The Dirt - Winter 2015

Dos Gringos

The Dirt - Winter 2015


"Gratitude can transform common days
into thanksgivings,

turn routine jobs into joy,
and change ordinary opportunities
into blessings." 

- William Arthur Ward


As we head into the holiday season, I agree and endorse Ward’s quote above.  
There are so many things to be thankful for and I would like to reiterate that we are thankful for you, our clients.
These last couple of weeks have been rough on the sunflower harvest side and we’re thankful for your understanding.
I am thankful for the great team that we have at Dos Gringos and how well we all work together, especially during critical times.
We are truly here for you and the entire team and I are very thankful for your business, loyalty and friendship.
My sincere wishes to you and your family for a wonderful Thanksgiving.
As usual, we have been traversing the lower 48.  Here are just a few things that we have been
up to these past few months, and we have the pictures to prove it!

This month, we feature our Master Grower, Todd Thornton,
please enjoy the interview.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your background in farming?

A. I was born in 1966 in Encinitas and I took a big interest in what my family was doing
– it was a big part of the way I was raised.
Driving the tractors with the guys when I was young, and out in the fields with the
workers helped to begin my passion for horticulture.
I loved to hang out with my father and the only way to do that was to go to work with him.
I started off as low as you could go—by pulling weeds, I kept learning, and I then graduated to packing plants. 
And then when the harvest came and the work went on and on.
It’s a big part of my history. My family started growing in 1920s. Being able to
produce a crop that would be able to know the micro-climates was really important.

The Southwest and Mexico area's are my current specialty. Sunflowers are one of only
70 or 80 crops I’ve grown professionally. I didn’t acquire the knowledge by going to school,
I did it by growing. Knowing the science behind it is very important.
I like to read industry magazines. I’ve dedicated my life to it.

I was fortunate to find Jason/ Dos Gringos Farms who wanted to set out to be the best in the world in one crop.
I worked for other growers who did a lot of crops. But by focusing on one crop, I’ve gained knowledge about each variety
– I’m able to link to micro-climates and able to create a 365-day harvest – I can produce year-round without stopping.
That’s what makes us successful. I’m constantly looking for crops that are more resistant to bug.

Q. How did the recent frost and cold weather effect the sunflower crops?

A. The cold weather snap in early November delayed/halted our harvests in a couple of our key growing regions. 
Sunflowers not only love the sun, they also love warm days. With temperatures 15 to 20 degrees lower than normal,
this holiday has been one of the most challenging in our history.  
Frankly, we are very lucky that we have invested in diversified growing regions over the last 10 years. 
If we didn’t do that things would be even uglier. 
In true DG fashion, we’ll learn all we can from it, make adjustments, and be better in the future.

Q. What are your tips for keeping flowers alive after they are cut?

A. What I do is I make sure sufficient hydration – CLEAN water, replacing every 4 days.
Keep sunflowers out of a draft or directly sunlight. Use a preservative package that is supplied is also important.

A frozen field of Sunflowers

Q. How big can sunflowers get?

A. There are thousands of different varieties – we can grow some that are 12 feet tall,
but these are not necessarily the best for bouquets. For us, it is best to grow at an eye level for the harvester
– when it’s at eye level, I can inspect the flower as I am cutting it. If the flower is looking at me right in the face,
I can tell it is of the best quality, and do it quicker. But what is also important here is protecting the health of our team.
This height minimizes having to bend down and do that hard kind of labor. That literally saves the backs of our team members.

Q. What is the one most important factor in growing the highest quality flowers?

A. Customer satisfaction all the way is job one for us. I’m a really picky person when it comes to our flowers.
If I wouldn’t give them to my mother, I’m not satisfied. My standards are incredibly high.
Customer satisfaction is what it is all about. No matter what color it is – it has to be beautiful on arrival,
has to be unique – either in color or quality.

Q. Any current or future technologies?

A. We do a lot of things differently than other people. We really are Different by Design
and that means not only the designs of our bouquets.  It’s the different herbicides we use, harvest techniques,
post techniques, hydration fluids, cooling—a lot of tools that we use to produce the highest quality. We’re using
things we put into irrigation system to benefit during growth cycle.
There are too many to mention.  You learn it with trial and error.

Q. What new flower varieties are growing this year? Any new surprises?

A. This year to give you an example – we have about 8-10 that I know I can grow in all the different micro-climates. I can plant and know when to harvest at a particular time. This year I’ve tried 110 sunflowers from 3 diff countries, and I selected only 4 that I’m even interested in.
It’s based on color, strength of the product, post-harvest life – if it fits within the system of what we grow.
It will take me 3-5 years to figure out which I can grow consistently. This year we’ll introduce 3-5 varieties that customers can use.
We’re looking at plum variety, white center, buttercream etc.

Q. How long they live?

A. When our customer receives it, the flowers should last 7-10 days. 
We’re trying to get it to the customer
the fastest way possible. We make sure the quality is such that this can be done. A lot of experience is needed.
I know what works and what doesn’t.

Q. Last thoughts?

 A. I think there’s no one better than Dos Gringos Farms (Sun.Flowers) at growing sunflowers, but I am bias. 
It’s this experience and dedication to Sunflowers that sets us apart. When Jason hired me he said we want to be the best in the world at sunflowers,
and I think we are really close. We have an excellent team and I’m really proud to be part of it.

A Frozen Sunflower

The Dos Gringos family goes all out for Halloween!

Call us today to check out our holiday bouquet line.

 From everyone at Dos Gringos,
wishing you a wonderful holiday season!