Dan is retiring!

Dan Schiffhauer of Ocean Spray is retiring, and the New Jersey cranberry community is certainly going to miss him!

Dan was here as the contact for the growers for Ocean Spray and did whatever was needed to assist us with the crop. When he first came on board he was the point man for getting every Ocean Spray grower to use Integrated Pest Management and helped develop that program for all of us. He was available to deal with any horticultural issue, whether it was fertilizer, disease, insects, water management . . . if it had to do with cranberries, he was there as a consultant. His hard work and dedication made a tremendous difference in how we manage our crops.

Thierry Besançon, Rutgers University:

Dan is the guy here at the station who took a lot of his time to teach me about cranberry, not only the plant, but also the pests, the weeds, and all the complexity of cranberry management. He’s a very enthusiastic pedagogue, a mine of knowledge, and a great supporter of our Weed Science Research program! I’m glad that he’ll still be around because I still have plenty of questions on cranberry for him!

Steve Lee IV, Lee Brothers:

Dan is and will always be part of our family and we are eternally grateful for his tireless efforts in contributing to our success. We are thankful and appreciative of Laura, Sam and Maura for their personal family sacrifices made in support of Dan’s work over 29-plus years.

Peter Oudemans, Rutgers University:

Dan Schiffhauer is one of the most energetically creative people working in cranberries today . . . I can’t believe he thinks it is OK to retire!

Jeremy Fenstermaker, Pine Island Cranberry:

I am glad to have had the opportunity to get to know him professionally and personally. He was always available when needed and spoke from experience when called upon. He always had the growers best interest in mind. Now I hope he enjoys his retirement and shares where he is catching the big fish!

Shawn Cutts, ACGA President:

It is hard to overstate how much we will all miss Dan as he retires. Through his hard work, expertise, and willingness to attack any problem, he has been a tremendous resource in helping us growers to be our best. His friendship has been a blessing to everyone in the NJ cranberry community. We wish him all the best in retirement!

Bill Haines, Pine Island Cranberry:

Dan’s smart, he’s funny, and he always worked hard for the growers. The two biggest compliments I can pay Dan are that he was always there when you needed him, and in his 30-plus years here, he made a difference.

Weather effects – update

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the weather this spring and the issues that could come up as a result, and this week we spoke with other growers as well as researchers to learn what kind of effects they’ve been seeing.

On our own place, things are starting to catch up. “Stuff is really starting to grow,” says manager Mike Haines. “We’re starting to see hook stage out in the bogs, which is the growth stage right before bloom. So we’ve been getting busy already.” The drawback to plant growth, he says, is that the pests grow right along with it, and some of them can be very dangerous to a crop. “The blackheaded fireworm is particularly dangerous, because they reproduce so quickly,” he says. “So even if you only see a couple, it means you have to move fast.” To that end, his team has been working diligently to scout the entire farm for various pests as well as creating a plan for handling possible infestation.

The weather’s also been an issue for the operation next door. Steve Lee III, of Lee Brothers in Speedwell, is seeing the same effect. “We were running a good week, ten days behind,” he says. “Growth kind of exploded after it cleared up; I suspect the warm weather and warm nights are helping that now.” While he’s observed another 3/4 inches of growth once things warmed up, “I don’t think you ever catch entirely back up; once you’re behind stay a little behind. It’ll probably have an effect on yield, but how much, I don’t know.”

“New Jersey cranberry beds are, in general, way behind,” says Dan Schiffhauer, an ag scientist with Ocean Spray. “Normally by this time we would be seeing a lot of hook on early varieties such as Stevens, Ben Lear, Crimson Queen, and DeMoranville, and would expect bloom to begin by early June. This year there are quite a few beds that are just beginning to show hook and bloom will probably start [about] 7 days later than normal.” He has some concerns about yield, as well: “I worry that NJ will have the type of bloom that used to occur when everyone held the water until mid-May. The resulting growth was explosive (with lots of tipworm damage) and bloom tended to be compressed. The net result was lower yields. There is nothing anyone can do about this but hope that the current very hot weather doesn’t persist.” The good news: he has yet to see any tipworm damage.

Dan also suggests that growers should watch vines carefully when the weather suddenly transitions from wet and cool to hot. “Vines that have had little to no heat or water stress can wilt suddenly if beds become too dry,” he says. “It may seem counterintuitive to water more than normal after all the rain we have had this spring but it may be required until the vines ‘normalize’ to the more common temperatures encountered in New Jersey.”