Early-season yield and packout predictions are useful for growers and packers to plan for adequate harvest labor and storage space, to obtain the appropriate numbers of bins for harvest, and to develop an orderly marketing plan. Fruit yield is a function of numbers of fruit per acre and the size of those fruit. To accurately predict yield, one must have an accurate estimate of the average number of fruit per acre and average fruit size. If one would like to predict fruit packout, then an estimate of the distribution of fruit size is also needed. Obtaining accurate estimates of fruit numbers and fruit size requires appropriate sampling schemes. The purpose of this article is to review the information in the scientific literature on estimating yield and fruit size along with suggestions for next steps.
Stinger, a selective, postemergence herbicide for control of broadleaf weeds, is now labeled for use on apples. It is especially effective against thistles, dandelion, nightshades, and goldenrod, with some activity against clovers. Its mode of action is somewhat similar to 2,4-D, acting as a synthetic auxin, and it is in the same HRAC category as triclopyr (Garlon®).
Like many people, you may have fallen into the trap of thinking, “I am a farmer, not a business person.” However, consider the amount of money you handle in a year – most small business owners would like to handle that much money in a year’s time. You are a business person, and as such, you need to plan for success!
Penn State Extension has planned nine educational meetings for tree fruit growers throughout Pennsylvania. The meetings are designed to address current challenges with the latest research based information.
Vole populations exhibit distinctive population fluctuations of approximately 4 year cycles, and based on reports from around the state, this may be an “up” year. One of the last tasks in getting the orchards ready for winter is planning your strategy to control voles and prevent their damage.
Based on vole monitoring reports from the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, 2013 may have been an ideal year for vole reproduction in orchards. Late fall is an important time to place bait for voles because this practice helps reduce populations before the onset of winter, when vole damage is most severe and snow cover precludes the use of toxicants. Timing influences the success of control programs. Wet weather reduces the effectiveness of toxicants. Therefore, try to place the bait when the weather is likely to be fair and dry for at least three days. Baits are most effective when naturally occurring foods are limited.
There are many types of tree nuts that grow in Pennsylvania, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the state. If you’d like to grow nuts to add to your product selection, you are more likely to be successful with a little planning and careful selection of the types of nuts you plant.
Apple fruit will withstand up to 4 hours at 28°F before serious injury occurs, but it is difficult to give a hard and fast rule to predict injury based upon minimum temperatures and duration, as the recovery depends not only on the extent of freezing, but also the rate of thawing.
A new website developed by Penn State Extension specialists is designed to be a one-stop resource for those seeking information on the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was created under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Health Insurance Marketplace is a unique opportunity for small businesses, previously uninsured consumers, and others to shop for health insurance and compare plans at one location.
The Penn State Extension Integrated Pest Management web site has a Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) page. This web page contains links to some very good SWD publications, including updated Penn State Fact Sheets on the fruit pest.
Last January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft Produce Safety Rule as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed regulation would establish mandatory practices that farmers must take to prevent microbial contamination of fresh produce. The proposed standards include requirements for controlling potential food safety hazards in areas where contamination is most likely to occur including farm worker hygiene, the use of soil supplements containing animal manure, and sanitation conditions for buildings, equipment and tools. Common questions are addressed in this article.
A comprehensive website on stone fruit production was recently launched by the University of California. The website contains numerous topics of interest to Pennsylvania growers including information on rootstocks, pruning and training and fruit thinning.
The numbers of brown marmorated stink bug adults and nymphs collected in traps monitored by our entomology program are very high, much higher than during the 2012 season (as of September 6). If BMSB nymphs are spotted inside any orchard, a control treatment is needed immediately. The third generation of codling moth and fourth generation of Oriental fruit moth are continuing their flights and egg deposition in many orchards. While the CM flight should cease within the next 2 weeks, the OFM will continue its flight and egg deposition until at least mid October.
Wild and managed non-honey bee species have long supplemented honeybee pollination in fruit orchards, but their efforts have mostly been attributed to the honey bee. In light of the recent decline of honeybee populations, pollen bees will serve an even more integral role in fruit tree pollination and a number of Pennsylvania fruit growers have relied exclusively on pollen bees for pollination for over 5 years with no noticeable loss in fruit quality or yield. For those fruit growers relying mostly on wild pollen bees for pollination, additional precautions need to be taken due to recent findings on pesticide exposure. The old definition of petal fall being defined as when the honey bee hives are out of the orchard, no longer applies. We are extensively revising the pollinator section of the tree fruit production guide for the next edition coming out this winter to include this recent information.
General management techniques for reducing postharvest fruit rots are important considerations as we approach harvest season. Growers are encouraged to use the infection periods posted as a tool to understand disease issues encountered in the orchard during this season.
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is present in most small fruit plantings now in varying numbers. The crop that seems to be most severely affected at the moment is blackberries, although there are reports of SWD in nearly every berry crop that is currently fruiting.
In an ongoing effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present.
With the growing season winding down and most of our traditional fruit pests well under control and not present in orchards, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) continues to represent the most important threat to our apple crop.
At this stage in the season, commercially available traps and lures for brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) monitoring could provide valuable information to decide if insecticide treatments are needed. Last week (week of Aug 5th), in some traps monitored by our entomology program, we collected over 50 BMSB nymphs and adults per trap. The second generation of codling moth (CM), the third generation Oriental fruit moth and second generations of tufted apple bud moth and obliquebanded leafroller are continuing their flights in most Pennsylvania pome fruit orchards. As the season progresses and the trees become larger, often the volume of used water per acre should be increased. Even the most efficacious pest management products will not work if the spray coverage is not sufficient.
Research trials have shown that applying 3 split applications of ½ rate of ReTain starting 2 to 3 weeks before harvest with subsequent treatments applied 2 to 2.5 weeks apart are equal to or better than other approaches. One single application of ReTain made at the full rate will satisfactorily retard drop for about 35 days in normal years. After that, drop starts to increase and a supplemental application will be necessary to extend the drop control period. Experience in your orchard will be a good guide in assembling the pieces necessary to come up with a good drop control plan.
The weather conditions during the last several weeks have provided excellent conditions for bitter rot. Growers are encouraged to monitor their orchards and apply fungicides on a 10- to 14-day interval until harvest for effective disease control. The latest infection periods have been posted.
As the season progresses and fruit trees become bigger, the volume of used water per acre often needs to be adjusted (increased). Even the most efficacious pest management products will not work if the spray coverage is insufficient. Also during this second half of the season, some of the commonly used developmental models seem to be overestimating the pace of development for codling moth and Oriental fruit moth populations in some orchards. Therefore, such models are not very reliable indicators of the actual pest situation. Please use on-site monitoring as the main indicator in deciding if and when a pesticide application is necessary.
Some small fruit growers, mainly in the southeastern part of the state, have noticed fruit quality problems on their blackberries. This article discusses some common blackberry fruit issues, including whitening of drupelets, drupelet reddening, insect feeding injury, canker diseases and spotted wing drosophila.
The use of pheromone mating disruption, horticultural oils and some of the more selective reduced-risk insecticides and miticides will allow a natural increase of predators capable of regulating pest mite populations to tolerable levels without the use of miticides. The potential savings to Pennsylvania apple growers is approximately $1 million per year and a reduction of almost 1 ton of miticide active ingredient into the environment. Mite control through biological control in apple has the additional advantage of stopping the development of miticide resistance and, once established, is sustainable long-term if the use of certain harmful pesticides is avoided.
With the advent of uniform narrow canopy training systems on dwarfed trees with a simple branching structure that is enforced by renewal pruning, the “artistry” of pruning can be phased out in favor of pruning to a few scientifically sound principals. This article describes a prioritized set of pruning rules based upon these principals.
Brown marmorated stink bug adults and nymphs are actively feeding on fruit, mostly peaches and nectarines, although nymphs were also observed on apples and cherries. At this time of the season, commercially available traps and lures for monitoring BMSB can provide a valuable tool to decide if insecticide treatments are needed. With continuous, vigorous growth of trees, populations of spirea aphids are abundant in most orchards, feeding at the top of still growing terminals. High populations of the European red mite are also being observed in some plantings.
The Penn State farm food safety webinar, "Update on the New FDA Produce Safety Standards: Issues of Importance for Pennsylvania Produce Growers", was presented on May 31, 2013 and now is available for viewing.
Bacterial spot of stone fruit (caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni [Xap]) remains the most important bacterial disease of peach and nectarine in the eastern United States. We conducted a study in 2012 to monitor and identify populations of bacteria in stone fruit orchards, including bacteria resistant to the antibiotic oxytetracycline and to determine the current levels of oxytetracycline sensitivity in Xap populations. Of the 237 isolates tested, 99% and 81% grew in media amended with 5 and 10 mg/L oxytetracycline, respectively, while 25% and 22% of isolates grew in media amended with 15 and 20 mg/L and greater of oxytetracycline, respectively. Prudent use of this antibiotic is advised to prevent the loss of sensitivity.
BMSB adults as well as second and third instar nymphs were found feeding on fruit (mostly peaches and nectarines). If BMSB nymphs are spotted, the control treatment is needed immediately. While adult BMSB can continuously move in and out from any orchard, BMSB nymphs are resident pests and will continue feeding (and damaging fruit) for a consecutive 4 to 6 weeks. During the last week Japanese beetles (JB) were observed feeding in orchards located in southern Pennsylvania. Materials recommended for the control of brown marmorated stink bug should also provide effective control of JB.
Brown marmorated stink bug movement away from overwintering shelters is finally completed. BMSB adults are observed feeding on stone and pome fruit. The first egg masses and second instar nymphs were found during our weekly orchard observations. If BMSB nymphs are spotted, a control treatment is needed immediately. First generation codling moth (CM) flight continues in all areas across Pennsylvania. If pheromone trap captures indicate strong continuous CM flight, third applications of control materials will be needed. The second or third treatment of insecticides for the control of codling moth should also effectively control tufted apple bud moth (TABM) larvae. No Oriental fruit moth (OFM) control is required at this time.
The primary infection period for apple scab is nearing an end. Scab sources are still being sought in the region for fungicide resistance studies. Included is a thank you note to the attendees of the Spring Meetings.
During this past week, relatively high numbers of adults (for this time of the season) were observed feeding on stone and pome fruit. The first egg masses and young nymphs were also found. If BMSB nymphs are spotted, a control treatment is needed immediately. Codling moth (CM) adults continue first generation flight in all areas of Pennsylvania. The second treatment of insecticides for the control of codling moth should also effectively control early tufted apple bud moth (TABM) larvae.
Have you ever looked for training materials to build the knowledge and confidence of your farm market personnel? Penn State Extension now offers on-line training for farm professionals that handle, process, or merchandise fresh market produce.
Update on the strawberry virus situation in Pennsylvania.
Last month, I had written an article regarding two strawberry viruses (strawberry mottle virus, and strawberry mild yellow edge virus) that could be present in strawberry plug plants grown by mid-Atlantic nurseries (and others in the East) that had obtained runner tips from a Canadian supplier. The concerns were that the viruses could spread to otherwise healthy plants if aphids (the vectors of these particular viruses) were present; that the presence of the viruses would affect growers' plans to carry over plantings; and that if both viruses were present in the same plants, vigor and yields would be affected. At the time the article was written, we weren't sure how widespread the problem was in Pennsylvania.
As a Pennsylvania grower of fresh vegetables and fruits, you have worked hard to learn about and adopt GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) on your farm and in your packing house. Now that we are moving into peak marketing season, remember those farm food safety concepts when selling your produce at farm and farmers markets. Food safety practices that extend from farm to fork can help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.
Peach leaf curl is occurring throughout the region; effective control measures occur after leaf drop in the fall. Weather conditions are still excellent for fire blight; growers are encouraged to keep young, newly planted blooming trees protected. Apple scab sources are being sought in the region for fungicide resistance studies.
As during previous years, the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension website located at: http://agsci.psu.edu/frec is again providing the information related to seasonal observations on insects and diseases (http://agsci.psu.edu/frec/growing-season-information).
The 2013 spring weather conditions created a fortunate pattern for combining effective management options for some of our most important fruit pests—codling moth (CM), tufted apple bud moth (TABM) and obliquebanded leafroller (OBLR).
Many growers applied chemical thinners during the week of 5/13 to 5/18, and the effects of these applications are just becoming apparent. The forecast for our region calls for temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s for Wednesday through Sunday, with lows in the mid-60s throughout that time. Under high temperatures, all thinning chemistries are more effective than when temperatures are more moderate.
Carbohydrate balances for the most part are positive across the state indicating the potential for trees to be less responsive to chemical thinner applications. (The exception is up along Lake Erie). IMPORTANT: Plant growth regulator label precautions supersede recommendations from thinning models when temperatures approach 90 degrees or higher.
The first treatment to control codling moth is needed early during the week of May 27th (around 250 DD50, 5 percent CM egg hatch on May 27th). If hand applied mating disruption materials (Isomate® or CheckMate® products) are planned for the control of CM, Oriental Fruit Moth (OFM), dogwood borer, peach tree borer and lesser peach tree borer, the dispensers should be already placed in the orchards. First generation Oriental fruit moth flight is winding down across the state. Plum curculio (PC) adults will need to be controlled for at least another week. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is continuing its movement away from overwintering shelters and feeding on multiple species of plants, most likely not inside orchards. All pheromone traps for monitoring fruit insect pests should already be placed in orchards.
Below are the tables for the Cornell carbohydrate balance model from data derived from SkyBit and NEWA stations in Pennsylvania. The SkyBit stations are Wexford, Richfield and Morgantown. The NEWA stations are North East, Biglerville, Bendersville and York Springs. Remember that you should be looking at a multitude of factors when deciding on a thinning program. Following freezing temperatures at many locations on Tuesday morning, freeze damage assessment is an additional consideration. Be sure to keep good records as to when and what you apply as well as the results.
First generation Oriental fruit moth (OFM) flight is continuing across the state. Observations while in Erie County this week indicated that it is a good time to make an initial application to control hatching larvae. In southern counties, the second application of effective products should already be on. In Southern Pennsylvania, codling moth (CM) adults are active and, if needed, the first codling moth treatment should be planned sometime during the week of May 26th. In most orchards no special stink bug control activities are required at this time. Visual search for BMSB adults still remains the only reliable monitoring technique at this time of the season.
The following general observations are offered to help you assess your apple crop load potential in 2013, and help you determine the appropriate action plan for chemical thinning. Close observation of your blocks may show bloom or fruit set that differs from our observations, in which case you should adjust your decision-making accordingly. Monitor your orchards for damage from this morning's freezing temperatures before making thinning decisions.
Below are the latest runs of the Cornell carbohydrate model. For most regions this past weekend showed carbon deficits but not very strong. The cool weather this week predicts a carbon surplus, meaning trees will be less responsive to thinners.
The 2013 season biofix for Oriental fruit moth was established on April 17, spotted tentiform leafminer on April 09, codling moth on May 06, and tufted apple bud moth on May 09. Obliquebanded leafroller adults are still not active (as of May 10).
The Cornell apple carbohydrate thinning model calculates a balance of apple tree supply to demand using the data entered from a chosen weather station. The general carbohydrate balance calculated has been found to correlate well with tree sensitivity to natural drop and with sensitivity to chemical thinners.
We evaluated the use of the Equilifruit disc, developed in France, as a hand-thinning gauge on three cultivars trained to tall spindle. While the disc was developed for trees that have been trained to the centrifugal system, our results suggest that the Equilifruit has potential as a hand-thinning gauge in tall spindle apple (Kon et al., 2012).
The 2013 season biofix for the Oriental fruit moth was established on April 17 and for the spotted tentiform leafminer on April 09. Codling moth, tufted apple bud moth and obliquebanded leafroller adults are still not active (as of April 30).
Rain and winds moved through Pennsylvania from west to east on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday were cloudy and cool across much of the state. For those wanting to apply thinners weather conditions for thinning based upon SkyBit do not look promising for the remainder of the week.
Bloom is well underway for apples and pears. Be alert since this is a susceptible time for fire blight when conditions are favorable. Primary scab infection is still an issue. Dry weather diseases can still be problematic.
Dinotefuran received a time limited supplemental label for use on peach and nectarine trees, valid until Aug 31, 2015. Calypso 4F received an additional registration for use on stone fruit. The label for all products containing chlorpyrifos allows for only a single application of this ingredient-containing products per season, either as a dormant application or as a trunk application. Endosulfan remains registered for use on pears only until July 31, 2013 and on apples until July 2015.
Although the April weather continued the mix of cold and very warm days, insect development seems to be following a much more normal pattern than during the previous few years. While the biofix dates (first sustained moth flight detected by pheromone traps) for redbanded leafroller and spotted tentiform leafminer were a few days later than usual, April 6 and April 9 respectively, the biofix for Oriental fruit moth was established on the same day as during three other years in the last ten (April 17). As of April 26, we still have not yet established the biofixes for codling moth or tufted apple bud moth.
While the monitoring practices for our common pest species are relatively well defined, monitoring for the newly introduced pest species can be more challenging. A good example of such a challenge is exemplified by our effort to develop an effective monitoring system for brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
Monitoring insect pests continues to be one of the pillars of integrated pest management in Pennsylvania orchards. During the last fifteen years, the use of insect sex pheromone traps transformed from an intriguing tool used by researchers into a common pest management practice utilized by many growers.
Two strawberry viruses, in combination, are causing problems for Eastern strawberry growers. The viruses (strawberry mottle virus, abbreviated SMoV; and strawberry mild yellow edge virus, abbreviated SMYEV) have now been discovered in Pennsylvania, and growers are advised to check plants propagated from runner tips obtained from Nova Scotia.
Apple bud stages range from green tip in the Lake Erie region of Pennsylvania to a few blossoms opening in Lancaster County. Peach bloom stages range from pink bud in State College to petal fall in Lancaster County.
Be on alert for early season disease development: We have optimal conditions for brown rot (blossom blight) on stone fruit and growers are encouraged to apply fungicides during this critical period. This also continues to be a critical period for controlling primary apple scab infection.
A new generation of specialty crop growers is building coalitions to develop innovative approaches for meeting future growing and marketing challenges. Participate as much or as little as you want, but get to know other young producers, university extension workers and industry members in your field.
A Northeast Environment and Weather Association program is being introduced this spring to include the Cornell MaluSim carbohydrate model based upon data collected from a grower’s location and compiled by a specific weather instrument.
My goal as the new plant pathologist at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center is to provide timely disease updates and management strategies for tree fruit growers throughout the season through Fruit Times newsletters and timely email updates.
In 2012, the Massachusetts Audubon Society published an Invasive Plant Pest Alert on hardy kiwifruit, Actinidia arguta, also called "tara vine", strongly urging people not to grow or propagate this plant. The apparently rampant growth of vines had been documented at three particular locations. These sites stand in marked contrast to observations of the behavior of commercial and research plantings in PA, OR, MN, NY, ME and many other locations, where planted specimens have stayed in place and seedlings have extremely rarely germinated from fallen berries.
For growers in the mid-Atlantic states, GMO vegetable varieties are no longer future products in the pipeline. GMOs such as B.t. sweet corn and virus resistant summer squash are here now, and more varieties are coming soon. Growers need to understand what GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are, and how their customers and others may perceive them, in order to make informed decisions about whether or not to grow them, and how to talk to their customers about them.
Last year, several of us planted demonstration plots of an assortment of day-neutral varieties in PA, MD, and WV. Varieties included some from the U.C. Davis breeding program (Portola, San Andreas, and Monterey), and a variety from Lassen Canyon Nursery (Sweet Anne).
While many of you have already started on your winter pruning, some of you from more northern or central areas may not have begun due to snow cover and cold weather. Below is an excellent article by Mario Sazo and Terrence Robinson. The article primarily deals with orchards that lost their crop and the potential for the trees to have a heavy bloom. Their thoughts revolve around trying to accomplish some crop reduction via pruning to reduce the dependency on post bloom chemical thinning. They have some good ideas if you are in a similar situation, but I would like to add some comments as they pertain to Pennsylvania.
Replanted orchards may suffer from poor establishment, stunted growth, reduced yield, or a shortened productive life. While some replant problems are well understood, others are not and remain a mystery. Regardless of the cause, the factors responsible for replant problems developed gradually over the life of one or more previous orchards on the same site as a result of cultural practices and changes in soil chemistry and biology.
CHEMSWEEP is a program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to provide pesticide applicators and dealers with a viable means to dispose of cancelled, unwanted, or unused pesticides. Participation is free if you are a grower, farmer, retired farmer, or private applicator. Participation is also free if you are a pesticide application business or pesticide dealer wishing to dispose of less than 2,000 pounds of waste pesticides. Businesses wishing to dispose of more than 2000 pounds may enroll and will be billed at PDA’s contract price for any amount over 2000 pounds.
It seems that we are experiencing more unusually warm periods during mid- and late-winter, so trees may be more susceptible than in the past to moderately low winter temperatures. Lessons from years in which there was a sudden drop in temperature indicate that trees most injured were those that lacked adequate vigor, those that were too vigorous, and those that had been pruned before the cold event.
On January 4, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft Produce Safety Rule as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011. This proposed regulation would establish mandatory practices that farmers must take to prevent microbial contamination of fresh produce. Below are highlights of requirements FDA would issue in the final regulation.
Sweet cherry production has undergone a radical shift in the last few years with the introduction of the Gisela dwarfing rootstocks. These rootstocks require a new mind set when it comes to pruning. The rootstocks are much more precocious and tend to set more fruit than our standard Mazzard or Mahaleb rootstocks used in the past. If the trees are not pruned properly they tend to stop growing and produce a lot of small size fruit. Once that happens it is extremely difficult to re-invigorate the trees.
Penn State Extension has nine educational meetings planned this winter for tree fruit growers throughout Pennsylvania. The meetings are designed to address current challenges with the latest research based information.