July 29, 2020
As the calendar flips to August, it’s time to wrap up field activities in preparation for harvest in Vermont orchards.
Foliar nutrient analysis – It is the time in the growing season to collect leaf samples for analysis. Samples are usually collected between July 15 – Aug. 15. The UVM Agriculture and Environmental Testing Lab can provide analysis, but at this time their output does not generate fertility recommendations. The following are potential options of labs for analysis. It is recommended that you contact the lab for instructions and costs before samples are sent. Plus, it is important to confirm that they will send recommendations along with the analysis.
(1) University of Maine Analytical Lab: http://anlab.umesci.maine.edu/
(2) University of Massachusetts Soil and Tissue Testing Lab: https://ag.umass.edu/services/soil-plant-nutrient-testing-laboratory
(3) Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab: http://cnal.cals.cornell.edu/
Wrapping up spraying – Primary insects of concern are apple maggot and codling moth. Both should be managed in high-pressure orchards. AM can often be managed with a single insecticide application based on monitoring with red sticky traps. The threshold is one fly per unbaited trap, or five flies per trap if apple volatile baits are used. Codling moth are entering their second flight in many orchards, so management is advised if this pest is a problem for you. Insecticide options are listed in the New England Tree Fruit Management Guide. Dr. Arthur Agnello discusses these summer insect pests in more detail in the July 7, 2014 issue of Scaffolds .
Summer diseases – It is important to maintain fungicide coverage to protect against sooty blotch, fly speck, and summer fruit rots. Materials should be applied after every 200 accumulated hours of leaf wetness or 2 inches of rainfall, whichever occurs first. Except on later-harvested cultivars, a fungicide application made by mid-month should provide good control through harvest. For retail orchards, fungicide sprays are likely wrapped up by now.
Remember to watch pre-harvest intervals on all products at this time of year.
COVID concerns- I think that many orchards will benefit from others’ wisdom as we prepare to reopen our farms for the season. Every farm must comply with State of Vermont guidances for general business, plus farm markets and/or pick-your own operations. Guidance can be found at: https://agriculture.vermont.gov/covid-19-information/covid-19-sector-guidance-news. I encourage farmers to visit other operations that are now open and see what’s working- parking, stand layout, customer education, etc. Consider this a way to make efficiency improvements in your retail farm operation, if anything.
Specific guidance for agricultural workers, which relates to both domestic, and H2A labor, as well as to workers that both live on and off the farm, must also be followed. Presently the CDC guidelines are the standard that Vermont farms are expected to follow: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-agricultural-workers.html. Those guidelines include many of the steps that we are already getting quite used to (bullet points taken from CDC website):
- Management in the agriculture industry should conduct work site assessmentsexternal icon to identify coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) risks and infection prevention strategies to protect workers.
- Work site guidance for COVID-19 prevention and control should be taken into consideration in employer-furnished shared worker housing, transportation vehicles and work settings.
- Prevention practices should follow the hierarchy of controls, which includes using source control and a combination of engineering controls, administrative controls (especially proper sanitation, cleaning, and disinfection), and personal protective equipment.
- Grouping workers together into cohorts may reduce the spread of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace by minimizing the number of different individuals who come into close contact with each other over the course of a week, and may also reduce the number of workers quarantined because of exposure to the virus.
- Owners/operators should maximize opportunities to place farmworkers residing together in the same vehicles for transportation and in the same cohorts to limit exposure.
- Basic information and training about infection prevention should be provided to all farmworkers in languages they can understand.
- Agriculture work sites developing plans for continuing operations where COVID-19 is spreading among workers or in the surrounding community should work directly with appropriate state and local public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals.