Great American Media Services

December 2015

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December 2015 | Volume 54 | Issue 12 Alien vs. predator: Parasitic wasp targets BMSB National farm organization has roots in Michigan Agriculture assumes huge stake in future water availability P. 10 P.18 P. 22 Consumer focus spurs Wish Farms' success Branded Berries By Gary Pullano Associate Editor Wish Farms, a Plant City, Florida-based grower-shipper of strawberries and blueberries, has expanded its Argentina blueberry program, seeing its recent harvest double in volume over last season. e Argentina blueberry season spanned from the beginning of October to the end of November and segued into what was expected to be another strong Chilean season for Wish Farms. "Our blueberry team continues to focus on steady, controlled growth. is season, our new partnership with a significant grower helps solidify our Argentina program and stabilize volume for our customers," said Teddy Koukoulis, director of blueberry operations. Wish Farms estimates it will be marketing close to 1.5 million pounds of Argentinean blueberries, much of which is grown under hoops providing protection from inclement weather. "The majority of our Argentina crop will be grown under tunnels, providing cover and protection from weather elements such as rain, frost and hail," said JC Clinard, executive vice president of Wish Farms. "Rain can cause a serious interruption to the Argentina blueberry harvest. The hoops protect us in these circumstances and ensure our customers have a consistent supply of quality berries." Wish Farms, founded in 1922, is one of the largest shippers of strawberries in Florida and has been so for over 80 years. Wish Farms is a year-round supplier of strawberries, blueberries and select seasonal vegetables. The operation utilizes How's My Picking?, a patented tool for traceability to ensure quality by tying consumer See BRANDED, page 6 See PILLARS, page 8 By Matt Milkovich Managing Editor Some compare it to a three-legged stool. Others call it the "three pillars." Whatever metaphor they use, many in the tart cherry world say the structure and stability provided by three organizations – the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB), Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) and CherrCo – are invaluable to a U.S. fruit industry that's subject to wild swings in supply. Jim Jensen, president of CherrCo, said the cumulative effort of the "three pillars" – CherrCo stabilizing prices, CIAB stabilizing supply and CMI working to expand markets through promotion – has in the last few years given the tart cherry industry some of the highest farm gate returns in its history (minus 2012 – but more on that later). It's certainly a much better situation than 1995 – the worst year Jensen has ever seen for the tart cherry industry. The industry lacked a marketing order, and thus a stable supply of cherries, from 1987 to 1996. The tart cherry marketplace was fairly chaotic in that period. Handlers fought each other for business and buyers played them against each other until prices were abysmal. In 1995, prices plummeted to less than a nickel per pound, said Perry Hedin, CIAB's executive director. "It was a wake-up call to all of us," Jensen said. "We needed to do something different if the industry was to keep going." CIAB and CherrCo were created in the wake of that terrible year – and grower returns have been far better since, Hedin said. According to USDA, the price for frozen cherries was 34 cents per pound in 2014. 'Three pillars' uphold the tart cherry industry Wish Farms President Gary Wishnatzki is a third-generation owner who has seen the company expand into growing regions outside of the United States. Photos: Wish Farms

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