2022 Virtual Orchard Meetup Webinar Series


2022 Virtual Orchard Meetup webinar series – Orchard Efficiency: Labor and Technology.

A four-part webinar series on Orchard Efficiency: Labor and Technology.

Part 1 (June 2) Labor – Grower Experiences
Part 2 (June 16) Labor – Specialist Panel
Part 3 (June 30) Technology – Grower Experiences
Part 4 (July 14) Technology – Specialist Panel

These meetups will provide an opportunity to review challenges, best practices, and new recommendations for orchard labor and technology. Led by a panel of scientists, growers, and other experts in orchard labor and technology across N. America.
Facilitated by Bernardita Sallato WSU Extension, Mario Miranda Sazo Cornell Cooperative Extension, Anna Wallis MSU Extension, Daniel Weber PSU Extension, and Kristy Grigg-McGuffin OMAFRA.

With support from IFTA, AgAID, CIDA, and the PACMAN SCRI Project Team

2022 Virtual Meetup Series Flyer (PDF; 1420KB)

How Do You Measure the True Cost of Your Labor?

If you had an employee who dropped 66% of your apples you would no doubt have serious concerns as to his value. In baseball a player who fails to get a hit just 66% of the time would be destined for Cooperstown. Employee grading then has a very task-oriented factor to it.

There is little doubt that the cost of our labor will creep up on an annual basis. If the productivity of that same employee remains constant than we are paying more each year and getting less in return. It must be the responsibility of the employer to research and find improved techniques for that employee to return more production per hour. This may seem obvious, but have we really challenged our researchers enough to return to us this needed improvement in productivity?

In fruit production we have made great strides in this. Dwarf trees, sleds for harvest, improved automation in our packing houses just to site three. We cannot stop searching for new techniques.

In the year 2000 I was asked to name one improvement that forever changed agriculture. Some of the early answers were electrical power on the farms and improved diesel equipment. I selected the hydraulic cylinder. This allowed an employee to lift not pounds but tons with tremendous simplicity. Forklifts completely altered how we handled our products. If we are to progress, we must find the next “hydraulic cylinder.”

The New York State Horticulture Society is asking for a research request this year of $750,000. Once again, we need to discover new procedures in the growing of our apples. Applied cultural research. At the same time, we need to devote research dollars to improving the tasks we wish our employees to handle. We need to find that new “hydraulic cylinder.”

I hope you will join us in supporting this increase in research funding. I am certain those new procedures are right in front of us. We simply must have the wisdom to see and implement them. As new demands are placed upon our farms, we must be willing to embrace new ways to do the same task. We can meet the challenges so long as we seek that better mouse trap! Change is a good thing. I am excited to uncover fruit production in the not-so-distant future.