Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

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New Equipment & Technology Platforms not widely used Unsuitable tree architecture is an obstacle. by Geraldine Warner dents to a survey conducted last year by Washington State University said they were using platforms for orchard work. Unsuitable orchard structure was one of the main reasons given for not using them. The high purchase cost and the inability to use platforms on steep hills were also factors, reports Dr. Karina Gallardo, WSU agricultural economist. This suggests that platforms won't be A extensively adopted until high-density planting systems with trees forming a two- dimensional plane are used on a larger number of acres, she said. The 35 people who had platforms said they used them primarily for pruning, tree training, and thinning. Some growers also use them for constructing trellises, hang- ing pheromone dispensers, and a few for blossom thinning. Only two reported using platforms for harvest. Most growers using platforms said their objective was to increase worker productivity. A high proportion said they also aimed to improve worker safety and improve the quality of the work. The most common reasons cited for not using platforms were that the orchard architecture was not suitable, the cost was too high, and they were concerned about stability on slopes. Ten percent said lim- ited availability at equipment dealerships was a factor. Platform pros and cons Reasons for using platforms Increase worker productivity (94%)* Improved worker safety (63%) Improvement in quality of work (60%) Purchase cost is recoverable (19%) Easy for workers to operate (15%) Speed (3%) Reasons for not using platforms Orchard architecture not suitable (55%) Purchase cost is high (40%) Steep slopes in orchard (29%) No improvement in productivity (22%) High maintenance/repair costs (15%) Limited availability (10%) * Percentage of survey respondents SOURCE: Economic Analysis of Technology Adoption for Washington Apple Growers. Dr. Karina Gallardo, Washington State University acreage in apples and pears. From November to February, we can deal with arctic events that will take our temperature into the single digits—and even subzero. A I really don't think it's possible to grow stone fruit economically in the Yakima Valley without wind machines. This last year, we would not have even had an apricot crop without them. All of our wind machine purchases since 1982 have been Orchard-Rite. In the wintertime, when we're starting these machines, the temperatures are usually single digits to subzero. We depend on—and have complete confidence in—our Orchard-Rite® Wind Machines and the service we receive. We still have the first Orchard-Rite® Wind Machine we ever bought! We're real believers in the Auto Start option. We order Auto Start on all our new machines. To date, we've retrofitted about 50% of our old machines, and plan to put the Auto Start on the remaining machines. Steve Nunley, Farming Operations Manager Pride Packing, Wapato, Washington Get the Orchard-Rite® story from your nearest representative: "We're real believers in the Auto Start option." Steve Nunley recent survey of Washington State apple growers suggests that orchard platforms are not widely used there. Just over 10 percent of respon- Typical platform users The survey showed that growers who had high-density planar orchards were the most likely to use platforms, and the growers most likely to have planar orchards are younger than average and tend to use the Internet as a source for management decisions. Orchard-Rite® Larger growers were also more likely to have planar plantings and platforms, per- haps because they had greater assets for replanting and could spread the cost of a platform over a greater number of acres. Growers with planar orchards tend to grow newer apple varieties, rather than Red or Golden Delicious, and have some organic apples. Gallardo said growers will- ing to take the risks of growing new vari- eties might also be more willing to accept the risks of new technologies. Growers in the Yakima and Columbia Basin regions were more likely to have planar orchard structures than orchards in the Wenatchee region. • Wind Machines • "Orchard Rite Service is second to none." s the operations manager for Pride Packing, I am responsible for managing 2,800 acres of orchard under 260 wind machines. Of that, approximately 1,000 acres are in stone fruit with the remaining 1615 W. Ahtanum • Yakima, WA 98903 • 509-248-8785, ext. 612 For the representative nearest you, visit our Web site: GOOD FRUIT GROWER DECEMBER 2011 35

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