Member Spotlight: Ron Britt & Associates
Ron Britt and Associates is an agricultural consulting and research firm founded and developed by Ron Britt over 35 years ago. Ron based the company on new technology with an eye for innovation. As the first private consultant to fully implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for tree fruit in the state of Washington, Ron has worked diligently to create pest control programs designed to encourage predator populations while reducing pesticide use.
While conducting research on most crops grown in the North West, the consulting is primarily focused on Pome fruit, Stone fruit and Hops. Ron Britt and Associates has continued to focus on IPM incorporating extensive trapping and scouting to monitor pest and predator levels throughout the Yakima Valley. Ron Britt and Associates also works with chemical manufactures conducting efficacy and residue studies for old and new pesticides, additives and nutrients. These studies are used by the chemical manufacturers in the EPA labeling process. It also affords Ron Britt and Associates the opportunity to examine products and techniques and their effectiveness in the North West. This helps facilitate the incorporation of new softer products into Ron Britt and Associates pest management programs.
In 2010 Ron Britt and Associates started working on the Cowiche Canyon Organic Hop Project. The Cowiche Canyon Ranch is located in a rich, ecologically diverse area with the Cowiche Canyon Creek on the south side and the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Nature Trail to the north. This canyon was created by two separate lava flows that occurred millions of years apart. The first flow, Columbia Basalt, occurred 13 to 17 million years ago and was more of an oozing of lava from the ground. This flow originated in Oregon and Washington around the Columbia River area. The second flow, the Tieton Andesite, occurred around 1 million years ago. This flow originated from a volcano around the goat-rocks area of the Cascade Mountains. This is also the longest known andesite flow in the world. The Tieton Andesite flow, which cools in pillow-like formations, sits on top of the Columbia Basalt flow, which cools in column-like formations. The canyon is also home to an isolated colony of the Lucia’s Blue butterfly. Although the Lucia’s Blue does exist in other areas of the North West, due to the unique riparian corridor of the Cowiche Canyon, this is the only colony to survive in a shrub-steppe environment. Additionally, the Cowiche Canyon Creek supports salmon and the number of sightings of salmon spawning along the creek is rising.
Thus, the idea was to create an environmentally friendly farm, both compatable and non-intrusive within the ecological niche of the Cowiche Canyon. As such the hop yard is organic and has been certified Salmon Safe. The initial section of yard, planted in 2010, was split between Simcoe and Citra. These were the first organic Simcoe and Citras available on the market. In 2011 the yard was expanded and more Citras planted. Currently, the yard is under expansion again. This area will be planted with Mosaic. These hops are used by Fremont Brewing to craft Fremont’s “Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale,” which won first place at Yakima’s 2012 Fresh Hop Ale Festival, and Fremont’s “Organic Pale Ale,” which Fremont, this year’s featured brewery for Seattle’s Beer Week, show-cased for the Seattle Beer Week. A portion of Fremont’s proceeds from the “Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale” are donated to the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.