On October 19, 2015 my son Andrew, brother Kenny and LCN plant breeder Jim Bagdasarian headed to China to visit our company Lassen Canyon Agricultural Development Company (Beijing). We landed after about 13 hours in the air in Beijing and were met by LCB employee Jerry Li and manager Curt Gaines. We hit the ground running and went right away to our nursery headquarters in the Changping district. In Changping we had some Sweet Charlie and Stella in open field production. The crew was going to start harvesting those plants in November and cold store them for Frigo plant production. We also saw Curt and Jerry’s trials employing many different types of growing schemes. The plants all looked really good. When we have visited in the past the nursery plants had always just been planted and never looked very happy. This time everything looked very nice.
The next morning we took the high speed train two hours from Beijing to Taiyuan. We then got in a van and rode another three hours to visit our customer Mr. Du. Mr. Du is the manager of Haole company. Haole produces fruit using plants purchased from both LCN in the US and LCB. We saw his Monterey and Portola and they looked awesome. Even at the end of a long productive harvest, Mr. Du and his crew had the plants looking great. We met with Mr. Du’s staff and they asked a few questions of our group about pests and disease control and we were back in the car headed to the train station. We did get the driver to stop for us at a construction site because they were building a huge dam and us Californians didn’t think we would ever see anything like this happen in our state so we had to stop and take a few pictures! We didn’t get back to the hotel until after midnight, but needless to say no one woke up with jet lag that night.
On our third day we headed out to Chengde, our main open field nursery location. By mid-October most of the plants had already been harvested and shipped, but the crew was still working on some Sweet Charlie. The plants are dug with a Lundeby plant lifter and then the ladies come in and sorted the plants. They are sold as green plants, so they aren’t chopped or trimmed…just sorted for size and quality and neatly packed in boxes of 500 plants. All this is done right in the field. We are in partnership with the villagers in Chengde where they provide the labor and we provide the materials, implements, technical advice and help with sales. Watching those ladies squatted down in the field sorting plants made me sure LCB had the better end of that deal. After checking out the new cooling facility LCB had installed at the field we headed back. The Great Wall of China runs along the freeway and we pulled into an area set up for tourists. The man that acts as an agent between LCB and the Chengde villagers for our farm land had arranged for the park to be open to our group after hours. Andrew had never seen the Great Wall before and the rest of us had certainly never seen it without thousands of tourists climbing all over it. Seeing the Great Wall at dusk with no other visitors was beautiful and certainly one of the high points of our trip.
On our last day in China the guys all slept in and Andrew and I headed out with LCB employees Jerry and Saya to visit Tiananmen Square, Mao’s Tomb and the Forbidden City. Mao’s Tomb was a little creepy but very interesting. He’s buried in a glass casket and seems to be very well preserved. Even years after his death thousands of people file by his casket. After the tomb we hit the Forbidden City and checked out all the fabulous buildings inside the city. Once done with the tour we met up with the guys at the famous Silk Market and tried our hand at negotiating a good price from some souvenirs to take back home. Purses were still a favorite. On our last night we enjoyed Korean Barbeque at a nice place close to hotel and then headed back to get ready to go home.
The trip back took only about 11 hours. We arrived in San Francisco only a few hours after we left because of the crazy time zones. It was a great trip and I am excited for our next visit.