ACGA Winter Meeting 2015

The American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) held their annual winter meeting this week, and as always, it was highly educational, with Dr. Nick Vorsa putting together a fantastic program. COO Bryan vonHahmann, attending his second winter meeting, sums it up well: “We’re very fortunate to have a quality group of researchers so close to us, as well as relationships with others in other cranberry areas. Nothing in this business is a constant, so it’s a valuable chance to interact and understand the research that is going on to help us grow more healthy fruit. The mix of presentations was good, especially for someone like me that is in ‘learning mode’.”

In addition to Bryan, Pine Island Cranberry sent a large group and all were just as pleased with the presentations, especially the ones from the graduate students. “It’s really great to see the details the grad students are working on,” says PIICM Manager Cristina Tassone. “And we get the chance to ask them questions, so they get immediate feedback as well.” Assistant Manager Mike Haines agrees: “The greater detail from the graduate presentations were great; they give us aspects I never would have considered otherwise.” It was also a great chance to listen to researchers from other cranberry regions; this year, we had the opportunity to hear from Hilary Sandler, the IPM coordinator at the UMass Cranberry Station, who brought us additional info on weed identification and control.

Both Pine Island team members and other ACGA growers appreciate the chance to get together with others in the industry. Mike says: “It’s great to get a broader perspective in a small industry, especially when we work in an isolated area.” And as fellow grower Joe Darlington likes to point out, “The real business happens during the breaks.”

The real highlight, however, was celebrating the career of Brad Majek, who gave us one final presentation on weed control developments before his retirement. Brad’s appearances were always a highlight at both the winter and summer meetings, and everyone is going to miss him. “He is very passionate about what he does,” says Cristina. “He’s done so much for the industry over the past twenty-plus years. He was always available to help, either in person or on the phone, and he is definitely going to be missed.” CEO Bill Haines agrees: “Brad always has a lot of energy. He was our go-to guy for weed questions and was able to give us a lot of long-distance advice about Chile. He’s a guy who’s all about getting stuff done.”

But perhaps the best tribute came from ACGA President Shawn Cutts, who presented Brad with a plaque which read:

“In appreciation of your many years of outstanding service to New Jersey’s cranberry growers. Your expertise, advice, and friendship have made invaluable contributions to our industry.

‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1878

Thanks for helping us kill them anyway…”

Thanks, Brad, for everything you’ve done for all of us!