Dr. Nikki Rothwell’s name and reputation are well known among Michigan fruit farmers and, frankly, to anyone who likes to stay abreast of the health of our area’s cherry crop. For the past 15+ years, Nikki has been the face of the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center (NWMHRC) as the District’s Integrated Pest Management Agent for Fruit. In 2010 she was named NWMHRC Coordinator and District Extension Horticulture Educator — splitting her responsibilities between the Michigan Agricultural Research Station and Michigan State University Extension.
In the face of serious pest issues such as the Spotted Wing Drosophila, Nikki’s independent and collaborative research has been vital as we look for ways to battle such deadly fruit intruders.
And as an educator, she not only provides leadership in developing and implementing MSU Extension’s educational programs, she also assists farmers in their individual production and marketing efforts. This assistance is especially appreciated as the cherry industry faces increasing economic battles related to unfair trade practices.
“I am so fortunate to work with such terrific growers,” Nikki says. “We are facing some tough economic times, but the growers are resilient, innovative, and care deeply about the fruit that they grow. The industry may look a bit different as we move forward into the future, but this region will keep the title of the Cherry Capital of the World, and our growers will continue to produce some of the best cherries anywhere.”
As we at Cherry Republic celebrate National Cherry Farmer Month this February, we salute those like Nikki who have dedicated their careers to ensuring our cherry growers have the knowledge and tools they need to survive and — hopefully — thrive.
“The cherry industry is integral to our our region, from our growers to processors and the entire support system in between. This group of people helps define and put the Grand Traverse area on the map. What a nice thing for us to be known for — cherries!”