Mechanized Ag with JG Boswell

FARMS Program | Kern County | May 6, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School

Our last field day was spent touring JG Boswell’s Kern Operation. We were greeted by Joey Mendonca – Kern County Ranch Manager and Charlie Riddle – Kern Lake District Manager.

Students witnessed the tomato transplanting process. The transplanter’s speed is set and a person refills the transplanter with the small tomato plants. Students commented on the efficiency of the process. The settings are precise for the depth of the soil and measured spacing between plants.

Transplanting in Action

We discussed the irrigation methods and how drip tape is the most efficient use for these tomatoes. We walked to the field next store where the tomatoes were a bit older. You could smell the freshness of the tomato plants. We talked about varieties of tomatoes. The field we were standing in and learning about were Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are bred to have thicker skin for shipping. They are known as “canning tomatoes” but because of their great taste, they began marketing them as Roma tomatoes. We talked about harvesting as well and how critical the handling can be for tomatoes.

Characteristics of Roma Tomatoes

We walked over to the neighboring safflower field. Students were able to pick a sample and feel the prickly outer shell. Inside is the yellow flower that we eventually see blooming as we are driving. To battle pests, they use a sweep net attached to a vacuum. This vacuum pulls the pests off the plant and they are able to study and treat based upon their findings. It was a very creative and resourceful tool!

Studying Safflower

As with any farming operation, irrigation and water management is key. Boswell’s resourceful water management practices are critical given the regulations that are being placed on farming operations in California. We toured the pump area and taught us about the construction of the different pumps and the technology involved to manage it. Joey Mendonca and Max Bricker – Water Dept. Project Manager gave a historical and current view on Kern County water. JG Boswell has its own water department that helps them to understand and implement these complicated regulations.

Touring the Pump Station

We arrived at the shop where Assistant Shop Manager, Aaron Flores and his team BBQ’d an amazing spread for us. During lunch, Human Resources Coordinator, Christina Martinez talked to students and staff about application processes and the pitfalls associated with social media.

After lunch, it was time to tour the equipment! We were able to explore the heavy equipment including the astounding Cotton Harvester! Students were asked about the size and cost guestimates of some of the equipment. They were shocked at the expense! Students loved seeing all of the technology built into the tractors too. There is another piece of equipment that pumps the water from one canal into another. It is a huge piece of equipment that is amazingly run by only two workers!

Our last stop was to the onion fields. Slavo Pavlovic, an Agronomist at Boswell, taught the students about planting, irrigating and harvesting of onions. It was a very informative day networking with the staff at JG Boswell!

Beneficials at SunView


FARMS Program | Kern County |April 9, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

The good bugs are eating the bad bugs! These students witnessed this first-hand last year as part of FARMS Leadership’s tour of Bakersfield College back in 2018.

Today, they were able to see partner SunView Vineyards ingenuity on breeding these beneficial bugs! While this isn’t a new practice, it is unusual to have the breeding facility onsite. Other companies tend to buy their predatory mites from a distributor.

We spent the afternoon with Cristina Gomez, Assistant Director of Entomology at Sun View Vineyards. As part of Cristina’s duties, she manages the Beneficial Insectory.

The Predator Mite Greenhouse

We followed Cristina to the greenhouses. The first greenhouse was the breeding ground for the predatory mite. Cristina described how they maintain the environment for breeding. They need humid and warm conditions. We walked out to get a bit of fresh air and then headed into the next greenhouse. This greenhouse is breeding the spider mites to feed the predatory mites. We discussed the irrigation that it takes to maintain the environment as well.

Students were able to meet Marco Zaninovich, Owner and talk about FARMS Leadership and how it has made an impact on them. It was a great afternoon! Thank you, Sun View Vineyards!

It Was Coming Up Roses in Wasco, CA


FARMS Advanced Program | Kern County |April 9, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

40% of the nation’s roses come from Wasco, California! Wasco sits just northwest of Bakersfield and is known for its Roses. People travel to come to the Annual Festival of Roses every Labor Day to see the beauty that is blossoming in Wasco, CA.

We arrived at Weeks Roses in Wasco and were greeted by Manager, Stu Chamberlain. He helped us get an up close and personal look at the growing, shipping, packing, and practices in place to protect the product through Integrated Pest Management. Stu shared that they are one of the largest rose growers in the world. A couple of key customers are Amazon and Home Depot! We toured the cold storage where we learned how the roses are forced into dormancy. Pesty fungus and mold are a concern in the cold storage and they use a general fungicide to treat those issues. As we walked into the cold storage we sat 257 varieties of roses!

Touring the Cold Storage

“I don’t think I even knew that there were that many types of roses!” Said Casey Sprayberry, FARMS Advanced student from Independence High School.

There were other containers that were being prepared for shipping. Containers of grapes, figs, iris, and cherries. Weeks also partners with the university extension office and Cal Poly Pomona to learn about stone fruit and other various crops. It was now time to walk through the greenhouse and learn about Greenhouse Management.

Assisting with pest management, ID Services LLC’s Alan Butterfield, walked us through the nursery teaching us about the different pests they battle. Mr. Butterfield taught the students the symptoms to look for. We shadowed him as he talked us through his daily practice, then it was time for the students to give it a try. Students scanned the crop to put a numerical grade on the percent damaged by the pest. We then discussed what to do when we found damage. We discussed Label Identification, Recommendation, and classes of insecticides. Students were able to remove who plants when the pest had taken over too much and it was a complete loss.

From the Greenhouse Tour, we took a driving tour of the planted fields. Iris was in bloom and beautiful! There was cover crop planted to restore the soil in some lots. We talked about the grains of that field being sent to cereal companies. After our tour, each student received a catalog of roses and they were able to choose one to take home. What a gift!!

Thank you Stu Chamberlain, Alan Butterfield and staff! It was a great day out at Weeks Roses. We can’t wait to come back!