The "Berry Good Question" column is being re-launched as a joint Cornell/Penn State effort.
Q: Each year I question whether I'm putting straw mulch on my strawberries too early. Some years, I've waited too long (usually due to hunting season) - then we get snow and I can't get it on at all, so I'd like to mulch as early as I can. I've seen an assortment of recommendations – what should I go by? Thanks.
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.
To reduce apple scab risk for next season, growers are encouraged to spray a fall application of urea as close to leaf drop as possible. Additional disease management strategies are also discussed.
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.
Researchers and growers explain management methods for BMSB such as insecticides, trap cropping, physical barriers, and organic and biological control techniques—in a new video.
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.