Good Fruit Grower

December 2015

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LAST BITE More Young Growers at 94 DECEMBER 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER LAST BITE More Young Growers at Nick Plath grower / George, Washington age / 26 crops / Apples, cherries, and wine grapes business / Washington Fruit and Produce Company family background / Nick grew up in Yakima and is the son of Rick Plath, nephew of Cliff and Pete, grandson of Fred M., and great-grandson of Fred B. Plath " " " " What was your path to farming? I've been working in and out of orchards and ware- houses since I was about 14 years old. I went to college in Colorado and Washington State and took some ag classes, but mainly economics. I've always preferred the outdoors and being out in the fi elds. What have you been learning recently? One of the things I've been working on the past couple of years is chemical thinning. Doing it right sets you up for the whole year. All it takes is one slip using too much or too little, and you're going to live with the result the whole year. It's a very precise technique. All of the fl owers are opening at different times. Produce doesn't wait for anybody. If I don't have all of the tractors ready for a particular two- hour window, then the opportunity is gone. What's your opinion of new varieties? Reds are a low-input, easy apple to grow. Only a few years ago they were seen as a great variety. I see Reds dwindling out, even though it's a big cost to push and replant an orchard. As we move forward and cycle out some of our Reds and Goldens, I do see a demand for the club varieties. It's a big gamble going that direction. What would you tell other young growers? Anyone wanting to learn about this industry should know that working in pro- duce is demanding. It took me a while to sort out my passion. I found it in growing. I took a step back to think about the opportunity of taking an orchard from dormancy to fruit in a bin and really appreciating that we're providing a pretty special product. " I found my place after I better understood my personality. PLAY scan to watch the interview SPONSORED BY by TJ Mullinax More from this interview and other Young Growers at

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