Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I am at the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo in Grand Rapids, MI for a couple days. Today, the Art Mitchell Symposium on Fruit Thinning and Return Bloom. Speaker highlights:

Dr. Terence Robinson, Cornell University
  • apple fruit thinning should be driven primarily be economic considerations
  • the carbohydrate balance of trees from bloom through about 15-20 mm fruit size is important to understand the potential effect of a chemical thinning spray
  • temperature and light during the same period described above primarily determines carbohydrate balance
  • carbohydrate balance can be modeled, and thus some form of numerical 'thinning index' can be developed as a tool to assist growers in making chemical thinning decisions
Dr. Jim Schupp, Penn State University
  • the 'Darwin' mechanical thinner has proven useful (with modification) in bloom thinning peaches to consistently reduce amount of time hand thinning and improving peach fruit size. More...
  • the Darwin thinner was also used in apples, and may have particular utility in organic apple orchards; but, there is increased risk of transmitting fire blight because of it shreds foliage; more research is needed in apples
Duane Greene, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Greene covered timing (bloom to 25 mm), chemicals (NAA, NAD, carbaryl, 6-BA, and ethrel) and the impact of light and temperature on the activity of chemical thinners
Phil Schwallier, Michigan State University
  • Honeycrisp has a strong capacity to overset
  • crop load of Honeycrisp should be no more than 4 to 6 apples per sq. cm. trunk/limb cross-sectional area to get adequate return bloom
  • young Honeycrisp trees should probably be hand-thinned only to achieve desired results (chemical thining too risky because of ease of over-thinning)
  • mature trees can be thinned with a combination of carbary (1 pt) + BA (100 ppm) or NAA (8-10 ppm) to reduce crop load to <>
  • summer NAA treatments can improve return bloom
Dr. Gregory Clark, Valent Biosciences
  • Clarke gave an excellent overview of the theory behind fruit thinning and talked about how Valent is looking at ABA (abscissic acid) and AVG (ReTain) as potential additions to the thinning/crop load management toolbox

Monday, November 24, 2008

Santa Cruz Valley (AZ) Foodways Festival

While visiting old friends Joe and Carol Costante of SaddleBrooke/Catalina, AZ last weekend, we took a ride down to Tubac to check out the Santa Cruz Foodways (Sabores Sin Fronteras/Flavors without Borders) Festival. Sponsored by the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, I was directed to the Festival while visiting Suzanne Nelson, PhD., Director of Conservation for Native Seeds/SEARCH of Tucson, AZ. The Festival was co-sponsored by the University of Arizona's Southwest Center. Although small, what a delightful event! Among others, we visited a Sun Oven demonstration by Baja AZ Sustainable Ag, and an educational display by the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project. I even tried a Sonoran hot dog with 'Mexican Candy' which was 'delicioso!' Entertainment included Mariachi Plata (Band).

A bit more about the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project, whose primary goal "is to assist the National Park Service in replanting historically, culturally and botanically appropriate fruit trees of this land." 'This land' refers to Sonoran desert region of Arizona and Mexico, and specifically the Tumacacori National Historical Park, an important mission site in southeast Arizona. We visited the orchard at Tumacacori after leaving the festival, here with a fig tree.

Wow!, the food, culture, and history of southeast Arizona rolled into a small but intimate event in the Sonoran desert. A reminder of what's important to our lives and culture, and not soon to be forgotten...

¡adiĆ³s! amigos


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buenas dias

I just returned from Chihuahua, Mexico where I attended the NC-140 Annual Meeting. (Well actually I am in Tucson, AZ right now for a few days of R&R after a busy summer and fall harvest, but more on that later.) We traveled in Mexico from Chihuahua City, to Nueva Casas Grandes, to Cuauhtemoc for orchard tours and the meeting venue at La Nortenita Fruit Company. (I could not find a website for La Nortenita?) I could probably go and on about this visit to Mexico, but it's likely I won't get to it. Thus, quick impressions of my visit:
  • our hosts, Carlos Chavez, University of Chihuahua, and Rafael Parra, INIFAP were very gracious (among others) and eager to show us the Mexican apple industry and infrastructure
  • Delicious and Golden Delicious are the primary apples grown; all are sold to the Mexican market and they like sweet apples -- Gala is gaining a foothold; Mexico produces app. 30 million 42 lb. bushels annually (vs. U.S. 200+ million)
  • orchards are mostly on semi-dwarf (MM111, M7) rootstocks; some orchards are experimenting with dwarf rootstocks, however, the high soil pH and hot environment seem to be particularly stressful to these rootstocks
  • most (viable) orchards are covered with hail nets
  • La Nortenita Fruit Company is state-of-the-art storage, packing facility, and sales house -- unsurpassed by no one in the world if I had to guess
  • Mexicans eat a lot of apples (app. 12 lbs. per person, vs. U.S 18 lbs.) and are proud of their role in North American history, despite what may seem to be many years of slavery and strife; Dr. Terence Robinson from Cornell University, a decendant of Mormon settlers and farmers in the Nuevos Casas Grandes area told of the history of the Mexican people and was also very gracious in hosting the meeting along with his fellow Mexicans
I am going to get together a photo album of orchards we visited, and video of La Nortenita Fruit Company packing house someday -- will update ASAP.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Super-spindle Cameo apple trees on B.9 rootstock

I picked these Cameo ('Caudle' cv., trees from Willow Drive Nursery) apples that were planted in 2002 as part of a larger super-spindle (2 ft. X 10 ft. tree spacing) block at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard today. These were very nice fruit -- see the results of my testing. Harvested eight (8) bushel boxes off twenty (20) trees. Thus, assuming app. 2,000 trees/acre, projected yield should be 800 bushel boxes per acre. (I did not pick all the fruit, only the nicest 'target' fruit.) Not bad, but the real story is the ease of management of these trees. Most are easily kept under 10 ft. in height, pruning and spraying is simple. This apple variety (Cameo) with this rootstock (B.9) planted to a super-spindle (2 ft. between trees by 10 ft. between rows) can't be beat. The only down side is tree cost to establish, and maybe, Cameo has a tendency to be a little biennial -- a major problem with varieties such as Gala, Cameo, Honeycrisp when grown in these intensive orchard systems that needs more research!

I also looked at Topaz, a particularly red strain being sold as 'Crimson' Topaz. (Adams County Nursery.) Topaz is scab-resistant, attractive, seems to yield early and heavy, and I like it -- I believe it has Cox Orange Pippin' as a parent, so it is quite tart (but with high sugar) with a rather complex flavor. Widely planted in organic orchards in Europe I understand. Organic growers must seriously consider.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peaches and Cream (aka 'Together at Last')

I received an e-mail this week from Dave Lokken of Oshkosh, Wisconsin with attached words and music for a song titled 'Together at Last' where Dave professes his love for fresh peaches and appreciation for the fruit growers who produce them. Wow. I listened. I loved. I knew exactly what I had to do -- put the words and music to a slide show of all the peaches I picked at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, MA this year (2008). I started harvesting July 16 (with a numbered apricot selection) and the show chronicles all the peaches (in order) I picked and evaluated through September 25. (In reality, I just picked the last peaches up on the hill yesterday, October 10, but they did not make it into the show.) Many shown are numbered selections from the Fruit Acres/Stellar peach breeding program, but many are named too, such as Earlystar, Brightstar, Risingstar, Jade, Country Sweet, Glowingstar, Honeykist, Starfire, Blazingstar, Redhaven, Allstar, and Blushingstar.

Oh my gosh, what's not to love? How lucky are we to be in this business of growing these 'tender' fruit? And how very, very special are peaches grown in in Massachusetts on the northern edge of their range? (See this Massachusetts Fruit Growers' Assoc. press release about the 'Golden Days.')

Well, thank you very much Dave for the inspiration and I hope you enjoy the show:

'Together at Last' (words and music by Dave Lokken)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

B.118 apple rootstock -- B.9 on steroids?

I am late on this one, but last week I picked 9 Honeycrisp trees on B.118 rootstock planted in 2006 as part of a mini- orchard systems trial at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown. To make a long story short, I was very impressed by the yield, fruit size, and fruit quality of these Honeycrisp trees on B.118. One tree had a yield of 60 lbs. of fruit, which if I extrapolate to a per acre yield (10 X 15 ft. spacing, 290 trees/acre), that's 400 bushels/acre in the 3rd leaf! (In reality, the rest of the trees had less fruit, but 200-300 bushels/acre could be expected.) So I have to wonder -- considering B.9 is very precocious and high-yielding -- if B.118 has these traits in a semi-dwarf stock? I would consider it closely, particularly vs. planting M.7. Willow Drive Nursery was the source of these trees. And check out NC-140 for more rootstock information.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And the early Fuji winner is...

I was kind of surprised during a visit to eastern Massachusetts (Northboro specifically), and upon prompting by Mo and Andy Tougas of Tougas Family Farm, to look at their Daybreak and Early Auvil Fuji's for maturity. Indeed, they were quite ripe -- see my 09/11/08 apple harvest report -- for details. Daybreak seems a little ahead of Auvil, otherwise, they were similar, although Daybreak seems to be a bit more intense in red color. I would not normally expect these to be ripe until more towards the middle of the month, but clearly harvest could start any day now. Daybreak was particularly impressive in terms of classic Fuji flavor and sweetness for this early harvest date. These were also very large fruit on 2nd-leaf tall spindle apple trees, with a crop load of 10-15 apples per tree easy.

I also returned to the UMass Orchard in Belchertown and looked at September Wonder (formerly Jubilee) and Rising Sun Fuji. Not nearly as impressive, I have never cared for September Wonder that much, and the Rising Sun were way over-cropped, so not really a fair comparison.

Still, in my mind the clear winner is Daybreak, followed closely by Auvil Early. Run, don't walk, to get some of these very high quality, large-fruited, and what are going to be very profitable early Fuji's in the ground. Daybreak is exclusive to Adams County Nursery, and Auvil Early is available from Van Well Nursery.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

UMass Video Fruit Advisor -- Sept. 2, 2008. Slender-axis Lindamac McIntosh

Update: these apples were picked on 9/03. 15 bushels from 20 trees, equals 750 bushels/acre. So I was a little optimistic on the 1,000 bushels. Still a respectable yield in this climate. Ciao.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

4 rules for pruning tall-spindle apples

On August 19, 2008, and thanks to Mike Fargione of Cornell's Hudson Valley Extension Fruit Program, Dr. Terence Robinson hosted a two hour tour of 3rd leaf tall-spindle apple research plantings at Dressel Farms in New Paltz, NY. Here is a video of Robinson explaining how to (dormant) prune this system for best results. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Observations from Belchertown

Some late-summer observations at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown:
  • Flyspeck on Zestar! I expect summer diseases -- sooty blotch and flyspeck, fruit rots, etc. -- to be problematic this year with the wet weather we have had. Continuous fungicide coverage has been necessary to prevent these summer diseases.
  • Frog-eye leafspot -- a classic symptom of black rot fungus, another disease that loves a wet summer. Mostly a non-issue unless it infects fruit as most season-long fungicide programs keep it at bay. Cultivar susceptibility seems to vary widely, this on Zestar! But Honeycrisp (see below) and Cortland seem to be particularly susceptible. (Among others I suppose.)
  • Cherry leaf spot -- this one snuck up on me. Here, in a cherry orchard planted in 2001, I have not had much of a problem yet. But I suspect inoculum build-up and a wet summer have combined to cause a problem. Should I have maintained fungicide sprays after harvest? Of course. Did I? Noooo...not a good thing as it can lead to premature defolation which can pre-dispose trees to winter injury.
  • Turkeys (feathered types) love Honeycrisp -- need I say more? But I am not happy, they have managed to pretty well destroy the fruit at (their) 'peck-level,' these on 3rd leaf Honeycrisp in a tall-spindle planting with relatively low branches. I figure each fruit is worth about a half-dollar at retail. That makes them a serious pest in my book, far worse than the fruit I have lost to plum curculio or apple maggot. Arghh...
  • More black rot on Honeycrisp? -- I am wondering if this is black rot moving in where the infamous Honeycrisp 'Yellows' has presumably made the foliar tissue susceptible to infection? I don't know, but I don't like it. Honeycrisp does maintain 'mummies' which I think continue to Honeycrisp's susceptibility to black rot. (Also see my web gallery of Honeycrisp disorders.) Honeycrisp is the apple we 'love to hate.'
  • On a brighter note -- I am a bit enamored by the appearance of these 'Snappy Mac' from Stark Brothers Nursery. Supposedly a limb sport of Rogers McIntosh from the lower Champlain Valley of New York, they color much earlier and better than Rogers. Who says we can't grow good colored Macs in Massachusetts?
  • OBLR damage -- a little oblique-banded leafroller damage to Honeycrisp, this apple was a 'double,' which OBLR seem to prefer. An emerging insect pest. Many, and rather complicated, control options.
  • Active scab in August? -- yup, more wet-weather woes. These trees did not have a real strong fungicide program. Fruit is not particularly susceptible when it starts to color, but I would still include Captan and/or Pristine in a summer fungicide program to slow or halt it's spread. (Three weeks of dry weather would help too.)
Are we having fun yet?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Two new Fruit Advisor web pages

I have finished two new UMass Fruit Advisor web pages recently:

2008 Peach Harvest Record, UMass Cold Spring Orchard. I maintain a nominal peach harvest and testing program, concentrating on newer varieties. A small sample of peaches (usually 5) is collected at what I think is optimum harvest time, and the Peach Harvest Record form filled out. More...

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for tree fruit growers: links to information. Consider these a short list of links to quality information on Good Agricultural Practices that might be of particular interest to tree fruit growers. There has been much abuzz about GAPS lately -- I hope some of these information sources help. More...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's with these apple prices?

I was in a Big-Y 'World Class' Market here in Amherst, MA this afternoon, and was quite taken aback by the pricing on some of these apples I saw (click on the link for a picture):

Fresh sweet Jazz apples, $3.69/lb.

Organically grown sweet crisp Fuji apples, $3.99/lb.

Organic Royal Gala apples, $5.99/lb.

Organically grown Gold Delicious apples, $3.99/lb.

New Zealand Braeburn apples, $1.88/lb. (regular price $2.49/lb.)

Organic Red Delicious apples, $3.49/lb.

Granny Smith apples, $2.29/lb.

$5.99/lb. for Organic Royal Gala apples???!!! Is anyone buying these things? (To be honest, it looks like the most popular item was the NZ Braeburn for $1.88/lb.) And we sell direct-market, locally grown, 'world class' quality apples for about an average of $1.00/lb. There is a disconnect here, and I am sure there are many reasons and opinions for and about it, so I'd like to hear them. I have to ask again -- Organic Royal Gala apples, $5.99/lb., is anyone buying these? Oh, and notice Big-Y is pretty good about adding value to some of the apple variety descriptions. Ciao.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hail damage to apples...

Hail is one of the most short-term devastating weather events that can happen to an apple grower. It's so bad we usually don't like to talk about it. But this year, it has been so widespread -- from New York, to Michigan, to parts of the the Northeast (including New England and mid-Atlantic region) -- that it is likely to put a dent (no pun intended) in the production of marketable apples in the U.S. (On top of a spring freeze which diminished the Washington apple crop.) Hail is a good reason to purchase crop insurance. (Enough said.) Growers who have been hailed usually attempt to make the best of it by hand-thinning out obvious culls (pictured above), but that is a labor-intensive (= costly) input that at best might help them break even. It is truly sad. A few growers have asked me what they should do in terms of a spray program -- particularly for diseases -- when they have been hit by hail? First and foremost, they must apply streptomycin in orchards with a history of/or potential for fire blight infection. This has to be applied within 24 hours of the hail. Other than that, Cornell's Dr. David Rosenberger published a synopsis of what kind of spray program should be maintained in a hail-damaged orchard in Scaffolds Fruit Journal recently.

On the bright side, most growers try to make the best of it, and highlight the fact "we still have apples!" (Which is true.) But it's tough and I feel for them...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

McIntosh 'visual' fruit thinning with numbers

Having reviewed A Growers Guide to Predicting the Response to a Chemical Thinner Application developed by Dr. Duane Greene, I decided that I did not have the time to complete the full measurement protocol, however, I was very interested in doing some fruit measurements and getting a 'visual' history of how a group (30) of 'Redmax' McIntosh apple trees trained to a super-spindle would behave during the fruit set and thinning period. (I also did not think I really needed to take all the measurements and use the accompanying predicting apple thinning spreadsheet in this small group of trees to get a handle on what was going on.)

So, I selected and tagged 5 spurs on 5 trees, and using digital calipers measured all the fruitlets on each spur (beginning 20-May) for a total of 125 spurs. I felt this was good representation of the fruit spurs on this group of trees. I made subsequent measurements on 24-May, 1-June, and 11-June for a total of 4 measurement dates.

I applied thinning sprays as follows: first, a petal-fall spray of Sevin XLR Plus (Bayer CropScience) on 17-May at 1.5 pt./acre, and then Maxcel (Valent BioSciences) on 25-May at 75 ppm. Note that the first thinning spray was applied 3 days before the first measurement date (20-May), and that Maxcel was applied between the 2nd (24-May) and 3rd (1-June) measurement dates. I should also mention that from June 7–11, temperatures exceeded 90 F. each day. (Temperature chart | Light chart)

Here are the visual results (click on a tree number below). They should be self-explanatory, but for each tree there are 5 spurs (rows), and 4 columns for each measurement date. The numbers under the picture(s) are the actual fruit measurements in mm.

Tree 1 | Tree 2 | Tree 3 | Tree 4 | Tree 5

So what? Well, by 24-June it was not clear to me if the petal fall spray of Sevin had done enough to thin the crop fully, although I was starting to see some pretty good size differentiation of (mostly) the king fruit. So I proceeded with the Maxcel spray at a moderate rate. By 1-June, however, it had become pretty clear that things were thinning down quite nicely and I decided that the two thinning applications were headed in the right direction. The heat wave described above cinched things for me.

Looking at the figures for final fruit set, it ranges from 8 to 20 %. I still have to make one final check to see how many fruit remain, and need to do an estimate of how many fruit I want per tree. My conclusion at this point, however, is that I have certainly thinned enough, and in fact, there may be less fruit per tree than I would like to reach my yield per acre goal of 600 to 700 boxes/acre.

Finally, my overall conclusion is that this process certainly helped me get a very good visual and numerical picture of what was going on. I do think I would have reached mostly the same conclusion without taking the measurements while using observation and experience to ascertain how my thinning sprays had worked and where final fruit set was ultimately headed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's here...

I found fire blight today in a block of 1st leaf Golden Delicious apples. (See more pictures.) Not unexpected, these trees had quite a profuse bloom. I suspect they were in bloom during the last week in May, which saw an increased -- in fact, threatening -- risk of fire blight. Of course existing apples were already mostly past bloom, with the exception of some cider varieties, so they were immune. But 1st leaf trees often get planted a little late, take a while to break bud and bloom, and can be in bloom when the weather conditions that favor fire blight are more likely. Thus, my recommendation is to plant as early as possible, apply copper after planting, de-bloom the trees, or make sure to apply streptomycin sprays as the trees bloom and weather indicates a high risk of fire blight infection. You do not want to get fire blight in a 1st leaf orchard on dwarf rootstocks! See F-133 An Annual Fire Blight Management Program for more information. But, in a nutshell for this grower, I would recommend first pruning out all the visible strikes (on a dry day), and maybe treating with a lower rate of copper once or twice. (Cuprofix MZ Disperss from Cerexagri-Nisso would be a good choice, it contains both copper and mancozeb.) Good luck.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Acronyms got you abuzz?

MD = Mating Disruption

PTB = Peach Tree Borer, found at the trunk-soil interface (most common)

LPTB = Lesser Peach Tree Borer (found on the scaffold limbs, including peaches and cherries)

Talking points from a recent Scaffolds Newsletter (http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/scaffolds/):
  • In NY, there are two species of sesiid (clearwing) moths that attack peaches — the peachtree borer (PTB), Synanthedon exitiosa, and the lesser peachtree borer (LPTB), S. pictipes. The adult borers are striking clear-winged moths with yellow and steel-blue body markings.
  • The PTB enters the tree near soil level and does not require the presence of wounds or breaks in the bark for entry, but the LPTB nearly always enters the tree at a pruning scar, canker, mechanical injury, or winter-injured area. The LPTB additionally attacks cherries, causing the same type of injury in the upper trunk and scaffold branches of these trees.
  • Injury is caused by larval feeding on the cambium and inner bark of the trunk close to the soil level (PTB) or on the upper trunk and lower scaffold branches (LPTB).
  • Control is difficult, owing to the concealed habit of the larvae, growers have traditionally relied on one or more coarse insecticide sprays (e.g., Asana, Lorsban, Proaxis, Thionex, Warrior) of the trunks and lower scaffold branches to deter egg laying and kill newly established larvae. Because this is a labor-intensive measure that often fails to completely control these pests, many growers choose not to elect treatment, or else do an incomplete job, with the intention of getting what they can out of a planting until infestations combine with other peach production factors to warrant tree removal. However, there is a good alternative in the form of pheromone mating disruption (MD) tools for the control of these perennial pests.
  • At the end of May each year, Isomate-LPTB ties (CBC) were placed in the test blocks at a rate of approximately 200/acre (1/tree). It should be noted that this blend is formulated to be appropriate at this rate for disruption of both borers in situations where PTB is the predominant species or at least comparable in occurrence to LPTB. Although we assumed that LPTB was the main species at these sites, we chose to be conservative and not use the lower (100 ties/acre) rate recommended for such situations.
  • The pheromone dispensers completely suppressed trap catches of both PTB and LPTB at both sites for both seasons, compared with relatively heavy flights noted in the non-disrupted comparison blocks, showing that this pheromone treatment was highly successful in disrupting the chemical communication of males and females of these two species.
  • We concluded that these trials provided sufficient evidence that mating disruption alone is able to provide adequate protection from borer infestations in commercial orchards, giving growers an effective non-chemical alternative to trunk sprays for managing this pest complex in their stone fruit plantings.

Don't underestimate the importance of these pests!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Update March 4, 2008 OP alternatives

My March 4, 2008 post concerned a talk by Cornell's Art Agnello on OP alternatives at the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers' Annual Meeting on February, 26, 2008. Lorraine Berkett of the UVM Apple Team has posted the talk (in PDF format) on the UVM Apple Orchard. Well worth looking at...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some catching up to do...

I have been pretty remiss about timely updates lately, and I have some catching up to do, so here goes:

Fruit Notes archive -- According to an e-mail from Wes Autio, “Fruit Notes was the first UMass publication to be digitized under the Boston Library Consortium/Internet Archive Digitization Project. This projects goal is to digitize volumes of historical significance to the various institutions in the consortium. We are very pleased to have Fruit Notes recognized this way.
“Within this archive, you can search the Table of Contents, either a few years at a time or within all years at once. You also can search within the text of the articles. Adobe pdf, flip-page, and DjVu versions of all articles from 1935 to 2004 are available.”

Apple Scion/Rootstock planning for Michigan’ and associated tree spacing calculator -- Don’t be mislead by the title, the tree spacing calculator is mostly appropriate for any humid growing environment in the Northeast. With the calculator, you can input the most important factors that determine tree spacing: scion, rootstock, soil, irrigation, management intensity, orchard system, and tree height. The result is recommended tree spacing -- feet between trees by feet across rows, number of trees per acre -- for your choice(s). Anyone planting trees this spring should give it try to justify their tree planting density decision. The apple tree spacing calculator was recently revised by Dr. Ron Perry of Michigan State University and myself to include new rootstocks and orchard/training systems.

1st Annual Precision Sprayer Conference -- Mo Tougas (Tougas Family Farm) and myself attended this Conference convened by Dr. Andrew Landers (Cornell University) April 8 - 9 on the shores of Canandaigua Lake in western New York. Landers brought in speakers from research, industry, government, and growers to update us on the latest technologies and progress made to reduce drift, better target applications, and retain good pest control while orchard and vineyard spraying. Clearly the impetus to minimize spray drift for various environmental, social, and regulatory reasons is upon those of us doing tree and/or vine spraying. Fortunately, the use of various canopy sensors ('smart' sprayers), new nozzle technology (air-induction), sprayer design (tunnel, tower sprayers), and orchard architecture (taller, narrower canopies) are making the goal of drift reduction somewhat easier. But there is more work to do -- expect very new technologies currently being researched, such as robotics, 'Lidar,' precision GPS guidance, and lessons learned from field crop spraying to have a greater role in making the goal of precision spraying a reality in the not-so-distant future. Oh, and I had a little time (very little) to relax while at the Inn on the Lake. (See pict above.)

Current bud stages, UMass Cold Spring Orchard -- I have started my annual update of current bud stages (apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum, apricot, grape) on the UMass Fruit Advisor. FWIW. But in reality, I have now been doing this since 2001 (8 years including 2008!), so it is starting to be a pretty good historical picture of bloom timing at the Orchard. (See Clements Corner Web Articles for past years.) FWIW. Still, I kind of enjoy doing it and I get some visual scouting done while taking the pictures. :-) Interestingly, I just ran across Project BudBurst. Although apple is not specifically a species of interest for Project Budburst, it is apparently one of the two agricultural Calibration Plant Species of interest for the U.S.A. National Phenology Network (USA-NPN). But I have yet to find where I can report my observations...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

VT Tree Fruit Growers' Assoc. Meeting and OrganoPhosphate Alternatives

Although I gave two talks last week at the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers' Association 112th Annual Meeting in Middlebury, VT, so did Art Agnello from Cornell University. I thought his talk "OP Alternatives in Apple Arthropod Management" was most interesting. In that he laid-out a season-long program for controlling the major insect pests in northeast apple orchards using mostly new, 'reduced-risk' insecticide alternatives to Guthion, Imidan, etc. I actually took notes:

PINK spray for RAA and LM...
  • Actara, Assail, Calypso
  • Movento* for RAA
PETAL FALL spray...
  • for PC: Actara, Avaunt, Calypso
  • for EAS: Actara, Assail, Avaunt, Calypso, Altacor*
  • for internal leps (CM, OFM): Assail, Avaunt, Calypso, Delegate, Intrepid, Rimon, Altacor*, Belt*
  • for OBLR: B.t., Delegate, Intrepid, Proclaim, Rimon, Altacor*, Belt*
SUMMERS sprays...
  • for LM, LH, aphids: Assail, Avaunt, Calypso, Provado, Movento*
  • for internal leps (CM, OFM): same as PETAL FALL
  • for OBLR: same as PETAL FALL
  • for AMF: Assail, Calypso, Delegate
*new insecticide, probably not available for 2008, but most likely for 2009

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NYS Fruit & Veg Conference

A few trade show newbies from the New York State Fruit & Vegetable Conference (Feb. 13 and 14, 2008) in Syracuse, NY:
  • I just asked about 'Gale' Gala on the apple-crop discussion group and here it is, thanks to Adams County Nursery. Turns out it is a solid red, similar to 'Buckeye' Gala. A limb sport from Washington. They look good, but some have concerns about it being too much like 'Buckeye' without a characteristic Gala appearance. You be the judge.
  • John Harper, AMVAC technical representative with the new Fruitone-L label. Fruitone-L is a liquid formulation of Fruitone-N, which will make handling easier. Transitioning from -N to -L will be simple too -- the liquid ounce of -L is equivalent in amount of NAA to the solid weight ounce of -N. In other words, if you used 4 oz. of Fruitone-N to get 10 PPM of NAA per 100 gallons, you would use 4 liquid oz. of Fruitone-L to get 10 ppm in 100 gallons. Interestingly, the AMVAC label for -L suggests a rate of 1.0 to 4.0 ounces per 100 gallons on 'moderately difficult-to-thin' varieties such as Gala, Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, Jonagold, and Empire, which equates to 2.5 to 10 PPM. The -N label, in the same table, uses PPM only -- no mention of rate in oz. Interesting.
  • Paul Wooley of Stark Bros. has something new up his sleeve, and no, it is not 'Candy Crisp' on the information sheet he his holding. (Although he is still high on it!) The red apple concealed under his left hand is a chance seedling discovered in a hedge row in the Hudson Valley, which although Mac-like in appearance, Paul says had a very high firmness at maturity (like 28 lbs.), and was still firm and tart-sweet at this point (I tried a slice) despite what he says was being kept under less-than-ideal conditions under 'garage' storage. Keep on plugging those Candy Crisp for now Paul!
  • OESCO's Howard Boyden shows off a Lancman water operated fruit press. This Slovenian beauty is stainless steel, and can be loaded with five bushels (of chopped) apples with an output of 15 gallons of juice/cider. Ideal for the hobby fruit grower or very small marketer of fruit juice(s). Note that it can be used for grapes (wine makers, have to be crushed and de-stemmed first) and other fruits too, such as cherries (?) or peaches/plums.
  • Mark Shannon of Suterra holds one of his CheckMate mating disruption products, in this case the sprayable formulation for oriental fruit moth. Suterra also manufactures traditional clip-on dispensers and a new 'Puffer' applicator for codling moth. Time-release dispensers and the 'Puffer' are OMRI approved.
  • Steve Zimmerman of Valent Biosciences is proud of their new label for Clutch insecticide, an new neonicotinoid insecticide that is effective on most insects with chewing or sucking mouth-parts, including aphids, leafhoppers, leafminers, apple maggot, codling moth, plum curculio, and more. It is registered for use on apples and pears. Steve says there is 3 feet of snow on the ground up in south-central Maine where he lives!
  • Finally, Cynthia Turski, IPM Product Specialist with Spectrum Technologis shows off one of their new 2000 series WatchDog weather stations. These stations are ideal for pest/disease forecasting, particularly with the optional Apple/Pear alert software package.
BTW, all picts taken with Apple's iPhone -- I can't recommend it highly enough, for many reasons, among them, this.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

4 easy steps to peach pruning

Normally we don't prune peaches until April or May, however, the warm weather last week and an upcoming presentation with a need to have a video on peach pruning prompted us to do this. Wes Autio, Professor of Pomology, UMass Amherst, demonstrates a simplified '4-step' method for pruning young peach trees. These peaches, 'PF-14 New Jersey,' planted at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard will be in their third growing season, and are being trained to an open-center. During the first two years, excess branching was left to establish the trees and force some branching 'out,' but now is the time to select the permanent scaffold limbs and prepare the tree for fruiting -- we would hope to pick about 20 lbs. of fruit off this tree this year. In reality, further shoot and fruit thinning may likely have to be done this spring after a crop is set. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's January

It's January. What can I say? (Happy New Year?) At least the days are getting longer. Some significant events over the past few weeks (or month):

1.) New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference in December. Well-attended, but a major snowstorm on the last day made getting home very difficult -- 'historic' gridlock on major highways in east and south New England. It took us 6 hours to drive from Manchester, NH to Belchertown, MA, normally a 2 hour ride.

2.) Northeast Meeting of American Society for Hort. Science, at Rutgers last week. Presented a poster '5-year performance of three dwarf apple rootstocks with Cameo apple.'

3.) Got home from that meeting and saw that it had fallen to -12 F. in Chicopee, MA last Friday morning. We got down to -4.3 F. in Belchertown. Not low enough to do any damage to stone fruit, but getting there. I would hold off on apple pruning until the weather becomes more seasonable.

4.) You got to see this to believe it: http://edwardsorchard.info. Ken Hall was president of IDFTA when we were helping them with their website several years ago, and I could not imagine a more supportive, intelligent, and well-rounded individual. What happened to them last week is simply unbelievable. But, as you can see, their cup is always half (or more) full! What is the deal with this weather? Imagine if this had happened during the growing season or when they were open for business? I guess they were ultimately very lucky in that no one was hurt, it happened this time of the year -- giving them time to rebuild -- and new opportunities abound. Good luck Ken and family/Edwards Orchard with rebuilding.

5.) I have been working on revising the herbicide section(s) of the 2008 New England Tree Fruit Pest Management Guide. Keeping up with all the label changes and new products is not easy. There seems to be rapid change in the agri-chemical industry with new products being introduced and manufacturer changes. Which begs the question -- how do YOU get your detailed pesticide information (i.e., rates, re-entry and pre-harvest intervals, labeled crops, etc.)? Please take my survey right above.

6.) AGR/AGR-Lite Crop Insurance Meeting on January 28.

6.) Finally, just found out MFGA was awarded a $95,000 grant from Mass. Dept. Ag. Resources Ag. Innovation. This, to plant 10 acres of tall-spindle orchard in 10 MA orchards over the next two years. Should be an interesting project, more on it to come.