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The Votes Are In — Best Conference Yet

A quick survey of attendees reveals a general opinion that the 41st Annual Almond Conference, held Dec. 3–5, was the best ever, thanks largely to the spacious Sacramento Convention Center with its roomy trade show floor, banquet hall and meeting rooms, and the wide-open gathering spots for meeting and greeting. Add to that the stellar downtown Sacramento location, with a plenitude of hotels and restaurant choices, and you have the perfect setting for a successful event.

But the venue tells only half the story. What went on within the walls is the other half. This year, the program was expanded to include workshops all afternoon on Tuesday, and again on Thursday during lunch. Guest speakers covered everything from the water situation to financial modeling, with irrigation strategies, nitrogen budgeting, marketing programs and a host of other topics eagerly received by growers, handlers and allied industry members. The “speed dating” six-minute research updates followed by the poster session both Wednesday and Thursday were well attended.

The Conference went out with a bang on Thursday evening, with a trio of master comedians provoking nonstop laughter from the record crowd at the Gala Dinner.

As one member of the audience said, “The comedians were talented, witty and kept you so engaged that I never found myself looking at my phone to see what time it was. Everyone I spoke with following the dinner said they enjoyed it immensely. Driving home, we recounted the jokes line after line and laughed all the way home!”

Polaris RANGER Side x Side Delivered to Turlock
Thursday, Dec. 5, was a lucky day for Pat Wilkey of Turlock. Her entry was drawn from hundreds deposited in the back of a Polaris RANGER 400 UTV at The Almond Conference, where Polaris Industries Inc., and the Almond Board teamed up to provide the versatile UTV giveaway.

Jim Blaze (right), Polaris national accounts manager,
congratulates new RANGER 400 Side x Side owners Jack
(left) and Pat Wilkey of Turlock as he presents Pat with the
keys.

Pat and her husband, Jack, grow almonds in Turlock, and are also owners of Wilkey Industries, which provides processing equipment to handlers. The company was one of many exhibitors at the trade show that ran concurrently at The Almond Conference, which has grown substantially since the event was moved to the Sacramento Convention Center with its larger facilities.



Martin Pohl Honored for Almond Industry Contributions
Announced at the Gala Dinner was the winner of the 2013 Almond Achievement Award, Martin Pohl of Hughson Nut, Inc. Pohl began his work in the almond industry in 1961, and has adopted a mission of customer service ever since. He has contributed to the industry by serving seven years on the Almond Board of California Technical and Regulatory Affairs Committee (TRAC), for which he has hosted foreign groups, met with government officials and participated in TRAC delegations on behalf of the industry.

Martin Pohl (left), a founder of Hughson Nut, Inc., receives the
2013 Almond Achievement Award at The Almond Conference
Gala Dinner from Almond Board President and CEO Richard
Waycott (right) and Board Chairman Bill Harp.

In addition to his work for the Almond Board, Pohl was a cofounder of Hughson Nut and helped engineer the construction of the original plant. He was an integral part of a huge effort in 2001 to promote food safety, and has been a leader in that area since. Pohl also acts as an ambassador for the almond industry in his community by serving on his local school board. Pohl was given a framed orchard photo with a plaque in recognition of his outstanding service to the California Almond industry. Listen to this broadcast from The Almond Conference.

Conference presentations are available online at the Almond Board website.

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