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.
The tables below present weekly adult moth captures in pheromone traps and degree day comparisons for 2008 to 2013.
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.
Spotted wing drosophila numbers are continuing to rise, and SWD is now being found in most berry plantings in the central and southeastern parts of the state.
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.
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is now being found more frequently in traps across the state, though numbers are still very low (0-3 per trap per week).
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.