New Ag

New Ag | Orondo, WA | October 2019

Autumn Orchard #2 | The image of Grandpa and Little Timmy ambling back to the farmhouse with a bucket of Braeburns has always seemed more fantasy than fact. So today’s new-fangled fruit farms — industrialized, computerized, optimized — don’t stir my yearning for the good ol’ days. In fact, these high-tech orchards seem a practical progression to feed the world. I like the theory, anyway: Fewer workers producing more and better fruit from smaller parcels. Of course, a trellised crop fed by drip irrigation and covered with protective nets looks more like a factory than a farm. It’s easy to visualize the future: A gazillion rows of hybrid trees tended by robotic harvesters not once tempted to take a chomp of that just-picked Honeycrisp.

[In photo: Huge sheets of netting that protect fruit from sun, wind and pests are rolled at season’s end.]