Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award Winner Focuses on Quality, Accessibility and Demand
PHOENIX (Feb. 25, 2015)
– Chalmers R. Carr III, owner and president of Titan Farms in Ridge Springs, S.C., is the recipient of the inaugural Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award. Carr was presented the award at the 2015 Ag Issues Forum hosted by Bayer CropScience in Phoenix.
A first-generation farmer, Carr manages 6,100 acres of peaches, peppers and broccoli on an operation that spans over 20 miles. His achievements in the areas of improving product quality, increasing market demand, supporting consumer education on health benefits and increasing the accessibility of produce to more people exemplify the spirit of innovation the Produce Innovation Award is designed to honor.
Carr and his wife, Lori Anne, purchased Titan Farms in 1999 and have since grown the operation 400 percent, from 1,500 acres to 6,100 acres. At the production level, the Carrs attribute their success with yield and quality to an uncompromising focus on employee training and retention, precision ag technology and a team-based approach to farm management.
“Any success we have begins and ends with our employees,” said Carr. “Everyone here has ownership in the products we grow, harvest and ship. And we firmly believe our investment in employee training and support programs pays enormous dividends in product quality and yield.”
Carr added that all farm employees are highly trained and strictly adhere to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure Titan Farms products are grown, harvested and packed to exceed quality standards and food safety guidelines.
Titan Farms’ adoption of innovative farm management practices has played a key role in its continued growth and success. “Through the use of a custom, web-based irrigation system and radio signals, we are able to control water distribution to all parts of the farm from one location,” notes Carr. “And through precision irrigation and accurate record keeping, we can apply just the right amount of water and nutrients to ensure optimal growth while controlling run-off.
“We have also incorporated weather stations that record chill hours and rain events, and chronicle that information on an annual basis. And we use moisture probes that help us determine the optimal windows for water application that support fruit quality and size.”
Ensuring produce is increasingly accessible to more people—another of the key criteria for the Produce Innovation Award—is also an area of significant accomplishment for Chalmers. He played a key role in opening southeastern peach exports to Mexico in 2011 following a lengthy, seven-year ban. Through his outreach to a USDA official stationed in Mexico, Chalmers initiated a meeting with Mexican officials that was the precursor to regaining access to the Mexican market.
Titan Farms also focuses heavily on researching consumer trends and preferences for produce packaging to stimulate market growth opportunities. Its marketing team has developed a family of product packages that meets demands of their diverse consumers.
“Bayer CropScience is extremely proud to honor Chalmers and his team at Titan Farms with the inaugural Produce Innovation Award,” said Rob Schrick, Horticulture lead, Bayer CropScience. “Their story genuinely represents a passion for growing high-quality produce and finding innovative ways to both maximize production efficiency and increase demand and accessibility as well.
“‘Science for a Better Life’ is our mission at Bayer, and we’re excited to spotlight an innovator who deploys methods in the field, across their operations and within the supply chain to enhance the positive contribution of produce on individual lives and society overall.”
In addition to winning an all-expenses paid trip to the 2015 Ag Issues Forum, Carr was awarded a grant, which he plans to use supporting two local community projects—“Titan’s Fresh Kitchen” and “Peaches Go To School”—that raise awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of fresh produce.
“We have strong relationships with several area chefs and will use a portion of the grant to host cooking demonstrations that showcase their talents and focus on the health benefits of fruits and vegetables,” said Carr. “And we’ll use the remainder of the funds to promote fresh fruits as an essential part of local school menus. Promoting the consumption of fresh fruit at an early age has proven to be the basis of a life-long commitment to healthy lifestyles.”
Produce Innovation Award judges included Tom Stenzel, president, United Fresh Produce Association; John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO, the National Potato Council; and Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association. Adrian Percy, global head of research and development at Bayer CropScience, completed the judging panel. The annual award is designed to honor a leader in the produce industry whose thinking, practices and use of technology enhance the role of produce in creating better lives.
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