Sunday, September 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I seem to be about a week behind on these posts, but on Friday, April 30 I planted 75 sweet cherries at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard 2 ft. apart. These cherries -- 25 each of Rainier, Skeena, and Benton, on either Gisela 3 or 5 dwarfing rootstocks -- were excess trees grown by Willow Drive Nursery for a 2010 NC-140 cherry planting. After going to IFTA in Michigan in March, and specifically after visiting SWMREC during a pre-conference tour to see MSU Greg-Lang's sweet cherry planting there, including trees planted 2 ft. apart, I decided to give it a try. According to Italy's Stefano Musacchi, who demonstrated pruning these 'uni-baum' cherries, they can grow large cherries on relatively short (3 m. high) trees. I thought they would be easy to cover to prevent loss from birds and rain cracking, and thus such a system might be suitable for small-scale plantings in Massachusetts for retail or U-pick plantings of sweet cherries. I have 25 Regina trees coming next year to complete the planting. We'll see how it goes. JC
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Last Saturday (4/10/2010) me and 38 or so MassAggie attendees planted an apple 'fruiting wall' at Brooksby Farm in Peabody. After a morning indoor primer, and when the sky was just clearing we went out and dug a trench, planted 25 apple trees -- 5 Novaspy, 5 Novamac, 5 Liberty, 5 Topaz, and 5 Autumn Rose Fuji at between-tree spacings that ranged from 2 to 4 feet. All the trees were on the dwarf apple rootstock Budagovsky 9 (B.9. ) and were supplied by Adams County Nursery. Just before lunch we limed and fertilized the trees, and just after lunch built a support system consisting of end- and line-posts, and conduit. I should say here that trees planted 2-ft. apart are going to be trained to the super-spindle, 3-ft. apart tall spindle, and 4-ft. apart to a hybrid tall-spindle/vertical axis. So much was all explained to the MassAggie attendees with the hope that they would plant their own 'fruiting wall' and benefit from home-grown apples. Indeed, I had some extra trees available and they were all asked for by the end of the session! And thanks to the Brooksby Farm staff -- Pat, Joann, and Brian(?) -- for their help during the planting. I hope to repeat this successful MassAggie Seminar next spring in western Massachusetts. For more information on this kind of hi-density home orchard planting, see this publication by Duane Greene of UMass. JC
Thursday, April 8, 2010
- impractical, labor-intensive, and expensive when planting modern, hi-density orchards of 1,000 or more trees per acre
- provide refuge for dogwood borers
- accumulate debris and promote burr-knots and/or scion rooting
- don't allow for easy maintenance/removal of root suckers
- give a false sense of security against mouse or rabbit damage in some cases
- are not maintained over the long run and make monitoring the health of the graft-union area over time problematic
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Agriculture Management Assistance
deer fencing (EQUIP)
- existing orchard
- documentation of deer browsing
- photo of deer in orchard
- photo of damage and tracks
- 8 ft. high, 12.5 ga hi-tensile woven wire
- must meet standards
- full payment rate is $11 per foot
- consider using a professional installer
bird netting (AMA)
- highbush blueberry, grape, cherry?
- documentation required
- $3534 per acre
- plastic netting
- financial assistance for 2,178 sq. ft
- seasonal polyethylene covered structure (no electric, ventilation, heat)
- 4-year lifespan (then you can do what you want)
- has to meet criteria
- $5.52 per sq ft payment
- IPM activity plans ($2,900 per plan)
- certified provider
- payment made to implement plan
- scouting, monitoring equipment
May 14, 2010 funding cut-off cycle
paperwork needs to be completed by completed mid-April
Monday, March 1, 2010
John Palmer "Apple and Pear Tree Physiology, What Have We Come Up With?"
Key concepts to understand:
Carbon acquisition -- light into total dry matter = linear relationship
• site factors; latitude; cloudiness; frost-free period
• tree factors -- leaf area index; tree height; row orientation; tree width; cultivar
• light interception sets the upper limit for production
• commercially actually less: why? young trees; biennial; size profile
• management changes have increased harvest index: dwarfing rootstock, minimal pruning, branch manipulation; PGR's
• "We can achieve up to 70% harvest index at maturity"
• shade decreases: fruit weight, red color, SSC, flower bud number, fruit set
• "shady business is to be discouraged in the orchard for more reasons than one"
• never forget link between light and fruit quality
• every bud counts
• improved rootstocks
• increased automation
• consistent high fruit quality at POS
• increased development of multidisciplinary teams including molecular biologists
• orchard systems in a wider context -- sustainability and carbon footprint
Steve McCartney "Flower Bud Formation in Apples and Strategies to Help Break Biennial Bearing Habit"
A successful post bloom thinning program in itself not enough to increase return bloom in some varieties
Flower bud initiation: 60-120 DAFB depending on variety (later than I though?)
Use of bio-regulators NAA and ethrel can increase return bloom
Summer NAA: four bi-weekly at 5ppm beginning 8 weeks after bloom
Pre-load (for stop-drop): 5 ppm NAA weekly preceding harvest
Ethrel; single app six weeks after bloom (rate is variety dependent)
What about 5ppm NAA with cover spray every 2 weeks? (Question: simple, but effective?)
More research needed!
Duane Greene "Predicting Thinning, Fruitlet Model"
Greene received the iFruittree 'Researcher of the Year' Award (bio and pict)
Has developed predicting thinning procedure (with colleagues) based on assessing fruit growth rate after chemical thinner application to determine the need for more thinning. Directions available on-line and Excel spreadsheet-based form to run the model.
Terence Robinson "Predicting Fruit Set, Carbohydrate Model"
Basic question: can we predict chemical thinning response using environmental variables?
• chemical thinner concentration
• application process: uptake, leaf environment, cuticle thickness
• sensitivity of the tree: bloom density, initial set, leaf quality, previous yield history
• sunlight + temperature used to calculate photosynthesis = carbohydrate available
• temperature affects carbohydrate demand (higher temperatures more demand via respiration and growth)
• supply vs. demand determines balance (thus, surplus or deficit)
• Western NY (Lake Ontario): no carbohydrate deficit during thinning window; growers had huge hand-thinning bill; multiple applications necessary to thin Gala
• Eastern NY (Hudson Valley); had some deficit and surplus during thinning window; thinning during deficit worked well
"Optimum thinning level" needs to be developed and visualized as target
Future work needed; test models (relies on good weather forecasts); develop a thinning prediction table; simplify carbohydrate model
Stefano Musacchi "High Density Planting Systems for Apple and Pear"
HDP High Density Planting (HDP, VeryHDP, UltraHDP)
Basis for HDP
• apples: M.9
• pre-formed nursery tree (knip-boom)
• root cutting
• ridge planting
• Plant Growth Regulators (apogee; auxin and ethephon; GA's; Promalin)
Production always a problem (lower) in the lower canopy
Quality more important than total yield; yield increased only to a point before quality suffers
Latest development: Bibaum apple nursery tree -- dual leader tree developed from double chip bud or bench graft; obviates need for canopy formation; productivity same as single but with less trees; quality equal or improved
Monday, February 8, 2010
I attended the Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention last week (Feb. 2-4) in Hershey, PA. The Convention is a collaboration of the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, the Maryland State Horticultural Society and the New Jersey State Horticultural Society. Penn State University, University of Maryland and Rutgers University Cooperative Extensions all assist in organizing the three days of educational sessions. The Convention has become one of the premier grower meetings in the Northeast with about 1,800 attendees.
While there I ‘tweeted’ to my Twitter. As you may (or may not) know, Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, i.e., they are brief. So, what follows are my ‘tweets’ from #MAFVC with a little more elaboration than Twitter allows. :-)
- Easier to define what is NOT sustainable (soil erosion) than what is sustainable - David Granatstein #mafvc
Granatstein is with the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. After trying to explain what IS sustainable agriculture, which most parties agree is farming that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable, Granatstein said it is a lot easier to provide examples of what is NOT sustainable agriculuture. Clearly, he said, soil erosion is not sustainable. Agreed?
- Pests of increasing importance with 'soft' pesticide programs: PC, SJS, WAA, plant bugs, borers, EAS, and AMF. Dave Biddinger #mafvc
Biddinger is a long-time partner with entomology researchers (including Larry Hull) at PSU’s Biglerville Fruit Research & Extension Center. ‘Soft’/reduced-risk pesticide programs typically use newer chemistries targeted at controlling specific insects (usually the moth larvae fruit-feeders: codling moth, oriental fruit moth, oblique-banded leafroller, etc.) in lieu of broad-spectrum insecticides (organophosphates, pyrethroids, etc.). Mating disruption (MD) is also commonly used. Unfortunately, the softer pesticides and MD are letting certain pests ‘slip through’ and build up in orchards, resulting in more incidental but nonetheless important fruit and tree injury from Plum Curculio, San Jose Scale, Wooly Apple Aphid, European Apple Sawfly, Apple Maggot Fly, etc.
- Only thing more contagious than passion, ironically...is the lack of it. Harold Lloydd #mafvc
Lloyd was the inspirational and entertaining general session speaker “Am I the Leader I Need to Be?”
- #1 Worker Protection Standard infraction - failure to realize covered by WPS. Jim Harvey, PSU #mafvc
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a federal regulation designed to protect employees on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses from occupational exposures to agricultural pesticides. As a rule of thumb, all non-immediate-family members who work in a field or site that is within 30 days of a pesticide’s Restricted-Entry-Interval (REI, see ‘Agricultural Use Requirements’ on the label) and who receive compensation (of any kind, does not have to be money) are covered by the WPS. Hence, all requirements of the WPS -- including training, central posting, pesticide application notification, providing personal protective equipment, etc. -- must be followed by farm owners/operators/employers and (hopefully) employees.
- 20th century IPM 'Industrial Age, time for another poison' vs. 21st century IPM 'Information Age, what management action, and optimized combination of tools.' John Wise MSU #mafvc
Wise, of Michigan State University’s Trevor Nichols Research Station says pest management is becoming much more complicated with new pesticide chemistries, which are more insect- and application timing-specific to be effective. Hence, the need to have more information about the pests current status, such as life stage and abundance, are necessary to be effective in this new ‘information age’ of pest management. Tools used to collect this information include research, weather monitoring, and pheromone traps. Growers are going to need help assimilating this information into effective pest management decisions.
- Trying to use new chemistries on a calendar-based spray schedule is not going to be economically sustainable. J Wise #mafvc
Again, growers are going to have to time spray applications that target specific insect(s) at specific life stage timing vs. broad-spectrum applications on a fixed schedule or ‘time for another poison.’
- Maxcel @ 200ppm effective at reducing fruit set (and hand-thinning time) in heavy-cropped Asian pears. Dan Ward #mafvc
Asian pears can set heavy crops, requiring labor-intensive hand thinning to produce large fruit that the market requires. Colleagues Dan Ward and Win Cowgill of Rutgers University have demonstrated that the apple and pear thinner Maxcel can be an effective tool under the right conditions for thinning Asian pears.
- Fruit quality and yield are directly related to light interception and management-trees are solar collectors. Kevin Day #mafvc
Day is an extension specialist/researcher at UC Davis/Kearneysville. He gave the Ernie Christ Memorial Lecture -- ‘Training Systems in Peaches and Their Costs.’ The more light you can intercept (and distribute) by the orchard canopy, equals higher fruit yield and better fruit quality. We all know that, right? Oh wait, see next post. :-)
- Short [peach] trees had greater ability to size fruit than large trees, yield did not suffer (need 70% light interception). K Day #mafvc
Interesting, because Kevin and his colleagues in California had been promoting the perpendicular-V peach planting and training system, which normally has tall (12-14 foot high) trees. But, he showed when the canopy grows together at the top, approaching 100% light interception, yield and quality did not increase above an orchard that is intercepting 70% light. Therefore, they are cutting perp-V and quad- and hex- peaches down to 8 foot height, while maintaining yield and quality compared to taller trees. In fact, fruit were larger in the shorter trees.
- Bubble gum plum TM a winner according to Paul Friday http://flaminfury.com/?a=PG:448 #mafvc
- Our biggest limiting factor is to fill the space quickly (re. hi-density apples). Chris Baugher #mafvc
Chris runs Adams County Nursery's production orchard. When planting young, hi-density apple orchards using 3 to 4 foot spacing between trees, to make the economics work you need to fill the space between trees quickly (in 1-2 years) and begin producing fruit. Factors such as nursery tree quality, site prep, promptly supporting and irrigating, N fertilization, etc. need utmost attention.
- 2.8% leaf N for peaches ideal. K Day #mafvc
This is a little lower than what we typically recommend in the east, that is 3.5 to 4%. Of course California is not the east too. Something to think about, could we have somewhat firmer fruit at mature harvest and/or overall better fruit quality and yields with N a little lower. I might try it.
- Use monoammonium phosphate (MAP) @ 1/3 lb per tree at planting -- trees get off to much better start. K Day #mafvc
- Monitoring with pheromone traps the basis of IPM. Larry Hull #mafvc
Hull is a PSU guru on insect management, particularly lepidopteran pests. Models that use a biofix -- typically when a certain number of adult moths have been captured or first appear -- are increasingly being used to time targeted pesticide applications. See the obliquebanded leafroller model.
- Automated pheromone traps that send results by e-mail where we are headed. L Hull #mafvc
Pheromone traps that take pictures of accumulated moth trap captures and automatically e-mail (via wireless I presume) the results? I like it. Next step, just compute whether the threshold has been met or not -- that is all the end user needs to know. You heard it here first. :-)