Feb 26, 2019
Wafler, Fruit Growers News among IFTA honorees

Fruit Growers News was among a group of organizations and individuals honored Monday as the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) annual conference and tours began in Rochester, New York.

Paul Wafler, left, and Rod Farrow.

The IFTA also honored Paul Wafler, the second-generation owner of Wafler Farms near Wolcott, New York, as grower of the year.

“I don’t think he has ever met a piece of machinery he couldn’t improve,” Farrow said. “Every time I visit him, I leave with my head spinning, wondering what I have to do to keep up with this.”

In saying thanks for his award, Wafler said his sons would continue the family legacy.

“I have two young bucks who will one day be up here, hopefully, doing the same thing, because they’re making my head spin, even though Rod thinks I make his head spin,” he said.

Fruit Growers News and two other trade media organizations received an outstanding Industry Service Award from the IFTA.

“The writers and editors spend countless hours in preparation – cold in our orchards and on their phones posting to social media while simultaneously taking notes – publication,” said IFTA President Rod Farrow. “It’s an invaluable service to our entire industry.”

Mario Sazo, left, and Terence Robinson.

Cornell Extension specialist Mario Miranda Sazo received the Extension award.

“In mid-2008, Mario applied to become my technician,” said Cornell Professor Terence Robinson. “But after interviewing him I saw he had great potential to work with fruit growers in western New York, and I encouraged him to apply for the Extension specialist position instead of my technician job. … he continues to have tremendous enthusiasm and leads change in orchard systems, pruning, thinning and irrigation.”

Sazo said he was surprised. He said he relishes attending IFTA each year and still remembers his first IFTA trip to Vienna, Austria.

“Here are amazing people, amazing growers,” he said. “Everybody came here to learn something.”

Alan Lakso, left, and Terence Robinson.

Cornell professor emeritus Alan Lakso, a fruit crop physiologist, received the research award.

“Among the scientific community, which maybe many of you may not appreciate, he is considered among a very elite top-tier group of physiologists that have helped advance the understanding of fruit crops,” Robinson said. Lakso worked for 25 years before retiring in 2014.

Lakso accepted the award in person.

“This is a really special honor, because that 25 years of work was for you,” Lakso told the growers. “And in a lot of cases (the research) took a long time – some of us are slower than you guys – but it looks like it was useful and that was the ultimate goal.”

– Stephen Kloosterman, FGN Associate Editor

Above: Rod Farrow, left, and FGN Associate Editor Stephen Kloosterman.

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