Start Them Young
I remember my grandfather saying that when I was a kid. He would tell us that it didn’t matter what it was, just get interested in something. For my brothers and I that was farming. My earliest memories are of riding with my dad, grandpa or uncle every chance I got learning the “tricks of the trade”. I drove my first tractor when I was 6, it was a Farmall 230. Soon after I graduated to a 766, then I learned how to mow the lawn with a cub cadet. Granted this was slightly backwards, but none the less I was hooked on farming. From then on if I wasn’t in school, I was at work. A farm can be a fun place for a kid, you’re learning valuable skills and a good work ethic, and it doesn’t feel like work. Now I work with my dad and brother, and my kids ages 6 and 3 come running out to ride with me. In the blink of an eye I went from riding around getting taught how to do things, to teaching the next generation how it’s done. There is a huge amount of pride when you can teach your kids to do what you do and love it just as much, and nothing would make me happier than for them to take over when I’m too old to do it. When I was in high school, I wrote my sophomore research paper on how fast family farms were disappearing in America. Since I wrote that paper 15 years ago, I haven’t seen that situation change for the better. If we as farmers don’t get our children interested at a young age, I feel that we may see the small family operations disappear altogether and that would be a tragic loss to the foundation of our country.
I am glad I am not driving a 1970 Ford Pickup Truck
It was the summer of 1970. I was just home from Cornell for the summer. My uncle had just driven into our driveway with a new Ford pickup. He said it was very best he ever had. It cost him just a little over $2000. He was in his 70s at the time. He wanted to know where I would be plowing that afternoon. I told him and really put it out of my mind. Later that afternoon I saw him standing in the dead furrow at the end of my field. He motioned me to stop. He climbed up on the fender. Motioned me to make a round. Upon doing this he told me to stop. He jumped down. I will never forget what he said next. He said when he was my age, he also did a lot of the plowing. In his day he walked behind a team of horses.
When it comes to farm labor, it’s all action all the time! New York growers are skilled, flexible, innovative, bold, and creative problem-solvers and business people. If any of these qualities are lacking, then a grower won’t last long in an industry where weather, insects, disease, technology, and markets are constantly presenting new challenges and new opportunities. In the past, labor may have been taken for granted as a production input that growers could readily access. Today, labor has become a complex and rapidly changing set of puzzles that rival the production and market puzzles that growers still must solve.
New York’s Agricultural Workforce Development Council had the foresight to address labor issues as a united industry. One outcome of that group’s work is the Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development program. With a strong extension education and applied research mission, Cornell Ag Workforce works closely with industry to identify, understand, and solve real-world challenges that confront growers.
What Keeps a Farmer Up at Night?
Usually that answer would be simple, grow a safe high-quality product for your vendors, while fulfilling all of your contracts at a fair price. This has become far from simple with the advent of Covid-19. Life as we have known it has changed over the last few months. As a cold March gave way to spring, I speculated how Covid-19 would affect the crop of 280,000 Bushels of apples we had set out to grow. This led to the question, how will the virus affect the industry as a whole?
Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys, Stal) (BMSB) is an invasive species which causes economically significant damage to tree fruit, vegetable, ornamental and field crops. This pest was first discovered in the US in eastern Pennsylvania in the late 1990s but has subsequently spread to over 40 states including many where fruit production is widespread (citation for BMSB first detection (Hoebeke and Carter 2003)“StopBMSB.org” 2020). Initially, stink bugs were primarily a nuisance pest for homeowners who ombatted populations invading their homes each fall (Nielsen and Hamilton 2009). However, damage from
BMSB feeding was soon observed in commercial orchards and by the late 2000s, this pest was a growing concern for fruit growers in the Mid-Atlantic states. Currently, BMSB is considered a serious pest of tree fruit within the US, causing major damage to apples, pears and especially peaches (Holtz and Kamminga 2010).
Confirming the breakdown of apple scab resistance in Malus floribunda 821, the most important source for scab resistance breeding, in North America | Hummingbirds Can Reduce Spotted Wing
Drosophila (SWD) Fruit Infestation | Strategies for Sunburn Prevention on ‘Honeycrisp’ and Management of the Apple Insect Complex Employing Complete Exclusion Protective Netting in the Hudson Valley of NY State | Prohexadione-calcium at Pink: A strategy for managing fire blight in apple orchards | Improvements to the Cornell Apple Carbohydrate Thinning Model – MaluSim | Drape Net Field Netting Investigation & Results
Spring 2020 Issue
– Picking the Right Rootstock for Fresh and Processing Apple Orchards – Investigating the Behavior and Biology of Locally Overwintered Spotted-wing Drosophila Disease in Michigan – Establishment, Persistence and Impact of Native NY Entomopathogenic Nematodes on Plum Curculio In Apples Management in Apple Orchards – MSU Apple Replant Field Trial at the Clarksville Research Center
Winter 2019 Issue
– The Evolution of Planar Canopy Architectures – Unraveling the Mysteries of Apple Replant
Disease in Michigan – Pathogen Detection Assays for Fire Blight
Management in Apple Orchards – The New and Changing Berry Variety Landscape for Northern Growers
Fall 2019 Issue
– Factors Contributing to the Death and Decline of Young Apple Trees -Rapid Decline of Apple Trees: Looking into Potential Causes – Field Scale Evaluation of an Ozone Airblast Sprayer for Management of Apple Insect and
Disease Pests – Fruit Replant Problem with a Special Emphasis on Nematodes
Summer 2019 Issue