A Quick Opinion: A gardening tip from a wannabe farmer

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charles R. Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

Dave Rodriguez once told me to fertilize on Halloween and Super Bowl Sunday and as I was fertilizing my lawn this weekend, I realized that the Super Bowl used to be played in January. Better late than never. Chris Gertz tells me to spray every time it rains after Valentine’s Day. Good advice, but I’m lucky if I spray my apricot and peach trees a couple of times a season. I usually have extra copper sulfate and oil, so I spray our roses and Japanese maples, too. Someone should let me know if that is OK, or am I just wasting chemicals.

If you still take Sunday drives, you will notice a lot of walnut orchards are being torn out. Local farmers tell me that the expected price will be below production cost and you will be seeing more and more orchards being taken out. The big question is, what will they plant in their place? I don’t think it will be apricots or peaches.

I don’t think I’m cut out to be a farmer. You can only pray for rain so many times before you lose your faith and start to question your occupation. Name me another industry that makes a product, ships it away, and then waits to see how much they will be paid, or when they will receive a check. Who allowed this situation to become the norm?

When I do a printing job, people will ask about the price. If it is too high, they go somewhere else. If they like the price, I deliver it just before they need it. With farming, what do you do with a crop when no one wants to pay you a fair price for it? Sure, there are years when the price is high and everyone is happy, but when the price is low, what are you supposed to do with your trees? I guess the answer is to take out the orchard and plant something else.

A friend described being a farmer: “We live poor and die rich.” Meaning when a farmer dies, the family usually sells the land and never looks back. Some farms have been passed along from generation to generation, the same as newspapers. There comes a time when it just isn’t profitable or there isn’t anyone who wants to continue the family tradition.

I’ve noticed a few For Sale signs around the county, I think more than I usually see. It will be interesting to watch what happens when all of the baby boomers start to die off. Will their children or a grandchild step up and take over the farm, or will the next generation just look at the money and decide to sell?

It isn’t just farmers and newspapers I’m talking about. Look at any small business and see how many are being run by third or fourth generations. I’ll add that McNaughton Newspapers, owner of the Express, is being run by fourth-generation members of the family, maybe the fifth generation, I’m not sure. So there is always hope that someone will see the benefit of taking on a family business.

Cross your fingers and have a good week.

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