Annual Hispanic Summer Fruit Tour Featuring Orchard Management Skills

By Mildred Alvarado, Mario Miranda Sazo, Nicole Waters, Janet van Zoeren and Alejandro Calixto

[Vea este artículo en Español]

The Cornell Small Farms Program (SFP), New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM), CCE Lake Ontario Fruit  (CCELOF) team, and Zingler Farms have decided to collaborate closely to host the seventh annual Spanish-Language Fruit Tour at one of the Zingler farms in an effort to strengthen Spanish-language education in the Lake Ontario fruit region. 

During the tour we will provide Spanish-language education about the use of fruit color enhancement technologies in apples, fire blight control, and strategies to build efficient teams during apple production and at harvest. Three independent stations at the Zingler site will offer participants the opportunity to develop practical skills through various orchard activities. Finally, the event will end with an indoor self-reflection hands-on activity and field-based learning. A lunch will be provided following the indoor class activity.

The tour will start at 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday August 24, 2022. Please send your Hispanic employees to the first stop located at 16603 Skillington Rd, Holley, NY (look for the Cornell fruit event signs located at the entrance). There will be one long orchard stop featuring Bulmaro Solis and his key Hispanic employees, a short indoor training, and a lunch celebration for all tour attendees at the end of the tour in the pavilion at CCE Orleans County office.

8:30 am: Registration (place to meet at the Zingler site is 16603 Skillington Rd, Holley, NY – look for Cornell fruit event signs).

9:00am – 11:00am: Outdoor educational training in the Spanish language at the Zingler site.

Orchard Management with Mario Miranda Sazo, CCE LOF

Reflective Materials (or RMs) have become an effective technology for improving fruit color on high value apple cultivars. Two main materials have been adopted in our region. During the tour, there will be a small display of main reflective materials and a discussion about their uses.

In addition to the adoption of fabric materials in our region, some innovative WNY apple growers have also conducted leaf pruning (manual) and applied plant growth regulators. A more recent development has been the purchase of pneumatic defoliation machines for improved fruit coloring by a few WNY fruit growers in the last few seasons. We will have a discussion about the use of all these technologies with Bulmaro. Participants will have a good understanding of why and how these techniques have been adopted in the WNY apple industry at the end of the tour.

IPM with Janet van Zoeren, CCE LOF and Alejandro Calixto, NYSIPM

Fire Blight and Invasive Insect Pest Discussion: Fire blight has caused severe economic losses on many WNY orchards, as each of 2020, 2021, and 2022 has been designated a “bad fire blight year”. Some important discussion points will include: how do you identify fire blight, how do you know if it’s caused by a resistant strain of the bacteria, and how do you treat it? In addition, we will view first hand and listen to a success story of turning around a severe fire blight infection and saving an orchard block, told by Bulmaro. At the end of the talk we will change gears completely, and briefly discuss monitoring for an invasive insect pest, the spotted wing drosophila, using red sticky cards. 

Final remarks about fruit IPM will be provided by Alejandro Calixto, Director of NYSIPM. 

Cornell Small Farms Program – Futuro en Ag Project with Mildred Alvarado, CSFP

Communication Skills to Promote Motivation among Farm Employees: To deliver the best NYS apples to your customers, while realizing your farm business goals, two factors are essential – promoting good team-building skills and providing proper training to employees. The benefits of an efficient, well-trained work team are ultimately reflected in higher fruit quality, streamlined expenses, pleasant working environments, and committed employees. These values establish a work culture that goes far beyond just one working season. The seventh Spanish Fruit Tour of summer 2022 will aim to train crew leaders and harvest teams to develop positive work environments, mutual understanding, and effective communication while developing and supervising new and existing farm employees alike. 

During this Human Resource Management station, we will be learning how to train new and existing employees on the apple harvesting process through practical exercises, from pre-harvest preparation, correct ladder techniques, how to properly harvest apples so as not to damage the next year’s crop and this year’s apple quality. Importance of the role of the supervisors in the quality inspection, the importance of following instructions from the teams, listening and taking care of their work with respect and dedication to harvest quality apples and strengthen their employers, their communities, and the apple industry. This station will be conducted with the help of experienced Zingler Farm employees and will be reinforced with human resource management techniques.

11:00am – 11:30am: Drive from the Zingler site to CCE Orleans County office for an indoor activity and lunch.

11:30am – 12:30pm: Self-Reflection with All Facilitators

This section will be conducted using practical, self-reflection exercises and visual training methods. We seek to promote employee, supervisor, and farm owner engagement through a deeper understanding of multicultural skills, as equally important to proper field training methods. Appreciating each individual’s contribution in the short-term, from production through harvest, promotes a successful farm business in the long term.

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch at the pavilion at CCE Orleans office (funds provided by CSFP)

Learn more about our host Bulmaro Solis, Manager at Zingler Farms

IMG 5945

Bulmaro Solís, en Zingler Farms.
Fotografía tomada por Bulmaro Solís

My name is Bulmaro Solis. I work at Zingler Farms. I have been with the company approximately 13 years. I came to New York because I was very motivated by agriculture, coming from the rural area I come from, that’s what I did, agriculture. I came first to the State of Florida, to cut oranges, later I came to New York State. After a year, I fell in love with apples mainly because I am fascinated by the trees. I treat them as if they were my own children and I really enjoy doing that.  That’s why I stay in the apple industry; that’s why I am here.

Zingler Farm is approximately 500 acres. We have several varieties of apple, the best known are SweeTango, Honeycrisp. We have several locations, or if we want, we can call them several “ranchos” or orchards, in different places, they are very large, and throughout the year we move to different points.

I manage the crops, and the people.  During the month of March, when people come to prune, we have between 42 -46 people, during harvest, we are approximately 80 people. Throughout the year my job is to manage all those people, tell them what to do, and accommodate them, at home, and at work. I also report to my bosses about their performance, and our daily work tasks. 

I took the Futuro Financiero course in March, and I wish the program could continue because we in the farming community, mainly managers, need more help. We need more knowledge, and the program helped us a lot. I would like to see this continue with even more topics, and I would like to see more people like myself coming to the program. During the Futuro Financiero course, something was shared about managing people that really stood out – and it is – trust in your people (employees) and delegate more. If a young individual from Mexico arrives with the potential to become an orchard manager, I would tell him/her “You must have a lot of discipline, and you must have a lot of patience, then you will succeed in your Ag career.”

Registration for the tour (including food and beverages to be offered at the end of the tour) is FREE thanks to funds and support provided by the Cornell Small Farms Program. For additional questions, contact Mario Miranda Sazo, (315) 719-1318 or Mildred Alvarado (413-406-9760).

IMPORTANT – Registration process for the 2022 Hispanic summer fruit tour:

Pre-registration will be required for attendance of your Hispanic employees for any part of the Hispanic tour this year (the last day for pre-registration will be Monday August 22, 2022 by 5pm).  It is especially important for food counts/seating, and handouts.

We encourage all growers to register their Hispanic employees by emailing a list of participants with first name(s) and second last name(s)) plus a phone number from your organization to Mildred Alvarado (, Nicole Waters (, or Mario ( Please contact Mario if you need more specifics about the tour.

Please be aware that the educational components of the tour will be presented only in the Spanish language. There won’t be on-site translation to the English language during this tour.

Mildred Alvarado

Mildred is the LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. Her work is focused on building bridges to facilitate knowledge and help farmers to overcome linguistic, cultural, and technical barriers to promote inclusive and profitable businesses. Coming from a farm facing the challenges that many still face, the program’s mission is close to home for her. The soil of her Honduran farm taught her how to survive, fueled her body, and her dreams which have brought her here to the Cornell Small Farms Program team.