2014-2015 Penn State Extension Tree Fruit Production Guide
Posted: March 26, 2014
Penn State has been revising and updating the Tree Fruit Production Guide, or TFPG as we often refer to it, for many years. The oldest copy I have in the files I inherited is from 1971 when it was titled Agricultural Chemicals for Tree Fruit Production. The Horticulture section authors on that guide were Tony Hatch, Frank Heweston and Marshall Ritter. The Plant Pathology authors were Fred Lewis and Don Petersen and there were six entomologists listed as authors. The “Guide” had a total of 78 pages of which 37 pages were totally devoted to what chemicals to spray. Contrast that with the most recent version which has 83 pages just on cultural information in the first section.
In the intervening years the TFPG has grown considerably and has become much more than a listing of chemicals. Our philosophy was to make the guide a "one-stop" reference tool that was as comprehensive as possible. We maintain that the cultural sections, while they may not change frequently, still provide our latest information on rootstocks, growth regulators, plant nutrition, nurseries, pruning systems and other items. Part Two is largely devoted to helping growers understand the biology and life cycle of insects, diseases, mammals and nematodes. Part Three talks about safe handling and application of pesticides, pesticides labeled for use in orchards and strategies to avoid development of resistance to pesticides. Part Four is a quick reference section for information on labeled pesticides. Part Five is the nuts and bolts of IPM recommendations for tree fruit crops. Part Six revolves around harvest and postharvest handling of fruit. Part Seven covers the manufacture of fresh apple cider. Part Eight lists food safety practices. Part Nine covers farm management topics including production budget costs and farm labor regulations. Part Ten is the newest addition and covers marketing including customer segmentation, retail layout and using social media to attract customers. A hard copy version of the guide is available for purchase through the Agriculture Publications Office at University Park.
We also have an electronic version in a pdf format that is available for purchase at a slightly lower cost. You may remember that in past years the electronic guide was available for free; however, with rising costs and shrinking budgets we needed to begin charging a fee. This new electronic guide has a few more features than the old one. The table of contents are hot linked to the appropriate sections in the guide and all the URL’s to additional reference material are also hot linked. For example on page 79 of the electronic guide at the bottom of the page are two links to additional information on Gisela cherries. This year we are trying an experiment to see what the demand is for an enhanced electronic version.
This is not something new, as Penn State was the first institution in the country to put its production guide up on line back in the mid-1990s. This was followed by the Penn State Agronomy Guide and other publications. Internet capabilities have certainly improved since the first guide was uploaded and they are continuing to expand. In future years we intend to expand the “bells & whistles” of the electronic version. In order to do that however, we need to know what the demand will be and we will need to charge for the electronic version to cover the enhancement costs.
Is this electronic version everything we had hoped or wanted to have? No, we are still in the experimental stage. University regulations and requirements restricted all that we wanted to add to this year’s electronic format. Some of our future goals will be the addition of more color images, something that would be cost prohibitive in a hard copy. We hope to utilize more extended links, database information, and videos to access within the electronic version. We are also looking at the potential for a subscription type service where we could provide updates to the versions much like you receive notifications for APPs for your mobile devices. For this year’s version we are going to offer the option of purchasers to opt into an electronic notification system of update emails. I see this electronic format becoming the ultimate “go to” web site for tree fruit production information.
In the meantime if you have any suggestions for features you would like to see in an electronic version please send them to me and I will see how many features we can add in future editions.