The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is pleased to announce the selection of Cordell Watt of Timber Ridge Fruit Farm in Gore as the Apple Grower of the Year. Now in its 25th year, the award is presented to one grower each year by American/Western Fruit Grower magazine.
Watt is a third-generation farmer who came back to the farm after earning a degree in liberal arts. His horticulture training was hands-on, guided by his father, the spray manager who has worked for Timber Ridge for 27 years and their office manager who has been with the farm 15 years, as well as other long-time staff members. When his father died unexpectedly, Watt took over ownership of the farm and now is more a manager than a hands-in-the-dirt farmer, but he says if duty calls, he could get back out on a sprayer or start hand pruning immediately.
Timber Ridge grows Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala and Fuji apples. Watt sells his apples both domestically and overseas, primarily to the Caribbean and Central America. His domestic marketing plan includes national chain stores, large farm markets out-of-state and even prisons. The farm includes a 100,000 bushel cold storage facility, a packing house, about 400 acres of apple trees and soon, a new farm office.
Watt’s philosophy is “Make a decision, go with it and don’t look back.” Like every farmer, he has made decisions he regrets and planted trees that don’t work for his farm, but he keeps looking forward and says growers must recognize what works best for their own farm and their own site.
American/Western Fruit Grower magazine say Cordell has emerged as a rising leader by identifying the most efficient production and sales strategies that are suitable for his farm, and that is one of the reasons they selected him as the 2013 Apple Grower of the Year.