We’ve been farming for 3 generations, and for 30 years we’ve been exclusively tree fruit. About 4 years ago we put in our first Orchard Rite® frost fan and have since added 2 more.
Before we put in these machines, we never had a full crop in the valley acreage, where we typically will be around 25-28 degrees on some nights. With these machines we’ve been able to pick up 7 to 8 degrees with a good strong inversion layer. Since we put in these machines, we’ve had a full crop most years. We’ve had apples when some of the neighbors didn’t have any.
When we’re ready, we’ll certainly be going back to Orchard Rite® to add new machines. We’re a firm believer in them!
— Mike VanAgtmael, VanAgtmael Orchards; Hart, Michigan
For nearly two decades, I have been farming vinifera grapes in the Grand River Valley of Ohio. Starting with a 2-acre leased field, my family now owns 85 acres and manages another 80 acres for three wineries. Today hundreds of wind machines dot the east coast fruit region, but back in 1995 when we installed our first machine, nobody was running them. Today we use five machines to move cold air winter and spring in frost/winterkill areas. The original propane machine now has 500 hours and still starts on the first or second crank at subzero temperatures.
The most commonly asked question about our Orchard Rites® are: 1). Do they work? & 2). How much do they raise the winter low temperature? In our best site, currently protected by one 16hp. unit, the machine protects up to 15 at-risk acres and raises temperature 8-12° F. on the coldest January nights when started early. On poorer sites, less temperature increases is to be expected (3-4° F.), although the machines clearly lessen the time that the vineyard spends at the nights lowest temperatures. On a 10 acre site, with wine grapes at $1,500/ton, avoiding a one-time 1.6 tpa loss will cover the initial investment. On any one of the coldest nights between 2003-2005, each Orchard-Rite® paid for itself.
— Gene Seigel, South River Vineyard, Grand River Valley, Ohio
My brother Bill and I farm 300 acres of blueberries here in Michigan. We have solid-set irrigation and use water to frost protect, we have four Orchard Rite® Wind Machines to protect where we can’t get water (pumping 3,000 gallons of water per minute we just don’t have enough water to cover the farm). We’ll often have temperatures around 26 to 28 degrees. With our wind machines, we can gain 3 to 5 degrees. The auto start option has been our savior on cold nights. It just gives me 4 less things to do. I wouldn’t buy another one without autostart.
We have nine more Orchard Rite® Wind Machines in partnership operations in Washington and Oregon. I can tell you these machines really work: They’ve saved a lot of fruit.
— George and Bill Fritz, Brookside Farms; Gobles, Michigan
We farm 150 acres of Pistachios at an elevation of 4,500 feet. In February, we put in nine Orchard Rite® Wind Machines and in April our temperatures dropped to as low as 25 and 26 degrees on three different nights. I’m sure we would have lost 80% of our crop this spring without our wind machines. They literally paid for themselves in one year.
We like the Ford V-10 engine with the auto start option and have found with a good inversion we can consistently bring the temperature up 3-5 degrees, sometimes even 7 degrees.
It’s a no brainer to use wind machines in this part of the country. Almost all of the Pistachio farmers in our area use Orchard Rite® Wind Machines. When it comes to frost protection, I don’t know of anything that performs as well as wind machines.
— Dont Fortman, Wilcox, AZ