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Group from Republic of Georgia visits local orchard

August 19, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Statisticians from the Republic of Georgia visited a Washington County farm Thursday to see how peaches and apples are grown here.

Rinehart Orchards near Smithsburg was the last stop of a United States trip for the Georgian delegation, which is learning American methodologies and procedures in agricultural statistics.

The group from Georgia, a former Soviet republic, began its trip Aug. 7 in Washington, D.C., said Barbara R. Rater, the director of the Maryland field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The last few days of the trip went through Maryland, including an Eastern Shore dairy farm and a Carroll County farm with swine and goats, Rater said.

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The Georgians also drank Maryland wine. Their country is known for producing wine.

On Thursday, J.D. Rinehart, the general manager of Rinehart Orchards, hosted the group and showed them around.

He talked about crop insurance as a protection against frost and hail.

He explained that it takes about five years after planting peach trees before he can harvest them.

He showed them pheromone controls used in the orchards, either through tags on trees or sprays. They interrupt bugs' mating habits, a cleaner method than spraying pesticides.

He told them the United States produces "way too much stuff," although there seems to be an increasing interest in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Still, American growers need to find other markets, he said.

One delegation member wanted to know if there was such a thing as a picking machine.

No, Rinehart said -- each piece of fruit is picked by hand by employees using ladders and buckets.

Another asked, would Rinehart like to expand?

Sure, Rinehart said, although there's plenty to do as it is.

"My father and grandfather bought the farm piece by piece," he said.

Rinehart led the delegation -- which included an interpreter -- through a refrigerated storage area, along the fields and to the farm's retail stand, where he cut up peaches and gave out slices.

After his guests left, Rinehart said agriculture officials sometimes ask him to host foreign visitors because his farm also has a packing house and a cold storage area.

He said this is the fourth tour he's given this year. One was another group from the Republic of Georgia and another was a group from China. He couldn't remember where the other group was from.

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