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For Oregon crop

consultant Tom Peerbolt, small fruits ‘are a bright spot in the agricultural world.’

In-box consultant

TomPeerbolt’s electronic newsletter has become required reading formany berry growers.

By Judie Steeves I

t all began a dozen years ago as a one-page fax sent around by their crop consultant. to a couple of dozen folks in the berry industry in Washington and Oregon

Today, however, Tom Peerbolt’s Small Fruit Update is sent via email and the worldwide web to more than 1,000 berry growers in the Pacific Northwest every week, with up-to-the minute data on how each crop is progressing, what pests or diseases are showing up where, and what

should be done to combat them. For B.C. growers, this is especially valuable because often what’s happening in the industry to the south will be happening a week or two later in this province, so growers can use the newsletter as a warning of what is likely coming down the pike next on their own farms. Peerbolt has a degree in plant science from the University of California, but he moved to Oregon in 1991 to work with the ornamental industry.

From there he moved into crop monitoring and consulting in berries and he hasn’t looked back. “I’m really glad I focused on small fruits. They’re healthy and attractive and popular. They’re a bright spot in the agriculture world,” comments Peerbolt.

As a consultant (Peerbolt Crop Management) he works in the field

dealing directly with growers, but also is involved with the research side of things, so he feels he gets the best of both worlds.

Because he believes that the dissemination of information is critical, a weekly electronic newsletter to growers just seemed to fill an important niche.

“Information changes behaviour. We’re proud to supply objective information in real time, so growers can make informed decisions,” he explains.

Peerbolt would like to see smaller, independent growers all receiving the newsletter. They are often the growers not receiving up-to-date information on pest and disease issues, so the newsletter would be ideal for them. However, he says it is very

rewarding to have farmers come up to him and say how helpful the information provided in the Small

British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall 2012 9

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