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A Cajun in California…thoughts on a lifetime of agriculture

October 2, 2019

By John Wood, Certis Biologicals Regional Manager, CA South Central Valley

What stress it is to author a column every two weeks that’s titled “Ask the Expert!” I mean, the pressure, right?

How can someone claim to be a true expert in a field that’s rooted so deep in our existence, but that is also moving forward so rapidly that new technologies and practices are being introduced almost daily? 

While it’s a lot to live up to being called an “expert,” I can tell you that every time I come to you I try to share what I’ve learned from a lifetime of farming. Every piece of advice that I give to you is advice that I’d want someone to also share with my family. It was, after all, alongside them that I honed my love of the land through production of sugar cane and Charolais cattle in South Louisiana.

Yep, you read that right…I am a born and bred Cajun! A big part of my family is still in Louisiana, growing sugar cane, soybeans and crawfish.

While my Cajun blood will never leave, I’ve been in California agriculture now for more than four decades, and the crop diversity here has taught me the most about what it takes to feed the growing world. 

Early in my career as a farm manager of apples and exotic fruits in Kern County I learned the importance of reliable farm inputs as the key to consistent, successful food production. In that position, I ran spray crews, monitored crops for pests and diseases, hired workers, managed purchasing and budgeting for all those crops. It was a big job, but you guys know that…you are out there doing it, and more, every day.

I was also a full-time PCA/Independent Crop Consultant for a time, helping growers just like you fight the good fight against all the things that can damage our crops. 

As the Certis Biologicals Regional Manager of the California South Central Valley, every conversation that I have about our products is built upon experiences gained as a grower, farm manager and PCA.

Hands down, the best part of my job is being out in the field working with some of the greatest growers and agriculturists on this green Earth. I see a lot of you as I travel around the San Joaquin Valley and I appreciate the ability to meet others of you at agriculture events and CAPCA meetings across the state.

California is a big state and, while I can’t promise to meet you all, I can say that those of you that I have met have taught me something new about this ever-changing world of agriculture that we live in.

And if, perhaps I am ever fortunate to meet you all, then I could truly be called an “expert,” knowing that true expertise comes from experiences that we all share with one another.

This series is part of a partnership with Tree Nut Farm Press. You can read the original here.

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