Monday, March 27, 2017

Meanwhile Back at the NCRS

So we got a new planter a few weeks ago.  A Kinze 3500 with 15" Interplant system.  Some assembly required.  Quinten, Tim, Phil and Ron discuss what comes next.  The Monosem served us well for over ten years, but time for an upgrade.
Tim reads the meters.
Whether it's 6 rows or 11 rows, this big vacuum fan ought to do the job.  It's huge.
Ron built a tank holder frame, with another one on the way.  It's also getting some Precision Planting attachments.  So it should be ready when planting begins in a few weeks.  Anyone could order a planter in the  fall and take all winter working on it.  But we like to stay fresh with short deadline driven accuracy.
Last week Phil started topdressing some wheat.  It's rare that fields are dried out enough to get on this early.  
Say, wasn't I just with JW in California?  He must have followed me home.  But while here he gave some pruning tips in the orchard.  JW is an apple pruner from way back.  Tim B, Jay and Renae discuss the finer points of pruning.  The orchard is pretty much done as it's that time of year.  But just a few more well-placed snips. 
Snip snip here.  Snip snip there.  And a couple of tra la la's.  (Come on, everybody knows that song.) Thanks for the pointers JW.
Well the days are getting longer and warmer as well.  Although still chilly.  But we're getting that itchy feeling that planting season is getting close.  At least I hope that's what it is.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Name That Tree!

So to finish my reporting of being in California last week, it's pretty amazing driving in the San Joaquin Valley and seeing how much food is being grown.  You can see all of the trees and grapes preparing for growth as spring begins.  And open fields show where vegetables will be.  We stopped at this orchard and there was a deck overlooking rows of different kinds of trees.  Beautiful view and I would certainly sit there often if I worked there.  Although there is so much work to do they probably don't sit around too much.  Hey, let's play a game:  Name That Tree!  A blog first.
This one is easy.  (I'll put the answer below the pic each time.)
OK it's some sort of orange.  Most of the oranges are already picked by now.  But what's this next one?
A kumquat tree!  I can't really recall eating a kumquat before....but had several right after I took this picture. Delicious, like tiny juicy oranges.  I should have put something in for scale, but the fruit is like meatball size.  Next???
Cherry trees.  Look how these big trees have been pruned back to keep them manageable.  Cherry blossoms below.
These next trees hadn't started growing leaves yet, and were right across from the cherries.
Those would be walnut trees.  Almost all of the country's walnuts are grown in California.  And these?
The green trees are the Page Mandarins I showed earlier.  And the trees across are pistachios.  I love pistachio nuts.  I get them in the shell so that I don't eat them so fast.

And next is the number one valued crop in California.  (Thanks to Dylan for the pic.)
That would be almonds, with a harvested value of over $5 Billion (yes that's a "B").  Although I think there is some debate between the wine grape and almond growers on who is really #1.  Well it's all good to me.       So what about this last tree?  You can't eat it!
No, but if there is a beach, it sure adds value to me.  So that was a fun and informative week.  I look forward to a return trip this summer to see good things growing with AgroLiquid. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

More California Adventures

So as I said in the previous post, one of our objectives for the week was to establish some fertilizer research plots on some of the important crops crops there.  But with over 400 different commodities, that's a challenge.  Here are Agronomist JW and Sales Account Manager Armando with a researcher discussing fertility needs of oranges.  They are in the pre-bloom stage today. 
We also met with one of AgroLiquid's Retail Partners, Mid-Valley Agricultural Services at their main office in Linden, not too far from our manufacturing plant in Stockton.
Below we see JW giving a product update to some of their PCA's under the watchful eye of Armando.  What is a PCA you may be asking?  It is a Pest Control Advisor.  In California you must be a licensed PCA in order to make pest control recommendations.  But they are also making all sorts of agronomic input recommendations.  So if you plan to work in agri-business in California, then plan on getting that license.  JW is very active in the CA PCA organization and is even an instructor for continuing education credits.
It's no secret that I enjoy stopping at unusual tourist sites.  Like when JW told me that this is where iconic actor James Dean was killed in a car crash near this site on September 30, 1955 at the age of 24 years old.  Well I had to have him pull over so I could see for my own self.  For some reason, this tree is dedicated to James Dean and there is a plaque signifying what happened.  It's also right next to a restaurant which may have something to do with it.  But he actually crashed his new Porsche a few hundred yards from here in a two car collision.  Probably some people haven't heard of James Dean (yet), but he was a cultural icon and starred in some big movies in the year of his death.  They were East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant (which came out in 1956).  Below SAM Dylan and JW look at the memorial. (Some of you may never have seen JW without a cowboy hat on.  But out of respect to James, well he took it off.)
There is a picture of the wreck inside the restaurant.  Probably not going to walk away from this crash.
If you travel up and down I-69 in Northern Indiana you may have seen the exit for the small town of Fairmount, about halfway between Indianapolis and Ft. Wayne.  Well there is a sign with a picture of James Dean indicating that it is his boyhood home.  He is also buried there.  Haven't made the stop, but may have to sometime as I drive that route quite a bit.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

California Adventures

So last week I had the good fortune to head West to California.  It was pretty much for research planning and Retail Partner meeting.  It was warm, but it was still winter and not much crop growth at the time.  But of course there is still plenty of cool stuff to take pictures of.  Poor agronomist JW who was driving me around.  I made him stop so I could take pictures.  I mean I have a demanding blog audience after all. 

California has been fortunate to have ample rain to make up for years of drought.  But water is always a source of debate.  There were a number of signs like this along the roads of the San Joaquin valley.  If asked, I would vote for growing food.
 The canals were full.  But mostly going to Los Angeles.
Here is a research place where we stopped.  I was told that there had not been snow pack in these Sierra Nevada mountains for some time.  Well that's good.  
So here's something that I thought was very unusual.  It's near Lost Hills, just off the 5 (hey that's how they talk in CA, just off Interstate 5 that is) heading West.  Sorry, no known towns for reference. But it's a big oil field.  There are hundreds of oil wells, some only a few feet apart.  I looked on Google Maps and it goes several miles North and South from here.  Yay for oil.  I like to drive after all.
 Here was something not seen for some time....wildflowers from all of the rainfall.  Beautiful.
There were patches all over the place as we drove West towards San Luis Obispo.  JW said in previous years all was brown.  I like this better.
My flight home took me to Seattle, and as some airports do to promote culture, they had some artsy board of sayings about flowers.  Guess which one made my hair, that that I have, stand up?  I think AA Milne let Winnie the Pooh bite him in the head once too often.  As a former Weed Scientist, I will never equate weeds with flowers.  And I don't care to know them at all!  I agree with those that say All Weeds Must Die!
This being California, there were vineyards everywhere. They were all pruned and ready for new growth.  I wish them success, and much AgroLiquid as well.
Drove past this vineyard where they had sheep grazing the grass in between the grape rows.  Beats mowing I guess.
One nice thing about California is that the Pacific Ocean is near by.  Well if you drive to it that is. Here is sunset as seen from Pismo Beach, just South of San Luis Obispo where we had research meetings.
Well that was fun.  But wait, there's more.  You can't cram a whole week in California into a single blog post.  Y'all come back now.  Ya hear.  (OK everyone should know what famous Californians said that.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

How Can This Be???

So the research blog has now issued it's 600th posting.  Hard to believe.  As the title says: How Can This Be?  I don't think I've done anything 600 times.  Well fortunately the Land of Liquid is a fruitful place, and a source for much material to share.
Hopefully you have been with us for all 600.  And there is plenty of material that lies ahead.  So stay tuned.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Tales From the Summit

So how do you think all of the important new things at AgroLiquid get conveyed to our mighty sales team of Retail Partners?  Well the best way is through attendance at an AgroLiquid Summit.  The Western Summit was a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.  Here is the giant Welcome To Las Vegas sign.
Well we weren't exactly right in Las Vegas, but just outside it at the beautiful Hilton Resort at Lake Las Vegas.  I mean there were so many important things to cover that we couldn't risk being distracted by having Wayne Newton or David Copperfield drop by.
There were a number of presentations on new products plus support info on products, as by long-time Sales Account Managers Brian Waugh and Aarron Stahl.
They shared experiences they have had over the years, such as the importance of micro-nutrient fertility and the best way to provide it with nutrient products like Micro 500.
Ashley and Dale introduced the Bancroft family and paid tribute to their hard work at keeping this a family operation that enables all of us to provide a valuable and unique service to farmers all across North America.  We have Troy, Jill, Gerrit, Albert and Nick who all were a part of the Summit.
There was a Q&A with a panel of the Agronomists and Chemist.  A topic of great interest was the new Primagro family of crop nutrition plus biological enhancements, all in a convenient field ready-to-go combination.
And it wouldn't be a Summit without a Research presentation by Dr. Massri, myself and Stephanie. We had a new approach where there was an introduction of nutrient background, new soil-nutrient interaction proof data from Zouheir and then field research support data that proves superior performance as explained by the nutrient activity in the soil.  We now have soil and field research proof of performance.  Very cool and certainly a Summit highlight. (Thanks to Colina for the pic).
Albert presented a new video highlighting the benefits that the Primagro family of nutrients offers to growers.  It had a five star rating for sure.  (Five out of five that is.)
Galynn talked about overcoming objections in selling AgroLiquid.  Glad that's taken care of now.
Lonny had a group participation activity that had something about how offering AgroLiquid to growers is better than striking gold.
Driving back through Las Vegas you could see mention of some of the top entertainment that is offered to visitors.
Maybe next time we can get a sweet deal at this place.
And I don't think I've ever had a picture or mention of Angi from Marketing, with Ashley of Sales beside her, and acknowledge the help and support that she provided in putting this event on.  (Kathryn from Marketing was also a big help in the success, but sadly I didn't have a pic of her there.  But it will come someday when she least expects it.)
So Retail Partners are primed and more ready than ever to assist in provision of crop nutrient needs.  Really, try them.