For individuals involved in today’s tree fruit industry, there is an abundance of knowledge and opinions that are being shared between growers, warehouses and tree fruit experts. Our challenge is to evaluate this information and these opinions to decide which we will act on, and how. The choices that we make on a daily basis affect our long-term successes and failures.

Mark Hambelton

There is much at stake as production and labor costs continue to rise, where one wrong choice can have lasting effects on the bottom line of our operations. The choices we have to make seem endless: whether we are in a situation of looking to prepare our orchards for automation, renewing an orchard or simply updating our watering systems. But large or small, each of them has a lasting effect on tomorrow.

Beginning this past spring, a core group of industry volunteers has met regularly, along with Washington State Tree Fruit Association employees, to steer this year’s annual meeting in a direction that will address many of the choices we face. We have been collaborating with industry leaders in the hope of bringing knowledge to everyone, so that when difficult choices have to be made, we will be better prepared to evaluate our options and predict likely outcomes.

My goal for this year’s annual meeting is that you will leave with new perspectives and confidence to help you to lead your operation in our current challenging times and set the groundwork for a prosperous future.

A key element in making choices today is preparing for what we think tomorrow will look like. Our keynote Batjer Address speaker this year is Andrew Busch, who is the former chief market intelligence officer for the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Busch will bring his experience and insights into overall economic trends and how they will affect our industry. As he puts it, “simplifying complexity and chaos to inspire confidence in the future.”

I think we have prepared a program that will present actionable information for your operation, and the confidence to make these choices now and for your future. •

—by Mark Hambelton

Mark Hambelton is an apple and cherry grower from Quincy, Washington, and the chair of this year’s Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting and NW Hort Expo, to be held Dec. 9–11 in Wenatchee.