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From Our Tree to Your table - continued
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Farming Requires a Substantial Investment
It takes cherry trees four to five years or more before the trees produce enough cherries to harvest. Meanwhile, substantial time and resources are needed to bring the trees to bearing, including pruning, monitoring and treating possible disease and other stress factors, fertilizing and protecting from freezing conditions. This work allows the trees to develop into hardy, strong bearers of cherries. With the enormous investment in time and resources that are dedicated to developing new cherry acreage, it may well be 10 years before a grower "breaks even" on his crop.
Farming Requires a Lifetime of Dedication
When urban people drive by a farm, it probably looks bucolic and slow-moving to them. Living in cherry country, we are aware of the constant changes happening with our trees and the need for day-to-day monitoring and management. So many things need to go right for a crop to be successful, and variables are changing do quickly, that the orchard seems far from slow-moving to us. We don't get a second chance at a crop. We can't "stop the line" to correct a problem. We can't suddenly double production to meet demand. If the temperature dips down below -15 degrees in the middle of a February night, we may well be out in the orchard with our fans moving the cold air away from the trees. It can't wait, it has to be done and years of investnment are at stake
Farming Requires Many Skills
We live in an age of specialization, and one where the phrase "that's not my job" has become a cliche. Farming demands the orchestration of a wide variety of skills, often under the most pressing time frames and difficult conditions. Recruiting, managing, training and supervising a skilled crew of workers is a big job that calls for the skills of a personnel manager. Soil and water conservation and management is part of farming.
Safe and economical pest management is essential and requires ongoing education and planning. Without extensive knowledge of plant pathology and life cycles, successful tree care would be no more than guesswork. Keeping the farm equipment in good working order requires us to be mechanics, and training and supervision is important to promote the safe use of the equipment.
Beyond these traditional farming skills, market forces today dictate that we need to be market experts and sales people as well if we are to survive. The various pressures from development, low-priced food imports, and the concentration of the food industry into a few large corporate hands have depressed the wholesale prices for agricultural products to the point that they are actually below our minimum costs of production.
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