The plans for a Study Tour in Pennsylvania July 16th and 17th are in place, and growers are invited to visit the International Fruit Tree Association website to check out all the details!
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. The first disease to be addressed will be apple scab. The Tree Fruit Pathology Lab in Biglerville is set up to monitor ascospore maturity, as maturity assessments provide one way to predict disease pressure. Combined with weather data the lab collects, I plan to convey that information to growers along with management recommendations.
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.
If you wish to review recommendations provided at your local winter tree fruit educational meeting or the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, you may now find the speakers' slides on line!
Penn State Extension has nine spring twilight meetings planned for tree fruit growers throughout Pennsylvania. The meetings are held in local orchards, and Extension fruit specialists will be on hand to address the pest management and horticultural challenges of the 2013 growing season. In July, Pennsylvania fruit growers host the International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) tour in Gettysburg, Pa., and surrounding orchards. A special feature of the tour is the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center Field Day July 17.
High Tunnels provide a great opportunity to extend the season, protect high value crops, improve quality, and reduce weed and pest pressure. As a follow up to a winter High Tunnel School, Penn State Extension’s Vegetable and Small Fruit Team and Women in Ag Network are offering a series of on farm twilights. These twilight meetings will give you a chance to talk with growers and see good practices in action. At each twilight the grower will discuss their experiences with high tunnels and a visiting speaker will share knowledge on a special topic.
Proper calibration is a must to make sure pesticide applications get to the target at the proper rate. The Penn State Pesticide Education Program purchased a calibration unit that enables us to collect the output from each nozzle. With the collected information, we troubleshoot any problems like worn or plugged nozzles or broken or wrong whirl plates. The end result is a calibrated sprayer ready to go for the growing season. Growers may sign up to have their sprayers calibrated at the Penn State Pesticide Education website.
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.
The more than decade-long effort to eradicate the Plum Pox Virus has been a success after required monitoring shows the disease has not reappeared.
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.
Registration is now open for an upcoming All-Day Blueberry School. This school will cover blueberry production from A to Z in one intensive day. Topics to be covered include basics on blueberry plant requirements and establishment; irrigation; fertility; varieties; disease, insect, and weed management; bird control; economics; and marketing pointers.
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.
The Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, held January 29 to 31 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, has become the premier grower meeting in the Northeast combining three days of six or more concurrent educational sessions with a large industry trade show and numerous networking opportunities - all designed to enable fruit, vegetable and berry growers as well as direct marketers to stay on the cutting edge of their industries. About 2,200 persons from throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond gather each year at Hershey for the Convention. Registration is open to all interested commercial fruit, vegetable and berry growers, direct marketers and allied industry personnel.
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.