For Growers, a World Left Unexplored Is Fruitless [Opinion]

For Growers, a World Left Unexplored Is Fruitless [Opinion]

It’s nearly impossible determining really truly smart, prescient advice at the time you’re getting it. Even those imparting the wisdom — if they’re honest — will admit to that.

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That’s because they can’t be sure, life just isn’t like that. Too many variables to guarantee. It often involves predicting the future, and, were that as obvious as it sometimes seems, the Vegas Sports Books would cease to exist.

But when I hear the same advice, over and over again, from some of the people who I consider among the wisest I have met, I take it. Especially when it’s usually relatively easy and fun. The advice to travel — whether for pure pleasure or business — counts among those.

One of our columnists, Desmond O’Rourke, says he tells wholesale apple growers that wherever they go — even if it’s on vacation with their families — they should take 15 minutes and duck into a retail store and see how their apples and their competitors’ apples are being sold.

I was thinking of that need to get out there recently upon returning from a trip through Southern California, visiting the American Pistachio Growers Conference and then my company’s own Biocontrols USA West Conference & Expo.

Frankly, I’d felt under the weather, and was feeling sorry for myself when I realized all I would have missed had I not attended, including the fact that American Pistachio Growers (APG) President Richard Matoian repeated a projection that really blows my mind. He expects the crop to hit 1 billion pounds in 2020, this for a crop barely a fifth that size a decade ago. In fact, they weren’t really a major commercial crop at all in the U.S. until the 1970s. Amazing trajectory.

Also at the at the Pistachio Conference, I learned two new buzzwords in marketing, a field I respect but enjoy making fun of, now that my daughter has made a career in that wacky world. One is sort of cool, “Neuronutrition,” which is just what you think it is — brain food. Though I’m not sure Americans should be placing so much weight on it. While nearly one in three worries about Alzheimer’s, only 8% of Americans fear heart disease.

The other new food marketing term is pretty weird: “Microlivestock.” Chinese folks have been eating such “livestock” as crickets for many years. APG leaders believe pistachios represent a nice alternative for those seeking a powerful protein punch, and I’m certainly not going to argue.

Next stop was our Biocontrols Conference. A lot of fruit and nut growers are already familiar with the use of products with pheromones and semiochemicals as tools to control insect pests in the orchard, but there I learned about some of the innovative ways these tools are being applied now — and some really interesting methods that may be coming in the very near future.

I also was really interested to hear about some of the initiatives retailers are launching to lure in sustainability-minded consumers — that now include biocontrols and even biostimulants in some cases — both in Europe and increasingly here in the U.S.

It’s becoming pretty clear if you’re not looking into biological control as a tool in your arsenal, you’re in danger of getting left behind.

But you need to get out there and take a look for yourself; there is no substitute.