April 30, 2019
Christine May grew up surrounded by agriculture. From living on a small farm and having a father who taught in the industry at Auburn University to her FFA involvement it was just always a part of her world. She went to college and majored in Agronomy. After college she took a job with Syngenta which carried her all the way from her home state of Florida to Washington and then landing in California.
I started out on my visit to Christine at her home where she keeps her office. Her territory includes a healthy portion of California and Arizona. Her role is to provide research and support to the sales reps in her region by working with the Pest Control Advisers (PCA) and sometimes growers to test out different Syngenta products to solve the problems they are experiencing.
We then started a series of stops at various fields in the area, starting with a celery field. There we met Brian, a PCA who is working with Christine to control the issues affecting the growth of their crops. We waded through some mud from the recent heavy rains, out into the field to take a look at the crop. It was interesting to see a veggie drawer staple out in the field and to learn that the majority of celery sold in the US is grown right there in Ventura County.
From there we made our way down the road a bit to a lemon grove where she met another PCA. They discussed a few items they are working on together and we got an up close look at the lemon trees, which looked healthy and the fruit was close to being ready to harvest.
Another stop and another PCA met us at a nearby Cilantro field where they walked the crops and checked for issues. Our final stop of the day was at a large strawberry field where the big red berries were being picked. It is early in the harvest season, with most of the fruit going to juice at this point. Christine walked us down the muddy road in between the fields until we got to the row with her research trial. She showed us a camera that she had installed to help document and track the growth of the berries with an accelerant product that they are trying. She explained that she is working with the sales representative to run the research and be able to document and show the results that will hopefully be positive.
It was an interesting day in the Central California coast, seeing the diversity of the crops grown, and learning first hand about the intense work and effort that goes into making sure growers have the right products they need to produce a bountiful crop. There are people at work all throughout the food chain, and Christine and other agronomists like her are giving their time, expertise and care to all of us in the efforts put in to grow the fruits and vegetables that make their way to our table each day.
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