There was plenty of name-dropping at this year’s World Ag Expo, the nation’s largest farm show, held annually in Tulare, CA. Former President George W. Bush was the keynote speaker at the Ag Warriors Gala, an event designed to raise money for a fine program designed to get returning veterans involved in a career in agriculture.
Another GOPer, this one hoping to become president himself, Newt Gingrich, made a lengthy tour of the show. Like many first-time visitors, Gingrich repeated over and over: “I can’t believe how big World Ag Expo is.” Gingrich stopped several times on his tour to answer questions from the crowd. As far as agricultural topics, he pleased the crowd by saying he does not support federal involvement in California’s water issues.
But the highlight for many fruit and vegetable growers may have been eyeballing the equipment displayed in the 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space, especially the new products unveiled at the three-day show. Here’s a look at some of the new products, most of which either received an award for placing in the top 10 new products, or received an honorable mention.
T4060F Orchard Tractor
The T4060F is one of New Holland’s three new narrow row tractors designed to put bigger power into the narrow rows of vineyards, orchards, and nut groves. This particular unit, designed for tree fruit and nut orchards, provides good power — 92 PTO horsepower — at the low height needed to work under tree canopies, says Ray Duke, western region territory sales manager. “Growers can work in tight spaces with this low profile,” he says, “but what’s new this year is that they have more power.”
The T4060F is available with or without a cab, and features more transmission choices, including a 16×16 transmission with mechanical or power shuttle or the 32×16 Dual Command transmission with power shuttle and park lock. The open operator platform is suspended on isolation mounts for low vibration and offers controls that are easy to identify and use. The T4060F is the only narrow tractor on the market to offer the end-of- row turning advantage of New Holland’s exclusive SuperSteer FWD axle for the shortest FWD row-to-row turning available.
New Holland Agriculture,
New Holland, PA
Oxbo 9120 Raspberry Harvester
In these days when growers find themselves trying to save on labor, the name Oxbo has become pretty well-known. In the past the company has come out with mechanical harvesters for such crops as peas, corn, beans, olives, grapes, and blueberries, says Scott Korthuis, Oxbo product manager, berry, citrus, and tree fruit.
One concern growers have had about past generations of mechanical harvesters is that they weren’t quick or gentle enough, but that’s definitely not a problem for the new 9120 Raspberry Harvester, which took home a Top 10 award. “The important thing in raspberries is to get them into the container once you pick them — as soon as possible,” he says, adding that the unit has air flow both below and above the fruit to remove leaves and trash, and has spots for employees to monitor the fruit, making sure it’s super-clean.
In fact, with the 9120, Korthuis says growers can harvest Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) grade raspberries, the highest quality grade for the fruit. Powered by a 48-horsepower Kubota diesel engine, the 9120 has automatic steering and five sensors to measure the distance the catcher plates move to the right or left of the row, keeping the machine centered.
Another Top 10 new product at this year’s World Ag Expo was the iCropTrak, an iPad app that provides growers with a platform to keep and manage all their data in one place. Geographic information, labor record keeping, spray management, environmental stewardship, and food safety audit data, among many other capabilities, can all be channeled through iCropTrak, says Rob Wood. The president of the manufacturer, ScanControl Inc., Wood says just because the product is sophisticated, doesn’t mean it’s difficult or time-consuming to use.
“Because the app runs on the iPad, growers do not need to have Internet access to use it and they can get the answers they need without having to head back to the office and fire up a PC,” he says. “With the iPad, the instant-on capability means that there is no waiting around before being able to drill into the data to get the answers that are needed to support informed decision-making.”
The software solution includes a management console that gives administrative users the ability to add new forms to the app as needed, completely dynamically — no programming required, says Wood. The iCropTrak is most often deployed in a multi-user environment. The capabilities of the app can be tuned for each individual log-in so that only the forms and geographic data that the user needs to see are displayed on the screen.
Few tree fruit or nut growers will go to the time and expense of planting a new orchard without putting tree protectors at the bases of the young trees to protect against sunburn and herbicide injury. But an unusually hot spring in California in 2009 led Chuck Fleck, who heads up product development and research at Fowler Nurseries, to investigate whether there was a better way. Unlike regular white paper sleeves, the SuperSleeve is shaded on the inside, preventing the young tree from getting an intense dose of reflected solar radiation.
“Growers will love the Fowler SuperSleeve because for the same price as a standard paper sleeve they can get increased protection against wrapper burn,” he says. “In addition, the ability to open vents for increased drying prevents mold and earwig problems.”
Besides heat, another problem that can bedevil growers intent on protecting their young trees is rain, says Fleck, because standard paper protectors can turn into a soggy mess. An aluminized layer makes the SuperSleeve last longer, especially in wet weather, as Californians sustained last year, when paper sleeves were drooping. In fact, he says some growers have used the SuperSleeve for two years.
Fowler Nurseries, Inc.
To watch videos of Oxbo’s new harvester, and the Fowler Nurseries SuperSleeve, click here.