Botts, Kates Named FFVA Vice Presidents

Two veteran staff members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association have been named vice presidents of the organization as part of a staff realignment. Dan Botts, currently director of the environmental and pest management division, has been named vice president of industry resources. He will oversee the association’s pest management, water and natural resources, and food safety and sustainability activities. Walter Kates, director of labor relations, has been named vice president of labor relations. He will continue to oversee the association’s labor relations activities. Joining Kates will be Mike Carlton, current executive director of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation. In addition to his new duties, Carlton will continue to coordinate the activities of the foundation until a successor is named.

Deere Redesigns Used Equipment Web Site

John Deere has overhauled and redesigned its MachineFinder Web site, The used equipment Web site now features an enhanced search and browsing system, built-in shipping integration and the ability to save searches. The changes make it easier to find and review pre-owned agricultural, construction, forestry, commercial and residential equipment from the company’s network of authorized dealers. Additional features include Google Maps to view equipment location and obtain driving directions, detailed gallery views for equipment photos and comprehensive equipment information.

Ed Schneider

Potato Council Elects Schneider as 2009 President

Ed Schneider, a potato grower from Pasco, Wash., has been elected to lead the National Potato Council. Schneider served on the Washington State Potato Commission from 1996 to 2005, serving on all its committees and as chairman from 2001 to 2002. In 2006, he was elected to serve on the NPC Executive Committee as vice president of legislative and government affairs, a position he held until the recent election. During his one-year term as president, Schneider will be working to get a chemical use and data collection project underway.  The finalization of the NPC Sustainability Document is also a top priority for the coming year. 

Cornell and Sun World Sign Grape Research, Licensing Venture

Cornell University has entered into a long-term table grape research collaboration with Sun World International LLC. Bruce Reisch, a grape geneticist at Cornell’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., will work with Sun World grape breeder Michael Striem to combine desirable fruit traits and characteristics from the New York and California programs. Cornell’s expertise, cultivated over more than a century, is in breeding flavorful, disease-resistant and cold-hardy grapes for the cool climate of upstate New York and similar regions. Sun World’s genetic stock has been developed over a 25-year period to produce large, seedless, sweet, crunchy, attractive grapes in the Mediterranean climate of southern California that ship and store well. Scientists at both institutions will exchange pollen and cuttings and regularly visit each other’s research sites. Their genetic resources will be pooled as a common source of such desirable traits as berry size, early or late ripening, flavor, color, and disease and environmental stress resistance. Sun World will manage the U.S. and international introduction of all new varieties produced from the combined research effort.

Rufty Selected as First Chair of Sustainable Development

North Carolina State University’s Dr. Tom Rufty has been named the university’s first Bayer Environmental Science professor of sustainable development. Rufty is currently director of the center for turfgrass environmental research and education and professor of environmental plant physiology of the department of crop science at NCSU. His areas of research include resource acquisition by plants and plant communities and plant responses to environmental stress. 

The new chair of sustainable development, established through a $1 million endowment by Bayer CropSciences business operations unit Environmental Science, will help to further the long-standing collaboration between NCSU and Bayer CropScience on environmental projects. Current collaborative efforts between the two include studies relating to managing carbon sequestration in trees and turfgrass, biodiversity surveys, and research into improving plant health to better manage environmental and insect-related stress.