TomatoFest Lists Top 10 Heirlooms

TomatoFest Garden Seeds’ black tomatoes rank high in the company’s Top 10 list of favorite heirloom tomatoes going into 2008. Varieties that made the list include: Paul Robeson (purple/black), Cherokee Purple (purple/black), Brandywine (pink), Amana Orange (orange), Marvel Stripe (red/yellow striped), Julia Child (pink), Black Zebra (green/purple striped), Black Cherry (purple/black), Kellogg’s Breakfast (orange), and Aussie (red). The purple/black-colored heirloom tomatoes are popular at produce markets, with restaurant chefs and with home gardeners. The Top 10 list is based on a survey of tomato seed sales to home gardeners and commercial tomato farmers, along with a review of sales of fresh heirloom tomatoes to retailers and restaurants. Gary Ibsen, owner of TomatoFest, has also seen a jump in demand for the black tomatoes in China, Spain, Japan and the UK.

Dole Converts Farm Equipment to Biodiesel

After five months of testing, Dole Fresh Vegetables Co., a division of Fole Food Co., Inc., Westlake, Calif., has converted all of its harvesting equipment in Salinas, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz., to B20 biodiesel fuel. Dole has been testing B20 biodiesel since August in farm equipment and off-road vehicles with positive results.

Warsh Named UPGA Board Vice Chairman

Dave Warsh, owner of Warsh Farm in Center, Colo., has been named vice chairman of the United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) board of directors. Warsh has been farming for over 25 years and is a founding director of the UPGA. He has also served for two years as secretary-treasurer of the organization. In addition to his UPGA duties, Warsh serves as president of the United Fresh Potato Growers of Colorado, and was founder of the United cooperative in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.

PMA Names Whitaker as Chief Scientific Officer

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has named Dr. Robert Whitaker as the association’s first chief scientific officer. Whitaker will direct the creation of PMA’s new science-based programs and services at a time when food safety, traceability, sustainability and other science-based issues are taking immediacy in the produce industry. Whitaker has worked in the produce and agricultural industries since 1982, most recently serving as vice president of product development and innovation at NewStar Fresh Foods of Salinas, Calif. He has testified before both houses of Congress as an expert witness on produce food safety in the last two years, and received the International Fresh-cut Processing Association’s (IFPA) Technical Achievement Award in 2006. He also served as the chairman of IFPA’s board that same year. He sits on the executive committee and the advisory board for the new center for produce safety at the University of California at Davis, and has served on the board of directors of theUnited Fresh Produce Association. Whitaker will assume his position with PMA on April 1. He will initially be based in California.

Amanda Clark

Clark Joins ACI Sales Team

Agri-Cover, Inc. has expanded its sales team with the addition of Amanda Clark. In her new role as gold star dealer specialist, Clark is responsible for ACI’s gold star program and will be based out of the company’s North Dakota factory. As the main contact for this program, Clark will be working closely with dealers and distributors to develop the program further.

USDA Establishes Quality Monitoring Program

The USDA has established a new service in response to the processed and fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s need to supplement internal quality control programs. The new Quality Monitoring Program (QMP) permits companies to submit specific processed produce samples for review to graders from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Chicago-based U.S. Foodservice is the first company to sign an agreement with AMS to provide QMP services at several of its distribution centers. After an AMS inspection, products that do not conform to assigned specifications are immediately reported back to the company. The produce industry relies on AMS’ trained inspectors to provide impartial review and certification of shipments in various stages of the marketing chain.

Staff Changes at Nunhems

Nunhems USA has named Russ Kabaker the integration manager and new lettuce crop sales manager after seven years of holding the crop sales manager position within the company’s carrot program. In his new position, Kabaker will oversee the design, implementation and execution of marketing and sales strategies for the combined Nunhems’ lettuce portfolio. He will also play a vital role in integrating Paragon Seeds, a lettuce seed breeding and production company recently acquired by Nunhems. John Erb succeeds Kabaker as carrot crop sales manager for the Americas.

Nunhems has also named Jeff Boettge  crops sales manager for the company’s onion and hot pepper programs. In this role, Boettge will lead teams of experts in research, product development and sales and marketing for the company’s onion and hot pepper portfolios across North and South America.

Bobcat Unleashes 50th Anniversary Contest

As part of its year-long, 50th anniversary celebration, Bobcat Company is launching the How Bobcat Unleashed Me Contest. The contest seeks input from customers on how Bobcat equipment has helped them in performing work better, smarter and faster. One winner will be selected to receive a $75,000 Bobcat gift certificate, good for products or attachments of the winner’s choice at a designated Bobcat dealer in North America. Five second prize winners will receive $1,000 gift certificates, 10 third prize winners will receive a Bobcat jacket and 50 monthly winners will receive the book “Bobcat: 50 Years of Opportunity, 1958 – 2008”. Weekly winners will receive a Bobcat 50th Anniversary hat and the grand prize will be selected from the weekly winners.

To enter, equipment users need to write a brief essay about their experiences with Bobcat equipment and fill out an entry form at the Bobcat 50 Years Unleashed Web site, Entries will be judged on creativity, quality, completeness and originality of answers, as well as any supporting documents. Selected winning entries will be posted on the Web site. The contest concludes on May 30, 2008.

NESEED and D. Palmer Seed Merge

After 20 years in business for both companies, NESEED and D. Palmer Seed have merged. This merger forges DPSEEDS LLC to continue to work with over 15 independent plant breeders. In an effort to get growers what they need, NESEED will continue to market and be the liaison between grower s and the company’s breeding partners.  

New VP at Dosatron

Dosatron International, Inc., a manufacturer of water-driven, proportional chemical injectors with corporate offices in Clearwater, Fla., has named Gary Berglund as vice president of western market sales. Berglund was most recently a master distributor for Dosatron in the Pacific Northwest.

Organic Seeds Sought for OMRI Database

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) has cut prices for seed suppliers to list organic varieties in the Institute’s organic seed database. Established in October 2006, the database enables organic growers to search the diversity of available organic seed, both open pollinated varieties and newly developed hybrids. Additionally, the database offers an opportunity for seed companies to connect with growers. Previously, seed companies paid a flat $25 plus $50 for every five varieties included beyond the initial five. The new fee will be a $60 flat rate. The change in rate is an effort to encourage the participation of smaller, more diverse companies in OMRI’s service.

Dealer Devlopment Underway at McCormick

McCormick International USA has hired industry veteran Thurman Kirkland to lead its dealer development efforts and expand the number of dealers carrying the Landini and McCormick product lines. Kirkland will focus on all aspects of dealer development in the United States, including working directly with territory managers to expand the dealer base for both brands and assist in sales management efforts.

Zander New Director of Sales, Marketing at Manitou

Kirk Zander has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Manitou North America. Zander was initially hired as the Midwest regional sales manager, a position he held for six years. He also held the position of field sales manager for the past three years.