Grower Highlight: Cathy Bisset

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Cathy Bisset knows hard work. She has been married for 31 years, raised three children and is a business owner; she understands the importance of diligence and dedication. It is this mentality that has helped her thrive as a parent, business owner and now a hazelnut farmer.

Bisset brings a lifetime of agriculture knowledge to her orchard. She earned a degree in Agricultural Science from Oregon State University. Prior to working full time in the orchards, she worked with DuPont in research and development, honed her skills in banking as an ag business specialist and spent five years working as a crop consultant in the early 1990’s. It was during the latter experience that she developed a network of agriculture connections that would serve her in the coming decades.

With a strong base of farmer clients, Bisset struck out on her own and founded her own business, Bisset Crop Consulting, LLC, in 1997. Farmers across the Willamette Valley call on her for advice on soil health, tree health and the best ways to manage pests. She has provided insights on 600-1,200 acres of farmland, annually, and helped farmers design plans that lead to more efficient and smarter applications of fertilizers, pesticides and foliar nutrients.

When Bisset made the jump to hazelnut farming, this mastery of agronomy was her forte. She found the perfect complement to her skill set, Ron Wetzel. Wetzel is a lifelong farmer and a savant with mechanics and fabrication; he has designed and built many of his own implements and harvest machinery for the farms. He had long turned to Bisset when he had questions about improving the health of his orchard, especially when Eastern Filbert Blight made its way to his land and threatened to wipe out the trees. Together, they were able to at least stymie the impact and save most of the orchard.

In 2012, the two began farming together on Wetzel’s 51-acre orchard near Carlton. As time progressed, the pair have learned from each other’s expertise. In 2017, Bisset began leasing acres from Wetzel and is now a full-time hazelnut farmer. Moreover, she still runs her successful crop consulting business!

Bisset’s work ethic and belief in continual learning are the foundations of her career and hallmarks of a successful hazelnut grower!