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|Tuesday, June 22, 2010|
BY JOSEY BARTLETT
Summer officially started this week, finally. This month has set a record for the wettest June ever and it isn’t over yet. The same cool, gray weather that has been depriving us of vitamin D is also really cutting into berry farm revenue.
“We are down 50% right now in profits. I’m not worried about the economy as much as I’m about the weather,” says Don Wachlin, owner of Schlichting Century Farm in Sherwood.
“It’s a tough year. It is anticipated that yields will be down,” says Dr. Bernadine Strik, professor of horticulture at Oregon State University.
Oregon’s berry business is sizable — in 2008 the crops had a farm value of $140 million. With 8,000 acres of blackberries, Oregon is the largest blackberry producer in the nation. The forecast is for smaller yields this year because of the cold and rain.
The strawberry harvest is usually done during a 14- to 28-day period in mid-June. But the coolest May in 116 years and the June rain is creating an under-ripe and rotting crop. Also, the thick mud in the fields is sinking the usual harvesting machinery so some farms are using their older but lighter harvesting tools that farmers thought they had retired for good.
Blueberry farms also are facing challenges from rain, hail and green rot. It takes seven to eight years for blueberry plants to mature, making it the most expensive Oregon berry crop. A few years ago demand was up and farmers planted up a storm. These farms are all reaching maturity at the same time and profits are falling because of an over-supplied market. A crappy weather year is exactly what these farmers didn’t need.
Not only has the rain delayed ripening and stalled profits, but farmers must replant strawberries and some vegetables, which also eats into profits. “Usually the crops would be planted, but they aren’t. So now we will be playing catch up,” says Joe Casale, owner of Joe Casale & Son farm in Aurora.
Wholesale farms can tell their employees to work in the rain if the crop is ripe, but U-pick farms find it harder to motivate the public in crummy weather. “U-pickers don’t want to come in the mud,” says Cheryl Boden, president of Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce, a 64-farm U-pick organization.
But Johnny Kondilis, owner of U-pick farm Bella Organic in Portland, is a bit more optimistic. “It’s just postponing profits,” he says. “Everything just got pushed back a bit.”
Josey Bartlett is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
SEMpdx hosted a workshop this week for entrepreneurs, website developers and others interested in search engine optimization (SEO). Here are a few tips and tricks aimed at bumping up your search engine rankings.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Proposed regulations protect Portland’s strict zoning codes and hotel operators, but they may have an adverse effect on Airbnb’s business.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Community college career, technical and workforce programs present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.
Friday, April 11, 2014
TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
BY OB STAFF
Learn how to green your workplace and lower your environmental footprint at the office. Oregon Business presents a two-hour "Greening Your Workplace" seminar on May 28th, 2014 at the Nines Hotel in Portland.
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