February 12/13, 2014 From the publishers oF: lake Chelan mirror • the leavenworth eCho • Cashmere valley reCord • Quad City herald
Pollen tube growth model introduced at meeting By Matt Baide Staff Writer At the Lake Chelan Horticulture Day, Jan. 20, Tory Schmidt of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission introduced the apple pollen tube growth model (APTGM). In 2002, APTGM began testing. Researchers Dr. Ross Byers and Sue Wolf at Virginia Tech University were funded by the WTFRC to investigate pollination and potential thinning agents. It took six years, but the first year of WA field data was 2008, although the researchers at VTU were collecting field data in Va. before that. The following year saw the first field validation by Washington industry beta testers. The APTGM predicts how long it takes for flowers of different cultivars to be fertilized after they have been pollinated, based on ambient temperature. With the information, it helps inform crop load management decisions and helps the timing of chemical bloom thinners. “We’ve been working with a lot of the same chemicals and the same technologies through the years, but now, at long last, we are ready to release a new model, statistical model, that can help inject a little bit more science to the art of chemical thinning,” Schmidt said. The model was developed by putting trees in cold rooms, with the dwarfed root-bagged trees forced to bloom in a greenhouse. The trees were hand-pollinated under controlled conditions so the researches could control how much pollen was deposited on test flowers. The blossoms were collected at planned intervals and were analyzed for progression of pollen tubes.
Mirror photo by Matt Baide
Tory Schmidt of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission speaks about the Apple Pollen Tube Growth Model at the Lake Chelan Horticulture Day, Jan. 20. The model has benefits, such as reducing the risk of over or under thinning crops. It can also help determine appropriate timings for chemical bloom thinning sprays and can improve predictability of fruit set. The model also facilitates logistical planning for spray crews during bloom and increases overall awareness of fruit set dynamics. There are some things that the model can’t do, such as make up for previous crop m a n ag e m e n t m i st a ke s . I t doesn’t prevent frost, hail or equipment breakdowns, and it doesn’t guarantee ideal spray conditions. The APTGM also doesn’t directly inform postbloom thinning decisions. “This is a tool, but not a silver bullet,” Schmidt said. “If
Graphic courtesy Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission
you use this model, it’s not going to solve all your problems, but will hopefully help move you a little further towards having more predictable and more repeatable results with your chemical thinning programs.” Growers can use the pollen tube growth model along with the online resources provided by the WSU AgWeatherNet. Growers can use this model to
help determine when to apply sprays and keep comprehensive data on projected growth and the temperature during the day. With the model, there are some limitations. The model assumes optimal bee and pollen availability. There are no models for secondary or niche varieties. This model is new, so there are some unresolved questions about role of pol-
len source and normal use requires overly simplistic assumptions about efficacy of chemical thinners. To find out if the model could work for you, Schmidt had some suggestions. He said that trying the model on a small block of the growing area first. He also recommended trying a dry run by following the model normally without spraying according to model timings.
Pollen tube growth models for Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith are still in development, but growers can find models for Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Cripps Pink now on the WSU AgWeatherNet website at weather.wsu.edu Matt Baide can be reached at 509682-2213 or by email email@example.com
Ag agencies conduct listening sessions for specialty crop growers Submitted by Chris Bieker, FSA The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) want to hear from Washington’s specialty crop growers. In late February, the agencies will be conducting cooperative listening sessions in Wenatchee and Mt. Vernon to gather input about the effectiveness of crop insurance and insurance-type programs available to producers. “As the federal safety net for farmers and ranchers moves toward a reliance on crop insurance and similar programs, we want to make sure the needs of Washington’s farmers and ranchers are being met,” said Farm Service Agency State Executive Di-
rector Judy Olson. Th e f e d e r a l gove r n m e n t su b sidizes crop insurance, which is offered through private crop insurance agents and is managed by USDA’s Risk Management Agency. The USDA Farm Service Agency provides production risk protection to farmers who grow crops for which insurance is unavailable. “Many of the state’s diverse crops are eligible for coverage under the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program or NAP,” explained Olson. “Fewer growers are currently participating in this program than we would expect.” “We have a great climate in Washington that has helped create a robust and thriving agriculture industry,” WSDA Director Bud Hover
Traditional Facility Peshastin 548-1700
Dedicated Organic Facility Wenatchee 662-5191
said. “But just one weather disaster There is no cost to participate in the can devastate a ranch or farm. We listening sessions. The agencies are want to hear from the ag community encouraging atwhether the tools in “Many of the state’s tendees to regiswhich will help place to help them diverse crops are eli- ter m a n ag e t h at r i s k them prepare for gible for coverage un- the types of operaare meeting their needs.” der the Non-Insured tions that will be The first listenrepresented. PerCrop Disaster As- sons with disabiliing session will take place at the Washsistance Program or t i e s wh o r e q u i r e ington State Univeraccommodations to NAP.” attend or particisity Research and Ext e n s i o n Ce n t e r pate in the listen--Judy Olson i n M t . Ve r n o n o n ing sessions should Farm Service Agency Feb. 20. The second contact the Farm State Executive Director session will be at Service Agency at (509) 323-3000. the Port of Chelan Confluence TechnolUSDA and WSDA ogy Center in Wenatchee on Feb. 24. Specialty Crop Education and Listen-
ing Sessions: Thursday, Feb. 20, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. WSU Research and Extension Center, 16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/specialty-crop-insurance-education-and-listening-sessions-tickets-8216468679 Monday, Feb, 24, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Port of Chelan Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way, Wenatchee, WA Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/specialty-crop-insurance-education-and-listening-session-tickets-9407663575, Or call: (509) 323-3000.
Lake Chelan Mirror/The Leavenworth Echo/Cashmere Valley Record/Quad City Herald • February 12/13, 2014
Workshop meets growing interest in ciders, tree fruit Submitted by Lucas Patzek, Director of WSU Thurston County Extension Renowned Washington state orchardist Gary Moulton will deliver an educational workshop focused on establishing orchards and growing healthy tree fruit 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Washington S t at e Un ive r s i ty Th u r st o n County Extension, 5033 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia. Participants interested in cider production or growing apples, pears, cherries and other tree fruit will learn about rootstock and cultivar selection, orchard layout development, soil fertility management and integrated pest management. Moulton, who has decades of experience in fruit horticulture and management, will also cover irrigation system setup, thinning and pruning techniques and harvest methods. Registration costs $70 and includes the workshop, morning refreshments and lunch. R e g i st e r o n l i n e a t h tt p : / / www.brownpapertickets.com/
Agricultural Act of 2014 marks a new era for Farm & Food Policy Submitted by Tamara Hinton House Committee on Agriculture
event/357848. The workshop is open to all, but geared toward individuals looking to establish commercial tree fruit operations and fruit processors wishing to learn more about the needs and challenges of tree fruit growers in western Washington, said Lucas Patzek, director of WSU Thurston County Extension. “The workshop was organized, in part, to respond to a growing interest in apple and pear hard ciders,” Patzek said. “There are 10 commercial cideries in Washington state, six of which are located west of the Cascades.” Moulton will take participants through a tasting of cider varietals to demonstrate how variety can impact flavor and mouthfeel, among other sensory qualities. WSU Thurston County Extension, Thurston Conservation District and the South Sound Fruit Society are workshop sponsors. Learn more about WSU’s tree fruit research and extension at http://www.tfrec. wsu.edu/
Fsa advises producers to anticipate payment reductions due to mandated sequester
WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement last Friday, Feb. 7, after President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law. "The amazing reality about farm bills is that they reflect the times in which we live. They are reviewed, written, debated, and reauthorized nearly every five years. Today our concerns are rightly placed on reducing the size and cost of the federal government. With the president signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law, we mark a new era of farm and food policy that values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs, and yet still providing an effective safety net
for the production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling. “I am pleased we have a new farm bill in place to provide certainty for the next five years to America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers, and I appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped make it possible,” said Chairman Frank Lucas. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference report on January 29 by a vote of 251-166. The U.S. Senate passed it on February 4 with 68-32 vote. Farm Policy Reforms: The Agricultural Act of 2014 includes reduction to farm policy spending in history by improving agricultural programs; Repeals Direct Payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when
they suffer significant losses; Limits on payments are reduced, eligibility rules are tightened and means tests are streamlined to make farm programs more accountable; Strengthens crop insurance; Offers producers a new, voluntary, margin protection program; and Supports small businesses and beginning farmers and ranchers with training and access to capital. The Agricultural Act of 2014 also makes the first reforms to the food stamp program since the welfare reforms of 1996 while maintaining critical food assistance to families in need. Additionally, the Agricultural Act of 2014 includes multiple regulatory relief provisions benefitting agricultural and forestry industries by consolidating 23 conservation programs into 13.
Vendors greet orchardists at hort show
In the photo at right, Linda (left) and Kyle Batch sit at the Crowder Horticultural Services table at the Chelan Horticulture day on Jan. 20. Below, Zach Steele of Wilbur-Ellis and Natividad Rubio of Rubio’s Produce in Brewster sit at the Wilbur-Ellis booth at the Lake Chelan Horticulture Day, Jan. 20.
Submitted by Isabel Benemelis FSA In a statement released this past November, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs to plan accordingly in FY2014 for automatic spending reductions known as sequestration. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to discretionary and mandatory spending limits. For mandatory programs, the sequestration rate for FY2014 is 7.2 percent. Accordingly, FSA is implementing sequestration for the following programs: Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; Marketing Assistance Loans; Loan Deficiency Payments; Sugar Loans; Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; Tobacco Transition Payment Program; 2013 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments; 2013 Average Crop Revenue Election Program; 2011 and 2012 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program; Storage, handling; and Economic Adjustment Assistance for Upland Cotton. Conservation Reserve Program payments are specifically exempt by statute from sequestration, thus these payments will not be reduced. “These sequester percentages reflect current law estimates; however with the continuing budget uncertainty, Congress still may adjust the exact percentage reduction. Today’s announcement intends to help producers plan for the impact of sequestration cuts in FY2014,” said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia. “At this time, FSA is required to implement the sequester reductions. Due to the expiration of the Farm Bill on Sept. 30, FSA does not have the flexibility to cover these payment reductions in the same manner as in FY13. FSA will provide notification as early as practicable on the specific payment reductions. ” For information about FSA programs, visit your county USDA Service Center or go to www.fsa.usda.gov/ .
Mirror photos by Matt Baide
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February 12/13, 2014 • Lake Chelan Mirror/The Leavenworth Echo/Cashmere Valley Record/Quad City Herald
A conversation with ... Columbia Marketing International President Bob Mast “One of my goals going forward is keeping this the kind of business where people want to stay.” By M.T. Miller WBJ Reporter Bob Mast, who became the newest president of Columbia Marketing International in April of this year, hails not from the Northwest but from Phoenix, Ariz. Directly responsible for marketing the agricultural supply of Northwest fruit to the rest of the world, Mast spent 20 years previous to CMI on the other side of the fence, working in retail for the Kroger Company, which owns Fred Meyer. He started out bagging groceries, and worked produce for 18 years. M a st h a s a lways b e e n passionate about produce, and after 20 years at Kroger, he was given two options: move to corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, or come out to the Northwest to work for CMI. Mast chose the latter. He hasn’t looked back. Mast began his career with CMI as director of marketing. When Glady Bellamy, a founder and then-president of CMI, died in 2010, the company’s leaders spent three years searching for a new president, and when all was said and done, Mast was offered the position. CMI is owned by its growers and packing houses, specifically McDougall and Sons, Columbia Fruit, Highland Fruit and Double Diamond Fruit. CMI works with other growers as well, but its primary job is to market the fruit of its parent growers. The Wenatchee Business Journal sat down to speak with Mast about the current state of the tree fruit industry, the challenges of marketing fruit in a global economy, and how CMI is looking forward to the future. Wenatchee Business Journal: You took over for Glady Bellamy, who was president for over 20 years. Tell me about that transition of leadership. Bob Mast: Glady passed suddenly in October 2010. He was a big name in the industry. His nickname was the Prince of the Industry, because he was such an honest
gentleman who had extreme integrity, a guy that everybody in the industry liked. You won’t find a person who’ll say a bad thing about Glady. He truly cared about people and the industry. A fantastic mentor. He was a big part of my coming to CMI and sticking it out. Glady, I would say, is one of the key reasons I stayed around and toughed it out. It was a challenge to do that, but Glady was very, very important to CMI. Our management went through about three years in which a number of our managers stepped up before we found new leadership. It’s a real tribute to our staff that in those years CMI never missed a beat. The CMI ownership group came to me several months back, talked about having a true leader. I was very honored to take that role. Very, very honored. Glady and I had some discussions on that, the potential of one day mentoring me to take over for him. It was a very distinguished honor. It’s a real close-knit family environment around here. There’s been very little turnover. That’s one of my goals going forward, keeping this the kind of business where people want to stay. WBJ: What part of Bellamy’s legacy do you hope to continue? Mast: First and foremost is the integrity and the honesty he brought to the position. CMI is known throughout the industry for being straight shooters. We will continue to do that. If you ask a straight question you’ll get a straight answer. We will always live up to looking someone in the eye and giving them a straight answer. Glady always cared about the growers, and I do as well. I always wanted to become a grower to know all the challenges growers face. You want to know about all the risk and all that goes into bringing the product from farm to fork. That’s what I plan to continue on in this position. True caring for growers, owners and also the employees. WBJ: What parts did you want to change? Mast: You know, there’s always little tweaks when a new leader comes in, new adaptations that they want to do. There’s a little bit of structure that’s being brought to the organization. That’s a fine line. You want to do that without changing the culture. We’re bringing a little bit more structure. I want to bring some clear cut goals and expectations. That’s one thing, and continued growth, continuing on with our partnerships and forging new
Photo courtesy CMI
As the new president of Columbia Marketing International, Bob Mast takes his lead from the model set by Glady Bellamy, the co-founder and previous president who died unexpectedly in 2010. The fruit marketing firm weathered that loss and the recession and is now poised to grow. relationships as the size of the manifest grows. WBJ: How has the recession affected your industry? Mast: We’ve been super fortunate. Even during recession down times people continue to eat fruit. We have forged through the recession quite well. Last season I think we obtained record FOBs for the industry. Some things that have helped with that have been the Honey Crisp, which has really helped to shatter glass ceilings. The size of the crop and the amount of markets we have to manage are as much of a challenge as the recession has been. WBJ: What are the specific challenges to managing a large crop? Mast: There are lots of things. Take export markets. There are factors like value of currency, food safety protocols in places like the UK. They’ve put regulations on fruit and detection devices. You have trade barriers in certain countries. China is a country we can’t go into with fruit right now. Export markets can have a huge impact on the size of the crop, as well as our ability to store and keep fruit from going bad. WBJ: How do you build relationships with growers? Mast: We’ve got yearly grower
THE PROFILE Bob Mast Age: 47 Title: President of Columbia Marketing International, a Wenatchee-based sales and marketing company for six growing and packing entities in Washington, dealing in apples, pears, cherries and organics. The company was founded in 1989 with partners Glady Bellamy, Nick Buak, McDougall & Sons and Columbia Fruit Packers. Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz. Education: Bachelor’s degree in management from Arizona State University Career: Produce marketing Family: Mast has been married 25 years to his wife, Sabrina. They have a daughter, Hailey, age 7. meetings that we have where we update growers and try to keep them as updated as we can on market trends, what retailers are looking for. Each of our packing houses has a group of field staff workers that go out to meeting with growers every week. We try to keep our field staff up to date so as to keep our growers aware of what we’re seeing. We try to get out with the growers ourselves once in a while, walk and talk. We try to get retailers in front of growers. WBJ: Why should a grower work with CMI? Mast: CMI’s going to shoot straight with a grower. We’re not going to tell a grower something we think they want to hear. We’re going to tell them the truth. We’re going to tell them
what’s hot in the market, what’s hot with consumers. We tend to like to under promise and over deliver. That’s our motto. WBJ: What new markets have you broken into this year? Mast: India is an expanding market for a lot of different marketers throughout the industry. There are definitely markets that are growing. We’re constantly looking for new markets around the world. WBJ: Where’s the next big market? Mast: If we ever do get into China, there’s a lot of thought that that could take a five to eight percent of the manifest from the industry. That could potentially be a big market if it ever gets open. India and Dubai are growing. Europe does okay,
but that’s predicated on the size of their crop and if they ever lighten up on the protocols. Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil, we’re always trying to grow our business there. WBJ: Who’s going to be making money off this year’s crop? Mast: The growers who haven’t been affected by weather. We’ve had some interesting weather issues in the last three years with frost, hail. Growers who are doing everything they can to hit the size parameter. Apples in the 64 to 100 count range are the most sought after. Growers who get a good size should do well. Growers who use the color up materials should see better return. We had a lot of heat that hampered the color efforts this year. Really, growers that are growing fruit in that premium size range that have pretty good color should do really well. WBJ: How is this year’s crop shaping up compared to last year? Mast: Our crop in Washington state is actually down, but North American crop overall is larger than it was last year. Our largest ever. The East is up. Mexico is up. We’re down here, but there’s pressure on us because of the overall larger manifest for the industry. WBJ: Why the smaller crop? Mast: Some of it could be weather. Certain varieties are down this season. We had a large fruit set last year, and sometimes that brings on a lighter fruit set the next year. But the size of the fruit is good this year. It’s quite a bit larger this year. WBJ: What are your strategies for growing this business? Mast: We obviously look at what we can do that’s different from our competition. We’re b l e s s e d i n h av i n g c e r t a i n proprietary apples that set us apart. We have an import program on apples and pears, which we did to enhance our program. Certain customers want an import program, and we’ve been able to keep the business flowing through CMI by offering that. We’re looking at how those import programs can be adapted and modified, since we’ve got more and more domestic fruit coming on. We’re looking at the imported pears, since the pears here aren’t growing. We’ve done a lot of investment at the orchard level. We’re looking at new facility investments, like our new facility up at Baker Flats. We’re looking at new cold storage that we are building. WBJ: What are the keys to success in this industry? Mast: Number one is to listen. See MAST on Page D4
Lake Chelan Mirror/The Leavenworth Echo/Cashmere Valley Record/Quad City Herald • February 12/13, 2014
MAST : There’s increased competition for shelf space with all the new varieties. Continued from Page D3
To look and listen, not only to what retailers are saying but what consumers are saying. If you monitor category data and you talk to consumers, you stand in a store and watch buying behaviors, you can watch out for trends that are coming. You can adapt and be flexible. Like pouch bags. We’re starting to pack a lot of pouch bags now. That’s not something that necessarily is production friendly at the packing house, but it’s something that helps us extract more value for certain parts of the manifest. WBJ: How do you pitch local produce to other markets? M a s t : Th e r e ’s p r e s su r e everywhere to buy local, but the bottom line is the Northwest grows the best premium tree fruit in the world. The micro climate we have here, we don’t have the moisture and the pests. We don’t have to apply as many chemicals. We have the rich soil, a fairly unlimited amount of water with the Columbia River. Cool evenings. We grow excellent premium fruit, and we play up on that. WBJ: Where do you see room for improvement? Mast: One of the keys that we have is the consolidation and uniformity of food safety requirements. We’ve got retailers coming at us from all sides with different food safety protocols, different expectations, and there’s a lot of audits. There’s a lot of audit fatigue. We need some unification in the inspection process and the protocols. WBJ: Have growers been progressive on that issue? Mast: I think growers have done a pretty darn good job of trying to meet standards, but it’s not like there’s one set standard out there that everyone’s driving towards. You may drive real fast down one direction to meet one expectation, only to have someone come out of right field telling them to go in a completely different way. WBJ: What’s the hardest sell you ever made? Mast: Ice to an Eskimo. That’s a tough one. Every sale that you make is somewhat of a challenge. If you believe in what you’re selling - and I do - it’s not necessarily a hard sell. Some of our varieties
are a harder sell, since we have want to continue with grow. I want so many new varieties coming at to bring the new facility at Baker retailers and they have a limited Flats into the mix. We’ve got shelf space. One of the hard new staff on board, a new VP in sells that we have to make is to marketing. [Steve Lutz joined CMI in September as vice president of growers on food safety. Some of the things that we have marketing. He is a past president to do for food safety standpoint and CEO of the Washington Apple don’t make a lot of common Commission who left in 2000 to cosense, and that makes it a hard found Nielsen Perishables Group, sell to growers. The standards a Chicago-based marketing and and expectations are made for consulting firm] We want to all growers, row crops and tree bring the management team growers both, and sometimes in different markets as a very what makes sense for one grower cohesive unit with direction and doesn’t make much sense for the leadership. Fostering the relationships other. WBJ: Are state and federal between CMI ownership and officials responsible for those growers. Basically always looking standards well informed about to improve the reputation of CMI in the industry and amongst the the industry? Mast: I think they’re becoming retail partners. WBJ: What gets you excited to more informed. That’s something get out of bed in t h at we the morning? frequently try Mast: Every to do. We try to “There’s pressure day’s different. educate them. everywhere to buy T h a t ’ s t h e We’re always interested in local, but the bottom t h i n g a b o u t the produce having them line is the Northwest business. Just come out and tour an grows the best pre- about the time ou think orchard, see mium tree fruit in the yyou’ve got it what’s going world.” figured out o n , wh at ’s there’s a curve feasible, what’s ahead. necessary and --Bob Mast I l ove t h e what isn’t. We Columbia Marketing people I work certainly want International with and the to provide a industry I work safe product for the consumer, but to some degree in. I’m excited to come to work some things don’t make sense. and face the challenges every Wearing hairnets to pack fruit, day. WBJ: If you could change one for example. Seems like a good idea, but then every consumer thing about this business, what who walks through the store would you change? Mast: If there were one thing, and handles the fruit, they’re not wearing hairnets. Some things and this is personal to me, I you have to look at with one eye think it’s important to walk in somebody else’s shoes. Having open. WBJ: What are you most proud worked the retail side, and now working on the supplier side, if I of? Mast: I’m very proud of my went back to the retail side now family. I’ve always had a tight- I’d understand better the nuances knit, close family. My parents of how things work in supply. So if instilled the importance of family there’s one thing I could change, in me in a very young age. My I’d have the retailers come work daughter. My wife. on this side of the business for a I’m proud of the fact that three while, and the suppliers go work years ago CMI faced a tragic event on the other end for a while. Then with the passing of Glady and how everyone would understand each we didn’t miss a beat. I think our other’s businesses more, and I customers will tell you that. think that’s a win-win situation. WBJ: What are your goals for WBJ: What’s the greatest the coming year? c h a l l e n g e yo u fa c e g o i n g Mast: Grow our CMI manifest. I forward?
Mast: The same challenge that every other organization faces: the larger crops we have coming and successfully navigating through the manifest in a profitable manner for the growers. We’ve got some large crops coming, and we need to find new markets. We have to find new ways of growing consumption with youth. Consumption of fruit and vegetables in the US is not nearly as high as we’d like it to be. It’s as high as other places in the world, Europe, Canada, but not as high as we want. That’s one of our challenges, to make our product more compelling to the consumer. WBJ: How strong is the agricultural industry in the Wenatchee Valley? Mast: I think it’s pretty strong. Based on the amount of new fruit that’s been planted, new trees going in. You drive around the state and see the amount of nursery trees that are out there, we have a pretty healthy industry at this time. WBJ: How has CMI adapted to new technology? Mast: We’re certainly always investigating new technologies and ways to be efficient. We’ve invested in new apple lines, new cherry lines. We like to be on the cutting edge, but there’s a caution to that. Items like these new cherry lines with optical sorting. Everyone’s got them and everyone’s tweaking them. You don’t want to wait too long to get in on a new technology if it makes sense, but your payback isn’t always very rapid. If the payback isn’t immediate, a decision has to be made about whether the time is right to jump in or if you should wait for a more optimal time. WBJ: How is the industry changing? Mast: There’s increased competition for shelf space with all the new varieties. Increased competition from Midwest and the East, because smaller amount of their product is going towards processing. They’re bringing a lot of fruit into the fresh market. Global economics always play a part in how much fruit we export. The weakness of the dollar and the impact that plays is a big factor. Going forward with spot
markets and wholesale markets aren’t going to be as viable markets to extract the maximum FOBs for your product. Relationships with growers and committed volume are going to be more and more important as we go forward. WBJ: What effect will the Farm Bill have on the industry? Mast: When it comes to labor, we’re doing a lot of H-2A deals right now. H-2A is super important to the industry to get the crop off the trees. We do a lot of farm worker housing. We
need regulation reform with immigration. It’s so important to make sure you have a work force there to get the fruit off in a timely manner, to get it to the pack houses and the storage facilities. If you don’t get the fruit off at the optimal time, it’s a big problem. WBJ: Final question. Are you a pancake man or a waffle guy? Mast: Me? I like fresh fruit. Editors Note: Reprinted from the October 2013 Wenatchee Business Journal WESTERB984CF
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Published on May 9, 2014