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up front By Bryden Winsby

Forget blind luck and a perfect world C

ompetition is a wonderful thing. Especially when you win. It keeps businesses on their toes, striving to be the best they can be — devising clever promotion strategies, improving production methods and equipping themselves with leading- edge technology.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes the other guys do a better job. Whether it’s money or talent or sharper focus, or whatever, they win and you lose — or at least you don’t do as well as you hoped you would. Farming is no different. In a perfect world, demand would always exceed supply, weather conditions would always be ideal, bugs and weeds would always do as they were told, and inflation would always be at or near zero.

Perfect is never going to happen, of course, and no one in this part of the world has come up with a magic bullet with which to demolish the competition. But plenty of people know you can’t depend on blind good luck in order to succeed, or blame bad luck for failure.

In this issue, we’ve got a cover piece on the approach taken by Abbotsford grower Dave Mutz and family to maximize returns.

On a broader scale, the possibility of national organizations to bolster marketing efforts for blueberry and raspberry growers is explored. We also devote a lot of space to pest control. Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) has turned out be an insidious threat that will require a lot of producer involvement if it is to be curtailed. Some expert advice from Mark Sweeney and Tracy

Hueppelsheuser deserves your serious consideration.

There’s also a warning from Tracy about yet another insect pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. Although not yet a problem here, it may very well be one soon — and if you don’t think keeping on top of it is a good idea, consider what has happened to apple growers in the eastern U.S.

This particular stink bug caused an estimated $37 million in damage to apples in four mid-Atlantic states. Growers in Pennsylvania, Virginia,

4 British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2011 PostScript Picture Great littel box 1_4 page.pdf

Maryland and West Virginia lost crops in 2010, according to a recent U.S. Apple Association estimate. About 18 percent of the fresh-market apples produced in those states was affected. As a

percentage of total volume, Maryland was hardest hit, with 32 percent of the state’s fresh-market apples hit. Virginia, a larger producer than Maryland, suffered the largest volume loss.

Still with pest management, Dr. Tom Forge at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Agassiz is delving into the mysteries of the stubby root nematode, Paratrichodorus renifer, and its connection to lack of vigour in blueberry plants.

Jeanne Hughes is back with an extensive article on a particularly interesting but very problematic invasive plant, the giant hogweed. These things are huge, as anyone who has seen them can attest, but while they might be visually impressive, they can cause major difficulties for farmers. You’ll find details on those difficulties, as well as suggested control methods.

That’s followed by an interview with Don McRae, recently appointed by new Premier Christy Clark as the sixth B.C. agriculture minister in the past three years. What the young Comox Valley politician lacks in hands-on involvement with farming seems to be made up for with enthusiasm. But, as is always the case, we can only wait and see how effective he’ll be. Back to the business side of things, being the best you can be often involves taking a thorough and objective look at how your operation is being run.

The provincial agriculture ministry is offering a multi-faceted program that helps farmers assess what they’re doing and get help that can include specialized farm business planning in the areas of business or marketing strategies, production economics, human resources, financial management, succession planning, business structure, risk assessment or value-added ventures.

And finally, some tips on how growers can instill a positive safety attitude among their employees.

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