Good Fruit Grower

January 2017

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38 JANUARY 1, 2017 GOOD FRUIT GROWER LAST BITE More Young Growers at Nick Ferrari grower / Linden, California age / 31 crops / Cherries and walnuts business / Ferrari Brothers Properties family background / Fourth-generation farmer in the San Joaquin Valley. Nick has volunteered with several young grower groups and is involved with converting older walnut orchards to new variety cherry blocks. " " " " " How did you get your start? The farm is what I grew up with. When I was younger I took an inter- est in the old equipment. So as soon as I got back from school, I'd zip over to the shop. They'd have a tractor split apart, and I'd be fetching wrenches and things like that. I just loved it. Did you pursue a horticultural degree in college? I wanted to go to an agriculture school, but my dad took me aside and encouraged me to go learn something else. He said, "Once you get that done, then you can come back." I ended up going to Santa Clara to study fi nance. What challenges does your farm face? In Linden, in particular, there's a lot of Italian immigrants. There used to be a lot more row crops here but as labor has gotten harder and harder to get, those crops have gone away. My biggest fear in the years to come is labor. The last couple years have been tough with fewer available workers. There's been situations with labor contractors at competing cherry orchards offering a couple bucks more to workers at neighboring blocks if the workers crossed the road. You hear stories of workers dropping what they're doing in one fi eld to cross the street to pick for someone else for more money. That's kinda scary. What plans do you have for the future? Our ranch currently is all Bing on Colt. The problem with that is, it's a late harvesting variety, especially on that rootstock; it puts harvest right at the end of the California crop. When we do make the change, we'll be seeking out an early variety and a rootstock that'll complement it. What advice do you have for younger growers? Farming is about keeping your eyes open. You've gotta be attentive to things going on out in the fi eld. Instead of sending an employee out to do something, go out, sit your butt on the tractor and you'll be able to see what's going on yourself. You'll catch problems quicker. I can say I'm not stuck behind a desk — mine's basically the cab of a pickup or the seat of a tractor. I'm not con- strained — well not completely, I've still got the old man. (Laughs) He's still the boss. " Workers want a tree where the cherries are roped on the branches and they can make money picking them. PLAY scan to watch the interview SPONSORED BY by TJ Mullinax More from this interview and other Young Growers at

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