Harvest is only about a month away, and our team is making sure we’re more than ready!
We’re getting everything sharpened up on the farm right now; the team is working on both the chores that we need to get done and those that we like to get done. It’s always nice to have the farm tidy and ready beforehand.
The ditches surrounding every bog must be kept free of debris in order to ensure adequate water flow for both flooding and drainage. Cleaning the ditches is important for two reasons. First, it helps maintain the proper moisture level in the soil. Second, and most importantly, removing water from the bogs quickly is urgent in case of a big rain event.
It is important to make sure all of the equipment has been properly maintained well in advance of the harvest: the boom, boom reels, harvesters, et cetera. The boom is taken out and checked for any repairs that need to be made, and so is the reel. The harvesters are brought in and serviced at our shop. We also look over and repair as needed the blowers, trucks, and tractors for each harvesting crew and ensure we have all the tools and safety supplies necessary to get us through harvest.
“We’ve done everything we can at this point and hoping for the best,” says CEO Bill Haines. “Talk to me again in November and I’ll let you know how we made out!”
This year, one of our long-term ongoing projects is at last near completion: widening our dams and building turnarounds for easier travel during harvest. On a cranberry farm, dams serve two purposes: to detain the water used for irrigation and water management, and for vehicle use. Dam maintenance is highly important for both safety and equipment. Widening dams makes hauling easier, especially since some parts of the operation are quite a distance from our cleaning platform.
Now, instead of several trucks carrying two boxes, we can use a tractor trailer that carries nine and won’t need to use as many trucks. It will be more efficient for both the gathering team and the packing house platform, as well as freeing up team members to be elsewhere if we need them. We’ve planned it out so there’s a route where they can gather the bogs off one dam in order to widen as few turns as possible. It also makes room for new equipment like our bog side cleaners and our Gates Harrow harvesters.
“We’re very close to being done,” says bog renovations manager Steve Manning. “Mostly the gates are all done and we’re just moving dirt for now. It’s a lot easier when we’re doing an active reno because we’re already doing so much redesigning, but we’re trying to get a little ahead of that for future renovations by moving pump houses and shifting some other things around so we don’t have to do it later.” The most difficult part is working with the irrigation, especially in the summertime when heat can be an issue, but this week the weather worked in our favor. “You wouldn’t think this wet weather would help, but we got a lot done.”
“We have Sim Place, the lake, and the west side of 563 all done,” says operations manager Matt Giberson. “Now we’re working the middle, which has the most acreage, and is also the most complicated because of all the old bogs and their various shapes.” Back when the farm was founded, the bogs were dug by hand, so many of the older parts of the farm were designed by necessity to work around the topography. “We drove around a lot to look at everything and think about it for a while,” Matt says. “We’ve been working on this final stage over the last year, and should be done by harvest. We’ve tried to time it with the rain so we don’t have to worry about a heat run or irrigation run during gate installation. And we’ve been thinking ahead to when we renovate in 10 or 15 years down the road. We may end up adding some turnaround spots as we go, since during harvest we ideally want to be able to work from any corner we can. But as of right now, we’re looking to be ready by this year’s harvest.”
On a cranberry farm, dams serve two purposes: to detain the water used for irrigation and water management, and for vehicle use. Dam maintenance is highly important for both safety and equipment.
Our latest project out at Sim Place included widening several dams for various purposes. As with the Oswego renovation, it makes hauling easier, especially since parts of Sim Place are quite a distance from the home farm. Instead of several trucks carrying two boxes, we can use a tractor trailer that carries nine and won’t need to use as many trucks. It will be more efficient for both the gathering team and the packing house, as well as freeing up team members to be elsewhere if we need them.
Assistant manager Mike Haines says, “We’ve planned it out so there’s a route where they can gather the bogs off one dam in order to widen as few turns as possible. It was a little challenging, because before we decided this was a project we needed to do, there had already been some gates installed. So in order to do this, we had to go ahead and move/replace four gates. We also went ahead and made a completely new road in one section where previously a trailer would have had to make a crazy left turn.”
Another reason for widening the dams at Sim Place is to make room for new equipment. “Matt’s [supervisor Matt Giberson] crew is usually the one assigned to Sim Place, and they’ll be the ones working with the new bogside cleaner,” Mike says. “Having more room will make everything run smoothly.”