Blog anniversary 2019

This weeks marks the seven year anniversary of the Pine Island Cranberry website, and as always, we’ve had quite an eventful year!

The annual harvest remains our biggest draw for readers, of course, and this year saw not only our annual visit from George Giorno and his Bog to Bottle tour, but our own visit to the Ocean Spray receiving station!

The receiving station, coincidentally, celebrated its 30th anniversary this past year, and Pine Island team members were there to celebrate with them.

Team members were also in attendance at both the ACGA summer field day and winter meeting, as well as at the Ocean Spray Annual Growers Meeting.

We also profiled several team members over the past year. Both Jeremy Fenstermaker and Ernie Waszkiewicz both celebrated milestone work anniversaries, and we also talked up newer team member Justin Ross.

The bobwhite quail project continued with another release last April.

The Haines family also had quite a year! Not only did they once again start farming the original property at the Birches, originally purchased after the Civil War by Martin L. Haines, they welcomed sixth generation member Jack Fenstermaker to the world of cranberry growing with his very first summer job. In November, they gained a brand new member of the family when Mike Haines married the lovely Daina!

Pine Island also got some media coverage, as most operations do every year around harvest time. This year, the quail project was covered locally, while the harvest was covered by both NBC 10 and Business Insider. But the seemingly unanimous favorite this year goes to this fun piece about CEO Bill Haines, accompanied by a fantastic video.

And, of course, our entire team remains proud to be members of the Ocean Spray family.

We look forward to everything the next year has in store for us, and we’re so glad you’re all here to read about it as well!

ACGA Winter Meeting 2019

This week the American Cranberry Growers Association once again held its annual winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2019 growing season. In addition, it’s a great chance for the local cranberry community to catch up to each other after the busy harvest season.

Pine Island sent a big crew this year, and they all came away pleased with the experience. CEO Bill Haines thought this year was particularly good, and as always, enjoyed the the chance to sit down and chat with fellow growers at lunch. ““You can get as much from just having a conversation over lunch as you can from the presentation,” he says.

The rest of the team were equally glad they attended. “It was good to know about some regulatory changes that are coming up,” says Justin Ross. “Knowing what will and won’t be available now will help us plan things better for later.”

“I thought Thierry’s research with the effectiveness of of some treatments on red root was interesting,” says Matt Giberson. “I think more testing should be done on the timing of the application that would be most effective, though. Very interested to know more about how we can kill that swan loving devil weed.” One other side note he thought was interesting: how some treatments seem to greatly reduce yield when applied early in berry development. “From talking to Peter, it seems that it causes phytotoxicity to the flower making it less likely to produce fruit, hence the cause of pin fruit development.”

Newer team member Mike Scullion says, “I enjoyed learning about the management of red root in our bogs as that is an ongoing issue we are dealing with on our farm. My favorite part of the meeting, as always, is learning about the new varieties Nick Vorsa is working on. They are getting closer and closer to producing a strain of cranberry that not only has a higher resistance to fruit rot, but still has a higher yield.”

“I found Nakorn’s presentation really interesting,” says Mike Haines. “We know that we don’t want blunt-nosed leafhopper in the bogs, as they spread false blossom disease, but it was interesting to hear his hypotheses and thoughts on why this interaction occurs, like how the leafhoppers that feed on diseased plants end up being larger adults, and that nutrient levels are actually higher in infected plants.”

All in all, it was another productive day for our Pine Island team as well another excellent program put together by Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. Thank you, Cesar!

ACGA Summer Field Day 2018

This week several Pine Island Cranberry team members attended the annual American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) summer field day at the Rutgers extension center. While several topics are similar to those discussed at the winter meeting, the field day is a chance to go out and explore the researchers’ valuable work first hand!

Though Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona was sadly absent due to a conflicting academic commitment, he once again put together an excellent and informative program, and Dr. Nick Vorsa stepped in to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Justin Ross:

“I liked seeing everyone all together. Nick and Jennifer’s calcium study was interesting; that’s something to keep in mind if we were to try liquid fertilizer.”

Mike Scullion:

“My favorite parts of today’s meeting was Nick’s talk on the health benefits of cranberries and how they’re a rich source of phenolic compounds, especially the flavonoids. Also, he mentioned that they are working on a new variety of cranberry that has reduced acid levels. This will be great because you won’t need as much added sugar to make them more palatable. Exciting stuff!”

Matt Stiles:

“I thought Thierry’s talk was really interesting; he’s doing a lot of work. It’s great to have that research, especially for the young bogs, where you have to control weeds early on in order to keep them out of there. So it’s interesting to see what he’s working on and where he thinks it’s going to go. I also always like hearing the latest updates on new varieties, especially the work on fruit rot resistance.”

Jeremy Fenstermaker:

It’s always nice to see all the other growers; being able to catch up with them and see if they’re seeing the same effects of the weather, how they’re handling things, get some ideas. I also liked Peter’s update; I like the direction he’s going with regard to fruit quality, seeing what hasn’t worked, taking it a step farther. if you find a way to keep scald from happening, then you take the chance, and it’s exciting to see that work being done. It was also neat to have the the drone to see how we could do it on a larger scale. It’s good that the meeting coincided with the marketing committee, too; we were all able to chat with people from different growing areas.”

Mike Haines:

“It’s cool seeing the progress on everyone’s experiments. One of my favorite talks is always hearing Nick and Jennifer talk about fruit rot resistance breeding, and getting to actually go into into the research bed and see all the trials where they’re mixing resistant low-yield varieties with Crimson Queen to see if they can get a good producer. Hand in hand with that, Jim Polashock’s talk about genomics was interesting; it’s not something I’m overly familiar with, but the way he presented I was able to follow and understand.

Altogether, another successful field day! Thank you to the entire staff at the Marucci Center for all of your hard work in putting it together.

Twilight Meeting 2018

This week, some Pine Island team members attended the Cranberry Growers Twilight Meeting, hosted this year by the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension. In contrast to the American Cranberry Grower Association’s Winter Meeting, the focus here is less research-oriented and uses a more hands-on approach to addressing timely topics of importance to cranberry growers.

The first scheduled talk was with Patricia Hastings of the Rutgers University Agricultural Extension Service, who has taken over the annual safety talk requirements after Ray Samulis retired! We all miss Ray, who’s been a mainstay for many years, but it’s wonderful to have someone willing to step in to assist with continuing education. Other talks included monitoring for cranberry insects, with Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona; an update on cranberry diseases with Dr. Peter Oudemans; an update on weed management by Dr. Thierry Besancon; and finished up with a talk on frost damage in cranberries with Dr. Nick Vorsa. And, of course, there was a good dinner, provided by the hard-working staff of the Marucci Center!

In addition to the importance of new research findings, it’s also a great chance for the cranberry community to get together face-to-face. Our team, and the other growers, work with Rutgers all the time, but it’s good to be able to sit down with other growers and find out if they’re having some of the same problems with pests, or fairy ring, or excessive heat. That additional perspective can help us troubleshoot our own applications.

Cesar stepped in after Ray’s retirement to organize and host this year’s meeting, and we’re all very grateful for it. He set up a highly informative program and an excellent meal, just as he does for the annual Winter Meeting and Summer Field Day, year after year. Thank you, Cesar!

ACGA Winter Meeting 2018

This week the American Cranberry Growers Association once again held its annual winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2018 growing season. In addition, it’s a great chance for the local cranberry community to catch up to each other after the busy harvest season.

This year, the attendees from Pine Island were Mike Haines, Matt Giberson, Matt Stiles, and Justin Ross, and all of them found the presentations useful and informative. The top presentation for all four of them was the work being done by Jennifer Johnson-Cicalese on new varieties. “Jennifer’s was my favorite this time,” says Mike. “Improving rot resistance will keep the industry as viable as possible in NJ, and it sounds like they’re making progress on that.” Matt Giberson agrees: “That’s most important for our needs. If she finds out a way to produce a new variety with lower rot, it can really help us.”

Everyone was also interested in the report by Peter Oudemans on heat, with Matt being especially interested in the use of fake berries with heat sensors to measure internal temperature. It was also his first chance to hear from Thierry Besançon. “I’m glad he’s working on the red root issue,” Matt says. “We can see from Red Road how the different treatments are working, and it looks like he’s been making good progress.”

The final presentation of the day was the safety talk, delivered by someone other than Ray Samulis for the first time any of us can remember. “It was weird not having Ray there!” Matt says. “George did a good job though; that was good info on new regulations throughout the year and I was glad to see we’re a little ahead of the game with our current training program.”

“I thought it was a great meeting,” says Matt Stiles. “All of the presenters did a great job conveying useful information to us that we will be able to use throughout the growing season.” He is also grateful to everyone that helped put it together. So a huge thank you, as always to Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona for yet another fantastic program! Cesar does a ton of work on this every year in addition to his research, and we’re all grateful for the opportunity.

“This was a great learning experience,” says newer Pine Island team member Justin Ross. “There’s a lot of good stuff going on and a lot of energy in the industry.”

ACGA Summer Field Day 2017

Last week several Pine Island Cranberry team members attended the annual American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) summer field day at the Rutgers extension center. While several topics are similar to those discussed at the winter meeting, the field day is a chance to go out and explore the researchers’ valuable work first hand.

Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona once again put together an excellent and informative program, starting with the very first summer field talk for weed specialist Thierry Besançon. In addition to a “show and tell” session with Stephen Lee, we also bid a fond farewell to Ray Samulis, our Burlco Agricultural Agent, whose talk on farm safety has long been a mainstay of our meetings! We’ll miss you, Ray, and we promise: we’ll keep our initials off your list.

The most important part, however, is always the chance to sit down and catch up with fellow cranberry growers. “During the busy growing season, you seldom have the chance to talk to them about what they’re doing: how they see the crop, what new things they’re trying. It’s a great chance for growers to exchange ideas,” says Pine Island CEO Bill Haines. And our friends and neighbors feel much the same way!

ACGA President Shawn Cutts:

The meeting this year was excellent. All of the speakers provided valuable information and insight. It was great to hear updates on all the important ongoing research at the Marucci Center. The presentation on Root Growth in Cranberries by Dr. Amaya Atucha was a highlight that presented new and interesting information to NJ growers on how and when cranberry roots grow.

Joe Darlington, J.J. White:

I thought this meeting was a very good one; the weather even cooperated pretty well. All of the researchers presented interesting and useful info. This was the first time I heard Nick [Vorsa, Director at the Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center] say 1,000 barrels per acre in a public setting. Now we just need to put that together with real rot resistance. It is good to see that Thierry is on the ground and running with his research.

Bill Cutts, Cutts Brothers:

I thought the weather was great and the talks all had some nuggets of interest and progress in solving some of our problems; I found the talk about roots by the researcher from Wisconsin particularly interesting. I also encourage everyone to bring a chair or stool next year. It was great to sit comfortably while listening to the talks!

Jeff LaFleur, Mayflower Cranberries:

It is always great to visit with so many friends and colleagues at the ACGA meeting. It is especially valuable for me as a relatively new grower to see the latest in varietal development and pest management. With the increased emphasis on fruit quality I always learn something new from Peter Oudemans that I can use on my farm back in Massachusetts.

Finally, all of us at the ACGA as well as Pine Island Cranberry wish a speedy recovery to Tommy Budd! We missed you on Friday, sir, and look forward to seeing you again soon.

ACGA Winter Meeting 2017

Yesterday several Pine Island team members attended the annual American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers and scientists to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2017 growing season. This year, Pine Island sent Mike Haines, Jeremy Fenstermaker, Matt Stiles, and Tim Bourgeois to hear the latest and greatest!

All four of them were happy with yesterday’s presentations and felt they learned a great deal. Matt Stiles was especially interested in one of the final presentations, from Casey Kennedy of UMass. “Water and underdrain are crucial things for us to get a handle on,” he says. “Casey definitely had some good information in there for us to use, especially to try and get info from everywhere we can and figure out what works best. It had a lot of applicable advice for us.”

Tim Bourgeois was also pleased with the irrigation segment. “I thought the last presentation on irrigation timing, soil conditions, and different flow rates seemed pretty interesting. I’ve been working with Jeremy [Fenstermaker] designing irrigation systems and bog layouts, and we’re already talking about how to minimize our irrigation run times and how to prevent runoff or compaction or flooding in certain areas where we don’t want flooding. And it’s going to be helpful for planting to optimize water use during the growing season.” He also liked Peter Oudemans’ updates on heat stress research. “His crop sensor project is going to get us a lot of useful info once they fine-tune their design,” Tim says. “It’ll be very beneficial to production research and recommendations in the future, because we definitely need to fine-tune what we know and find that perfect balance of enough sunlight, but not too much.”

Jeremy Fenstermaker was pleased to hear from the extension center’s new specialist, Thierry Besançon: “I was excited to hear Thierry’s talk about red root; I’m glad to have some new focus on that. It was nice to meet him and hear some new ideas!”

Mike Haines was also impressed. “I really liked hearing Thierry’s talk; it’s first one I’ve really heard from him, so I liked getting a fresh perspective on the weed problems we have here and how he plans to work on those.” He also paid close attention to the pest talk. “I really liked Cesar’s talk, too; he spoke about two issues I’ve been thinking about a lot: leafhopper and toad bug. There’s still a lot to learn about them, and it was good to hear what researchers have been discovering about the life cycle of these insects we haven’t seen for a while, and how we might deal with them in the future.”

All of our team members in attendance enjoyed the chance to sit down with fellow growers. “It’s always great to see everyone,” Jeremy says. “It’s nice how tightly knit the New Jersey growers community is.”

Special thanks, as well, to Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, who as always put together a fantastic, well-run program! We appreciate you, Cesar, and we appreciate all of the guest speakers!

ACGA Summer Field Day – 2016

This week, some Pine Island team members were able to attend the annual Summer Field Day at the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research, sponsored by the American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA). The field day is an opportunity for various members of the cranberry community to visit the research center and check out ongoing experiments from several of the center’s scientists as well as those from outside the region.

This year’s topics included the most recent findings with various ongoing studies, such as the current work on breeding for fruit rot resistance, scald and heat stress, fungus, and pest resistance, as well as research on the return of toadbug in the region. And of course, there was the ever-popular “show and tell”, where growers can demonstrate some of the latest tools or techniques they’ve been using on their own operations.

Both veterans and new team members learned a lot, as always. “We got to see a lot of projects we’re already familiar with and how they’re progressing,” says manager Mike Haines. “Like Jim Polashock’s talk on Mycorrhizae, Cesar with toadbug, and Peter with heat stress. And I always like to hear from Tim [Waller]; he really digs into the background of both what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.” Mike also enoys the chance to hear from people from different cranberry regions: “It was cool to hear the research from Wisconsin on pest resistance in different cranberry varieties.”

“It was a good lineup of speakers on variety subject matter,” says crop supervisor Tim Bourgeois. “It was a great chance for me to get a broad range of info, considering this is my first year in the business.” He was especially pleased at the social aspect. “The NJ cranberry community is a close-knit group of growers, which is always nice. It was a good day, a great experience, and a chance to make some new contacts and some new friends yesterday.”

And, of course, we would be remiss in not thanking the staff at Rutgers for all of their hard work yesterday as well as Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona for setting up such an informative program. The cranberry community is fortunate to have such a resource close by to help us do what we do better every day!

ACGA Winter Meeting – 2016

Yesterday, several team members attended the American Cranberry Growers Association’s annual winter meeting. The ACGA winter meeting is always a good opportunity for growers and scientists to listen to research findings from experiments during the previous growing season and the researchers’ recommendations for the 2016 growing season. This year, Pine Island sent new team member Matt Stiles, as well as COO Bryan vonHahmann and Mike Haines, Matt Giberson, and Jeremy Fenstermaker from our management/supervisory team. Everyone from Pine Island who attended (both the newer and the more experienced) were able to take a lot away from the experience.

“I always say this, but the main thing I like about the winter meeting is it gives you a chance to hear from other regions,” says Mike Haines. “I especially liked hearing from Hilary [Sandler, of UMass Cranberry Station]; I corresponded with her this summer about some issues we were having with poison ivy out at Boricua, and she had some excellent recommendations.” He also likes hearing from various vendors: “It’s great to hear about new things people are developing and how they can be applied to the cranberry industry.”

Matt Giberson was especially pleased to hear from DPI on the use of drones for mapping. “I think that’s the way of the future, depending on regulations,” he says. “It could definitely improve our applications. I know Peter [Oudemans, of the Marucci Center at Rutgers] has been working with him; this kind of tech can give us a better chance to examine sun damage, as well.” Matt also enjoyed hearing from Hilary: “She talked about paying attention to the perimeter being an important aspect in weed control, which is something we’ve talked about here as we continue renovation.” He also appreciates the chance to catch up on research updates every year. “We hear from a lot of the same researchers, obviously, but there’s always something different, something new. Research is always ongoing, and it’s good to hear about the progress everyone’s making.”

Bryan vonHahmann back ups Matt’s observation: “It’s great that we are able to attract quality speakers that provide research and information to help the growers improve their operations. We got to see a glimpse of the future with drones and precision agriculture to the basics on weed management. Another huge benefit is getting the growers together so that we can share ideas and information during the breaks; it’s a good collaborative event.” And as always, we’re grateful to Cesar Rodriguez-Saona for putting together yet another fantastic program!

ACGA Summer Field Day – 2015

Yesterday several Pine Island Cranberry team members once again attended the annual American Cranberry Growers Association (ACGA) summer field day at the Rutgers extension center. While several topics are similar to those discussed at the winter meeting, the field day is a chance to go out and explore the researchers’ valuable work first hand.

All in attendance found the demonstrations highly useful! Some took particular notice of Dr. Peter Oudemans’ talk on his work on the heat stress factor in disease management. “Peter’s talk on understanding the factors that lead to heat damage was a hot topic for us…no pun intended,” says PIICM manager Cristina Tassone. “This year we have been trying to monitor the weather with our thermometer–both automated and analog–our new weather stations, our new thermal camera, and we started testing internal heat this season with meat thermometers. We have been going back and forth with Peter trying to find the best threshold for when we should turn on the sprinklers, and his talk yesterday provided the analysis of the data he collected along with a threshold that will help us make better decisions.” GM Fred Torres agrees: “You never have all the answers; there are always what-ifs, but we’re feeling better about what to do and what to try. Peter’s work is really narrowing it down, and it’s getting better and easier.”

The other speakers were also quite well-received. “It’s always good to hear about the new varieties, what they’re coming up with,” Fred says. Cristina was very interested in Dr. Jim Polashock’s talk on virus symptoms and detection. “It helped me make a connection with what we are seeing in the bogs,” she says. “We have seen scarring on the fruit in the past, and weren’t always sure what to attribute it to. Seeing the fruit samples with the viruses yesterday will help us identify what we are seeing in the bogs better. I am also anxious to see what they find out about the ‘footprint’ disease in the near future.”

Yesterday the ACGA also distributed the “Identification Guide for Weeds in Cranberries”. Hilary Sandler, weed specialist at UMass, had Quebec’s cranberry weed identification guide translated to English for growers on the east coast. This weed guide is of very high quality: 200+ pages with color photos of each weed’s stages of growth, in addition to a lot of information on the weeds. In addition to translating this guide, Hilary added new weeds and information to be sure that it covers all the weeds present in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the other east coast Canadian growing areas. “I was very excited to receive this,” Cristina says. “I know it will be very helpful when we create our 2016 Weed Control Plan.”

As always, Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona and his team did a spectacular job planning the program; it was well-organized, informative, and somehow or other, he found a way to control the weather! Many thanks to Cesar, Peter, Jim, and all of the fantastic scientists at the Marucci Center, whose work with all of us makes the NJ cranberry industry increasingly better, year after year.