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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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H-2A program requirements

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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

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Good Stuff

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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

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Working with less labor

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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

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U.K. growers try to lower residues

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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

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Collaborative research

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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

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Picker and sorter

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Miguel Geronimo found himself testing the new harvester during his first season as an apple picker. He previously worked in restaurants but was enjoying orchard work.

A new mobile harvesting system from Picker Technologies has the

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Good Point

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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

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Safety regulations nix customized platforms

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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

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SweeTango lawsuit settled

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An out-of-court settlement of the lawsuit challenging the exclusive marketing arrangement for the SweeTango apple has been reached.

The lawsuit ended in victory for the University of Minnesota, which bred the apple, and Pepin Heights Orchard,

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Southeastern peaches enter Mexican markets

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H-2A workers in the Titan Farms packing plant cheered when they found their peaches were going to their home country.
Richard Lehnert

For the first time since 1994, peaches from the southeastern United States moved into stores

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Single audit standard on the books

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Produce growers are getting closer to being able to follow one standard set of food safety rules and undergo a single auditing procedure that assures their compliance.

Following meetings in Chicago late in July, United Fresh

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In the box

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Dawson Moore loves apples.

Apple fan
Dawson Moore, pictured on his first birthday last fall, just couldn’t wait until the day when he had enough teeth to bite into a delicious whole apple.

He was photographed at an

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Put us to work for you

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I am fortunate to travel the country meeting with apple growers, packers, and other USApple members, and hear firsthand the issues and challenges they are facing daily. I am often asked, “What are the important

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Buy local gets a boost

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Many growers have children in school and have been frustrated that their taxes have been paying for apples from competitors for school lunch programs.

The “buy local” movement got a shot in the arm this spring

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Good point

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This spring, the Social Security Administration reinstituted its annual reality check for employers, “SSN No-Match letters,” after a three-year hiatus.

I immediately received a call from a leader in the tree fruit community, and the conversation

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