Howard retired from the NCDA two years ago, but he didn’t retire from helping farmers, and for sure didn’t quit helping anyone with a challenge anywhere in agriculture.

Howard recommended Frank spray all his grapes with a new soil amendment called QuickSol, which he did.

He applied one application of 5 ounces per acre 45-60 days prior to bud break (February) and another 5 ounces per acre right before bud break.(March), 10 ounces per acre pre-flowering (May), and 4 ounces per acre when formation of the fruit started (June).

A total of 24 ounces per acre was applied, the North Carolina grower says.

“I didn’t do anything different to my grapes than I have done in the past few years, other than applying QuickSol. I don’t know what it does, but it saved our grape crop, and I’m a believer — I’ll definitely use it again this year,” Hobson says.

Howard was so impressed by the results of QuickSol used on a number of different crops by farmers with whom he worked at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, that he was lured out of retirement to help establish and market the new product in North Carolina.

Howard bristles at the mention of QuickSol being another in a long line of materials often referred to by farmers as ‘snake oil’. 

 

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If QuickSol didn’t work, I wouldn’t be wearing the company logo on my hat and shirt, and I for sure wouldn’t be selling it to my farmer friends. I’m putting my reputation built up by more than 30 years of working with farmers on the line, and the product has delivered every time,” Howard says.

For Frank and Lenna Hobson, saving the grape crop was more than an economic savings and subsequent boon from selling their excess grapes to other wineries in the Yadkin Valley, it was another chapter in the charmed life of RagApple Lassie.

Because the dairy cow pet, RagApple Lassie that Frank Junior, as he has been called during most of his life, was so used to winning ribbons at county fairs in and around Boonville, Frank and Lenna thought it would be appropriate to adorn the life-size smiling cow that is now the marketing symbol of the winery with a ribbon of her own.

In advertising shoots, RagApple Lassie is adorned with the treasured arrowhead pendant that  Frank designed and gave to Lenna as a Valentines gift several years ago.  

It showcases a very rare Clovis point arrowhead found on the Hobson farm. The arrowhead, chiseled from jasper over 12,000 years ago, is held by a 14K-gold bezel surrounded by diamonds.

Maybe it was the sacred Indian artifact that protected RagApple Lassie’s grapes from the May freeze last year, or maybe it was Frank’s singing, but more likely it was the stronger root system and ability to withstand stress provided by the new soil amendment.

As he gazes across his vineyard, and looks toward Pilot Mountain, made famous years ago by the Andy Griffin Show, Frank Hobson says it doesn’t really matter, because he’s going to count on all three to help his grapes make it through freezing spring weather for a long time to come.

rroberson@farmpress.com

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