Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Tidings from AgroLiquid

So the lobby screens at HQ scroll through Christmas scenes...and this is one of them that I like.  It is of a typical Christmas scene in Michigan with snow covering the landscape.  But not this year. Michigan is on the warm side of the country and it has been anything but wintery.  In fact, on Wednesday we set a record high temp of 61 degrees.

And below is where some landscaping was done out front late in the fall.  Grass seed was planted with the intention of germination in the spring.  Well the seed must have thought it was already spring.
Here is the lobby Christmas tree.  See the flag at the top of the tree?  That was a challenge to put on. This is one of three nice big trees at the office.  How festive we are.
Some of you may be aware that we have just recently undergone a name and logo change.  Now we are AgroLiquid, and Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers has been retired.  This is on my tree at home where there is the old and the new.  I will still put up the old ornament each year.  Next to the new one.  Our website has been agroliquid from the start of the internet, so it is already in the loop.  And the new logo is certainly eye-catching.
There is lot's to do as the new name officially starts on January 1.  New letterhead, product literature, business cards, logos on trucks, trailers, railcars, other vehicles....and on our corporate office.  Off came the old and up goes the new.  Below Phil and Ron D make the new installation.  In fact, I already forgot what it used to look like.  I will compliment Ron as he made the template and got all the holes drilled to match the real thing. 
Mission accomplished!  That certainly lets everyone know who we are.
Since part of Christmas is for giving, here is a gift from Agronomic Sciences:  the 2015 Research Report.  It was just posted to the website yesterday on Christmas Eve.  It has the reports of all the experiments from the NCRS and off-site contract research and PFE plots.  I will give some extra recognition to Stephanie who had the task of converting everything to the web publishable format we see here.  Plus put in edits and rearrangements as needed, and still get it on before our (actually her) Christmas deadline.  So take a look.  It's on the Research Tab and then click Research Results, and then 2015 Report.  Glad that's done as it has dominated our time of late.
Well it seems that there is always something to be done up till the last minute.  The office was open till noon on Christmas Eve.  So those of us still there till the end want to wish all of the loyal blog readers A Very Merry Christmas!!!
It's been a very challenging year for many reasons, but rewarding as well.  We look for a strong year ahead.  The blog will probably take a short Christmas break, but it too will be back for Year 7.  Also stronger than ever.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Plenty to See in Washington and Oregon

So after the Hort Expo was over last Wednesday afternoon, Eric, JW and I packed up and hit the road in Eric's pickup.  We had a dinner meeting in Oregon and a grower meeting the next day.  So goodbye to Yakima.  It was a pretty drive, well on the outside I mean. 
Fortunately Eric likes to see stuff as much as I do.  Like the Stonehenge in lower WA on the Columbia River near the small town of Maryhill.  It is an historic area, and this was completed in 1929 as a monument to military personnel who gave their lives in World War I.  It has plaques inside with the names of soldiers from Klickitat County here who perished in the war.  It is supposedly built exactly as the real Stonehenge in England.
Here is the inside.  As you probably know, the original Stonehenge  was used by ancient astronomers to mark season changes and other events marked by the sun and moon.  Before this purpose was discovered, it was thought to be a site for sacrifices.  Oh behave.
 Here are some to the plaques of the local soldiers that didn't make it back.
Here is a view of the Columbia River from Stonehenge.  There are all sorts of orchards and things growing down there.  See that black fence?  It seems that is a Cannabis farm.  We held our breath. Don't want no second hand smoke messing up a surprise drug test back home. 
Here is a view looking the other way back up the mountain.  Orchards and wind turbines.
 We crossed over into Oregon, and drove through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.  Well I can see why it is scenic.  Here is Horsetail Falls.  It is 192 feet tall, and was really running fast due to all of the recent rain.
 Well it seems that Horsetail Falls is just a warmup for this one: Multnomah Falls.  Here is the lodge in front celebrating 100 years.
This one falls 542 feet to a pool and then another 69 feet beyond the cross bridge.  It was starting to get dark by this time, so I sprinted up the hill so that I could see the bridge.
 Glad I did.  Here is the falls from the bridge.  It was really running big and loud.  Very cool.
Here is the view looking back down.  That's JW and Eric down there in front of that rock bench. Glad they waited for me to come back down.  I had never been here before but really glad I got to see it.   
Well we were driving for a purpose.  There is a new retail partner in the town of Salem which is South of Portland.  They are Koenig Custom Application and they just came on board after attending the Research Field Days last August.  Now it's time to go to work.  We hosted 16 growers from the area for an introduction to AgroLiquid.  (I forgot my camera, so had to sketch JW here making a presentation.)  It was different for me since there was quite a variety of crops grown in the area.  Rye grass seed, filberts, bush beans, onions, blueberrie,sweet corn, onions and more that I can't remember. But we haven't met the crop yet that can't be well fertilized with AgroLiquid. 
So that was a great fertilizer mission and I look forward to returning next summer to follow up on fertilizer applications.  Plus see if there are any more cool waterfalls or other sights to see.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About Apples (and other fruity crops)

So last week I was on a fertilizer mission way out to the Pacific Northwest.  First stop was Yakima, Washington where there was the NW Hort Expo.  It was a combination of trade show and educational presentations and posters of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.  Here is the AgroLiquid booth ably manned by agronomist JW Lemons and Sales Account Manager Eric Collins. It turned out to be a good opportunity to interact with growers and other vendors alike.
The main crop of interest was apples.  There was no shortage of them on display from nurseries to processors to packagers.  These are about as red as you can get.  There were ones to eat too.  So yes I did.
Here was something that I had never seen before, but found it to be common up here.  These guys rent predatory birds to keep nuisance birds out of the orchards, vineyards or whatever else birds like to bother.  They didn't have any demonstrations, but these birds on display looked plenty vicious.
Here was something else that I had not seen at a conference: a presentation session in Spanish.  In fact, this room was just for that with a Spanish-speaking moderator.  From the crowd you can see that there are a lot there.  They covered the usual things like tree pests and stress and growing recommendations, etc.  I had never thought of this, but there are plenty of Hispanic orchard workers and managers that need education like anyone else, so good for them.  I crashed it to hear one in English, but they had a translator and many people listening with headsets.   
Well it is a fact that most of the labor in an orchard is performed by Hispanic workers, but labor supply continues to be a major concern by orchard managers and owners.  Here is a poster on research in robotic apple pickers.  There is some sort of sensor that tells where the apples are and then guides a mechanical "hand" to pick it.  It is still some time away from reality.
Well I learned a lot, as you know that I am mostly a corn and soybean person.  In fact I had to go in disguise so that the others in attendance wouldn't find that out.  But I am inspired to learn as much as I can about growing apples and can't wait to work with Jacob in our orchard at the NCRS.  Funny it seems that every time I go out to the NCRS, I never can find him to talk about this.  Probably need to be quieter on arrival.