in honeybees, bumblebees, and several kinds of native bees, and all of the studies getting wide

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Good Stuff

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Stickers link to grower videos
Thanks to new data bar technology, shoppers anywhere in the world can use smartphones to scan stickers on apples supplied by Chelan Fresh, one of ­Washington’s top tree fruit suppliers, and

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Later and later cherries

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Sweetheart, a late-season cultivar developed at the Summerland research center in British Columbia, Canada, is the second-most planted variety in Washington State.
Photo courtesy of Willow Drive Nursery

Last year’s record volume of Northwest cherries shipped in

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Future of IR-4 in question

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More than a hundred specialty crops producers and their organizations have signed on to an effort to convince Congress not to change the IR-4 program. Since 1963, the IR-4 Project has mustered the financial and

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Head of the class

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The Young Apple Leaders of 2012 are, back row left to right, Sarah Dressell, Sara Shanteau, Casey Collins, Adam Peters, Mark Boyer, Dave Gargasz, Jeff Armock, Mark Stennes, and Andy Ferguson; front row, Holly Rogers-Rios,

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Need a lawyer?

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A group of Young Leaders listens to Don Kraemer, acting deputy director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, during the leadership luncheon.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Apple Association

Andy Ferguson is a 25-year-old

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Ready for the audit?

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Nicole Brunner checks the Gras2p training manual, which can be purchased by any Washington grower.
Photo by Geraldine Warner

More Washington growers and packers are turning to Gras2p (Growers Response to Agricultural Safe and Sustainable Practices) for

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Tips on how to avoid glyphosate damage

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As you approach weed control this spring, remember the word SUPPLY.

That’s the acronym Dr. Hannah Mathers developed to help orchardists and nurserymen prevent injury to their trees as they go about the process of controlling

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Tree safety is key issue with herbicides

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Choosing a herbicide program for an orchard is not so simple as choosing which herbicide kills what weeds and when. A careful reading of the label of any herbicide reveals a host of warnings, most

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Fumigant regulations keep coming

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Soil fumigation, like this broadcast application, now requires that fumigation management plans be developed to include a long list of components.

The soil fumigation landscape has changed ­dramatically in the last few years. Effective postplant nematicides

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Leafroller challenges cherry growers

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Obliquebanded leafroller larva
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture

Tart cherry growers need to use a modern, effective insecticide to control obliquebanded leafroller about two weeks before ­harvest—or risk delivering a contaminated crop that may be rejected by the

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Seasonal workers essential but costly

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Having to rely on migrant labor has never been an easy game for fruit growers in British Columbia, Canada.

While a highly mobile work force—usually students from Quebec and other parts of Canada—has traditionally given the

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USA Farmers seek reform

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Chalmers Carr III doesn’t expect Congressional action on farm labor and immigration issues before the fall elections this year, and he hopes the labor situation won’t get much worse this growing ­season. If it does

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Tallying the costs

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Tree fruit growers in British Columbia’s Okanagan ­Valley typically require about 3,300 seasonal workers annually. But working with foreign migrants who come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is different than working with

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Few alternatives to H-2A program

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Tom Roach outlined labor options at a recent Washington Growers League meeting.

Growers worried about securing a work force for the coming year have few viable and legal alternatives to the federal foreign guest-worker program known

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Watch other crops for labor trends

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Eastern Washington State is the world’s fastest-growing region for blueberry production.

Tree fruit growers anxious about the labor market in the coming season would be wise to pay attention to asparagus and blueberry trends. Asparagus, the

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H-2A basics

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Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious in a Wenatchee, Washington, orchard.

Fear of a repeat of last fall’s labor shortage in the Pacific Northwest has many growers thinking about the H-2A program, the only legal means of

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Housing helps attract workers

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Mike Gempler (facing camera) tours Sage Bluff housing project.
GERALDINE WARNER

Housing—be it state-subsidized tent programs, onsite grower-owned, or public housing built for seasonal agricultural workers—is an attractive employment benefit that can help secure workers. With agricultural

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DNA test identifies pathogens in tainted foods

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Fruit or vegetable packers concerned that their produce may be contaminated with unsafe pathogens will soon have a simple screening method they can use to ease or confirm their fears. It’s a handheld tool that’s

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Underground drip irrigation serves two purposes

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Water is plentiful in the fruit-growing area along Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, so it’s not scarcity that’s an issue. The problem is with some water that’s been made slightly dirty but is perfectly useful if

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EU regulations stifle fruit exports

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Pacific Northwest apple and pear exports to Europe have dropped dramatically since pesticide ­regulations were harmonized among members of the European Union. Restrictive pesticide residue limits of the European Union have required U.S. producers to

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Easier access to MRLs

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Growers using Washington State University’s online Decision Aid System this season will be able to consider pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs) of top foreign markets when they make their crop protection chemical decisions.

In recent years,

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Tackle food safety one step at a time

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Implementing a food safety program for an orchard might seem overwhelming. But with forethought, planning, and willingness to seek assistance, growers can implement a workable program, agreed a panel of Washington State tree fruit food

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Three keys to successful pollination

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Queen bees lay eggs singly in cells of the honeycomb. After the eggs hatch, worker bees feed the larvae in the cells and cap them when the larvae pupate. A drone is pictured emerging from

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Tree Fruit Day in Olympia

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Hort president David Douglas, left, and Jennifer Armen discussed tree fruit interests with Senator Linda Evans-Parlette in her Olympia office.
Jim Black

Thirty tree fruit industry members converged on the Wash­ing­ton State legislature on January 31 to

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New pesticide safety guide released

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Many practical ideas to solve everyday problems with pesticide handling have been invented and used by growers throughout Washington State. The Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, known as PNASH, studied these farm-bred and

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Reduced risk?

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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

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How to conserve beneficials while fighting stinkbug

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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

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Contractors are a source of workers

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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.

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Good Point

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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

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Grape program feels budget cuts

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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

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Sell food safety from the top down

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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

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Inmates available

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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

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Who’s in charge?

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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

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Refugees available for orchard work

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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

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Concerned about labor

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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

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What changes will you make in 2012?

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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

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Prison worker experience was positive

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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

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Good Point — Labor outlook is poor

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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

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Hort leaders discuss top issues of coming year

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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

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More rules proposed on child labor

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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

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Georgia peach growers use H-2A

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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

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H-2A is not for everyone

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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

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