American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines’ Apple Grower of the YearSM award, sponsored by Valent U.S.A., honors apple growers who have gone beyond the confines of the orchard and have, through their involvement and leadership, made a real impact on the apple industry.
Our 2016 winner, Scott McDougall, was chosen for his foresight and boldness in planting new varieties, as well as hosting numerous trials to boost the knowledge level for all growers in the apple industry.
McDougall is a fourth-generation apple grower. He is the latest in a long line of Washington growers, who produce about three-quarters of the nation’s apples, to be named Apple Grower of the Year.
McDougall & Sons is perhaps best known for having an exclusive on production of the ‘Ambrosia’ apple variety. ‘Ambrosia’ was a chance seedling found among a row of newly planted ‘Jonagold’ apples at their farm in British Columbia’s Similkameen Valley. Earlier this year, in a USApple Association contest comparing 32 apple varieties, ‘Ambrosia’ came out as the top choice among consumers around the country.
McDougall, along with his brother and partner Stuart, knew they had a great apple when they got the exclusive rights in 2004, but it had two huge drawbacks: it was a big ethylene emitter (leading to premature ripening in storage) and it had a short harvest window. Then came serendipity, Scott McDougall recalls.
“Right about then was when (the 1-MCP product) SmartFresh began getting a foothold,” he says. “With intensive harvest management, we could get in and pick and store what was then a four-month apple, and turn it into a near year-round product.”
‘Ambrosia’ isn’t the only hot-selling apple grown and packed by McDougall. He recognized the varieties from New Zealand’s ENZA brand marketing program were winners early on, and was among the first U.S. growers to plant ‘Pacific Rose,’ ‘Jazz,’ and ‘Envy.’ “These apples have helped us through these huge crop years,” he says.
In 2015, the company packed 3.7 million boxes of apples for a total of about 100 growers, though they grow about half that tonnage on their own 3,500 acres. They also have 400 acres of cherries and 200 acres of pears.
McDougall follows in the footsteps of such past winners as Grady Auvil, John Rice, George Lamont, Harold and JoAnn Thome, Bill and Jeannette Evans, and many others. So who will be this year’s winner? That is up to you.
Apple Grower of the YearSM award is designed to recognize growers who are skilled, progressive horticulturists and who demonstrate leadership through their involvement in industry activities. These growers go to great lengths to provide the highest-quality fruit possible, while supporting the industry on a broader scale.
It’s easy to submit a nomination; simply fill out the form below! Please be as thorough as possible in explaining the reasons for your nomination, including information on the nominee’s achievements and contributions in:
Innovative production practices
- Business management
- Industry activity, and
- Other factors you’d like us to consider
The deadline for nominations is May 16, 2017, so send in your suggestions now!