IMPORTANT: Conservation Compliance and Crop Insurance Subsidies

I received this message from Adrienne Wojciechowski in Patrick Leahy’s office via Steve Justis regarding new requirements for filing a conservation compliance form with USDA in order to receive crop insurance subsidies. This form is due on June 1! I am not well-versed on this provision, so please contact your Farm Service Agency office ASAP to make sure you do not slip through the cracks.



Scab, pink insect management, fire blight, what else?

May 7, 2015

by Terence Bradshaw

This is an important week for orchard activities, as you likely know. I’ll try to be brief but thorough:

Apple scab: Depending on whether or not you had green tissue showing on April 23 or (more likely) April 27-28, you may not have even seen an apple scab infection period in your orchard yet. We have had some false alarms as far as predicted wetting events, but things have overall been pretty dry. The chance of rain showers is there on Saturday May 9 and increasing daily through Tuesday, but no widespread soaker is expected, although localized showers may trigger an infection period in your orchard. Ascospore maturity is healthy, although in some orchards which have received no rain for seven or more days, development in the NEWA model has stalled, so the next wetting event will potentially trigger a significant infection period.

Spray conditions are good today Thursday May 6 and tomorrow May 7, with increased winds expected later Saturday and especially Sunday (check the conditions in your orchard prior to spraying, of course). Take home message- make sure you’re covered with a protective fungicide going into this rain event.

Pink-stage insecticides: Many orchards are at pink or approaching it now, and I expect first bloom in the Champlain Valley by Monday or Tuesday. If you have not already brought bees in, and tarnished plant bug or European apple sawfly are a problem in your orchard, an insecticide in the next spray may be prudent.

Fire blight: risk is still looking to be high for fire blight infection when blooms open in most orchards, and any wetting could trigger infection (including heavy dew or a spray application). Be ready to apply streptomycin within 24 hours of a wetting event, and reapplication will be necessary after a couple of days as new blossoms open and the material effectiveness wanes. Remember the conditions required for blossom blight infection: open bloom, wetting, sufficient bacterial population to infect (driven by weather in the past week or so, which has been warm), and warm weather during infection. Cooler weather in the middle of next week will likely reduce fire blight threat, but bloom and wet will likely occur before then.

General orchard activities: water if you can, especially newly planted trees. The potential showers in the next few days don;t look to be enough to give new trees what they need. Now is the time to apply nitrogen fertilizers, including prebloom foliar fertilizers (another thing to put in that pink spray).

Summer Orchard & Vineyard Management Course at UVM

Time is running out to fill this course with sufficient students to run it this summer, so if you’re interested in developing in-depth management knowledge of apple and grape crops in Vermont, now is the time to sign up!

Details and sign up information can be found at: If you have questions about signup, please feel free to contact me.

The course runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-3:00 from June 16 – July 9 at the UVM Horticulture Farm in South Burlington, VT. The course cost is $1,272, whether taken for academic credit or as non-credit. To put that into perspective, that amounts to 30 bushels of apples or one ton of grapes produced through knowledge gained in the course to pay it back.

In this course, students will develop an orchard/vineyard management plan as a final project. Past grower-students have implemented these plans on their farms to develop new plantings, attain financing, and plan business enterprises.
About PSS 195 BU3

Students will learn principles and practices of commercial orchard and vineyard crop production, including: site selection and preparation; cold hardiness development; varietal selection; tree and vine training and trellising systems; cold hardiness development; nutrient, water and pest management; harvest and postharvest considerations. Special emphasis will be placed on environmental and economic sustainability of fruit production systems. The course will cover both orchard and vineyard crops suitable for production in northern New England, and students will have opportunities to explore specific crops in greater depth if they so wish. At each course meeting, we will apply knowledge of integrated horticultural and pest management practices in a real farm setting.

“Super knowledgeable, and super on top of his game. Terry’s class is one of a kind and an invaluable resource for anybody interested in apples or grapes! It really is an incredible class and the real world application is off the charts.” – 2014 Sustainable Orchard & Vineyard Management student


More on Fire Blight

May 5, 2015

by Terence Bradshaw

We have run the Maryblyt model for the UVM Hort Farm in South Burlington and, as I had predicted this morning, conditions for infection will occur this weekend if blossoms are open. We may not have flowers showing by this weekend, but growers are advised to be diligent in preventing infection.

This week’s edition of Scaffolds from the Cornell Fruit team has a very good, thorough set of recommendations for managing the disease:

Good luck with it. As an aside, any comments on blossom stages at your site in Vermont would be helkpful to me in the next couple of weeks.


Fire Blight risk looks high

May 5, 2015

by Terence Bradshaw

With the string of warm days that we have been experiencing this week leading into bloom, as well as the amount of fire blight that was around in 2014, I expect that we may be in for a tough year with this disease. I have not yet run the MaryBlyt program for Vermont orchard weather stations, but if you were to trick NEWA by recording yesterday as having bloom in the orchard (most orchards in the Champlain and Connecticut Valleys are at tight cluster), predicted fire blight risk is ‘High’ by Thursday and ‘Extreme’ by Friday and through the weekend. Remember, for blossom infection you need open blossoms (or other wounds, I would avoid pruning right now), heat accumulation significant for bacteria to multiply into an infective population, warm weather during infection, and wetting events. Heavy dew or spray applications may be enough to trigger infection.

First line of defense (after you pruned out all infected wood during the winter) was the copper spray that should have been applied at green tip. In most orchards it is too late to apply copper, except for the highest elevation sites. Do not spray fixed coppers after half-inch green bud stage.

The next step will be to have some streptomycin on-hand to apply within 24 hours of a rain event during bloom (remember, we need open blossoms for infection to occur). Now would be a good time to order your supply.

There is too much to the fire blight disease to discuss in this one notice, please review the pertinent section in the New England Tree Fruit Management Guide if you need a refresher.

We will run Maryblyt later today and I will send updates as the situation plays out.