Gar Tootelian Inc. - Reedley, California

US: Putting agri technology to the test

In Central Valley’s diverse crop market, a significant opportunity exists for agri retailers to thoroughly test precision technology.

Keith Hennesay is Manager of the GAR Agronomy team, a part of retailer Gar Tootelian Inc. in Reedley, California. He heads an 11-member team with a keen focus on analyzing precision technology. Hennesay works with GAR’s 35-plus Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) and producer customers on incorporating this technology into growing regimens.

GAR has the benefit and struggle of managing arguably the most diverse crop production mixes in the country from its headquarters in the Central Valley. Corn, soybeans, and cotton intermingle with permanent fruit and nut acreage, vineyards, and high-value vegetables and fruits within the valley.

Because of its size and prominence in the region, GAR has been inundated with manufacturers bringing new products and ideas on the technology side. Hennesay and his team are assigned the task of figuring out which of these technologies to take to the next level, either as a tool for the PCAs or for the growers themselves.

Hennesay emphasizes that the products with the most promise will arrive from companies that are willing to customize to fit the GAR work model. “We’re always willing to look at promising new technology if the company is willing to set it up in our protocol.” That requires a patient client as well: “Evaluations may take a year to a year and a half, and some companies are not willing to wait. But we need to protect our market share and provide growers with the best possible product that meets our specific criteria in our region.”


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