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It’s that time of year again when we’ll be visiting your mailbox more often. From now through May, you’ll receive new issues of Good Fruit Grower twice a month.

It’s during this stretch of what we call “double issues” where we deliver the latest research and updates on crucial topics like postharvest (this issue), disease management (Feb. 15), crop management and pollination (March 15), and soils and weed management (April 15).

We’re known for going in-depth with each issue, bringing essential information to make your orchards and vineyards productive and helping to bring about a bountiful harvest.

An old tractor next to an orchard in Washington’s Methow Valley. www.flickr.com/ photos/ayalapaloma <b>(By Paloma Ayala, Hood River, Oregon)</b>

An old tractor next to an orchard in Washington’s Methow Valley. www.flickr.com/photos/ayalapaloma (By Paloma Ayala, Hood River, Oregon)

But growing is more than just soil, roots, trees and fruit. There’s a beauty in this industry that we don’t take for granted. And that’s what we try to capture in the images and artwork that grace our covers.

We selected our images for this year’s covers last November. We had a wealth of contributions to choose from — more than 100 — and we spent quite a bit of time and discussion narrowing them down.

It’s a bit like our own version of thinning, I suppose.

Selecting a cover image is more art than science (especially when it’s a painting that’s picked).

We want the first thing you see with each delivery to delight and catch your eye.

This issue’s cover with the old International Harvester from a long-ago era next to an older-style orchard certainly caught mine.

Years and years ago, I drove a tractor not unlike this one for a few summers in the wheat and potato fields of southeastern Idaho.

I moved irrigation pipes — known as “handlines” — and whenever it was time to haul the pipes back to the other side of the field for another rotation, a coworker and I would swap places behind the wheel of the tractor.

One would drive while the other would load or unload the pipes on and then off the attached trailer. Of course, driving the tractor was the better part of the swap.

When I drove by those fields a few years back, they were all now irrigated with massive, mechanical pivot lines. Some were even housing developments.

In potato and wheat fields, pivot lines — and air-conditioned tractors navigated with GPS — are pretty much standard, while those old handlines are getting rarer with each season. Of course tree fruit has transitioned, too.

Older orchards give way to newer higher-density orchards, as shown in this cover. So it’s more than just a tractor I see here. It’s a story. The evolving story of orchards.

And just as orchards and the equipment and expertise needed to grow them evolve, so do we.

Before we became the magazine you hold in your hands today, Good Fruit Grower was The Goodfruit Grower, a newspaper delivered 52 times a year with a 1-cent stamp affixed to each issue.

I have yellowing stacks of those original copies in my office — a legacy of our roots and the remarkable journey that brought us to where we are today.

It was my predecessor, Nancy Born, who really initiated the artistry into our covers beginning in the mid-1980s when she joined the magazine.

During her 30-year tenure, she cultivated our covers as they blossomed into the powerful eye-catching images we’re now famous for, using the large format of the magazine as a perfect canvas to showcase art and photos.

We’re happy to carry on that tradition with each issue. We have some great photographers and artists who regularly contribute.

Plus, we have a photographer on staff, TJ Mullinax, who gives us some remarkable images to choose from, too. (Wait till you see what he caught for our upcoming irrigation issue — it’s a beauty!)

We’re evolving on the inside, too. You’ve likely noticed the gradual shift inside these pages, with a bigger emphasis on photos, graphics and charts. We’ll be incorporating that more in the months and years ahead.

We’re proud to deliver a quality publication into your hands 17 times a year, and we’re glad to be able to do so twice as often for the next few months. Here’s to a good year of growing together.

– by Jared Johnson, design and production manager for Good Fruit Grower. You can email him at jared@goodfruit.com.

ONLINE
We welcome submissions for covers throughout the year from accomplished photographers and artists. If you know of anyone who might like to contribute, you can find out more here: www.goodfruit.com/upload-your-cover