December 27, 2023

Washington growers honored with annual awards

An executive from Washington-based tree fruit company Stemilt has been honored with the Silver Pear award at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association annual meeting.

Mike Taylor, Stemilt senior vice president of business strategy, received the award for his commitment to the Northwest pear industry at an awards banquet on Dec. 5 in Kennewick, Washington.

“It’s a wonderful honor to receive this award,” Taylor said in a news release. “I’m grateful to have come from a passionate pear-farming family who gave me lots of opportunity to try new things.”

With Taylor as a lead advocate, Stemilt launched its new Happi Pear variety and will open a new automated pear production facility in 2024. He has overseen growth in Stemilt’s sales volume, from $150 million to over $700 million since 2006. He also directs Stemilt’s orchard management business, Stemilt Ag Services, and in-house research and development team.

Taylor, who joined Stemilt in 1994, is a board member of the Pear Bureau Northwest, participates in the Washington Pear Marketing Association and is a past board member of the Pacific Northwest Canned Pear Service. Taylor, a University of Washington graduate, and his family grow fresh pears for Stemilt as well as cherries and apples in the Wenatchee and Entiat river valleys.

Stemilt, a family-owned tree fruit company in Wenatchee, Washington, grows, packs, and ships apples, pears, cherries and stone fruits. Founded by Thomas Mathison in 1964, the company is owned and operated by fourth and fifth generations of the Mathison family.

“The Stemilt team and I are grateful to have Mike and his many years of pear growing experience and expertise leading us into an exciting time for pears,” West Mathison, Stemilt president, said. “With his leadership, we are bringing innovation to pears, along with better quality, accuracy and freshness.”

Silver Apple award

Keith Oliver, production manager for Prosser, Washington-based grower Olsen Brothers Ranches, is the recipient of the Silver Apple award.

Oliver, a graduate of UC Davis with a degree in plant science, began working for Olsen Brothers in 1985. He has served on the Washington State Commission on Pesticide Registration (now known as the Washington State Commission on IPM) for eight years and has served on the advisory board for the WSU Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems.

Olsen is also a member of the Washington Blueberry Commission Research Committee and a longtime board member of the Washington State Grape Society.

Distinguished Service award

Longtime cherry grower Denny Hayden received the Distinguished Service award, honoring four decades of industry contributions including more than 20 years as a Washington Tree Fruit Research Commissioner.

Hayden is past president of the Cherry Institute, has served on the board of the Washington State Fruit Commission and is past chair of the Research Commission’s Cherry Committee.

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

Organic Grower