Matt Efird and Brian Maxted
Matt Efird (left) talks with Brian Maxted (right). (Photo: The Holloway Group)

Holloway-produced Web Series Talks to Industry Experts About Overcoming Water Issues, Soaring Input Costs and Market-related Hurdles

By Brian Milne, Vice President, Director of Marketing & Communications, The Holloway Group

As part of its 90th anniversary campaign, Holloway has released a free “From the Field” video series hosted by CEO Brian Maxted, who catches up with experts from around the agriculture, logistics and related sectors to discuss current trends, best practices and sustainable solutions to help the industry grow.

In the first episode, Maxted meets with agronomist Steve Lenander in a Wasco almond orchard for a mid-season update and to discuss how the cooler temperatures this spring have affected nut production in the Valley, and what it might mean for the second half of the season.

“If you look at the end of the year, we usually end up with the same amount of heat units every year,” Lenander said. “With these cool springs, I usually say we’re going to pay for that with some big-time heat in July and August probably.”

In the second episode, Maxted continues his discussion with Lenander, discussing how growers are combating soaring fertilizer costs with soil amendments. The two also discuss solving ponding issues and unlocking nutrients in the face of soaring input costs this summer.

“When you have ponding, you’re not going to have any oxygen available to the tree,” Lenander said. “That’s really going to shut down all growth aspects, nutrition’s not going to be available. Additionally, you’re setting yourself up for a host of disease problems when you have severe ponding like that.”

Maxted added those irrigation and water penetration issues are only going to worsen in the summer heat.

“You always want to prepare, especially in a drought year and what could be an unusually hot summer, when solving that ponding issue is even more important,” Maxted added. “When the grower irrigates, they want to make sure that water is in soil, on those roots, supplying the nutrients that plant needs, and not sitting there on top of the ground.”

In the upcoming third episode, Maxted catches up with fifth-generation farmer Matthew Efird, President of Efird Ag Enterprises and Vice President of Double E Farms since 1999. Efird is also the District 8 Board Director for Blue Diamond, and discusses the many challenges facing Central Valley growers this season.

Double E Farms has been growing almonds and other permanent crops south of Fresno since the early 1980s, so Efird said this isn’t the first time the operations have been faced with water scarcity issues, rising labor and input costs. But, as the two discussed, deteriorating market conditions due to the pandemic, trade issues and ongoing shipping and storage challenges, haven’t made things any easier on the state’s almond growers.

Despite those challenges, Efird said there’s no other place he’d rather be, than farming in the Central Valley.

“All of these headwinds that come along definitely add more difficulty to the equation,” Efird said.

“It’s about stewardship of the land. While I have it, it’s my responsibility – until I pass it on to the next generation – and part of that responsibility is to deal with the hits that seem to keep on coming. How can we make cuts here? How do we make cuts there, and be more efficient to be profitable and pass it forward? That’s our commitment to the food system. Every farmer realizes that.”

In July, the series will return to the field and visit an orchard removal and recycling project in Firebaugh, discussing the process of orchard removal, grinding and reincorporation of tree waste, and the Whole Orchard Recycling grants available as part of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s “Alternatives to Ag Open Burning Incentive Program.”

To watch the “From the Field” series for free, visit HollowayAg.com/FromTheField.