For me, the end of the calendar year is always a great time to reflect. The year is pretty much done and we are all in the starting gates for what hopes to be a productive 2016. Traveling the country proved to be an eye-opening experience as I listened and learned about the concerns of fruit and vegetable growers.

As another round of the show season begins, we, as always, should investigate the issues that hamper commercial growers. However, in order to take our conversation to the next level, we should focus on the remedies to assuage those worries.

Looking back at this year, there wasn’t a shortage of people and ideas that I came across. I learned about the advantages and pitfalls of genetically modified crops. I also saw firsthand how the results of climate change affected the regions of the country.

Most importantly, I captured a glimpse of what growers are going through on a day-to-day basis. I heard onion growers in the Northwest discuss new varieties while growers in the Midwest and elsewhere ponder their options about organic farming.

The main takeaway from all of this was that regardless of location, the growers I came across weren’t afraid to voice their opinions and hail their (and others’) achievements in the industry. They also entered these conversations with open minds. It was these types of interaction that created the best outcomes and solutions for the commercial fruit and vegetable industry.

What we are aiming for is to take those issues that were heard on the trade show floors in 2015 and give life to those items through our pages for the new year. As for our pages this month, we have plenty on deck. Our feature (page 8) centers on increasing your varieties when it comes to selecting the right orchard crop. Also, we provide some focus on best practices when it comes to the orchard ladder (page 14) with a showcase on other orchard equipment. I hope you enjoy navigating through our pages. On behalf of the Growing staff, I would like to wish all of you a very happy and safe holiday as well as a hopeful and promising new 2016. Cheers!

COVER PHOTO: ALEXSL/ISTOCK