Q. So, Matt, Dirk, I know you’re from the same town. Are you guys are elementary school buddies?
Matt: Yeah! Pretty much. Saint Stanislaus Elementary in Modesto. We played baseball together.
Q. And you both grew up on farms? What crops did you grow?
Dirk: Almonds, walnuts.
Dirk: We had pumpkins and watermelons too, but not anymore.
Matt: We farmed corn for my cousin. Corn, wheat and oats for my cousin's dairy.
Q. What were the problems your family faced over years with almonds and walnuts as the cash crops?
Dirk: I remember pests, a lot of pest problems.
Matt: Pest problems, and I remember price was not good growing up. It was substantially lower. In the ‘90s, it hovered between 80 cents and a dollar, somewhere in that range.
Matt: It really wasn’t until the last ten years or so (that prices improved). When the Almond Board got big, hyping the health benefits of it, almond milk, almond butter, the general health benefits of nuts, protein.
Dirk: The U.S. marketing is what helped a lot. In the '90s... I remember seeing, Blue Diamond would have a little package of nuts in a store, maybe. Now, it’s almond everything.
Q: So, you guys aren’t sick of almonds?
Matt: Nope: I still eat ‘em, eat ‘em every day.
Dirk: I bought a bag of chocolate-covered ones yesterday, just because I wanted some (laughs).
Q. So turning to what brought you guys to Ceres–how do you see these images helping nut growers?
Matt: One of the ones we do pick up a lot through the imagery is mites. On the field, you can see webs, and they spread. You’ll see dead areas easier. But I know farmers pick up their flights in July when mites are more of an issue. It’s been drier for longer and they come with the dust along roadways.
Matt: One customer had a field with really bad mite problem. When they first looked at the imagery they thought it was water stress, but it was mites. He didn’t realize until he got out there.
The PCA, the pest control advisor, didn’t pick up on it. The PCA should be walking the field looking for that issue, but with larger acreage it's hard. It was a large amount of acreage, and it was just not covered.
Ceres offers the ability to monitor a large amount of acreage that can’t possibly really be walked.
Dirk: Unless you want a workout.
Matt: Unless you get literally nothing else done.
Dirk: Or are an Olympic speedwalker.