Growers Evan and Nathan Milburn of Milburn Orchards in Elkton, Maryland were honored with the 2008 Apple Grower of the Year award at the U.S. Apple Association’s Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago.
This award, presented by American and Western Fruit Grower magazine and sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection, recognizes those apple growers who have reached outstanding levels of success. These individuals, through their efforts in innovative production, marketing, horticultural, and management practices, have set a benchmark for others in the industry to follow.Winners demonstrate commitment and leadership to their field by producing high-quality fruit, being actively involved in associations, and taking a strong role in shaping the direction of the apple industry.
“The Apple Grower of the Year award is designed to salute a grower who demonstrates innovative ideas in the orchard. Someone who is not afraid to try new things, even if it means stumbling on your first attempt, and starting over, says Brian Sparks, group editor for American and Western Fruit Grower magazines. “There may not be a better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Apple Grower of the Year award than by honoring two individuals who have dedicated their entire lives to farming, two individuals who define the true spirit of a fruit grower. We are honored to award them today.”
Being a relatively small apple producer in a relatively small state for apple production, Evan and Nathan Milburn have nevertheless settled into quite a niche for themselves. About 80% of their business today is dedicated to either retail or pick-your-own, quite a change from just 20 years ago. This market niche affects not only how the Milburns sell their fruit, but how they grow it. Their orchard is completely pedestrian, which means ladders are not required. All trees are budded on M.9 337, and all are kept at 7 to 8 feet in height and planted at 6 feet by 14 feet. In addition, each tree has a steel post, as opposed to a single-wire trellis system. It’s more expensive, but necessary with the farm on the edge of where strong hurricane winds can blow through. The business has also developed a web site for marketing at http://www.milburnorchards.com/.
“DuPont is pleased to be sponsoring the 2008 Apple Grower of the Year award,” says Lars Swanson, DuPont Rynaxypyr Portfolio Manager. “We would like to recognize the outstanding work and commitment these growers put into their crops year-after-year. With new DuPont products entering into the marketplace soon, we too are committed to providing the best solutions growers need in this ever-changing marketplace.”