As temperatures start to warm each spring, questions arise regarding apple crop development. A resource easily overlooked in agriculture is the extent to which growers – and other industry folks – use scientific data. Crop development is a perfect example where we can quickly alleviate any concerns about the crop by using the mountain of data available from automated weather stations.
Riveridge growers take advantage of Michigan State University’s Enviroweather network of internet-connected weather stations throughout Michigan. With a mix of historical and current season data, we can track our crop development this season and compare it to previous seasons.
Empirical data for the Sparta, Michigan, or “Ridge” area, have shown that Green Tip (the first visible sign of foliage) occurs around 127 Base 42F Degree Days in McIntosh. Growers have used this as their baseline to judge development of the entire crop for years. As you can see by the graph, we are on track for a slightly earlier Green Tip, but not anything that is concerning. In fact, this may result in an apple harvest that is slightly earlier than last year.
The winter was milder than the last few and that will result in less winter injury to the trees. A warm beginning to March gave us a jump start toward tree development, but the final weeks of the month have returned to near normal temperatures and has delayed progress.
Riveridge now has two full-time employees focused on Food Safety with the addition of Theresa Badgerow late last year.
Theresa recently joined Riveridge to help support Food Safety.
Riveridge prides itself on its current Food Safety practices including the traceability from the orchard to the picker to the packing facility. Due to some high-profile mishandled produce that’s been in the national news recently, today’s savvy consumers want even more reassurance their food is handled the best way possible.
Theresa’s main role will be to oversee good manufacturing processes. She will check in on growers, helping them with their audits and making sure the Packing facilities are using best practices. Official Food Safety regulations may change over time, but Theresa is committed to making sure Riveridge is ahead of the game.
Her day-to-day role will be maintaining all logs and ensuring everything is up to date and prioritizing those needs. This includes scheduled walk throughs at Riveridge Packing to make sure cleaning is done properly and even the small things like smocks and IDs are worn. Incentives for those exhibiting consistent Good Manufacturing Process practices are a new initiative for individuals at Riveridge Packing, rewarding those who go above and beyond.
Each bin of apples on a Riveridge Land Company farm is traceable right down to the picker.
Theresa has a vested interest in the apple industry. She married into a grower partner family of Riveridge and is already making an impact in her new role. Theresa recently took over supervision of the sanitation crew at Riveridge Packing and instituted new quarterly check ins to review corrective actions.
We are more than happy to provide information about our practices and invite you for a tour to see how our fruit goes from the tree to your store safely.