Tree Fruit Team Outreach

Team accomplishment report for 2017.
Tree Fruit Team Outreach - Articles


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Increasing Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability

The multi-disciplinary tree fruit team works with stakeholder advisors to implement research based programs to ensure a production-to-consumer system that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Focus on Industry Priorities

  • Advanced Integrated Crop and Pest Management
  • Innovative Technologies
  • Next Generation Growers from Diverse Backgrounds

Adoption of Sustainable Practices and Technologies

Tree fruit producers representing over 20,000 acres of orchards told us in post-program surveys how their interaction with Extension impacts their operations.

  • 99%, 97%, and 85% indicated their management of diseases, insects/mites and crop load, respectively, improved as a result of extension meetings, newsletters, and/or pest alerts
  • Growers estimated the economic impact to be $120, $130, and $170 per acre for improved management of diseases, insects and mites, and crop load, respectively
  • 49% planned to adopt a new disease management strategy; 41%, a new weed management practice; 52%, a new insect management strategy; 47%, a measure to better comply with the new worker protection standard
  • 100% of young and 100% of Latino growers indicated that Extension’s interactive, bilingual training on orchard scouting will help them apply a new integrated fruit production strategy on their farm
  • 97% of young grower participants told us they feel better equipped to contribute as Next Generation members of the fruit industry as a result of YGA educational programming; they estimated the annual value of YGA non-credit extension courses to be $900 per participant

Regional and National Leadership

Extensive monitoring programs developed by Penn State entomologists allow growers to eliminate at least 50% of direct BMSB treatments. In 2017, the attract and kill method in the form of "ghost traps" was utilized in commercial orchards with very promising results.

Engineering Solutions for Specialty Crops

Innovations supported by USDA NIFA, PDA and Penn State innovation grants include:

  • pruning aids and sensors for future pruning automation
  • technologies to increase harvest efficiency

Robotic pruning investigations have led to the development of sequential, simplified rules and a pocket guide that growers can apply now to increase efficiency of pruning. Growers said use of the sequential pruning techniques would likely cut pruning time by 42% - an estimated savings of $136 per acre. Harvest efficiency is increased by 30% with harvest-assist systems matched to “fruiting wall” orchard production systems.

Economic Impacts of Extension Outreach and Applied Research

  1. More efficient use of streptomycin for fire blight control, a potential savings of $500 to $20,000/year, depending on size of the enterprise
  2. Savings of $90/acre on peaches and $120/acre on apples due to IPM scouting-based programs for BMSB
  3. Increased biological mite control which saves $1 million/year in miticide costs and reduces the potential for chemical resistance
  4. Increased precision management, with 80% of new orchards now planted on dwarfing rootstocks that increase net cumulative returns by $20,000/acre
  5. Improved labor efficiency, resulting in net returns of $200 to $1200 per acre
  6. Improved Honeycrisp management, resulting in a potential increase of $1800 per acre

Bilingual Courses for a Next Generation of Horticulturists

Bilingual certificate short courses were offered for growers with potential interest in becoming specialized managers or start-up farmers:

  • 84% improved integrated pest management scouting for insects and diseases and weeds  
  • 80% plan to adopt new practices to prevent farm accidents
  • 74% improved pruning and crop load management skills

Extension Tree Fruit Team Members

Co-Chairs: Tara Baugher, Rob Crassweller; Members: David Biddinger, Tim Elkner, John Esslinger, Montserrat Fonseca Estrada, Tom Ford, Greg Krawczyk, Long He, Rich Marini, Andy Muza, Kari Peter, Bob Pollock, Jim Schupp, Don Seifrit; Affiliates: Tanner Delvalle, Kathy Demchak, Jayson Harper, Paul Heinemann, Lynn Kime, Luke LaBorde, Dana Choi, Lee Stivers; Program Director: Mike Masiuk