I rarely make a habit of laying out predictions, long-range or otherwise. Much like the weather, there’s only so much forecasting you can do accurately in any arena. Industry predictions, in particular, tend to be dangerous business – not only is money on the line, but with our business being the food supply, lives are at risk.

There are thousands of variables that can and will impact how our year will play out, from weather and pests to consumer trends and government. The best you can hope for is an accurate educated guess. Ultimately, I’m not much of a gambling man, especially with stakes as high as the ones we face in our industry. Better to assume the worst, hope for the best and plan for anything.

However, there are some things I can predict – most importantly, what you’ll see here in Growing.

Some of the prime issues we will face as an industry in the coming year will be new, including regulatory changes, weather challenges and shifting international markets. However, many issues are ongoing concerns with which we’ve dealt for years, including food security and safety, labor challenges and consumer strategies.

As such, these are all important topics we’ll cover in depth here in the pages of Growing, as well as our continuing coverage of successful operations around the country; new research from seed to harvest; and products and equipment on the horizon. We’ll also increase our coverage of orchard management each month, due to popular demand.

Here are a few things to look forward to in 2012, beginning with this issue:

  • A new feature this year is a monthly Web exclusive. Each month, we’ll post a new, online-only story to our website (www.growingmagazine.com), which will be accessible on your smartphone (the QR code will be on page 3 with the table of contents each month) or on your computer (a link will also be on page 3). We will cover safety, maintenance and other hands-on, practical topics. This month, we’ll be covering storing pesticides safely, so be sure to check that out.
  • Also look for six brand-new special supplements covering important industry areas: vineyards; farmstands; orchards; irrigation and water management; nut production; and nurseries and greenhouses. These special supplements will offer in-depth coverage of research, trends, products and more. Beginning in February with our Vineyard Edition and continuing at different points throughout the year, we’ll jump headlong into each of these industry segments to provide you with the information you need to not only get by but succeed; we think you’ll find them invaluable, whether you’re part of that sector or not.
  • We’re be taking a fresh look at some of our product focus areas. In lieu of a product list for certain topics, we’ll offer you an in-depth view of important changes and updates. This month, to inaugurate this new feature, we’ve asked frequent and longtime contributor Nancy Riggs to bring you essential information about insect and pest management, specifically the expanded use of biopesticides in the fruit, nut and vegetable fields and what it means to you.

We hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from these new features in Growing. Let us know what you think at growingletters@growingmagazine.com!