Apple season will soon be underway

By Terence Bradshaw

My predecessor and longtime mentor Lorraine Berkett always told me to be ready for the growing season to start any time after April 1. Despite that being wrong in 2010, it has generally been good advice to live by, and after receiving another eight inches of snow yesterday, April 1, I feel safe in saying that we still have a bit more time to go before green tip. That said, we do need to be ready, and these first few weeks of spring are important ones to get caught up on pruning, reviewing previous seasons’ activities, and laying out our plans for the coming year.

As I mentioned at the winter meeting in Middlebury last February, there will, again, be no new printed New England Tree Fruit Management Guide for 2017. We (myself and the other University and Extension Tree Fruit IPM professionals in New England) have been struggling to keep the guide up-to-date and relevant with minimal and often no funding for as long as I can remember, and have decided this year to venture into a new, online system. I say this is new, but it is actually the same UMASS-hosted platform that the New England Vegetable and Small Fruit Guide have been published on for many years. We are still working to get the content all migrated over (and the complete lack of an organic section right now is entirely my fault), but it is now functional to the point that we will all be referring to it when making IPM recommendations this season. The guide can be found at: Bookmark it and refer to it regularly, it is mobile-friendly and is where we will be posting more information as we get it formatted and changes in pesticide registrations occur.

Again, there is no printed guide for 2017. Please hold onto your old guides, most any of them from 2010 or so and later will suffice to provide general background information but as any pesticide information should be checked against the online guide, a label aggregator like (see label lookup in the top bar menu) or, and, ultimately, the pesticide label itself. If you need an older printed guide, feel free to contact me and I’ll see if we can dig one up. But please know that even though many pesticide registrations haven’t changed in recent years, many others have, and I won’t vouch for the accuracy of the tables or other information in an out-of-date printed guide.

This year I will be working with Eric Boire, consultant with CPS, and my technicians Jessica Foster and Sarah Kingsley-Richards, and UVM Plant Diagnostic Clinic Director Ann Hazelrigg to expand our scouting to some commercial orchards to better inform our email updates. The details on that program are still developing, and I’d like to thank Eric and the VT Tree Fruit Growers Association in advance for their support.

As usual, we will be relying on the NEWA system to deliver site-specific weather information and pest model output to help guide recommendations to growers. If you are interested in setting up a station on your farm, please contact me as soon as possible. Stations are about $2,000 but even relatively small orchards can benefit from reduced number of or better-timed spray applications.

Until next time, Happy Spring!