Washington’s Bill Zirkle Honored As 2009 Apple Grower Of The Year
Grower Bill Zirkle of Zirkle Fruit Co. in Selah, Washington was honored with the 2009 Apple Grower of the Year award Thursday at the U.S. Apple Association’s Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago.
This award, presented by American/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/Western Fruit Grower magazines. “Bill Zirkle embodies everything this award stands for and it is a privilege to honor him this year.”
When Bill graduated from college and joined his father’s farm in 1964, it was about 33 acres. Since then, the company has grown to become one of the largest apple and cherry operations in the Yakima Valley, with multiple field locations from the border of Canada to the state line in Oregon. The company does its own marketing through Rainier Fruit Co., and 80 percent of the fruit packed at Zirkle’s warehouses are its own. Zirkle attributes this success to three principles: focusing on quality, knowing your market, and having the right people around you.
“DuPont is pleased to be sponsoring the 2009 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, we too are committed to providing the best solutions for growers.”