Capital Press | Special Sections http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Sun, 24 May 2015 10:13:05 -0400 en http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Special Sections http://www.capitalpress.com Blue Mountain Community College turns techies into aggies http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/blue-mountain-community-college-turns-techies-into-aggies http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/blue-mountain-community-college-turns-techies-into-aggies#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:18:15 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519921 Did you know that video games and agriculture have something in common? Well, they do! I’m not talking about some absurd game or reality TV show either ... I’m talking technology. The technology that often confounds or frustrates the older, wiser generations is helping to propel agriculture into the next level of prosperity ... and precision. This is why all generations of agriculturalists are adopting different aspects of precision agriculture, not only in Oregon but across the country.

While the most entertaining tool in precision agriculture, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, a.k.a. drone) is attracting loads of attention, practical application of miniature helicopters in agriculture is still in its infancy. However, there are several tools that are much more advanced, and they save money, too. For example, the increasingly popular GPS steering systems that can be installed on tractors, planters and combines actually add up to big savings, often enough to pay off the initial investment in only a few years! They save in: fuel, fertilizer, pesticides and crop loss due to missed swathes or overlap. For those of us who are irrigators, you can now monitor and control your irrigation from your smartphone! Oh, and you can irrigate those low spots less and those dry spots more! Similar technology exists for variable rate applications of fertilizer and seed. With all this technology, we are bound to experience some benefits and savings, but we’re also doomed to deal with technology failures.

Failing and advancing technology is the focus of the new precision irrigated agriculture program at Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC). While the older, wiser generations have readily adopted this new technology, few graduates or current agricultural workers have the skills to operate, maintain, and, yes, repair precision ag technology. The demand for technically skilled laborers in our region, across the country, and internationally is high, and it’s projected to increase by about 14 percent in the next 10 years. In response, BMCC developed a new program to meet local needs and provide the masses of tech-savvy high school graduates with some profitable and productive career paths. Currently, a two-year, associate’s degree in precision ag is sufficient to get graduates into positions with starting salaries of about $30,000, but with the potential to earn over $65,000 as they gain experience.

The new precision ag program at BMCC offers students three different career paths: precision irrigation maintenance, data analyst and farm management. All three pathways provide students with the skills to work safely and efficiently in an agricultural setting, troubleshoot new variable rate technologies, and develop recommendations using precision ag tools. Students are also required to engage with the industry through internships and work experience. This new program does not require many additional resources or courses. A partnership with Oregon State University Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center has provided a number of new center pivots for hands-on learning as well as land for the Precision Ag Center that is proposed in the May 19 BMCC Bond. Local businesses and dealerships have also stepped up to provide access to new equipment for students. The program integrates nicely with BMCC’s current and outstanding agriculture program, as well as the new mechatronics program, which uses similar technology in agricultural and industrial processing. Additionally, the precision ag curriculum is designed for both current ag workers and traditional students, offering many of the new courses online and on-campus. While the precision irrigated ag program doesn’t start until the fall, BMCC offered a short course this spring that was met with great success. Soon-to-be graduates had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and training in some of the basic concepts and technologies used in precision ag. Blue Mountain looks forward to welcoming the first cohort of precision irrigated ag students, from all walks of life, this fall!

If you are interested in more information regarding enrollment or financial aid opportunities for the new precision irrigated agriculture program, please contact Alex Murphy at 541-278-5781 or amurphy@bluecc.edu.

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At OSU, the world is your classroom http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/at-osu-the-world-is-your-classroom http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/at-osu-the-world-is-your-classroom#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:16:25 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519922 There are no walls holding back ag sciences students at Oregon State University.

They are studying seals in Antarctica, mangroves in Honduras, and the international wheat market.

And they are engaged in real-world, hands-on research here in Oregon, too, in laboratories across campus and at twelve experiment stations in every corner of the state.

The College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU is growing fast, preparing leaders for the 21st century. Students study food and beverage technology, plant breeding, wildlife science, and molecular toxicology, among many other topics that are critical to feed the world, protect the environment, and improve quality of life.

Our students are changing the world. Right here. Right now.

For more information, see http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/

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Precision ag takes off at Walla Walla Community College http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/precision-ag-takes-off-at-walla-walla-community-college http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/precision-ag-takes-off-at-walla-walla-community-college#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:14:11 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519923 Walla Walla Community College’s Precision Agriculture program is growing the future. Drone land and crop monitoring, computerized mapping systems, high tech controls, sensors, monitoring systems and guidance systems help the modern farmer continuously produce more food, fiber and fuel. Modern farmers know that new technology increases their efficiency.

WWCC Precision Ag courses include up-to-the-minute information on field maps, mapping programs and asset mapping strategies. Aerial imagery of planting, spraying and harvesting is popular with the students. They learn that yield data and soil lab data are essential for growing a better tomorrow.

WWCC Precision Agriculture Instructor Mike Hagerman says, “Precision Agriculture is much more than particular practices used by modern farmers. With today’s technology we can divide a single field in to separate management zones based on inherent variability. Growers are increasing yields, leaving smaller carbon footprints, and applying fewer chemicals, all in addition to saving time and money.”

Jerry Anhorn Jr., Dean of Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources at WWCC, is bullish on Precision Agriculture education. He says, “Send your sons and daughters to WWCC. Your agriculture enterprise will definitely benefit from their education here.”

Agriculture instructor Matt Williams says, “One of the greatest benefits of learning at WWCC is that everything is so hands-on. The students are learning not just from instructors but from practitioners. For instance in our Animal Science area Tyler Cox is a working cattle rancher who teaches two courses for us. Debbie Frazier comes from a local family farm and she is our Ag Business instructor. I work summers as an agronomist with local firms. This sets us apart from a lot of other institutions. We truly do practice what we preach.”

Dean Jerry Anhorn is enthusiastic on the employability of Precision Ag graduates. He says, “There are hundreds or even thousands of careers in Agriculture. Computer driven tractors, combines, and systems are all tied together. Who’s going to run and understand that stuff? We need tech-savvy people to do that! Precision Ag graduates will get more than living wage jobs and the industry is screaming for these people. Agriculture touches every part of our economy in the United States, plain and simple.”

Jerry Anhorn can be reached at jerry.anhorn@wwcc.edu or by calling 509-524-4809.

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Klamath Community College gives ag students a head start http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/klamath-community-college-gives-ag-students-a-head-start http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/klamath-community-college-gives-ag-students-a-head-start#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:13:02 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519924 Klamath Community College’s Department of Agriculture Science and Business provides students access to training in agricultural business and economics, crop science, and animal science leading to workforce and transfer success.

The Department works closely with 4-year partner institutions to improve access to advanced degrees. Further, the Agricultural Sciences Department works closely with high schools to facilitate student transition from secondary to higher education and the workforce by career planning, program planning, and dual credit.

Program studies prepare students for career opportunities as Agriculture Loan Officer, Agriculture Teacher, Farm and Ranch Manager, Forest Management Specialist, Geologist, and Water Resource Manager.

By collaborating with the local community, state and national agricultural organizations to involve students in activities and industries, the Department promotes success for students pursuing careers in Agriculture.

KCC offers students an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Agriculture Science. This degree is closely aligned with both the Oregon and national standard for agriculture and natural resources and is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful as an entrepreneur, employee, or as a student at a four-year institution. A variety of resources are utilized by students including on-campus labs, the Learning Resource Center and off-campus work experience.

Graduates can also earn a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Agriculture Science, receiving on-the-ground mentoring and support during their studies — without leaving Klamath Falls.

For more information, contact Keith Duren, Program Lead, telephone 541-880-2254 or email duren@klamathcc.edu. Klamath Community College is located at 7390 S. Sixth St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603.

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Agricultural Education thrives at the University of Idaho http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/agricultural-education-thrives-at-the-university-of-idaho http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/agricultural-education-thrives-at-the-university-of-idaho#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:08:23 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519925 The Agricultural Education program at the University of Idaho continues to be a leader in teacher education in agriculture. The faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education work with undergraduates and graduate students preparing to become secondary agriculture teachers.

University of Idaho Agricultural Education majors have numerous opportunities to gain experiences throughout the year. Students assist with the FFA District and State Career Development Events, assist with the Idaho and Washington FFA State Leadership Conferences, and help run events at the National FFA Convention each fall. Four professors in Agricultural Education coordinate National FFA Career Development Events at the convention.

Agricultural Education majors also participate in the undergraduate research program in the department. Ag Ed majors’ research projects have been presented at the university research symposium, regional and national research conferences. Teacher Candidates also participate in the Collegiate FFA Chapter in the department which was recently recognized as the Club of the Year in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Our students do amazing things at the college and university levels. Maggie Elliot of Prosser, Washington, received the CALS Outstanding Freshman Award. Seth Pratt, former National FFA Officer from Blackfoot, Idaho, was recognized as the CALS Outstanding Senior. The department’s faculty has also been recognized for their outstanding service. Dr. Allison Touchstone received the R.M. Wade Excellence in Teaching Award in the college in 2014 and Dr. Jeremy Falk received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit in 2015.

The Agricultural Education program continues to graduate outstanding Teacher Candidates for agricultural education positions. Eighteen Teacher Candidates are being placed in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska schools for their student-teaching in 2015-2016. Recent graduates are teaching agriculture or science in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota and Alaska.

The Agricultural Education program at the University of Idaho continues to produce outstanding secondary agricultural teachers/FFA Advisors for schools throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country. Come join us at the University of Idaho.

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MSU-Northern degree in diesel technology opens doors http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/msu-northern-degree-in-diesel-technology-opens-doors http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/msu-northern-degree-in-diesel-technology-opens-doors#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:07:23 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519926 A career in diesel technology opens doors to many types of high-paying jobs, from working at ag equipment dealerships to construction, mining, and forestry equipment, or return to the farming operation.

Larry Strizich, dean of the College of Technical Sciences at Montana State University-Northern, said, “Students with a degree in Diesel Technology are in high demand with major businesses and corporations. There are a lot of career opportunities with this degree.”

Students in Diesel Technology have several different options within their studies at MSU-Northern. They can obtain a one-year certificate, a two-year associate’s degree and a four-year bachelor’s degree.

“Montana State University-Northern is recognized as a leading Diesel Technician college by industry leaders. We are one of the best — and one of the few — 4-year Diesel Technology campuses in the nation. We are expanding and growing. Currently, there are about 250 students in the Diesel Technology programs, which is one of our largest programs,” Strizich said, adding that each year they have a career day where 30-35 corporations fly in and interview students for jobs and internships. “It is not unusual that students will receive more than one job offer that is a high-paying position with excellent benefits.

“Graduates are well prepared to work in the diesel industry in a variety of occupations. We place emphasis on electronics and diagnostics along with the fundamentals of engines, fuel systems, heating and air conditioning, hydraulics, power trains, brakes and chassis repair,” Strizich said.

The college works closely with major farm implement and construction equipment dealerships to provide machinery for the students to work with. The loaned pieces of equipment, whether they are tractors, combines, sprayers, excavators, graders or some other machine, are always “brand new,” the latest model available, and loaded with updated computer software, GPS and control systems to perform diagnostics on.

“Students coming here will work and learn on the very latest Ag and construction equipment technology available. Students can get in the equipment, start it, run it, run diagnostics on it, and learn to operate all the computer systems,” Strizich continued.

To keep abreast with the technology, MSU-Northern faculty annually attend farm implement and other technology clinics at dealerships across the region to keep them updated with the very latest information to teach to their students.

Strizich explained that one of the main things students in the Diesel Technology programs learn is “be a life-long learner. They learn where to go for the information they will need for the rest of their life in whatever career they choose.”

“The Diesel Technology field is experiencing rapid growth as extraction industries boom, and MSU-Northern is the place to go for great opportunities in the industry,” he concluded.

MSU-Northern is in Havre, Montana.

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OXARC welding schools held at two locations http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/oxarc-welding-schools-held-at-two-locations http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/oxarc-welding-schools-held-at-two-locations#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:06:28 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519927 Classes start every Monday at two locations, in Spokane and Pasco, Wash. Investing in education is a serious decision. When you explore training options that may increase your salary level and employment potential you are, in effect, investing in yourself. At OXARC, we encourage a student population of responsible adults because we know that they are the best learners. When personal success is the end product of the training process, it virtually guarantees the success of any academic program.

At OXARC, we concentrate on job-specific training. Our welder training program is based on industry needs. As industry makes changes and new technologies are developed, the welder training program at OXARC will be updated to keep pace with these changes. Our goal is to provide quality training in key skill areas in the most practical, justifiable timeframe. We will concentrate on making your welding experience meaningful and enjoyable.

Our welding courses are for the self-motivated adult who recognizes the need to keep ahead of the job market. By keeping up with the welding standards in the industry, you will experience career satisfaction and enjoy the economic and social rewards of a position ideally suited to your interests and abilities.

Experience-based education at OXARC offers all training sessions in a stand-up lecture basis with an emphasis on hands-on experience learning. This methodology ensures that students receive the technical industry terminology and standards while learning hands-on skills.

We believe that all students should have the opportunity to develop the fundamental and technical skills that will enable them to secure and retain productive and rewarding career positions in the welding industry. OXARC is committed to providing welding courses that deliver the maximum amount of training in the minimum amount of time, with safety and quality as our goal. The dedication to the overall success of each student forces OXARC to continually strive to maintain its reputation of delivering the highest quality training possible through a combination of qualified, experienced staff; well-organized curricula and contemporary equipment, which reflect current industry standards.

In keeping with its mission and purpose, OXARC strives to:

1) Educate and train students with the current welding equipment found in today’s environment;

2) Assist students in developing their technical skills to meet industry standards;

3) Provide students with the most skilled and experienced staff available who are devoted to the personal and career development of every student.

Training Courses

OXARC offers multiple welding classes at three different levels and welding processes (Stick, Dual Shield/Inner Shield, Mig or Tig). Courses are designed around the most common industry standards: AWS, ASME, API 1104, WABO Welding. Certifications upon completion. For more information call 509-535-7794 or visit “Welding Schools” online at www.oxarc.com

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Teacher takes unique route to classroom http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/teacher-takes-unique-route-to-classroom http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Education/20150514/teacher-takes-unique-route-to-classroom#Comments Thu, 14 May 2015 12:51:44 -0400 MITCH LIES http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150519928 SALEM — Joleen Schilling frequently tells her students that it’s all right to deviate from a career path.

“It’s not a straight path,” said Schilling, who began teaching in Chemeketa Community College’s agricultural sciences program in September. “That’s what I tell my students all the time. You don’t have to take a straight path through life. You can deviate.”

Schilling bases her comments on experience.

Although she knew at the age of 15 that she wanted to work with plants, Schilling deviated at one point into the environmental sciences, even getting a master’s degree in the field from Oregon State University and working for the Corvallis Environmental Center for a brief stint.

“I quickly learned that nonprofits are not for me,” she said.

Schilling has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture science, also from OSU.

She discovered her love for teaching while in the graduate studies program at OSU.

“I had a graduate teaching assistantship that helped pay for my graduate degree,” Schilling said, “and when I worked my first class, Biology 101, I thought: ‘This is amazing.’ That is when I realized I could combine the two, horticulture and teaching.”

Schilling went on to teach part-time at Linn-Benton Community College while working full-time at Garland Nursery in Corvallis. Then in 2011, Schilling spent a year working full-time in the agricultural sciences program at Linn-Benton, filling in for the chair, who took a one-year sabbatical.

“That is when I made it my goal to find a full-time teaching position, knowing that that is what I am passionate about,” she said.

Finally, in July of last year, Schilling had her full-time teaching post, taking over for horticultural instructor Gail Gredler, who retired after seven years in the post.

Joel Keebler, director of Chemeketa’s agricultural sciences program, said Schilling is a good fit to continue and expand the horticulture program that Gredler started.

“Joleen has been deeply connected with the nursery industry in the Willamette Valley for more than 10 years,” Keebler said, “and we are very excited about the experience and energy she brings to our up-and-coming horticulture program.”

One of Schilling’s first tasks, Keebler said, is to create a bridge between Chemeketa’s horticulture program and OSU’s so students can transfer agricultural science credits from Chemeketa to OSU.

The community college’s horticulture program currently offers only an applied science degree, one that is designed to prepare students for work, not for transferring credits.

“We see a good potential for growth in our horticulture program in connecting with Oregon State University,” Keebler said.

Schilling said she welcomes the challenge.

After all, she said, one thing a circuitous path teaches those who traverse it is an enthusiasm for embracing challenges.

“It feels sometimes surreal,” Schilling said, when asked how she feels about obtaining what she calls her ‘dream job.’ “I didn’t take a very straight path, which makes me feel pretty lucky.”

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Curator keeps living ‘library’ of pear trees http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/curator-keeps-living-library-of-pear-trees http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/curator-keeps-living-library-of-pear-trees#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:59 -0400 Denise Ruttan http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150509931 Shop for pears at any supermarket these days and you’ll likely find whole bins full of perfectly shaped Bartletts and blemish-free Anjous, but few other varieties.

When Joseph Postman, on the other hand, walks through his pear orchard on a warm spring afternoon, he’ll spot a Petit Muscat from 16th century France; a Devoe from upstate New York; a Hosui from Japan; a Vavilov from Russia; or perhaps even a Pyrus betulifolia from the wilds of China. Essentially, every pear tree in each row is different.

Postman is a pear curator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. The agency funds the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Ore., which is a gene bank for the world’s pears. Such varieties may have little market value individually — hence the dominance of the Anjou and the Bartlett in today’s market. But this plant pathologist-turned-“gene librarian” has made it his life’s work to preserve in perpetuity the world’s genetic diversity of pears.

“To keep old heirloom varieties is important because they’re not grown as much but they still have useful traits,” Postman said. “We’re building a reserve of potential solutions for future problems. A lack of diversity is a genetic vulnerability.”

For example, a plant breeder could pair that cold-hardy Devoe with an Anjou, say, and potentially create a pear suited to withstand climate change.

Postman has worked with the gene bank since 1981, when he was fresh out of graduate school. Oregon State University was building the gene bank as he finished his degree in plant pathology; now it’s a USDA facility.

“I was studying plant pathology in fruit trees and how diseases spread via propagation,” Postman said. “I was hired to develop a program to detect which rootstocks were carrying diseases during propagation and to prevent the spread of viruses in propagation.”

These days, his job is a combination of gardener and data collector.

Gene banks such as the one in Corvallis exist across the country, largely connected to land-grant universities — even though they are now USDA-funded.

“These gene banks originally existed as research libraries. As university libraries keep collections of books that researchers need, these gene banks provide genetic material that breeders need,” Postman said.

At his library, you’ll find more than 2,000 different pear trees. There are also 800 hazelnut varieties, 150 quince varieties and hundreds of berries.

You can search these collections via a sort of “Dewey Decimal” system in an online database. But researchers are refining this system. The gene bank employs a molecular biologist whose job it is to comb pear DNA for markers that give a more precise way of looking up this information.

“He’s using DNA tools to look at the genetic fingerprint of the plant, the same tools used in police detective work. So if a strawberry commits a crime, we’ll know which variety it is,” Postman said.

Another researcher is studying alternative storage methods for genetic material, including high-tech methods like cryogenics for plant tissue.

The living collection is stored on 20 acres at OSU’s horticultural research farm and on a 40-acre parcel nearby. To propagate such often ancient varieties, the scientists here use grafting and cuttings.

Postman has traveled as far away as Armenia to tramp through wilderness searching for wild relatives of the pear.

Other items in the collection are more sentimental, such as the Endicott pear tree. It’s the oldest living fruit tree in North America, named for the Massachusetts governor who planted it around 1630. Every year members of the Endicott family request cuttings for their family reunions. Its flavor is good, but its fruit is unattractive and coarse.

Postman believes it’s all worth saving.

“When blight wiped out hazelnuts here in Oregon, or the climate changes and the varieties we had don’t grow so well any more, it’s important to have these varieties to develop new varieties that are adapted to the new conditions,” Postman said.

Online

For more information about the National Clonal Germplasm Repository, go to http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/site_main.htm?modecode=20-72-15-00

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Hazelnuts prove to be perfect crop for this farm http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/hazelnuts-prove-to-be-perfect-crop-for-this-farm http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/hazelnuts-prove-to-be-perfect-crop-for-this-farm#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:50 -0400 CRAIG REED http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150509932 UMPQUA, Ore. — Elin Miller wanted to plant wine grapes.

But after several conversations with others already in the wine business, Elin and Bill Miller decided a vineyard would need more maintenance and management than they had time for while still working in their corporate careers.

So the couple made the decision to plant hazelnut trees on the property that had been planted in prune trees back in 1908 by William Kamp, Bill Miller’s grandfather.

“Elin didn’t get her way,” Bill Miller said. “But we’re very happy with the hazelnuts.”

“Exceedingly happy,” Elin Miller added with a laugh.

Today, the Millers’ UmpquaNut Farm consists of a 36-acre orchard between the Umpqua River and its tributary, Calapooya Creek. Eighteen acres were planted in 2002 with bare root cuttings and another 18 acres were planted the following year.

In 2006, the orchard’s first harvest of Ennis hazelnuts yielded about 10,000 pounds. After several years of maturity and growth, the orchard’s recent 2014 harvest totaled about 144,000 pounds of clean and dry nuts. The Millers market their crop to Northwest Hazelnut, whose headquarters are in Hubbard, Ore.

“The market (price) has steadily increased since we planted the orchard,” Bill Miller said. “The trend with nuts in general — walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts — in the last several years is that more people are realizing the health benefits of consuming nuts.

“There’s also been market expansion as more countries are buying a lot more nuts,” he added.

Before becoming nut farmers, both Bill and Elin Miller had many agricultural experiences.

Bill Miller is a Roseburg, Ore., native who worked on his Uncle LaVerne Murphy’s sheep and forage farm as a youngster. While a college student in 1967, he helped his father remove the prune trees and transition the land over to grain and alfalfa production.

After graduating from Oregon State University in 1968, Bill Miller worked as an agriculture teacher for two years in Portland Public Schools before a 35-year career in the agricultural chemical industry in California. He retired in 2005 and moved to the nut farm in 2006.

Elin Miller was a city kid in Mesa, Ariz., but got involved in FFA in high school. She had floraculture projects and then during the summers of her college years, she worked in Arizona cotton fields. She was elected to a national FFA office in 1979 and took a year off from college to represent the organization in its western region.

After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1982, Elin Miller had numerous jobs through the years: Working for Shell Chemical Co. in its ag division, executive director of the Western Agriculture Chemical Association, global vice president of public affairs for Dow Chemical, director of conservation for California, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho, and president and CEO of a spinoff of Chevron’s ag division.

Although she retired from the corporate working world in 2009, she continues to be on several boards, including the National FFA Foundation. She’s the chairman of that board with a three-year commitment through 2016.

In retirement, the Millers are farming land that’s been in the family for over 100 years. They inherited 20 acres and purchased another 20 acres from relatives. It was then a matter of doing research, asking questions and deciding what next to do with the land that had been leased out for several years to a neighboring farmer.

“Hazelnuts are just not as complex as grapes,” Elin Miller admitted.

“The hazelnuts have done very well for us,” Bill Miller said.

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Apple family does it all and keeps growing http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/apple-family-does-it-all-and-keeps-growing http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150505/apple-family-does-it-all-and-keeps-growing#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:11 -0400 Erick Peterson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150509933 The folks at E.W. Brandt and Sons like sharing the company’s history and explaining the challenges of this year’s market.

Allen Brandt, part owner with brother Dana Brandt, is the son of the founder, Everette W. Brandt, who along with his wife, Ada, started their operation in 1947 with 16 acres of peaches and cherries.

Their family had been farming in the area since 1908, and through ups and downs E.W. and Ada maintained a business that has been passed down to a new generation.

It was not until fairly recently that the greatest growth has occurred.

Allen Brandt remembers there were less than 20 acres when he completed college and returned to the family business in 1974.

“The rest is history,” he said. E.W. Brandt and Sons expanded to around 1,200 acres in the following years.

He credits the growth to ingenuity and the desire of the company to do everything.

The company, he said, developed a reputation for high-quality fruit, which was made possible because it took control over not only cultivation and harvesting but also packing.

It has been a successful model so far, Allen said.

“We’re still here, anyway,” he said. “We’re growing and hope to continue growing.”

This optimism is shared by Allen’s son, Joe.

“We’re on this path of growth, and we plan on continuing,” Joe said.

But this is a difficult time for the region’s fruit growers, Ryan Moore, a Brandt sales executive, explained.

Washington produced a record apple crop this year, he said, and other growing areas produced large crops, creating a flood of apples worldwide.

Most often, when apples are plentiful in Washington, they are scarce in other regions of the U.S. Then, when they are bountiful in other places, Washington orchards are less productive.

On top of that, a port slowdown hampered the export market.

“The orders are coming and the buyers are there, but if you can’t get them on a boat and to the countries you want to get them to, it isn’t going to do anyone any good,” Moore said.

The option was to send the apples to domestic markets, places that already had a surplus, which has driven down prices.

In addition, trucking is a problem, as many small truckers have either gone out of business or joined with larger groups.

In spite of all the issues, which “blindsided” several growers, according to Moore, some producers are expanding their orchards.

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Beckstead Jersey Farm: All in the family http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Dairy/20150505/beckstead-jersey-farm-all-in-the-family http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Dairy/20150505/beckstead-jersey-farm-all-in-the-family#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:24:53 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150509935 Clifton, Idaho — Four brothers and their father, Marcel Beckstead, moved their Jersey cows to Idaho nearly 40 years ago from the Salt Lake valley, where their father had a dairy.

“He grew up on the dairy and has been dairying all his life,” Dee Beckstead, one of the brothers, said.

“My grandfather Glenn Beckstead started the original dairy near West Jordan. His grandfather homesteaded that farm, but Glenn started the dairy. Our family always had Jerseys. My grandfather liked Jerseys because of their high butterfat production. He sold milk in bottles, on a delivery route.” Those bottles showed a cream line, and there was always more cream from the Jerseys.

Most customers in those days preferred milk with more cream.

“By the time my father was involved with the dairy, however, we no longer sold bottled milk on a delivery route. We were selling our milk then to Cream o’ Weaver and a milk truck came to the farm and picked it up,” Dee said.

“After we moved our dairy to Idaho we started selling our milk to Cache Valley, until about 10 years ago, and then changed to Gossners.” The Gossner cheese plant is 40 miles from their farm.

“They purchase all of our milk. We still prefer Jerseys over Holsteins because the higher butterfat content of their milk makes it worth more at the cheese plant,” he says.

Most of the dairies in their area have Holsteins, but there are a few Jersey herds. Dee and his brothers prefer the Jerseys, and raise all their own heifers. They breed the cows with artificial insemination but also have a few bulls.

The dairy has a good market for their bull calves — mostly by word-of-mouth and repeat customers — sold as day old calves. They don’t need to sell through an auction; people come to pick them up at the farm.

The brothers hire some help for the farming. “We grow alfalfa and oats for the dairy cattle, but also purchase some of the feed for the cows—from other farmers here in our area,” Dee says.

“We have a custom-made ration delivered by a local feed mill, designed especially for our cows,” he says.

“My father is pretty much retired, so my brothers and I are doing it now. We don’t hire any help for the milking because we prefer to do all the milking ourselves,” he says.

Many dairies hire people to milk, but the four brothers can handle it themselves and feel they can do a better job — knowing their own cows — than anyone they might hire. They also do most of the farming. This is an advantage of having a large family operation, they say.

Their parents, Sue and Marcel, still live on the farm. The brothers have children who helped on the dairy as they were growing up.

Beckstead Jersey Farm

Owners: Dee Beckstead and his brothers Robert, Layne and James

Location: Clifton, Idaho

Milking: 300 Jersey cows

Acreage: 700

Since: 1976

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Honeybee health a concern for many http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/honeybee-health-a-concern-for-many/2 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/honeybee-health-a-concern-for-many/2#Comments Wed, 6 May 2015 16:10:47 -0400 Bill Schaefer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419854 The plight of the honeybee is an increasing concern among beekeepers, horticulturists, orchardists and government agencies across the United States.

According to a 2012 report released by the USDA the number of professional beehives has declined from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today. The decline in beehives has been exacerbated since 2006 with what has been called colony collapse disorder. During the past six years beehive losses have averaged just over 30 percent, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

The report stated that “overall losses continue to be high and pose a serious threat to meeting pollination service demands for several commercial crops.”

Anita Pease, associate director of environmental fate and effects division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the EPA is in the midst of reviewing the draft document for a pollinator health strategy.

“Hopefully, it should be out in the next two to three months, if not sooner,” Pease said. “We are considering some proposed label changes for pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees in certain situations where we restrict the use at bloom, but that proposal would go out for public comment.”

Pease said the EPA also is currently conducting a risk assessment of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, that should be released within the calendar year.

Beekeepers and others see a complex and multi-layered reasoning for CCD.

Pease said there are several stress-related issues that the EPA is considering in its risk assessment of pollinator health. Along with the use of pesticides the EPA is also exploring factors including the loss of habitat, the moving of commercial beehives to meet pollination demands of certain crops, pests and pathogens as well as best management practices of beehives.

Pease also emphasized the importance of following label instructions when using pesticides. Referring to a colony die-off of 25,000 bees in Oregon in 2013, Pease said, “It’s my understanding that there was a restriction on the label that said ‘do not apply during bloom.’ If they were applied during bloom when the label said not to, that would be a misuse of the pesticide.”

Nick Noyes, based in Fruitland, Idaho, is a second-generation beekeeper with 9,000 beehives. Speaking from California, where his beehives were in the midst of the almond pollination season, Noyes said he considers the lack of habitat and forage to be the biggest problem his business.

“There’s nothing left when the almonds are done,” Noyes said. “There’s no weeds. There’s no habitat for bees. There’s no flowers. If you look at what’s going on in farming, the only thing that grows in a farmer’s field that is green is what a farmer wants to be in there.”

In an attempt to improve bee habitat, Becky Curry-Lang, Bayer CropScience’s project manager for bee health, said that Bayer has launched an initiative in 2015 called, “Feed a Bee.”

Curry-Lang said Bayer is giving away wildflower seed packets in an attempt to plant 50 million flowers.

“No matter what side of the honeybee issue that you’re on, everyone agrees that forage and habitat is where we can clearly make a huge difference,” Curry-Lang said.

In addition to the 50 million flowers, Curry-Lang said Bayer is trying to also find partners for larger acreage pollinator habitat.

“Maybe it’s a grower that has land they don’t use for their traditional operations or it’s a nonprofit organization. We’ll work to achieve more acreage in providing habitat across the United States,” she said of the initiative. For more information visit feedabee.com.

The Varroa mite, the tracheal mite and the gut pathogen Nosema have also been contributing factors affecting poor pollinator health and CCD.

Curry-Lang said Bayer has a product in development called polyvar, a miticide that may protect honeybees from the Varroa mite.

“It’s hard to control a bug on a bug,” Curry-Lang said. “It’s a very fine line on how much miticide you use to control the Varroa while not harming the bee.”

The polyvar is a plastic strip placed at the opening of the hive so that the bee would be dosed as it leaves and enters the hive.

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Brothers move from hop farming to distribution http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution/2 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution/2#Comments Wed, 6 May 2015 08:42:26 -0400 Gail Oberst http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419855 Bruce Wolf and his younger brother Derek operate Willamette Hops in an old barn just a few yards from the house where they were raised. In fields surrounding the office near St. Paul, Ore., hop vines are showing signs of life.

The company’s simple offices mask the rapidly growing business the brothers have built to supply local and international hops to Oregon brewers.

“We don’t grow the hops,” Bruce explains. “But we would bleed green, if you cut us.”

The Wolfs are distributors, working with Haas International and local growers, to provide pelletized and whole-leaf hops to brewers.

The Wolf brothers have deep roots in St. Paul’s hop culture. They are related by blood or by marriage to some of Oregon’s best-known hop growers — Colemans, Weathers, Davidsons and others are all blood or in-laws. Bruce grew up with his wife, Emily Davidson, whose family has been farming hops in the area for five generations. Their grandparents had worked together.

“I grew up on a hop farm, working next to my dad,” Bruce said.

Had the hop market not taken a nosedive in the ’90s, Bruce and his dad, James, might still be farming. The brothers’ great-grandfather bought the land, cleared it and planted hops in the days when the flowers were picked by hand. In 1986, James Wolf was named Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year by the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce for his innovations in hop farming. At the time, James Wolf was farming the hops his father, Philip, had farmed. In 1972, father and son bought the first upright baling system in Oregon and Washington.

“By the time my dad was 19 years old, he was raising his own hops. He had his own fields,” Bruce said. His dad’s first hop variety? Columbia, said Bruce.

In 1999, after a 12-year downturn in the hops market, the Wolf family quit farming hops. When he was old enough, Bruce worked at relatives’ farms. About six years ago, he began working with his grandfather selling hop rhizomes online.

“About 2009 or 2010, we were getting hit with requests for whole hops and pellets,” Bruce said. The light bulb went off. In 2009, he registered his company, Willamette Valley Hops, and brought his brother into the company. “Derek has been working with me shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time,” Bruce said.

Although many Oregon hop growers will sell small amounts directly to the brewer, most of the world’s hop growers set minimum amounts that can be purchased, which edges many small breweries out of specialty markets. Willamette Valley Hops — as do larger dealers — gather enough orders from clients to create minimum orders. Willamette Valley Hops specializes in personal service.

“We’ve even hand-delivered fresh hops to breweries,” said Bruce. Today Willamette Valley Hops has five outside sales representatives.

The company also sponsors a fresh hop festival in St. Paul, donating the proceeds to local schools.

What’s in the future?

“I see nothing but growth for the next five to ten years,” he said.

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Brothers move from hop farming to distribution http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution/1#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:49:03 -0400 Gail Oberst http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419856 Bruce Wolf and his younger brother Derek operate Willamette Hops in an old barn just a few yards from the house where they were raised. In fields surrounding the office near St. Paul, Ore., hop vines are showing signs of life.

The company’s simple offices mask the rapidly growing business the brothers have built to supply local and international hops to Oregon brewers.

“We don’t grow the hops,” Bruce explains. “But we would bleed green, if you cut us.”

The Wolfs are distributors, working with Haas International and local growers, to provide pelletized and whole-leaf hops to brewers.

The Wolf brothers have deep roots in St. Paul’s hop culture. They are related by blood or by marriage to some of Oregon’s best-known hop growers — Colemans, Weathers, Davidsons and others are all blood or in-laws. Bruce grew up with his wife, Emily Davidson, whose family has been farming hops in the area for five generations. Their grandparents had worked together.

“I grew up on a hop farm, working next to my dad,” Bruce said.

Had the hop market not taken a nosedive in the ’90s, Bruce and his dad, James, might still be farming. The brothers’ great-grandfather bought the land, cleared it and planted hops in the days when the flowers were picked by hand. In 1986, James Wolf was named Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year by the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce for his innovations in hop farming. At the time, James Wolf was farming the hops his father, Philip, had farmed. In 1972, father and son bought the first upright baling system in Oregon and Washington.

“By the time my dad was 19 years old, he was raising his own hops. He had his own fields,” Bruce said. His dad’s first hop variety? Columbia, said Bruce.

In 1999, after a 12-year downturn in the hops market, the Wolf family quit farming hops. When he was old enough, Bruce worked at relatives’ farms. About six years ago, he began working with his grandfather selling hop rhizomes online.

“About 2009 or 2010, we were getting hit with requests for whole hops and pellets,” Bruce said. The light bulb went off. In 2009, he registered his company, Willamette Valley Hops, and brought his brother into the company. “Derek has been working with me shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time,” Bruce said.

Although many Oregon hop growers will sell small amounts directly to the brewer, most of the world’s hop growers set minimum amounts that can be purchased, which edges many small breweries out of specialty markets. Willamette Valley Hops — as do larger dealers — gather enough orders from clients to create minimum orders. Willamette Valley Hops specializes in personal service.

“We’ve even hand-delivered fresh hops to breweries,” said Bruce. Today Willamette Valley Hops has five outside sales representatives.

The company also sponsors a fresh hop festival in St. Paul, donating the proceeds to local schools.

What’s in the future?

“I see nothing but growth for the next five to ten years,” he said.

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Orchardist uses unique tactics to overcome blight http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchardist-uses-unique-tactics-to-overcome-blight/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchardist-uses-unique-tactics-to-overcome-blight/1#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:34 -0400 Denise Ruttan http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419857 West of Silverton, Ore., near the old North Howell store, you’ll find a hazelnut orchard that carries the legacy of John Meye’s family.

That same legacy brought this educator-turned-farmer from Illinois to Oregon to help out his grandmother on the farm when his grandfather became too ill to work. After his grandfather passed away, the farm then skipped a generation and changed hands directly to the grandson. Meye was in his 30s when he dropped his plans to obtain a Ph.D. in education and fell instead for the lure of agriculture.

“I’d worked at the farm all my life and always enjoyed coming up here. I ended up changing careers and my life, and lo and behold, 20 years later I’m still a full-time farmer and part-time musician,” Meye said.

When Meye is not playing piano for a local church, he tends to his 27 acres of nearly 2,800 trees, mostly of the Barcelona variety, that his grandfather planted in 1972. Part of that legacy, unfortunately, has meant dealing with the nuisance of Eastern filbert blight.

Orchards such as Meye’s that were planted in the 1970s and 1980s are largely Barcelonas, an older variety that is susceptible to blight. Over the years that Meye visited his grandfather’s farm, he saw the disease become a problem.

“A lot of the old orchards are full of blight and many farmers just take out their trees because they don’t want to deal with it,” Meye said. “Oregon State University has since developed blight-resistant hazelnuts so there are lots of new orchards now with blight-resistant varieties.”

Why does Meye keep at it, then? He wants to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive — and, through the orchard, he’s managed to stay fully self-employed since 1983, a life he relishes.

But it hasn’t been easy, thanks to this disease. When the fungus first appears, it looks like a small, black, football-shaped canker.

“After a few years and you don’t deal with it, it will start killing sections of the tree and if you don’t deal with it at all it will kill the whole tree,” Meye said. “It will take a few years but it will kill a whole tree if left unchecked.”

To fight it, Meye has attacked on several fronts.

“Theoretically, if you prune enough and spray hard enough it will eliminate it but the cost is astronomical,” Meye said.

Meye has developed a system of his own in which he sprays just a little fungicide early as he finds the disease and as late in the season as is necessary. He prunes what he can but not too heavily.

He’s also tried a tactic that involves neither spraying nor pruning, nor even replacing the whole orchard. Filberts must cross-pollinate with another variety to produce nuts. Many orchardists in the old days planted an extremely blight-susceptible variety to pollinate every 20 Barcelonas.

“If the pollenizers got blight, the disease would spread like a brush fire,” Meye said.

About eight years ago Meye removed his blight-susceptible pollenizers and replaced 500 to 600 of them with several newer varieties like Lewis, Yamhill and Gamma, which are far more resistant to blight. The key is diversity plus disease resistance.

The tactic has paid off.

“The pollenizers are now pretty clean,” Meye said. “It hasn’t cured it but it’s helped heal it.”

Production, despite these challenges, has been high in recent years, Meye said. He sells the nuts he cultivates to the processor George Packing Co. His Silverton-grown nuts have traveled the world, enjoyed as far away as China.

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Honeybee health a concern for many http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/honeybee-health-a-concern-for-many/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/honeybee-health-a-concern-for-many/1#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:20 -0400 Bill Schaefer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419858 The plight of the honeybee is an increasing concern among beekeepers, horticulturists, orchardists and government agencies across the United States.

According to a 2012 report released by the USDA the number of professional beehives has declined from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today. The decline in beehives has been exacerbated since 2006 with what has been called colony collapse disorder. During the past six years beehive losses have averaged just over 30 percent, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

The report stated that “overall losses continue to be high and pose a serious threat to meeting pollination service demands for several commercial crops.”

Anita Pease, associate director of environmental fate and effects division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the EPA is in the midst of reviewing the draft document for a pollinator health strategy.

“Hopefully, it should be out in the next two to three months, if not sooner,” Pease said. “We are considering some proposed label changes for pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees in certain situations where we restrict the use at bloom, but that proposal would go out for public comment.”

Pease said the EPA also is currently conducting a risk assessment of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, that should be released within the calendar year.

Beekeepers and others see a complex and multi-layered reasoning for CCD.

Pease said there are several stress-related issues that the EPA is considering in its risk assessment of pollinator health. Along with the use of pesticides the EPA is also exploring factors including the loss of habitat, the moving of commercial beehives to meet pollination demands of certain crops, pests and pathogens as well as best management practices of beehives.

Pease also emphasized the importance of following label instructions when using pesticides. Referring to a colony die-off of 25,000 bees in Oregon in 2013, Pease said, “It’s my understanding that there was a restriction on the label that said ‘do not apply during bloom.’ If they were applied during bloom when the label said not to, that would be a misuse of the pesticide.”

Nick Noyes, based in Fruitland, Idaho, is a second-generation beekeeper with 9,000 beehives. Speaking from California, where his beehives were in the midst of the almond pollination season, Noyes said he considers the lack of habitat and forage to be the biggest problem his business.

“There’s nothing left when the almonds are done,” Noyes said. “There’s no weeds. There’s no habitat for bees. There’s no flowers. If you look at what’s going on in farming, the only thing that grows in a farmer’s field that is green is what a farmer wants to be in there.”

In an attempt to improve bee habitat, Becky Curry-Lang, Bayer CropScience’s project manager for bee health, said that Bayer has launched an initiative in 2015 called, “Feed a Bee.”

Curry-Lang said Bayer is giving away wildflower seed packets in an attempt to plant 50 million flowers.

“No matter what side of the honeybee issue that you’re on, everyone agrees that forage and habitat is where we can clearly make a huge difference,” Curry-Lang said.

In addition to the 50 million flowers, Curry-Lang said Bayer is trying to also find partners for larger acreage pollinator habitat.

“Maybe it’s a grower that has land they don’t use for their traditional operations or it’s a nonprofit organization. We’ll work to achieve more acreage in providing habitat across the United States,” she said of the initiative. For more information visit feedabee.com.

The Varroa mite, the tracheal mite and the gut pathogen Nosema have also been contributing factors affecting poor pollinator health and CCD.

Curry-Lang said Bayer has a product in development called polyvar, a miticide that may protect honeybees from the Varroa mite.

“It’s hard to control a bug on a bug,” Curry-Lang said. “It’s a very fine line on how much miticide you use to control the Varroa while not harming the bee.”

The polyvar is a plastic strip placed at the opening of the hive so that the bee would be dosed as it leaves and enters the hive.

]]>
Olmsteads keep orchard in the family http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/olmsteads-keep-orchard-in-the-family/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/olmsteads-keep-orchard-in-the-family/1#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:44:16 -0400 Erick Peterson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419859 GRANDVIEW, Wash. — With a history that dates back to 1918, the Olmstead family is a mainstay of the region’s orchard history.

Olmstead Orchards is owned by Don Olmstead II, Barbara Olmstead and Don Olmstead III. They say they are just a “moment in time” in the history of the operation, which also includes the patriarch, Don Olmstead, 97, and Don Olmstead IV, who is 12.

As a family, it is their responsibility to keep up with the demands of a changing industry.

Don Olmstead II, who is looking forward to his eventual retirement, said both sets of his grandparents raised cherries on the same ground that he and his son now work.

“This is my 44th year in charge,” he said. “That’s getting close to enough (to retirement).”

He remembers that in his early years, the company would produce around 18,000 to 24,000 tons of fruit. Last year, they produced 230,000 tons.

An important issue is shared by other producers in the area: The season is running two weeks ahead of normal.

This creates extra pressure, he said. Though weather this year can create a product that can reach customers sooner, they also add risk.

“We’re put at Mother Nature’s wrath,” he said, adding that a frost could damage the early crop.

“Every year, it’s part of the game,” said Don Olsmstead III. “You roll the dice and take what Mother Nature gives you.”

At the same time, the Olmsteads deal with food safety issues, documenting their practices and trying to keep their workers educated about proper procedures. Simple things, such as explaining the location of washrooms, must be documented. Pesticide records must be kept, and signage must be placed.

They are all good practices, they said, but organizing the documentation has become a large part of the business. This is made harder because employment changes constantly, sometimes growing from 5 to 105 employees in a day. Making sure that employees know their jobs, and keeping records about it, is laborious.

The work becomes all about management, as they spend their time juggling paperwork and employees. They said that the business is not for everyone, but they enjoy it. Organizing labor, equipment and records, while dealing with delicate fruit that requires constant attention, is energizing, they said.

“We know harvest is a crazy time of year,” the younger Olmstead said. “There’s no sleep, you’re running ragged with sales orders, trucks and deliveries, shipping orders all over the United States. But you know that in four weeks, you’re going to be done with it.”

Olmstead Orchards

Location: Grandview, Wash.

Owners: Don Olmstead II, Barbara Olmstead and Don Olmstead III

Started: 1918

Grows: Cherries (Bings, Rainiers and Vans), pears, prunes, apples and grapes

Acres: 95

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Taste for cider prompts new varieties in orchards http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/taste-for-cider-prompts-new-varieties-in-orchards/1 http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/taste-for-cider-prompts-new-varieties-in-orchards/1#Comments Tue, 5 May 2015 15:43:57 -0400 Gail Oberst http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419860 Beer and wine are not the only beverages to take root in Oregon and Washington soils.

Orchardists are now taking a hard look at the Northwest’s growing cider industry. Many are planting apples in response to demand from craft hard cider makers.

“We’re on the cusp of something that’s really going to take off,” said Brad Sleeper, whose new orchard in the Coast Range foothills above Oregon’s Haag Lake is planted to 40 varieties of cider apples. “These new cideries are all going to need apples.”

Growing cider apples is old hat to Kevin Zielinski of E.Z. Orchards in Salem. He planted his cider apple trees in 2000 with an eye toward making his own “cidre” using traditional French methods. Into his Willamette Valley Cidre go his apples traditionally cultivated for their tannins and French cider characteristics — Champagne Rienette, Douce Moën, Muscadet de Lense and St. Martine are among the varieties. E.Z. Orchards’ 155 acres also feature heirloom apples, pears, peaches and hazelnuts.

When fermented, dessert apple flavors are muted, cider makers say. On the other hand, fermentation brings cider apple tastes alive. Most craft cideries blend cider and dessert apple juices, much like a vintner blends grapes for a particular effect in wine, Sleeper said.

“American dessert apples lack the characteristic tannins of European cider apples,” said Abram Goldman-Armstrong, owner of Cider Riot, a Portland cidery. Goldman-Armstrong, for example, uses cider apples grown in Yamhill County — Yarlington Mill, Harry Masters Jersey, Dabinett, Kingston Black, Somerset Redstreak and others — blending these with dessert apples from Scio, Ore., and the Yakima, Wash., and Hood River, Ore., areas.

Cider has been made with wine-like attention for hundreds of years in England, Ireland, Germany and Poland — to name a few. Here in the West, hard cider makers are catching up, prompted by demands of consumer palettes now educated by regional craft beer and wine.

Most of the cideries in the Northwest are also orchardists, using their own apples in ciders they produce, according to Sherrye Wyatt of the NW Cider Association. Of the association’s 60 members, 23 are in Oregon, 25 are in Washington and the rest are in Montana, Idaho and British Columbia. This year alone, 16 orchardists who don’t produce cider have joined as association affiliates, another indication of growing interest in growing apples for cider, Wyatt said.

Sleeper, owner of the small Springwood Valley Farms, has planted 1,150 trees with 600 more in the works this year — due to produce marketable fruit in 2017.

Some growers are hesitant to go all-in. With dessert apple prices currently below the price of production, Jack Feil of Feil 1908 Family Orchard near Wenatchee, Wash., said he is testing cider apple varieties but is waiting for a more mature market.

“Pricing and profit are a big question mark. It appears there are a lot of growers looking into producing cider apples and the volume needed for cider production is not great, so producing cider apples would be a minor supplement to the orchard’s profitability. As of now it’s a wait-and-see proposition for us,” Feil said.

Wyatt, however, doesn’t hide her enthusiasm.

“The region is emerging as a national leader in craft cider production and our cider culture is clearly being established. However, in order for our industry to be a fully sustainable cider region, we need a reliable source of locally grown cider apples, “ Wyatt said.

The association recently submitted a proposal to the Specialty Crop Block Grant program of Oregon Department of Agriculture to seek support for growing cider apples.

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Orchard makes its own cider as a drawing card http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchard-makes-its-own-cider-as-a-drawing-card http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchard-makes-its-own-cider-as-a-drawing-card#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:48:17 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419896 The newest attraction at this popular U-pick family orchard is a huge antique cider press. It’s part of a feature started at Cabalo Orchard years ago.

“Fresh apple cider is something we started 4 years ago, selling direct to the public because it is raw and unpasteurized. Our cider season starts early September. Our first apples are ripe by August 15th and cider is a good way to use extra apples,” says Chan Cabalo, who took over the 10.5-acre farm near Kuna, Idaho, with his wife, Cathy, in 2004.

“We partner with a family who had a large antique cider press. We use the press and split the proceeds,” Chan says.

“Originally it belonged to my father-in-law; the fruit trees were planted in 1986,” Chan says. “We grow primarily apples. The older varieties established here include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Royal Gala, Criterion and Jonathan.”

He and Cathy added other varieties, including Pacific Gala, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Macintosh and Winesap.

“In a smaller orchard we planted cherries, apricots, prunes, plums and 4 varieties of pears. We also have a raspberry/blackberry patch,” he says.

Cherries are the first fruit ready to pick — by early July — and the season goes all the way into October. Boxes of fruit are available at a roadside stand at the farm during summer and fall, but the primary focus is U-pick.

“We sell some through Idaho’s Bounty — an online co-op where people can order fruit,” Chan says.

Many customers come from Boise and Mountain Home.

“We enjoy being face-to-face with our customers, and our produce is all natural and pesticide-free. We follow organic practices; all our inputs are certified organic,” he says.

Cathy does a website: www.cabalosorchard.com, writes blogs and tells about the orchard on Facebook to keep customers aware of when certain fruits are ready. Last summer she started a newsletter. “People kept telling me to call them when this or that was ready to pick. Now they just sign up to receive the email newsletter,” she says.

“We are open Friday through Sunday so I formulate the newsletter Wednesday night to let people know what will be ripe this week. I use an email marketing service provider called MailChimp and can do up to 2,000 mailings per month at no charge. This is a great way to keep customers up-to-date on what’s ready, and saves me a lot of phone calls,” Cathy says.

She and Chan make a team in running the farm and orchard.

“I’m the front end of it — greeting customers, starting them off on their trip to pick fruit, and running the farm stand — and he’s the back end, taking care of the orchard and crops. Between the two of us we have everything covered, and overlap when needed,” she explains.

“Our son and his wife help a lot and we’re hoping that one day he might want to take over, when we retire. His family enjoys coming out here, and the grandkids come, too. Most of them are still small, but they enjoy it, and I think we are creating memories for a lifetime, with them,” Cathy says.

The farm/orchard has a large following in their niche market. “People like the way we grow our produce,” she says.

Cabalo’s Orchard

Location: Kuna, Idaho

Owners: Chan and Cathy Cabalo

In business: Since 2004

Size: 1,400 trees on 6.5 acres

Varieties: Apples, cherries, apricots, pears, plums, berries

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Science backgrounds help organic farmers http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/science-backgrounds-help-organic-farmers http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/science-backgrounds-help-organic-farmers#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:37:13 -0400 Erick Peterson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419897 Wanting a peaceful life where they could live near their aging parents, Rebecca J. Hunt and her husband, Jimmie Wellman, found land in Wapato, Wash., where they now own and operate a 13-acre organic ranch.

It is called Sunnyslope Ranch, this place of 2,300 trees. They bought it in 2005 and grow cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, apriums and pluots. Apriums and pluots are crosses between apricots and plums, but the apricot is dominant in one and the plum is dominant in the other.

Hunt’s background was in chemistry and Wellman’s background was in microbiology when they lived in California.

In 2005, when they were looking to leave their industry, they started looking for land where they could settle with their parents living nearby. Initially, they were not thinking about being farmers, but then they saw a farm for sale and they started considering the possibilities.

“I thought, ‘How hard could it be? Let’s be farmers.’ It was a turnkey operation for sale, and we just went for it,” Hunt said.

Some things were predictable and not at all hard, even for her as a newcomer, Hunt said.

“Farming is science,” she said. As scientists, they were not baffled by the intricacies of growing.

Still, she was surprised by the stamina necessary and the many hours required, but she said she got used to it. She also became accustomed to the various parts of the job that are not directly associated with growing, such as marketing, sales, transportation, financing and collections.

The many different tasks keep the work from getting dull, she said.

The ranch had been organic for 20 years, which appealed to the new owners.

Organic farming is a personal issue for Hunt and Wellman, who are adamant about healthful living, but it is also good business, and the two issues are intertwined.

A lot of people are interested in health, the environment, sprays, fertilizers and more, she said. They want more control over their food, and they want to know that their food is not contributing to any pollution.

She wants people to know that she is concerned about these issues, too.

“We live here,” she said. “Whatever we put on the trees, that’s what we are breathing. Since we live here, we care about the environment. It’s also a decent market strategy.”

Wellman said that he keeps sprays to a minimum, just doing enough to prevent mildew and aphids.

“For us, the purity of the product is paramount,” he said.

They do not have any aspirations for great growth or change in the foreseeable future. It is enough for them, Hunt said, to live well and in a way that benefits themselves and their parents, pets and community.

“At this point, we’re going to do what we’ve been doing. It’s been enough to keep us busy,” she said.

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Brothers move from hop farming to distribution http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/brothers-move-from-hop-farming-to-distribution#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:51:58 -0400 Gail Oberst http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419895 Bruce Wolf and his younger brother Derek operate Willamette Hops in an old barn just a few yards from the house where they were raised. In fields surrounding the office near St. Paul, Ore., hop vines are showing signs of life.

The company’s simple offices mask the rapidly growing business the brothers have built to supply local and international hops to Oregon brewers.

“We don’t grow the hops,” Bruce explains. “But we would bleed green, if you cut us.”

The Wolfs are distributors, working with Haas International and local growers, to provide pelletized and whole-leaf hops to brewers.

The Wolf brothers have deep roots in St. Paul’s hop culture. They are related by blood or by marriage to some of Oregon’s best-known hop growers — Colemans, Weathers, Davidsons and others are all blood or in-laws. Bruce grew up with his wife, Emily Davidson, whose family has been farming hops in the area for five generations. Their grandparents had worked together.

“I grew up on a hop farm, working next to my dad,” Bruce said.

Had the hop market not taken a nosedive in the ’90s, Bruce and his dad, James, might still be farming. The brothers’ great-grandfather bought the land, cleared it and planted hops in the days when the flowers were picked by hand. In 1986, James Wolf was named Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year by the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce for his innovations in hop farming. At the time, James Wolf was farming the hops his father, Philip, had farmed. In 1972, father and son bought the first upright baling system in Oregon and Washington.

“By the time my dad was 19 years old, he was raising his own hops. He had his own fields,” Bruce said. His dad’s first hop variety? Columbia, said Bruce.

In 1999, after a 12-year downturn in the hops market, the Wolf family quit farming hops. When he was old enough, Bruce worked at relatives’ farms. About six years ago, he began working with his grandfather selling hop rhizomes online.

“About 2009 or 2010, we were getting hit with requests for whole hops and pellets,” Bruce said. The light bulb went off. In 2009, he registered his company, Willamette Valley Hops, and brought his brother into the company. “Derek has been working with me shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time,” Bruce said.

Although many Oregon hop growers will sell small amounts directly to the brewer, most of the world’s hop growers set minimum amounts that can be purchased, which edges many small breweries out of specialty markets. Willamette Valley Hops — as do larger dealers — gather enough orders from clients to create minimum orders. Willamette Valley Hops specializes in personal service.

“We’ve even hand-delivered fresh hops to breweries,” said Bruce. Today Willamette Valley Hops has five outside sales representatives.

The company also sponsors a fresh hop festival in St. Paul, donating the proceeds to local schools.

What’s in the future?

“I see nothing but growth for the next five to ten years,” he said.

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Small apple orchard keeps owners busy http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/small-apple-orchard-keeps-owners-busy http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/small-apple-orchard-keeps-owners-busy#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:30:11 -0400 Hear Smith Thomas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419899 Fourteen years ago David and Shannon Anderson took a Sunday drive, saw this orchard in bloom and bought it because it was so beautiful.

“We wanted a place to build our house and decided to leave the trees there. It’s a small orchard, but still plenty of work for us,” Shannon says.

“The apples are harvested U-pick. People come with their families for picnics, and pick their own apples. Everything is very casual,” she says.

“One reason we bought the orchard was our kids were young at that time and we thought it would be a good way to teach our kids how to work. Dave and I learned how to work, ourselves!” she says.

Now their oldest, Mitchell, is in college, Rachel is starting college this fall and Tessa is a high school freshman. “Dave and I do most of the orchard work now, but our kids still enjoy the orchard. The ones who are still home run the irrigation all summer, moving sprinkler pipes every 24 hours. They also mow around the trees. I prune, and my husband sprays. We each have our jobs,” Shannon says.

“Our Red Delicious are Oregon Red, which are a little different than what you find in a store.”

“We let people taste the apples before they decide which ones to pick, and they can eat as many as they want, while they are here.”

They can pick the ones they prefer. Various trees’ apples taste different even if they are the same kind.

The orchard is open to the public late September through October for about 6 weeks while the apples are ripe,” Shannon says.

The trees were planted in 1988. Blossoms are beautiful in April, and many people come to take pictures.

The 5 acres was part of a 20-acre orchard that was split.

“The original owners kept about 13 acres and sold a couple pieces. So I have a neighbor with a small orchard, but the people who sold these smaller pieces took all their trees out. We got their customers. Fall is a super busy time for us, but a lot of fun,” she says.

Customers hear about the orchard by word of mouth, the website www.andersonappleranch.com and the Facebook page. The orchard is also advertised on Craigslist.

“We don’t maintain a store. Our garage becomes the store, for 6 weeks. My husband is a real estate agent, so last year he sent post cards to everybody on his mailing list and they got a discount if they brought their postcard when they came to pick apples.”

“We also do field trips. Classes of school kids come and we talk about apples. This is my favorite part of the whole season,” Shannon says.

Last year the Andersons experienced the biggest crop they’d ever had.

“We gave nearly 3 tons of apples to food banks around the area. This is usually what we do when we have more apples than our customers can pick. But the year before last, the blossoms froze and we had only 20 apples in the entire orchard!” she says.

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Orchardist uses unique tactics to overcome blight http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchardist-uses-unique-tactics-to-overcome-blight http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/orchardist-uses-unique-tactics-to-overcome-blight#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:18:59 -0400 Denise Ruttan http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419902 West of Silverton, Ore., near the old North Howell store, you’ll find a hazelnut orchard that carries the legacy of John Meye’s family.

That same legacy brought this educator-turned-farmer from Illinois to Oregon to help out his grandmother on the farm when his grandfather became too ill to work. After his grandfather passed away, the farm then skipped a generation and changed hands directly to the grandson. Meye was in his 30s when he dropped his plans to obtain a Ph.D. in education and fell instead for the lure of agriculture.

“I’d worked at the farm all my life and always enjoyed coming up here. I ended up changing careers and my life, and lo and behold, 20 years later I’m still a full-time farmer and part-time musician,” Meye said.

When Meye is not playing piano for a local church, he tends to his 27 acres of nearly 2,800 trees, mostly of the Barcelona variety, that his grandfather planted in 1972. Part of that legacy, unfortunately, has meant dealing with the nuisance of Eastern filbert blight.

Orchards such as Meye’s that were planted in the 1970s and 1980s are largely Barcelonas, an older variety that is susceptible to blight. Over the years that Meye visited his grandfather’s farm, he saw the disease become a problem.

“A lot of the old orchards are full of blight and many farmers just take out their trees because they don’t want to deal with it,” Meye said. “Oregon State University has since developed blight-resistant hazelnuts so there are lots of new orchards now with blight-resistant varieties.”

Why does Meye keep at it, then? He wants to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive — and, through the orchard, he’s managed to stay fully self-employed since 1983, a life he relishes.

But it hasn’t been easy, thanks to this disease. When the fungus first appears, it looks like a small, black, football-shaped canker.

“After a few years and you don’t deal with it, it will start killing sections of the tree and if you don’t deal with it at all it will kill the whole tree,” Meye said. “It will take a few years but it will kill a whole tree if left unchecked.”

To fight it, Meye has attacked on several fronts.

“Theoretically, if you prune enough and spray hard enough it will eliminate it but the cost is astronomical,” Meye said.

Meye has developed a system of his own in which he sprays just a little fungicide early as he finds the disease and as late in the season as is necessary. He prunes what he can but not too heavily.

He’s also tried a tactic that involves neither spraying nor pruning, nor even replacing the whole orchard. Filberts must cross-pollinate with another variety to produce nuts. Many orchardists in the old days planted an extremely blight-susceptible variety to pollinate every 20 Barcelonas.

“If the pollenizers got blight, the disease would spread like a brush fire,” Meye said.

About eight years ago Meye removed his blight-susceptible pollenizers and replaced 500 to 600 of them with several newer varieties like Lewis, Yamhill and Gamma, which are far more resistant to blight. The key is diversity plus disease resistance.

The tactic has paid off.

“The pollenizers are now pretty clean,” Meye said. “It hasn’t cured it but it’s helped heal it.”

Production, despite these challenges, has been high in recent years, Meye said. He sells the nuts he cultivates to the processor George Packing Co. His Silverton-grown nuts have traveled the world, enjoyed as far away as China.

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Fruit farm embraces cutting-edge technology http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/fruit-farm-embraces-cutting-edge-technology http://www.capitalpress.com/SpecialSections/Orchard/20150416/fruit-farm-embraces-cutting-edge-technology#Comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:33:56 -0400 Denise Ruttan http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2015150419898 Cutting-edge technology and agriculture may at first seem like strange bedfellows.

On one hand, you have a centuries-old tradition of growing food and other crops. On the other hand, you have drones, “smart” wireless systems and powerful computer chips. Yet more and more, these two worlds are merging.

Darin Olson and his family reflect that growing trend. The Olsons are the fourth generation to own 180 acres of Olson Farms Inc., southeast of Salem, Ore., in the Willamette Valley. They raise peaches, cherries, holly, ornamental almonds, apples, blueberries and nectarines. And they’re keen on modernizing the old ways.

Darin Olson is always coming up with new projects to do just that. At 39, he is the picture of a new wave of young farmers eager to embrace such changes. As a case in point, he calls himself an irrigation specialist instead of a farm owner on his online LinkedIn profile.

Asked to describe his farm in a few words, he says it’s “Dynamic. We’re very innovative.”

For example, he designed and built a mobile chemical injector powered by solar panels. He also designed and installed solar systems to power an irrigation controller. Furthermore, his farm uses a GPS-enabled tractor custom-built for the smaller rows between fruit trees. The GPS allows him to design a map of which trees need spraying at which times, allowing him to use fewer chemicals more effectively.

But it’s not only technology that inspires his creative thinking.

Using Olson’s contacts in the holly industry, he got the idea to sell blooming branches. Fashioning the flowering cuttings from fruit trees into decorative displays has become stylish on the East Coast.

“We sell them to stores across the country,” Olson said. “There’s a lot of crossover with holly. Otherwise the flower industry is very hard to get into.”

But it’s computers that really get Olson fired up. His entire irrigation system is the farm’s showpiece. This cloud-based system means Olson can simply look at his smart phone or web browser for real-time data on how his irrigation system is doing. In the past he had to physically send people out to inspect every inch of the line, and he still might not know the exact location of each leak. Now, he receives a text message on his phone saying, essentially, “I’m broken, come fix me.”

“I always know exactly what’s going on and the system does a very good job,” Olson said. “It’s a very powerful tool that saves time, energy, resources and labor.”

All this information, though, has created new complications.

“The biggest issue in farming right now is dealing with all these reports you get from all these resources,” Olson said.

It can be a case of data overload. So Olson is developing a database that will act as an umbrella for all the data the farm generates.

“The goal is to help our farm become more efficient,” Olson said.

Name a trend, such as big data in agriculture, and Olson knows it. He’s considered drones before, for example, but the farm doesn’t yet have any. He is waiting to see how this green industry shapes up before making an investment. Regardless, he’s always looking to the future.

“My personal feeling is that farmers who make the best use of technology are going to do well in the future, but guys who stick to the old ways are going to struggle,” Olson said. “Over the years I’ve seen technology save us money and made farming easier.”

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