Glade Brosi, young grower from Wenatchee, Washington
TJ Mullinax // May 16, 2017
family background / Glade is originally from Kentucky and joined Stemilt in 2011 with a graduate degree in plant and soil sciences. He’s been leading several postharvest trials, developing storage protocols and working with researchers on topics such as food safety, little cherry disease and new varieties. age / 35 crops / New varieties, crop and postharvest special projects business / Research and development manager, Stemilt Growers
Why did you pursue agriculture?
As a family we celebrated food — it was the central focus of my family’s togetherness. I always wanted to study agriculture in school, specifically production agriculture.
I wanted to till the soil, to work on tractors, to become a farmer. When I was 23 years old, I broke my leg pretty badly, and I realized I didn’t have any land and I didn’t want to rely on solely on my body for working.
When that happened, I returned to college and earned a master’s degree in plant and soil sciences. During that time, I met my wife and we specifically looked at areas around the U.S. and their agricultural systems.
We landed on the fact we both wanted to work in tree fruit. It is a high-return specialty crop with a lot of investment and a lot of family-owned companies that we could be part of and add value to.
How did you get your start?
I moved to Wenatchee looking for work, and I got an entry level seasonal cherry job with Stemilt because I really wanted to get my foot in the door there.
I was willing to take a job that was well beneath what I was worth at first to say that I can add value and I’m worth listening to. I want to be part of this team because I love this industry.
What things in college did you find valuable?
Science is a systematic process of trying to tackle variability, and I learned how to do applied agricultural research.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is — preharvest, postharvest, entomology, pathology — what matters is to learn what the variables are and try to control the variables as best as you can so you can make good, sound, financial decisions based upon your results.
How would you describe your research beginnings?
I’ve grown into learning about tree fruit physiology and the science around it. In research, what you do is jump in mid-stream. It doesn’t matter what it is.
You decide to learn what is going on now and add value to ongoing projects. Before you know it you’ll find that you’re pretty far downstream.
What are the things you do in your job?
My goal is to build relationships that help researchers achieve their scientific goals. I like to find new researchers at Washington State University or USDA and reach out saying, “I can help you.
If you need help finding a site, if you need help with a project, I can help you and make it easier.” That part of my job is really, really fun.
What changes have you seen in postharvest research?
Today, there’s a lot less disconnect between the field and the warehouse; there can’t be a disconnect there anymore.
When you look at organic Honeycrisp specifically, it’s a very difficult variety to store. What you realize very clearly is what happens in the field has a tremendous effect on what happens postharvest.
So those two groups — from field to warehouse — need to cooperate, talk and be aligned with the goals.
What excites you about your job?
One thing that I really love about postharvest is the economics about it. With postharvest, you can extend the shelf life for something and make the grower a lot more money.
Or you can reduce a defect, you can increase packouts, and what you’re doing is putting money back into the orchard, back to the grower. That’s one part of postharvest that I love.
What would you tell young growers about this industry?
Most young people who are interested in agriculture are interested in being producers. That’s the most recognizable part of the industry.
They want to be on the ground producing apples, pears, cherries and tree fruit — and so did I. I wanted to be a farmer, however I realized the actual production itself is just one part of the whole industry. What I tell young people all the time is to find your own niche.
Don’t put yourself in a category and be unwilling to look outside of it. There’s tremendous value in all parts of this industry — from quality assurance, quality control, research and development, production and all aspects of this industry.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email