Learn about this month’s Feature Farmer, Ralph Hugus!
Ralph is the owner of Hugus Fruit Farm, located in Fairfield County. His family farm is a total of 300 acres; 30 of those acres are in fruit tree production, 100 acres are in timber production, and the remaining acres are cash rented to other farmers for grain and beef cattle. Ralph said the primary focus is the growing and selling
of the apples, pears, peaches, and plums. “We have a cider mill for pressing our own cider for sale, and we do custom pressing for other apple producers. I also have a portable sawmill for cutting lumber from our own woods, and I also do custom sawing for others,” explained Ralph. His favorite thing about being a farmer is running his own business, setting his own schedule, and seeing how customers appreciate the products.
According to Ralph, what makes Hugus Fruit Farm unique from other farms is there are not a lot of fruit tree producers in Ohio, and very few of them operate their own cider mill. Another thing that Ralph said makes their operation different is that they utilize the timber as a “crop.” Managing timber as part of a farm is not always a high priority for some farmers.
There is little down time on Hugus Fruit Farm. “For the tree fruit, non harvest time activities include annual pruning of the entire orchard, and maintenance of equipment and buildings. The running of my portable sawmill is done during months other than during the tree fruit harvest.”
The biggest challenge Ralph faces on his farm is government regulations, which is the case for many in the agriculture industry. Rules and policies are often conflicting and/or ambiguous and then enforced by inspectors who do not understand them, he said.
“The most helpful Farm Bureau activity to me is the lobbying done on behalf of agriculture interests, trying to help politicians and the public understand the realities of farming.”
Nice work Ralph. We value your Farm Bureau membership!