The 2022 apple growing season is just around the corner…

The growing season is just around the corner after what I suspect was a last-gasp snowfall over the past weekend. This should start my toughly weekly notices, but please, send me any questions to hae\ve in the meantime.

A few items that I’d like to remind growers about include:

  1. Get your sprayer ready. This probably means cleaning it up, checking the mechanics, and, once the threat of really cold weather is out (or when you can make room in the shop), going through the plumbing. If you haven’t replaced nozzle tips for a couple of years, do so now. While you’re in there, clean out all of the gunk in nozzle bodies and other nooks and crannies. This is your time to get the machine in tip-top shape heading into the season. Don’t forget to replace your tractor cab filter, too!
  2. Figure out which NEWA station you will use for your weather monitoring. We have 20 stations and airports that feed data around Vermont to the system. This web-based application helps growers to integrate field- and weather-based information into biological models to help determine the need for and time spray applications for key pests.
    1. If you don’t have a station near you and wish to have one, please contact me. Stations are about $2000 and last for about 5 years before they need replacement or upgrades. Trust me, for $400 per year, this tool pays for itself many times over.
  3. Get your monitoring supplies in gear and plan your orchard scouting. Your first stop should be to download our IPM Quick Summary for Monitoring Apple Arthropod Pests. Print off and put on your spray shed wall. This covers the primary insect pests to monitor, and their timing and thresholds, during the season. Next, order you traps, likely from Great Lakes IPM or Gemplers. As a start, for each monitored block (orchard management unit 10 acres or smaller in size) you’ll want:
    1. Six white visual traps for European apple sawfly and tarnished plant bug.
    2. Three ‘wing’ traps for monitoring moths. You can choose the red or white traps, I prefer red delta traps as they are easy to replace the trap cards and find in the orchard. For each trap, you will need three codling moth, oriental fruit moth, and obliquebanded leafroller pheromone lures. You’ll also need three or more trap liners per trap.
    3. You’ll need four apple maggot fly traps per block. Traps come in disposable (requires hanger) or reusable models. We’ve moved to the disposable because the reusable ones require some pretty gross cleaning regime. You’ll also need appropriate adhesive to coat the traps.
    4. I like to carry rolls of flagging and some kind of magnifying lens to mark trees and make field identification easier.
    5. A good field guide is essential. We recommend NRAES 169: Tree Fruit Field Guide to Insect, Mite, and Disease Pests and Natural Enemies of Eastern North America (pdf, hard copy).
  4. Set up whatever data sheet system works for you. Some prefer a clipboard and paper, others a spreadsheet on the phone. A sample, printable spreadsheet can be found here. Note there are some extra trapped insects (e.g., Lesser apple worm, etc., that we are less concerned with in most orchards) and some pests that we assess with visual leaf or fruit observations- we’ll get to those as we go through the season.
  5. A good, general Orchard IPM Guide is the Cornell Apple IPM for Beginners booklet, available here.
  6. As we get into the growing season, you may want to consider mating disruption of codling moth or dogwood borer, the latter especially on young or dwarf trees. Mating disruption pheromones dispensers are typically hung in the orchard around bloom, so be ready to order ahead of time.
  7. Remember that your go-to pest management guide should be at Bookmark that on your computer and phone.
  8. While we’re on the topic of ordering materials, you may want to consider stocking materials for the beginning of the pest management and fertilizing season. Supply chain issues, even if only a perception of them, may affect availability of many materials we are used to getting with a quick phone call. Vermont orchards are, as a whole, a lot smaller than some of our close neighbors and it only takes a few orchards totaling 2000 acres to buy out current stocks of streptomycin, for example.

That should do it for now. See you soon.

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