Capital Press | Northwest Ag Show Capital Press Tue, 13 Oct 2015 01:56:18 -0400 en Capital Press | Northwest Ag Show Something for everyone at Northwest Ag Show Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:47:17 -0400 MITCH LIES Agriculture reigns supreme at the Portland Expo Center for three days in late January as the 46th annual Northwest Agricultural Show takes center stage.

This year’s show features more than 200 exhibitors, three theme days, seminars, special exhibits and an expanded tasting area featuring locally produced beer and wine.

Opening day, Jan. 27, is FFA Day. Among highlights is the FFA Passport Program, an event open to the public that encourages attendees to get passport stamps at participating vendor booths and enter their passport at the FFA booth for a chance to win a big-screen TV.

Show manager Amy Patrick said she started increasing FFA activities several years ago after noticing participation among FFA members was dwindling.

“We really ramped up our support of FFA the last three years,” Patrick said. “Mostly because I was an FFA kid and it is such a natural fit for the show.”

The second day, Jan. 28, is Family Day, when families, regardless of size, can gain admission for just $20.

“I have personally seen families of nine and 12 come through the gates on one ticket,” Patrick said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Patrick said the impetus behind Family Day is to encourage participation among the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“We’re trying to make it easier for folks to come up, bring the next generation, and keep them interested in farming,” she said.

The show stays open until 8 p.m. on Family Day, providing an opportunity for those who work late or have children in school to attend.

The closing day, Jan. 29, is Free Parking Day. “We are paying for the parking for everyone who attends on Thursday as a way to say thanks,” Patrick said.

The day also will focus on small acreage farms with seminars from Black Dog Farmstead.

“The small-farm theme came up because of what I’m seeing in my local area,” Patrick said. “Farm kids, like me, who may have come from larger production backgrounds, now are living on small farms.

“My husband and I have 20 acres,” she said. “It is not a production farm, but we want to make sure we are using our acreage to the best of our abilities and to the most profitability as well.”

Each day also features several hours of seminars, with sections on horticultural crops, nursery crops and small farms. And Oregon OSHA will provide four hours of training each morning on how to safely use and store pesticides.

Northwest Ag Show grows in the rain Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:43:05 -0400 MITCH LIES Each year, come the last week in January, organizers of the Northwest Agricultural Show hope for rain.

“If it is good weather out, you know where farmers are going to be,” said show Manager Amy Patrick. “They’re going to be working on their farms and not at the show.”

Whether it is the date, the rain or something else, something seems to be working for the organizers of the Northwest Agricultural Show. Now in its 46th year, the show is the second largest agricultural show on the West Coast, behind only the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.

Around 10,000 people attended the show last year, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

The Northwest Agricultural Show was started by Patrick’s father, Jim Heater, and Lloyd Martin in 1969. The two attended the Tulare farm show, which was also just starting at that time, and took home some ideas of what they wanted their show to look like.

Initially held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, the show in the first two years consisted of an exposition of farm machinery and supplies and a handful of seminars. When it was 2 years old, the Oregon Horticultural Council was formed, and the show expanded its schedule of seminars, a formula it maintains today.

The Horticultural Council is made up of the Oregon Nut Growers Society, the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Horticultural Society.

“What folks were finding with the different groups is that everybody was trying to put on their own meeting,” Patrick said. “And there was a lot of redundancy between the organizations and what they were trying to do. It was felt that maybe by joining forces and working with the trade show, they could reap some benefits of being a bigger organization: Bring in some speakers that maybe individually the groups wouldn’t be able to pull.”

The organizers moved the show to the Portland Coliseum in the early 1970s, before moving it to the Portland Expo Center in the late 1970s. Organizers decided to hold the show in late January because farm schedules typically were slowest at that point in the year.

“With all the different kinds of agriculture that go on, especially here on the western side of the state, it is about the only time of year you can kind of say, OK, nobody should be doing anything,” Patrick said.

“That’s why we always kept it in January,” she said. “And then we just cross our fingers for rain.”

FFA an integral part of Northwest Ag Show Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:42:35 -0400 MITCH LIES Capita Opening day of the 2014 Northwest Agricultural Show features an organization with deep roots in agriculture.

And, despite losing its state funding beginning in 2011, it’s an organization that continues to blossom statewide.

“Obviously we are much smaller than we once were in terms of staff,” Oregon FFA Foundation Executive Director Kevin White said. “But during this transition, we have actually grown.”

At more than 5,500 members, participation now is about what it was when FFA membership peaked in the 1980s, White said, and up nearly 1,000 from just three years ago.

With 100 chapters now in Oregon, that number also continues to grow, White said, particularly as FFA reaches into urban areas. Its chapter in north Clackamas County “services quite a few schools in the Portland area,” White said. And the state’s newest chapter, which started recently at Portland’s Madison High School, serves an almost exclusively urban area.

Also, White said, there could be even more chapters if the state was better equipped to service FFA. There is

more demand for chapters, for example, than the state has agricultural sciences teachers, he said, a fact that slows growth.

Asked what the state is doing to address that issue, White said: “Recruiting out of state to find ag teachers that would like to move to Oregon.”

A school district can only form an FFA Chapter if it has an agricultural sciences teacher, he said. Ag teachers serve as advisors for FFA.

At the Northwest Agricultural Show, FFA Day has been a staple for about a dozen years, said show manager Amy Patrick.

The day will include a question-and-answer treasure hunt, where students receive stamps on their “passports” for asking participating vendors agricultural questions.

It will include an FFA Supporters Reception at the close of show that day in the tasting room area, which features locally produced wine and beer. The reception will include presentations from FFA about its new donation program, called Farm for FFA, and a silent auction.

“It will be a great time for FFA supporters, alumni, show attendees and vendors to come together to support the organization and network in a relaxed setting,” Patrick said.

White said the show also is a great opportunity for the public to meet the state’s FFA officers, who will be on hand all three days at the FFA booth.

And it’s a great chance for the officers to hear from past members. “The officers really enjoy hearing folks reminisce about the days they were in FFA,” White said.

Hort seminar focuses on orchard training Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:40:59 -0400 MITCH LIES In the mid-1990s, Northwest cherry growers were behind the curve in utilizing new training systems.

Not so any longer.

“I’d say that we are now on the leading edge of developing and using some of these systems,” Oregon State University Wasco County Extension agent Lynn Long said.

Long, who has researched cherry production systems in Chile, Australia, Canada and Moldova in the past two years, will talk about what he’s been seeing in his international travels as part of the horticultural seminar, Jan. 27 at the Northwest Ag Show.

“I’m seeing a lot of interest in Chile on the new training systems that have been developed around the world,” he said. Particularly of interest for Chilean growers is the Super Slender Ax system, which was developed at the University of Bologna in Italy and the B. Baum system, developed in northern Europe, he said.

The B. Baum system has two leaders that allow cherries to be farmed off laterals that are pruned annually so fruit remains close to each of the axes of the tree, he said.

“There is also interest in Chile in some of the systems that were developed here in the Northwest,” he said, “such as the UFO, and interest in the KGB system out of Australia.”

Growers are using newer training systems as a means to simplify harvest and pruning and, in some cases, to increase the effectiveness of pesticide treatments. Northwest growers, he said, are adapting systems developed elsewhere for use here.

For example, the KGB system, developed in Australia, today is being used as much as any system in new plantings in the Northwest, he said, rivaling even the Steep Leader system that came out of Washington State University in the mid-1990s.

In addition to utilizing new training systems, Northwest growers today are paying more attention to soil biology, he said.

“In the past, what was going on above ground was the only thing we really thought about,” he said. “You put the fertilizer on and then irrigated and that is about all we knew or understood about what was happening in the soil.

“Now we are starting to think about soil biology — how do we affect the health of the tree by looking beneath that soil level,” he said. “A lot of that started after I took a group of Oregon and Washington growers to Australia a number of years ago and we started talking to growers in Australia about their use of mulches.”

Seminar to aid small-farm operators Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:40:18 -0400 MITCH LIES New this year to the Northwest Agricultural Show is a presentation on small acreage farms.

Show Manager Amy Patrick said she decided to provide the presentation in deference to an increase of interest in small farms from those new to farming and from traditional farmers.

“It seemed like a natural fit, given what I’m seeing in my local area,” Patrick said.

“I’m seeing that a lot of kids that I grew up with, who came from larger farms, today don’t have the larger farms themselves, but they still have that background and still want to do something with the acreage they have,” Patrick said.

Presenters for the small acreage farming seminar are Tucker and Arianna Pyne, who operate a small farm just outside Rogue River, Ore., and sell at the Ashland and Grants Pass farmers’ markets.

The two are from the Bay Area, but took to farming as they entered their 20s. Three years ago, Tucker purchased what is now Black Dog Farmstead.

They grow a variety of row crops and are preparing to plant a peach orchard that will be interspersed with blueberry plants and herbs. They also have bee hives, goats, chickens and are preparing to branch into quail eggs and quail meat production.

They are preparing to increase the acreage they farm from 2 1/2 to 4.

Arianna, who has been farming with Tucker for nearly two years, said farm life is all she dreamed of and more.

“A lot of people who live in the city have this storybook image of what a farm should be, and what it is like to live on a farm,” she said. “But the realities about farming are different.

“The adjustment for me was realizing that your back is going to hurt, and you are going to have dirt under your nails,” she said. “If you have an animal that is sick and that needs to be put down, that is something you have to deal with.

“Being a farmer is very hands-on,” she said. “And from the second you open your eyes to the second you close them, it is a full-time job, and sometimes even more than that.”

Arianna said she hesitated when she was asked to lead the seminar, but decided she may have something to offer the more established farmers who typically attend the ag show.

“Though we may have come from the city and we don’t know a lot of the fundamentals,” she said, “we are learning pretty quickly, and we are learning things that some large-scale farmers just wouldn’t know.”

OSHA seminars foster pesticide safety Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:39:41 -0400 MITCH LIES Over the years, Garnet Cooke and Lori Cohen, OSHA compliance officers who present training sessions to farmers on pesticide safety, have resorted to many tactics to interest audiences.

One year they put on a play, where Cooke depicted a compliance officer and Cohen a grower.

“We got a lot of laughs,” Cooke said.

“Basically, we try to mix it up so that if someone comes every year, they are always getting something different.

“And we try to make it fun,” Cooke said.

“We don’t stand up there and say this rule says this and that rule says that,” Cooke said. “We engage with them and we show a lot of pictures of places we’ve been.

“When I was at this one farm, I actually squealed and grabbed my camera when the farmer opened the storage shed. It was a terrible mess with pesticide containers dumped everywhere,” she said. “I thought, this will be great for training.”

Cooke said she also shows pictures of proper pesticide storage.

“People want to see proper usage,” she said. “When you compare the two, it is it really apparent what is good and what is not.”

Cooke and Cohen will be providing three four-hour sessions on pesticide safety at the Northwest Agricultural Show, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day of the show.

Topics will include proper use of respirators, hazard communication and Worker Protection Standard training for employees, changes that are in store for the Worker Protection Standard and how to avoid heat illnesses. Sessions also will include information on practical solutions to common pesticide problems, such as decontaminating enclosed cabs, what to do with old chemicals, how to seal shelves and floors in pesticide storage areas.

Growers obtain continuing education credits for participating in the sessions.

Cooke, who started providing pesticide training sessions in the early 1990s, said she has witnessed a change in grower attitudes over the years, both toward the sessions and toward pesticide safety in general.

“Growers today want the information because they are not getting it anywhere else,” she said. “They want to know how to use pesticides safely. Their attitude has changed.

“Initially, people were hesitant to go to conferences led by OSHA,” she said.

Cooke said she and Cohen are busier now than ever.

“Last year we did 21 (training sessions), and attendance was very high for the most part,” she said.

Invasive insects among nursery seminar topics Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:37:52 -0400 MITCH LIES As much as 70 percent of the invasive insects and diseases in U.S. forests can be traced back to the nursery industry, many to imports of exotic plants favored by consumers, according to a recent study.

The statistic is troubling for foresters: In many cases, no biological controls are present for these exotic species and their introduction is outside the foresters’ sphere of influence.

Wyatt Williams of the Oregon Department of Forestry hopes to change that.

As part of a multi-pronged approach to combating invasive insects and diseases in U.S. forests, Williams is hoping to increase awareness of the issue among nursery owners and improve communication between natural resource agencies and the nursery industry.

“It would be great if when we find these invasive pests, we had a quick channel to get that news back to the horticultural industry and say, ‘Hey, we found this. Could you check your channels or your plant orders?’

“We could hopefully stop it right there, or they could communicate it back up the line to their exporters,” he said.

Williams will be addressing the nursery industry as part of a full slate of nursery seminars at the Northwest Agricultural Show on Jan. 28.

Other approaches Williams has identified to help reduce the introduction of invasive insects and diseases in U.S. forests include bulking up inspections of imported plants by increasing funding of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“Right now, there are something like 63 plant inspectors for 18 stations,” Williams said. “If you do the math that means each inspector is responsible for 43 million plant specimens a year.”

Williams said he also would like to see the nursery industry better promote native plants.

“If you go to some of these large nursery company websites, you can shop for plants with all sorts of attributes, such as fast growing or loves shade, but there is no drop-down menu for native. We have a local movement for food, for energy. How about plants?”

Williams also encouraged nursery industry leaders to attend the department’s annual forest health meetings to inform the industry on current threats.

The idea of halting the spread of invasive insects and diseases in U.S. forests seems daunting, but Williams is confident it can be done.

“We have the infrastructure already in place,” he said. “We have a cooperative attitude already in place among the natural resource agencies, and I want to bring the horticultural industry into the loop,” he said. “And I’m optimistic we can do that.”

Mandako Agri goes the extra miles Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:28:15 -0400 MITCH LIES Companies from near and far participate in the Northwest Agricultural Show each year. You can count Mandako Agri in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, Canada, as one of the companies from far.

This show marks the third year Mandako Agri has participated. It will be one of more than 200 exhibitors to participate in the three-day show.

Named after Manitoba and the Dakotas, Mandako has grown considerably since it was started by John Redekop as a one-man welding shop in 1988. Today it has between 35 and 40 employees, according to sales manager Llew Peters, who joined the company in 2007.

The company’s reach also has expanded considerably from the days it concentrated on Manitoba and the Dakotas. Today it sells in most of the U.S. and Canada.

The company manufactures and sells a land roller and a vertical tillage machine that features coulters that can move up to a 9 degree angle.

It advertises its land roller as the “heaviest production roller on the market.”

“We build our rollers strong,” Peters said. “We go the extra mileage in putting in extra-thick tubing in the walls, putting in texture braces. It’s a tool that won’t break down. It will last a long time.

“It’s a concept that was started way back with the founder,” he said.

“The goal is always to build it durable and keep it simple,” he said. “It is durable and practical so that it can fit in all sorts of situations.”

The company branched into selling and manufacturing its vertical tillage machine about four years ago when it purchased a company from Ontario, Canada, Peters said.

“We bought the idea, brought it home and westernized it,” he said.

Prior to Mandako Agri’s purchase, the tiller had been built for use on smaller farms in Southern Ontario, he said.

“We beefed it up, made it sturdy to last for the tough conditions that we have out here,” he said.

Peters said the company participates in upwards of 20 trade shows a year, including 5 to 7 in Canada, 4 or 5 in the Western U.S. and 9 or 10 in the Midwest and Eastern U.S.

“It’s exposure, plain and simple,” he said, when asked why so many. “You’re hoping to meet two types of people, especially when you’re starting out in an area.

“You’re looking for the end user, the farmer, to see something and say, ‘That would fit my needs,’ or ‘That would make my life easier or more profitable.’ And you’re looking for dealers, as well.”

Tasting Room offers beverages — and more Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:26:50 -0400 In its third year at the Northwest Agricultural Show, the Tasting Room continues to be a must-visit area of the show where local wineries and breweries come together to share their wares in a relaxed environment.

Seven Brides Brewing continues to be a hit, filling growlers and offering samples of their selection of brews. The brewery’s Josiah Kelley knows most of the exhibitors and attendees alike and usually has a crowd of folks standing around his booth visiting.

Representatives of Forest Edge Vineyard will also return and bring with them the unique, sustainably grown wines for which they are known.

“Strike up a conversation with Ron or Jan Wallinder and you’ll be instantly drawn in,” show manager Amy Patrick said of the Forest Edge proprietors.

Nehalem Bay Winery has been a fixture at the ag show for years.

“Nehalem Bay Winery was exhibiting at the show even before we put the Tasting Room together, so they were naturally the first exhibitors contacted about the idea,” Patrick said. “Their wines are a favorite among the regular show attendees and make a great take-home purchase.”

In addition to the wide selection of beverages, there is something else that is sure to please: chocolate.

“And not just any chocolate,” Patrick said. Tracy Butera runs Wicked Good Chocolate & More and has been a part of the Tasting Room since its inception and will be on hand again with her sweet treats and temptations.

“The Tasting Room has grown into a great addition to the Northwest Ag Show,” Patrick said. “Take a few moments to stop in while you’re there and see for yourself.”

A special FFA Supporters Reception will be held in the Tasting Room at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27.

“It’s a great way to combine both events,” Patrick said.

Get a glance at the ‘old days’ of agriculture Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:26:21 -0400 MITCH LIES Farmers and others who come to the Northwest Agricultural Show are able to view the latest in farm equipment. For some, however, it’s the antique farm equipment that is a big draw.

“People really love this stuff,” said Al Hall, marketing and advertising director of Antique Powerland.

Hall counts himself among those attracted to old farm equipment. The first time he visited Antique Powerland in Brooks, Oregon, it was during the annual Great Oregon Steam-Up.

“I went nuts,” he said. “It was really exciting.”

That was 1998. Today Hall sits on the Antique Powerland Museum Association’s Board of Directors in addition to serving as its marketing and advertising director.

He said many of the 15 museums located on Powerland’s 62-acre site bring equipment to the Northwest Ag Show, marking it as the Powerland Association’s biggest display outside the annual Steam-Up.

Typically included each year are old John Deere tractors from the Oregon Vintage Machinery Museum; old Caterpillar tractors, displayed by the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Museum; vintage cars and motorcycles, displayed by Northwest Vintage Car and Motorcycle Museum; steam tractors, displayed by the Western Steam Friends Association; old locomotives and other antique power equipment.

In all, the museums typically bring more than 100 pieces of equipment to the show.

“We fill up half of Hall C,” he said.

Opened in 1970, Antique Powerland has a colorful history dating back to when several antique farm equipment enthusiasts decided to house and display their equipment at a centralized site.

The association has been run strictly by volunteers until last year, when the Antique Powerland Museum Association hired Pam Vorachek, formerly of the Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem, as its first executive director. The association used grant funds from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust to hire Vorachek.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays in April through September. It also is open in March and October on Wednesdays through Sundays, depending on the weather.

The Great Oregon Steam-Up is held the last weekend of July and the first weekend of August each year.

Hall said to look for a robust Steam-Up in 2015. The association will be celebrating its 45th anniversary, and Hall, as enthused as ever by antique power equipment, likely will be there, and smiling.