HMC News – June 2021

HMC Farms was the recipient of the 2021 Agriculture Business of the Year award from the Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce. Notable reasons for the selection include: a strong relationship with the food bank, support of the local senior center, adjusting to fit school nutrition needs during the pandemic, and providing vaccination clinics to agricultural workers. It means a lot that we were selected with so many different ag businesses to choose from in our area.

We are in the midst of the most labor-intensive part of table grape farming: pre-harvest hand labor. This work consists of leafing, hanging and dropping bunches, thinning, and tipping. All of these jobs are done by hand in our vineyards to facilitate the growth and development of great quality HMC Farms table grapes. Our Farm Friday video goes in depth on this topic, explaining what each job entails and why it’s important. Watch it here on our YouTube channel if you missed it, and follow us on Instagram to see the weekly Farm Friday series in our stories.

In the middle of June we experienced a week-long heat wave, peaking at 112°F one day. Our first priority in extreme temperatures like these is the health and safety of our employees. We are working shorter days, wrapping up harvest by noon or earlier, and observing special procedures to ensure that employees get plenty of water, shade, and rest to avoid any heat-related health issues.

We are constantly on the lookout for ways to make our processes more efficient using ag technology. One of the tools we use every day is Pago, an integrative platform HMC Farms invested in and helped develop. Pago is a platform which allows us to schedule crews, calculate pay, maintain compliance with current ag labor laws, and monitor activity in real time. Gone are the days when handwritten time sheets needed to be brought in from the field to track activity and calculate pay. With a scan of the Pago card using a mobile app, each member of the crew is able to clock in and out, and data accumulates into cloud storage for our office staff.

We’re a third of the way through stone fruit season. This year has had more than its share of challenges: drought, extreme heat, and labor shortages have all taken their toll on an already difficult commodity. We are adjusting to deal with the issues at hand, like we always do. On the bright side, the fruit is as good as any we have produced. Sugar, size, and the condition of the product are all excellent; but we’ve got a long summer ahead. Grapes will begin harvest in a couple of weeks. At this point, the crop looks excellent and has come through the heat waves with only minimal sunburn.