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Washington tree fruit producers rely on meetings as their main source of agricultural news and information, a University of Washington survey shows. The second most popular source of information is magazines, overwhelmingly the Good Fruit Grower, reports Helen Murphy, director of outreach at the UW’s Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health center.

The center sponsored the survey to find out the best way to get results of its research in the hands of growers and workers. The survey was conducted by students in Washington State University’s agricultural communications program during the Washington State Horticultural Association’s 2006 annual meeting.

Perhaps by virtue of where the survey was conducted, meetings were identified as a major source of information by 78 percent of the 105 respondents. Sixty-seven percent said they depended on magazines, primarily the Good Fruit Grower. Word of mouth was third, being mentioned by 38 percent of respondents. Other sources mentioned by almost a third of respondents were consultants, Web sites, newsletters, and newspapers. Radio was the least popular.

Asked how they preferred to receive information about health, respondents favored the Internet, followed by a meeting presentation, and then an article. Radio and television were the least –preferred sources of health information.

Most respondents said that when seeking information about a health effect from a pesticide, they would check the pesticide label or MSDS (material safety data sheet). The next most common source would be a field representative or dealer, and a university, with the university being considered the most credible source.

Applicators

In a mailed survey of pesticide applicators (including growers) in Washington State, the majority again said that meetings were their main source of agricultural information. Of those who responded, 374 spoke English and 35 spoke Spanish. For the English speakers, magazines were the second most important source of ag information, with Good Fruit Grower overwhelmingly the most frequently mentioned magazine. However, for the Spanish speakers, the second most important source was word of mouth, followed by magazines, newspapers, and radio. Only 3 percent of Spanish-speaking respondents mentioned the Internet as a source of information, compared with 17 percent of English speakers.

For English speakers, the MSDS was the most common source of information about pesticide health effects, while Spanish speakers were more likely to consult the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Tree fruit and grapes

Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, WSU Extension educator for Benton and Franklin Counties, recently conducted a survey of tree fruit and grape growers, winery owners and winemakers, processors, and industry leaders via annual meetings and mail. Her aim was to assess industry needs.

Most respondents said they read multiple trade and scientific journals, but the Good Fruit Grower was the most popular of the eight publications that were frequently read. In general, e-mail, mail, and annual meetings were the preferred way to receive information on crop management tools and current research, yet more than half the growers said they spent less than an hour a day using e-mail and the Internet. Winery personnel tend to devote more time to the computer than growers do.