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UVM Fruit Blog

Important: COVID-19 impact reporting

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets is collecting farm-level data to assess the impact of COVID-19 and loss of business from break normal operations on area farms. Please fill out this short survey to contribute. The more data they have, the better their response can be.

Thank you,

Terry

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

COVID-19 business resources, green tip approaching in VT orchards

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

First, UVM Extension Farm Viability Program has posted a page of resources for farm businesses related to emergency loans, grants, and other updates from state agencies: http://blog.uvm.edu/farmvia/?p=1805. Of particular interest to the framing community is the Paycheck Protection Program which provides low-interest, forgiveable loans to small businesses to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The direct link to that program is: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.

In walking the orchards at the UVM Hort Farm yesterday, I saw a lot of swollen, delayed-dormant buds, but only none yet at silver tip. Given the warm weather expected next week, I would expect to see at least some cultivars reach green tip in the next seven days. If you have green tissue on your farm already, please send me a note to let me know. Thus begins the disease management season.

If you’re still pruning, you should wrap up what you can and get your brush pushed to make room for sprayer access. I am a believer in using copper at green tip for disease management. The timing of this spray is very important- too soon (no green tissue showing) and you risk ‘wasting’ some of the effectiveness of the material against apple scab when susceptible tissue isn’t present. Too late (beyond ½” green tip) and you risk fruit russeting, which can be quite severe. Given that, it’s better to err a bit on the early side, but you should have green tissue showing in the orchard before applying. Copper applied at green tip will give about seven days’ protection against apple scab.

Copper’s primary benefit is in reducing overwintering populations of fire blight bacteria. Even though we saqw minimal amounts of this disease last year, fire blight has become a regular disease to manage in Vermont, and a multi-pronged approach will be needed to keep it at bay. Copper should be applied to all trees in the orchard, not just susceptible varieties, and in as dilute a spray as possible. The specific copper material is less critical than the amount of metallic copper that is applied in the spray, and copper sulfate, copper hydroxide, copper oxychloride sulfate products all will be effective when used at label rates. A good primer on spring copper applications to pome fruit by Dr. David Rosenberger can be found in the March 28, 2011 issue of Scaffolds. Addition of one quart oil per 100 gallons can help improve penetration into bark crevasses where fire blight may reside. However, this could be a good time to apply a full oil spray to manage overwintering mites, and a 2% solution is recommended at this timing. Oil and copper products are compatible for tank mixing at this time of the year, but likelihood of phytotoxicity increases as more green tissue emerges. One benefit of applying oil in your first spray is that it allows more time for it to degrade or wash off before incompatible fungicides such as Captan and sulfur may be used as primary scab season ramps up. Avoid the oil if you’re within a few days (before or after the spray) of a frost to reduce chances of damage to tree tissues.

Now that the ground is clear and firming up, it also would be a good idea to perform spring orchard sanitation to reduce overwintering scab inoculum. Leaf shredding with a flail mower is an effective practice that also may be used to reduce small pruning wood to mulch, but the mower must be kept low in order to lift and grind leaves that harbor overwintering inoculum. Alternatively, there is still time to apply urea (40 lbs/100 gal water/acre) to leaf litter which aids in decomposition and breakdown of inoculum. Leaves should be wetted thoroughly and the majority of material directed into the tree row.

Good luck with the beginning of the season and please reach out if you need anything.

-Terry

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Pre bud break vineyard management; COVID-19 farm business resources

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

First, UVM Extension Farm Viability Program has posted a page of resources for farm businesses related to emergency loans, grants, and other updates from state agencies: http://blog.uvm.edu/farmvia/?p=1805. Of particular interest to the framing community is the Paycheck Protection Program which provides low-interest, forgiveable loans to small businesses to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The direct link to that program is: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.

In the vineyard, things are holding tight now but reports from the Hudson Valley suggest an early bud break. Dr. Jim Myers continues to run his bud hardiness model, which for our region, shows vines beginning to deacclimate about 7-10 days earlier than normal. Does that mean budbreak will be 7-10 days early? Maybe, but not guaranteed. But this is a suggestion that we should get things in order for the season to begin before we know it. For those who follow this list, the rest of this message is an updated copy from this time last year- the early season details are pretty much the same year-to-year:

After a long winter, spring is here and bud break is approaching. Plan on wrapping up pruning in the coming weeks and removing brush from the rive alleys to the burn pile (and burn it, too, to reduce overwintering insects and disease inoculum). This is a good time to review your previous season’s spray records and to identify any gaps that may have led to disease issues. We have updated two disease management documents in 2017 for Vermont and area grape growers: a table of relative disease susceptibility of cold-climate cultivars and an initial IPM strategy for cold climate winegrapes. More information on general viticulture and other small fruit production can be found in the 2019 New England Small Fruit Management Guide , and the 2020 New York and Pennsylvania Pest Management Guidelines for Grapes are now available and should be used in combination with specific pesticide labels to select pesticide materials for use in your IPM program.

One pesticide spray that is often considered by growers is a late dormant application of lime sulfur (LS) which aids in inoculum reduction against many diseases, especially phomopsis and anthracnose. Growers who have had more than a passing amount of either of those diseases, especially organic growers with more limited choice of materials during the growing season may consider applying this practice, but I make that recommendation with several caveats. While LS is an organically-approved pesticide, it is one of the most acutely toxic materials I have ever used, and demands special considerations for its use. It is also a restricted-used spray material, so unlicensed applicators may not purchase or apply it. LS (active ingredient calcium polysulfide) is very caustic; spray mixtures tend to have pH around 10-11, and that characteristic is what gives it its sanitizing effect as a biocide. Contact with skin or especially eyes must be avoided, and it is pretty noxious even when smelled through a respirator. This material demands respect. While those effects will dissipate in the field after sufficient washoff and degradation by rain and other elements, I would only plan on applying after pruning is finished so not to muck around in it after application. In fact, very thorough pruning out of all dead and diseased wood is an important cultural disease control practice, and if you have a lot of such wood left in the vineyard, spraying your way around pruning it out won’t help.

LS is typically labeled for application at "15-20 gallons per acre in sufficient water for coverage" (Miller Liquid Lime Sulfur). That is a very high amount of LS, and would be difficult to apply and very costly when applied to large acreages. The key is to fully soak all woody tissues in the vineyard. This may mean aiming all nozzles at the cordons, but that would leave the trunks uncovered. Alternatively, the sprayer could be operated to cover the whole zone from the fruiting wire down, which would waste a tremendous amount of spray. The best application may come from a careful handgun application, which will take a long time and should be done with full protective gear including heavy nitrile gloves, full face shield and respirator, and Tyvek or other chemical-resistant, disposable coveralls. It is hard to say how much you would apply per acre in a directed spray, since that would be much more efficient with less wasted spray than an airblast application. My suggestion would be to apply a 10% solution (1 gallon LS to 9 gallons water) by handgun to cordons and trunks in a very thorough soaking spray. If you need to use an airblast to cover more ground, I would concentrate my nozzles toward the cordons but leave one or two directed toward the trunks, that will waste spray between vines but will allow you to cover ground much quicker. Because of the reduction in efficiency, I would calibrate to apply ten gallons of LS per acre in at least fifty gallons of water.

Remember, this stuff is caustic, stinky, and degrades just about everything it touches. It’s also quite phytotoxic- application at these rates to vines after bud break will cause leaf damage if not outright defoliation. I have used a lot of LS during the growing season in organic apple production, and don’t recommend it there unless absolutely necessary. I do not have experience using it in-season (post-bud break) on grapes, so this recommended spray must be applied during the window between pruning and bud break. The spray, if left on tractors and in sprayer plumbing, will corrode hoses, gaskets, and even stainless steel. It must be thoroughly rinsed from sprayer systems and the rinsate applied back out in the vineyard, not dumped on the ground. Some growers have applied a film of vegetable oil via backpack prayer to tractors and sprayers before an LS application to prevent it from soaking into and corroding steel and other materials on equipment. It’s that bad, and I could show you sprayer hitches, mix screens, and ceramic nozzles that have been degraded by it.

With all that said, LS is extremely effective as a preventative practice to reduce disease inoculum, and I still recommend its use in vineyards where anthracnose and/or phomopsis have gotten a bit out of control. Just be careful out there and treat it with the same (and a little more) respect that you should retreat any pesticide.”

Good luck with your vineyard activities in the coming weeks, and let’s all hope for a ‘normal’, gradual spring warm-up.

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Webinar TODAY on COVID-19 and produce farms;

Posted: April 3rd, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

I apologize for the late notice. There will be a webinar hosted by the Cornell Workforce Development, Produce Safety Alliance, and Small Farm Program today, April 3 at 10:00 am : COVID-19 and Your Produce Farm. Details at: https://events.cornell.edu/event/covid-19_and_your_produce_farm_webinar

Best,

Terry

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Farm relief during COVID-19 crisis

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

Hi everyone:

It was gorgeous outside today, which provided a good chance to get caught up on pruning, pushing brush, and prepping for a growing season that is right around the corner. This is not my usual message about orchard or vineyard management.

Many of our fruit and vegetable farms rely on H2A workers. They manage many farm tasks year-round, not just at harvest. I’ve spoken with Deputy Secretary Alyson Eastman from VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets and she has assured me that those workers will be available this year with only a slight delay, if any, for those who would be coming in the next few weeks. Officials at the USDA and Dept of Labor have identified H2a / H2B workers, and other agricultural workers in general, as “essential employees” who must be supported through this situation.

Farms that use H2A or other workers who live in communal housing especially should develop a plan for screening employees for illness and to safely quarantine them if they are symptomatic or test positive for the COVID-19 virus. This means that employers should be proactive- have digital thermometers on-hand and teach employees to use them to monitor for fever. Develop sanitation protocols for worker housing, especially share spaces like bathrooms and kitchens. Stock your housing with essentials: disinfectants that are active against the flu virus; paper products; cough medicine; acetaminophen; etc. Farms should also identify other operations in the area with H2A worker housing so that resources may be shared if workers need to be quarantined. Workers who stay in housing that is not in their work order need that to be amended, but it will be easier to do so if they are staying in another H2A inspected facility.

I am also concerned about farms that do not have backup personnel for skilled tasks, in particular, spraying. If one of us goes down from this illness, a missed spray program during a critical time can threaten the whole crop for the season. Therefore, I propose that we develop a system where we can meet emergency labor needs on our farms through mutual and/or community aid.

I have started a google survey https://forms.gle/s9rJtFBJWH6iGqAQ7 to collect and share this information with our grower community. I could also use our VT Tree Fruit mailing list which is largely dormant but has two-way communication set up so that growers can easily reach out to the larger community.

I have been thinking a lot about the role of our farms, and the vulnerability of our farmers, during this public health crisis we’re in. Our farms are absolutely essential, and I have been impressed with how our food production and distribution system has handled this situation. One of our fellow growers posted on social media that their farm sent 275,000 pounds of apples this week alone to customers all over the eastern U.S. While most of our farms are not of that size, we are capable of producing a lot of food for people- and this year in particular, people are going to need it. So let’s do our best to get a great crop in this fall, and that means getting our orchards and vineyards in shape now. I also want to ask farms to consider how we can best rise up to get food to everyone who needs it. I am not asking anyone to work for free, by any means. But this is a time when our perennial crops can show their resilience. Orchards in reasonably good shape will produce a crop this year, barring any calamities. We may want to consider bringing unmanaged or planned-to-pull-out blocks into at least a minimal management program this year, even if those fruit are donated or gleaned by charitable organizations. I was planning to pull an older, 1-acre block (~15% or our production) from the UVM orchard this year. Instead, I plan to grow it for the new UVM Student Food Shelf. I know that labor and management of these blocks will be a drain on already stretched resources, but this seems like the year where we need all the food we can muster.

The Agency has some good information on COVID-19 for farms and food businesses: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/covid-19-information

Chris Callahan at UVM Extension also has some great on Food Safety and the virus: https://www.uvm.edu/extension/necafs/clearinghouse/home

The Peace and Justice Center has collected a list or regional mutual aid resources: https://www.pjcvt.org/mutual-aid-and-other-resources-related-to-covid-19/

NC State Farmers Market COVID-19 info sheet: https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Farmers-Market_COVID-19_031320.pdf?fwd=no

NC State U-Pick Farms COVID-19 info sheet: https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/U-Pick-Farms_COVID-19_031620.pdf?fwd=no

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development site https://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/2020/03/12/novel-coronavirus-prevention-control-for-farms/

Thank you and be well,

Terry

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

March 21 Grape pruning cancelled

Posted: March 19th, 2020 by fruit

Hello:

Due to social distancing measures and the need to maintain public safety, we are cancelling the Grape Pruning workshop that was to be held at the UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center on March 21.

Here are some good pruning resources that may help guide you in pruning your vineyard:

· Finger Lakes Grape Program (FLGP): How to Prune Grapevines

o Top wire cordon

o VSP trellis

· Michigan State University Pruning and Training Top Wire Cordon Vines

It’s not a bad idea to assess winter bud damage on a few vines and adjust your pruning if appropriate. A visual assessment is easy to conduct. We encourage growers to collect their own primary bud mortality data prior to pruning, if possible. The procedure is fairly quick and requires no special equipment besides a hand lens or magnifying viewer. A helpful video from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Finger Lakes Grape Program that outlines the process may be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RHJ5mY3fAs .

Dr Jim Meyers offered me the following model output that compares observed temperatures against expected bud hardiness on multiple cultivars for our farm in South Burlington, VT. The bad news is there were a few days in February where some damage may have occurred on cold-hardy cultivars, with Marquette (green line) potentially having been damaged on three days this winter. The good news is that grapevines have a remarkable system for ensuring their growth and potential cropping through their compound buds, and that generally grapevines can sustain 30% or more primary bud death before we get too concerned. You may also see that, in the model, Concord was not damaged by temperatures seen this winter. There is a range of bud hardiness among the commonly-grown cultivars in Vermont and the surrounding region, and I don’t see a lot to worry about in this table.

Good luck pruning out there, and let me know if I can help with anything.

Best, Terry

Followup information from Feb 13 annual Apple growers’ meeting

Posted: March 12th, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

I’ve been taking notes during today’s VTFGA / UVM Apple Program annual meeting. This is useful even if you didn’t make the meeting on Feb 13. Here goes:

1. Slides from the talks will be available at: http://www.uvm.edu/~fruit/?Page=treefruit/tf_meetings.html&SM=tf_submenu.html
They should be up there shortly.

2. Please consider taking our pretty short survey on cider apple production. Even if you don’t grow cider apples, knowing that is helpful to develop baseline data for the New England Cider Apple Project.

3. The Vermont Agriculture Food System Plan: 2020 is available at: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/document/vermont-agriculture-and-food-system-plan-2020
Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts discusses the report here: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/agency-agriculture-food-markets-news/secretary-tebbetts-op-ed-setting-table-vermont-what-would-you
This report was generated by agriculture professional and stakeholders and vetted by industry participants. So, the apple chapter was written by me and coauthored by the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association board of directors.

4. Dr. Anna Wallingford from UNH referenced the Xerces society in her talk on Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management. She also referenced A Pesticide Decision-making Guide to Protect Pollinators in Tree Fruit Orchards.

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Thoughts on spring approaching in Vermont orchards

Posted: March 10th, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

In contrast to the rest of the population, those of us in the fruit growing community hate warm March weather, and this year looks like another which will potentially give us early bud break, at least in the warmer parts of the state in Bennington county and the Connecticut Valley. Reports out of the Hudson Valley and Massachusetts suggest that they may are seeing silver tip on apples, and pear psylla have already started moving. I wouldn’t translate that to suggest that we will see green tip in the immediate future, but it’s coming. This gives growers time to get caught up and ready for spray season, so don’t be complacent.

Given the generally heavy crop in Vermont orchards in 2019, fruit bud density is expected to be relatively low this year. That means that pruning can be a little lighter to compensate for fewer fruit buds. That doesn’t give license to ignore your end of season pruning, but suggests that trees may be breezed through a little quicker if you have wrap up pruning to do. The winter has been generally good for outdoor work, so most orchards should be easily caught-up. My take home: get finished up in the next two weeks, then get ready for spraying season. After the soil dries a bit (and hoping that this early mud season is truly early and not just extended), push your pruning brush or flail mow in-place for high density plantings with smaller pruning wood. Calibrate your sprayer. As soon as you can get into the orchard, an application of urea to the leaf litter (44 lbs feed-grade urea in 100 gallons water per acre directed at the ground, especially under trees) may be warranted to reduce overwintering apple scab inoculum, too. That is not an organic-acceptable practice, so if you are certified, consider applying granular lime or compost tea instead if you wish to improve leaf litter decomposition.

Get your early season spray materials ordered and on-hand for when the season starts. No really, calibrate your sprayer. Be ready to properly oil the orchard if you have had any issues with mite flareups or San Jose scale, the latter of which I have seen not only in orchards but also on fruit in grocery stores. Remember that oil should go on at full dilute or no more than 2x concentration to be most effective; I’ll discuss that further in a future message. So when you calibrate your sprayer, be sure to reserve a setting for high-volume applications, either by switching to higher-output nozzles, reducing travel speed, or both.

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Upcoming orchard and vineyard workshops

Posted: February 28th, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

It’s a little late in the season, but UVM Spring Break is approaching which means that we have some time to get out in the field and spend some hands-on time with apple and grape growers. The following workshops will be held in the coming weeks, please email me with questions or just register at the listed links.

http://www.uvm.edu/%7Efruit/?Page=beginner/bg_workshops.html&SM=bg_submenu.html

Apple Pruning

Date: 3/7/2020 12-3 PM
Location: Robert Frost Stone House Museum
Address: 121 Historic Route 7A Shaftsbury, Vermont 05262
Registration: https://www.bennington.edu/events/apple-pruning-workshop
Fee: $0

Apple Pruning

Date: 3/11/2020 1-4 PM
Location: UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center
Address: 65 Green Mountain Drive, South Burlington, VT
Registration: https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php/112118?lang=en
Fee: $0

Apple Grafting Workshop

Date: 3/13/2020 1 – 4 PM
Location: UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center
Address: 65 Green Mountain Drive, South Burlington, VT
Registration: https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php/374228?lang=en
Fee: $0

Grape Pruning Workshop

Date: 3/21/2020 9 AM – 12 PM
Location: UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center
Address: 65 Green Mountain Drive, South Burlington, VT
Registration: https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php/253521?lang=en
Fee: $0

Orchard and Vineyard Establishment and Trellising (Apple and Grape)

Date: 4/17/2020 1-4 PM
Location: UVM Horticulture Research & Education Center
Address: 65 Green Mountain Drive, South Burlington, VT
Registration:https://survey.uvm.edu/index.php/512628?lang=en
Fee: $0

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Apple producers’ meeting is on for tomorrow, Thursday Feb 13 in Middlebury

Posted: February 12th, 2020 by fruit

By Terence Bradshaw

The weather for overnight tonight and into tomorrow is a little dicey, with 3-5 inches of snow, total, expected through tomorrow afternoon. Given the logistics of rescheduling, we’re going to keep the meeting date for tomorrow’s UVM Apple Program / VT Tree Fruit Growers Association 124th Annual Meeting.

American Legion Hall, 49 Wilson Rd, Middlebury, VT 05753

8:30-4:00 PM

www.uvm.edu/~fruit/treefruit/tf_meetings/VTFGA_124_2020agenda_registration.pdf

Thank you,

Terry

Where trade names or commercial products are used for identification,

no discrimination is intended and no endorsement is implied.

Always read the label before using any pesticide.

The label is the legal document for the product use.

Disregard any information in this message if it is in conflict with the

label.

The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the

University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM

Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.

Contact Us ©2010 The University of Vermont – Burlington, VT 05405 – (802) 656-3131
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