family background/ Daisy earned her bachelor’s degree in fruit and vegetable management at Washington State University and is a research assistant at Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee. She is the daughter of Teresa and Pedro Arias.
hometown/ Entiat, Washington
crops/ cherries, apples and pears
business/ Stemilt Growers
How did you get your start?
I grew up in Entiat, Washington, between Chelan and Wenatchee. It’s a super-small town with about 500 kids between kindergarten and high school. The school is surrounded by orchards — pears, cherries and apples — so I always had that agriculture background around me. My parents work in agriculture and I’ve always had an interest to work for agriculture.
How did you become interested in research?
During college I chose to go on the horticulture side of ag, focusing on the orchard, with a little postharvest stuff. I also took several different internships. I spent most of my time on campus, rather than off campus, to get that full college experience, which is always cool.
One big project that I was involved with in college was growing different weeds in a greenhouse-type environment. It involved following specific procedures and certain steps to get the end results.
Now, I’m running some projects here at Stemilt where I get to write my own procedures. I set the main project focus and what I want it to be, whether it’s choosing what fruit I’m working with or what products I’m working with.
I’m looking at the end results and coming up with my own conclusions. It’s my own project, rather than following procedures that a master student decided that you were going to do during your lab.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Watching the fruit develop in the orchard and seeing what it needs as it grows. Then, learning what the fruit will need when it’s in storage, observing how long it’ll hold in storage and taking out monthly samples to see how it’s doing. Those are things that I enjoy — seeing the whole process rather than only seeing it through one side of the spectrum.
What’s unique about working in research and development?
I think research and development is a growing part of the industry and that it’s needed. There are a lot of varieties that you don’t see on the market as much anymore, and that’s where R&D may come into play — because it focuses on bringing new varieties to growers.
An R&D project may focus on how a new variety develops in the orchard. Growers will use that information when deciding whether they’ll grow this new variety and whether it will bring them profit. On-farm research projects take on that gamble with new varieties to find out if they develop into something great.
What would you tell other young growers?
If you grew up around agriculture and you saw your parents working in ag driving tractors, picking or pruning, whatever it was — I was there, too, as a kid and I didn’t want those jobs. When I took an internship at Stemilt, I found my own way of doing agriculture.
When I’m working with different varieties in the orchard, I’m observing how different fruit is developing in comparison with others we’re working with. Those moments catch my attention and are something that I enjoy — and I found that in agriculture.
I want to tell younger growers that there are different branches to agriculture that can catch your attention. Don’t think there’s a limit to the jobs you can do in ag.