Good Fruit Grower

January 2014

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Growers have LESS NEED for loans Apple growers continue to upgrade orchards, and lenders stay willing to lend. by Richard Lehnert t's getting harder to lend money to fruit growers. "I don't know if I'll ever see some of these guys again. They made so much money last year," Ed Urbanik, the manager at Farm Credit East in Batavia, New York, quipped during an interview with Good Fruit Grower. In 2012, when the New York apple crop was cut in half by spring freezes, the remaining half sold at excellent prices and, along with crop insurance, growers did well financially. "Some growers on good sites had full crops and were able to sell their apples at high prices. It put them in a strong financial position," Urbanik said. Apple growers everywhere are starting to reap the rewards from their heavy investments in recent years in new high-density plantings of highly desirable varieties. Many growers are able to self-finance, Urbanik said, and consequently, loan volume to fruit growers in western New York is lower than it used to be. "I wouldn't want to count on fruit growers for lending activity in my area," he said. Good Fruit Grower talked to Farm Credit System lenders in New York, Washington State, and Pennsylvania, and found the story to be similar across the country: Apple growers have been pulling out old orchards and putting in new ones—great new I varieties in high-density systems—and they're controlling just about everything but the weather. And they're trying to control that as well, investing in irrigation to fend off summer droughts and wind machines to help beat spring freezes. Even in wet states like New York and Michigan, trickle irrigation is installed in almost all plantings as soon as they are made. Tall fencing to keep out deer is becoming more common. "Yields in the new systems are reaching unheard-of levels," Urbanik said. "Growers are now averaging 1,000 to 1,200 bushels per acre, and some are nailing 2,000 and even higher in some years." Fantastic run In Washington State, Jeff Fagg said that "Growers have had a pretty fantastic five-year run, which has allowed them to strengthen their balance sheets and enhance their liquidity." Fagg is vice president for agribusiness at the Northwest Farm Credit Services office in Moses Lake. Introducing The New Kubota M9960 Modified ORDER Equipment Company Low Profile Tractor TOD KUBOTA M9960 LOW PROFILE Overall Height and Width Reduced for Low Profile Maneuverability in the Orchard or Vineyard Clean Economical Power - 100 HP 12 x 12 Transmission Hydraulic Shuttle with Wet-Type Clutch 50 in. Telescoping Roll Bar Rolled Down & In Fenders AY ! 70 in. See Your Nearest Blueline Equipment Dealer Today . . . CLE ELUM 509-674-4544 32 JANUARY 1, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER UNION GAP 509-248-8411 SUNNYSIDE 509-839-2066 GEORGE 509-785-2595 PASCO 509-544-6678 WALLA WALLA 509-525-4550

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