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.