On Saturday October 6th, 2018 we went to Fifer’s Orchard and got to learn all about the ins and outs of their operation. Once there we got to meet Bobby Fifer who introduced himself, gave some information on their operation and then gave us a tour of the place. While there we also got to learn how they use different types of irrigation depending on the crop they are growing. The tomatoes are grown in high tunnels and they use drip irrigation to water. Then they have center pivot irrigation for their large acreage crops. Some of the major pests that their farm battles are rain, disease pressure and nematodes which result in crop losses. During our tour with Bobby Fifer he showed us some fields that were suffering from the rain we had. In his kale field he pointed out the diseased leaves and pointed out the weeds that they had. Due to the amount of rain the weeds that they had taken out of the ground had re-rooted themselves. During the tour we also got to see the strawberries being planted. It was also interesting to see their storage facility and the machine they use to pack apples. Thank you Fifer for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us about the operation and for giving us a tour of it!
When visiting Fifer’s Orchards on the field trip, I was very interested in the types of products they grew to meet consumer demand. One of their popular items is the sweet corn, strawberries, and tomatoes. The reason being for this is that, “Florida’s “winter” is too hot to grow corn whereas here in Delaware during this time is harvest season.” Thus making Fifer Orchards a lot of money earned because the individuals in Florida are willing to buy the product which makes the product move up and down the east coast. This is important to show that the food grown does indeed travel a decent way to get to the consumers to enjoy throughout the states.
Additionally, he mentioned that there is diversity in the plants that are grown in the fields such as cauliflower. Customers can make special requests for a particular product to be grown. In this case, consumers have asked for a variety of colors from cauliflower such as orange, purple, and green. I’d also like to make a note of the raised plasticulture rows the strawberries were planted in have many advantages to this type of growing. For instance, the plastic heats up from the sun, keeps the plant from being drowned by water, and has better frost control with the water being provided through the tubing with small holes. I like learning about the different way some food products are being handled and how they are grown versus other growing techniques. Mr. Fifer also made a note that the plasticulture is great for management due to great pest control. Having the water on top instead of underneath allows water to be utilized better than wasted. Also, this keeps the foliage dry better because the plants typically enjoy water but not being showered in it.
At the end of the field trip, I explored the shops and purchased a very big pumpkin, an apple pie, apple pie cider, and apple cider donuts. I loved how the goodies smelled and enjoyed the donuts with cider at home with my family later that day.
NOTE: Mark/Michele, I originally blogged this on September 26th incorrectly. (before this specific blog deadline) Will I still receive full credit?