And So the 2016 Season Begins—Tips on Using the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) weather system

Posted: April 1, 2016

All current conditions point to an early spring and tree fruit bloom. At Rock Springs we had first bloom on Methley plums and pink on peaches on Friday March 25th. Last year we observed the same growth stage on April 29th!
Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA)

Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA)

Many orchards across the lower part of the state have reported green tip for major cultivars on March 23rd to 25th. Earlier blooming cultivars like Empire, Idared, Ruby Mac and Pink Lady in some cases were a few days earlier. The Extension Committee of the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania (SHAP) again provided funding to pay Pennsylvania’s subscription to the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) weather system. Please take advantage of the system by checking weather and various models based on weather data close to your orchard. Dr. Kari Peter did a nice presentation at the winter meetings about how you can use the models at the site to help determine disease infection periods.

To utilize the carbohydrate model go to NEWA and then highlight the "Crop Management" tab in the blue banner and highlight "Apple Carbohydrate Thinning". To choose a station site maneuver the map below and click on the weather station closest to you; then click on the “Continue” button in the left hand box. In the box for “Green tip date” enter the date you reached that state; click the green button “Calculate” and the model will automatically calculate the carbohydrate production, use and remaining balance. Thinning recommendations will not be presented until after you reach full bloom.

apple carb thinning chart

In most years green tip and full bloom do not vary much by cultivar, but in case it does this year, you can run the model changing the green tip and full bloom date to get the most accurate picture of carbohydrate status. To maximize the evaluation of the model it is best to choose specific cultivars and input the appropriate dates. Record your applications and then return in late June to evaluate the effectiveness of your thinning treatments.

There have been a couple of updates on the way you can access weather data at the NEWA site. The first is that weather sites are now catalogued by state. In the past you had to scroll down a long list of weather stations that began with stations in New York, then New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts etc. Now at the beginning you select from a shorter menu that is divided by state and then choose a site within the state. Another feature you may be interested in is the ability to track growing degree days.

As a refresher, the Cornell apple carbohydrate thinning model was developed by Alan Lakso at Cornell University and adapted for practical use by Terence Robinson at Cornell University. The model, using fundamental tree physiology, estimates over a season (from bud break) the carbohydrate production by an apple tree (with a set description) and the total demands for growth for both the crop and the tree growth. It calculates a balance of supply to demand each day of the season using the weather data that is entered from the chosen weather station.

It should be noted that the model does not attempt to model any specific variety or training system. The general carbohydrate balance it calculates has been found to correlate well with tree sensitivity to natural drop and with sensitivity to chemical thinners. Cool sunny periods of good carbohydrate supply leads to reduced natural drop and less response to thinners. Cloudy hot periods result in carbohydrate deficits and lead to stronger natural drop and stronger response to thinners. The four-day running average is used since studies and observations have shown that the apple tree does not respond to just one or two days of good or bad weather but rather has a capacity to respond more slowly to changes in weather.

Below is an article that Dr. Julie Carroll, the Coordinator of the NEWA weather program prepared on maintenance of their RainWise weather stations. While it was specifically written for the RainWise instrument the general concepts may be helpful to those of you that have different weather stations.

Weather station maintenance

Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Coordinator and Leader of NEWA, NYS IPM Program
Article appeared in the March 21, 2016 issue of Scaffolds Fruit Journal

To keep your NEWA-connected weather station running in top shape this season, consult the Maintenance Guidelines and the Troubleshooting Guide we put together for Rainwise weather stations in NEWA. Developed with input from Rainwise Technical Support personnel and incorporating questions and answers from our workshops, “Improving the Reliability of Your Weather Station” the Guide provides a comprehensive overview and detailed steps for fixing problems that arise with your weather station. Simple fixes, such as turning the station off and then on to reset it, are on the main web page.

Common maintenance issues like the need for a new battery, if not taken care of can lead to anomalies in data or data not being reported. You can download the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Guide and keep it on hand for reference. The troubleshooting guide is organized by the types of problems you might encounter with your weather data.

These include:

When weather stations are 3 to 5 years old, they may begin to show need for repair – new sensors (temperature/relative humidity, leaf wetness, etc.), or new battery. Keep an eye on your weather data to make sure it is within normal parameters. Scan Hourly Data, (under Weather Data on the blue main menu on NEWA) or check your data feed on RainwiseNet.

We’ve upgraded the NEWA Hourly Data page to include a State selection box. Select your state and then either select a station, month, and year using the drop down boxes and hit “Get report” or click on a month provided in the table (blue links; purple links are previously viewed). Once you make the selection, the page of results will display in an “Hourly Data Summary” for that month.

If NEWA isn’t getting your weather data the Hourly Data page will show patched gaps as brown italicized font—indicating missing or extrapolated data that could indicate a weather station problem. Hourly Data variables can show you daily weather patterns, extremes in temperature and rainfall that are beneficial to maintaining your crops, but also maintaining your weather station.

Only functioning weather stations are included in the drop down lists. If you can’t find the station you are looking for, chances are it is currently inactive. Any weather stations inactive for more than a month are taken out of NEWA until they are back up. A list of inactive weather stations is provided in the “Select station” drop down box.

This time of year is an excellent time to maintain your weather station. Take a look at the station, make sure the rain gauge bucket is clean, and check all the connections.

We’d like to acknowledge the New York State Apple Research and Development Program for funding our workshops and making it possible to create the Troubleshooting Guide and web pages that are now available to everyone connected to NEWA across the Eastern US.

Presentations from the winter tree fruit educational meetings are now posted at the Tree Fruit Production Website in case you want to review additional information presented by specialists.

Contact Information

Robert Crassweller
  • Professor of Tree Fruit
Phone: 814-863-6163