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Agriculture's New Year’s resolutions started moons ago

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  • New Year’s is a refreshing time, not only for cooler temperatures, but for seeking new opportunities in agriculture. After many months and moons spent on farm planning, it is time to put the pedal to the metal towards implementation.

It’s 2014 - a brand new year, a time to reflect on the lessons learned over the last dozen months, and a period to implement plans aimed at a better future.

My first New Year’s resolution is the same as for many others - losing weight (a yearly resolution) through eating more fruits and vegetables, and passing on seconds more often at the dinner table.

Another Blake resolution is already in ‘motion’ - more exercise by consistently riding my Christmas gift – a new bicycle. I ride it almost daily during the short lunch time.

It was time to retire the old bike purchased 30-plus years ago at the Montgomery Ward department store. While the old cycle was not worthy of a Smithsonian museum centerpiece, it had rubber tires instead of Fred Flintstone-era stone wheels, much to the disbelief of my children and grandchildren.

I was stunned by the price of new bikes. There must be gold in the hard seat – perhaps sitting on one’s own ‘wealth.’

New Year’s is a refreshing time, not only for cooler temperatures, but seeking new opportunities in agriculture. After many months and moons spent on farm planning, it is time to put the pedal to the metal towards implementation.

This time of year, many annual crop growers make final cropping decisions. It is the time to buckle down, put pen to paper, keystrokes on the keyboard, and smash tiny buttons with big fingers on the smart phone, choose seed varieties, select crop protection materials, put the stamp on the envelop, hit the send button, and pray your online order is received by Al Gore and delivered.

Permanent crop growers are making final decisions on vineyards and orchards destined for replacement. Calculator overuse likely generates a whiff of smoke along with short-term carpal tunnel-like symptoms in the hands.

Planning is a year round fact of life for vegetable growers with production in the Salinas Valley and the low desert. The prolonged freeze in early December was a quick reminder for citrus growers of the challenge of farming without ceilings, walls, and central heat.

The early and prolonged freeze in western citrus groves drained more than $30 million from growers’ pockets due to crop protection efforts. Any damaged fruit brings lower prices; missing the more profitable fresh market and moving to the less revenue processing market.

Yet despite the challenges which creep up on growers year round, New Year’s is a reminder of the good in agriculture, the opportunities, working outside, being one’s own boss, getting one’s hands caked in dirt, and having some control over one’s own destiny.

This positive mindset helps make agriculture successful and a special field of work. It is the fire in the belly and minds of producers and providing essential sustenance for the world that makes agriculture a proud and gratifying way of life.

This is a truism for every day; not just the first days of the year.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a safe and prosperous 2014.

God bless!

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