The month of July represents the calm before the storm. It’s the month we slow the application of plant protection products such as insecticides, fungicides and even herbicides. At this point in time, we have done our best at keeping our crops protected from insects and disease ensuring we limit crop loss from these threats. Despite our best efforts some insects and disease escape our management applications. None the less, it’s at this time of the year I wait anxiously for crops in our county to mature and ripen for harvest.
It’s also a good time to order diesel fuel, grease, PPE, extra-wearable parts and mentally carve out a game plan in anticipation of how the harvest will shake out. Are our men and women mentally ready and equipped with the necessary tools to get through the approximately 90 day battle with hot weather, sweaty and dusty working conditions, long work hours, limited family time and overall confrontation-like attituded of “we have to get this done!”?
In addition to the normal harvest-time challenges, we have the added challenge of COVID 19. How do we manage our harvesting operations during this time? Maybe we should phone a friend in the berry industry, they will likely offer great advice how we can work through this over the next several months.
During the first half of 2020, we have been educated on how COVID 19 is contracted and spread. Some of it true and some of it not. Frankly, it’s difficult to filter what’s fact or fiction. Lately, I have heard stories of some who contracted the virus. Some stories finished with happy endings and some not. I won’t let fear get in the way of essential business and I won’t let fear sway the opinions of my farm labor teams. I have provided them with training to understand actionable measures to aid in protecting themselves from COVID 19. We, employers and employees, have a duty to keep ourselves healthy for the sake of our family, employers and co-workers. Most facets of agriculture don’t allow for a ‘work from home’ option.
I continue to believe our agricultural community will need to be flexible and agile as conditions change, appreciating that a one‐size‐fits‐all approach may not be the perfect solution. My hat is off to our agricultural community for the terrific job of ensuring our labor teams are safe and doing its part to keep agriculture working. It’s not an easy task, good work! Until next time; stay safe, stay cool.