Good Fruit Grower

July 2016

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LAST BITE More Young Growers at James Claar Whitelatch grower / Pasco, Washington age / 28 crops / Wine gapes business / Owner of RC Farms and Claar Cellars family background / James manages the wine grape crops on the family's estate in the White Bluffs region of central Washington. He works alongside his brother, John, and parents, Bob and Crista Whitelatch. " " " " How did you get your start? I have a lot of memories working with my dad, like when my brother and I would take naps in the cab of the swather when he was cutting alfalfa. Originally, I started around the time there was a big push with our apples to get GAP certifi ed. So I started with collecting information to submit to the packing shed on nights and weekends. When we started looking into LIVE certifi cation for the wine grapes … I got more involved, spearheading those changes. Now it's a full- time job. What projects are you taking on? There's so much coming out in the industry right now. People are starting to use drones to more accurately gauge water stress and nutrient defi ciencies. I'm just learning about new technolo- gies that are coming to solve problems of overuse of pesticides, workforce problems, and what we can do to become mech- anized. From prepruning, hedge trimming and doing what we can with tractors, technology is making the job easier, more cost-effective and better for the environment. Your opinion of replacing older Washington vines? Maybe it's just the rebellious teenage phase among Washington growers, or if we're just doing it because we can … My father argues, "France has had vines for hundreds of years," but I'm not sure they have the same soils and risks that we do." From spacing to trellising, we're looking at replanting because of the potential of getting better quality with less expense. Why are you a farmer? I have one of the most beautiful offi ces in the state of Washington: I've got 100 acres with a beautiful view of the Columbia River. Every day I feel like I've gotten something done and I've accom- plished something. I joke that I'm an electrician, I'm a soil scientist, I'm a human resources manager — some days I'm knee deep in a hole fi xing a water main line — you know it's not all glamorous. At the same time, I also see long-term goals as things continue to change based on what I've done. It's really fulfi lling. " We hope we can improve fruit quality using less water than before. PLAY scan to watch the interview SPONSORED BY by TJ Mullinax More from this interview and other Young Growers at 38 JULY 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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