Roy Farms is a Family owned diversified farming operation that provides many agricultural based products and services. The 2015 Hop Harvest will mark our 108th consecutive hop harvest in the Moxee valley.
Roy Farms prides itself in developing and implementing new farm technology that enhances harvest yields and quality of all our premium crops: Apples, Blueberries, Cherries as well as both Alpha and Aroma hop varieties. Product traceability and Food Safety Standards are applied to handling all of our crops. The Company Culture at Roy Farms supports Sustainable Farming Practices through Resource Management and Environmental Stewardship.
Hops are our "legacy crop" and even after 108 years, we marvel at the unique attributes of the plant and the challenges to successful growing that emerge every season. We enjoy the challenge and would like to see the family and farm prosper for another century, at least. So as concerns arise over new market trends, energy usage and environmental challenges our response has been to innovate and be early adopters of the best new ideas that we discover the world over.
"Sustainability" is not just a buzzword here. We have been working towards that goal for many years now. We are more diversified than ever with multiple tree and bush habit fruit crops in addition to hops. That strategy and cooperating with nature, rather than attempting to dominate it, is key to our future.
Our belief is that the root to continuing our tradition while meeting economic needs of both the farm and the market begins with maintaining a healthy soil ecosystem that is not heavily dependent upon inputs of fertilizer, micro-nutrients and chemicals to combat insects and disease. Experience shows that when grown in a complete and healthy soil, plants not only thrive but also tend to naturally resist pest infestation.
Growing crops need timely water and nutrients and constant monitoring for their health in the face of climatic challenges. A truly healthy yard or orchard needs fewer passes per season of wheeled equipment for added fertilization, weed and pest management and so experiences less soil compaction as well as lower fuel and labor costs.
On-farm processing and marketing are a balanced interplay of good planning, logistical management and constant awareness of market needs and trends. Each customer requires their crop at the right time, at a profitable price point plus assurances of food safety. In short, there are a lot of moving parts to be addressed.
One hears a lot about "thinking outside of the box". While we do that we consider it as least as important to thoughtfully re-consider everything that is "inside the box" on an annual basis.
Our approach is "knowledge-intensive management" based upon historical databases of many years. We have measured almost everything on our farm over the years; not just soil maps but varietal training and maturity dates for every crop. On top of that, we track the type of fertility management used on each and what results it produced in yield and quality. How much water did we use and what was our indicator of how much to apply and when? Were there problem areas in a field and what did we use to rehabilitate those areas?
Being a good grower doesn’t just require a "knack" anymore. One has to be able to draw upon a lot of data to formulate new approaches to optimized plant health, crop quality and growing cost reduction.
When do we start planning for the next harvest?
It starts as soon as harvest is over and continues immediately after as we review the past year in reference to our historical measures. Then we ask "What can we do better?" and proceed with monitored changes over the next season. What works, we keep as a new standard practice. What doesn’t… well, we just try something new based upon our experience and understanding of the new data.