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

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.

Webinar TODAY on COVID-19 and produce farms;

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

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.

Followup information from Feb 13 annual Apple growers’ meeting

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

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

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

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.

Electronic Registration is Open- February 13 VTFGA & UVM Apple Program Annual growers’ meeting

By Terence Bradshaw

Notice: Early bird (discounted) registration ends February 4.

Electronic registration is now open at: https://my.cheddarup.com/c/vt-tree-fruit-growers-association-annual-dues

The agenda and registration for the 124th annual Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association and UVBM Apple Program growers’ meeting is now available. Registration and agenda are at: http://go.uvm.edu/2020applemtg.

I am personally excited by the quality and breadth of information that will be presented at this meeting. For IPM topics, we’ll have UNH Entomologist Dr. Anna Wallingford and UMASS Extension specialist Elizabeth Garofalo who will each discuss critical pest management and pollination issues. Russell Powell from New England Apple Association will lead us in a soul-searching discussion of the future of apple cultivars in the region. And Rose Wilson will lead a group discussion on future direction of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association and will provide critical insight on marketing your crop. This meeting will be of great use to all tree fruit growers and managers, large, small, wholesale, retail, conventional, and even unconventional.

The program has been approved by VT Agency of Agriculture for four pesticide reeducation credits.

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.

Winter apple pruning; ‘Click’ pruning

By Terence Bradshaw

Happy 2020, everyone. By now, in mid-January, all growers should be thinking about or well-into dormant pruning apple trees. This is the time to get your tree structure adjusted and to open trees up to sunlight and air to improve overall health and production. Below are some resources that may refresh your minds on the concepts and best practices in dormant pruning apples:

· Pruning -Horticulture Presentation by Dr. M. Elena Garcia

· VIDEO: (University of Massachusetts)

· VIDEO: (University of Massachusetts)

Recently, a new method of pruning that has been popularized in parts of Europe has emerged that aims to increase fruit bud development on trees that produce ‘blind wood’, like Cortland, Northern Spy, Fuji, and pears (especially pears). The Click Pruning technique calls for normal dormant pruning through scaffold management and limb/branch removal. Where it differs from pruning tenets we often promote is that it calls for heading cuts into one-year wood- those vegetative terminal shoots produced last year that have no side buds (yet). The idea is to leave small stubs of one-year wood in places on the tree where we want fruit buds to form. Those spurs, which now are missing their terminal bud which promotes apical dominance and therefore fewer lateral spurs (and thus more blind wood), will see increased growth and ‘breaking’ of lateral and sleeping buds that will form fruit spurs this year (and fruit the following). Here are two videos that illustrate the concept. We’ll be trying it on a number of our trees at the UVM orchard this year.

· “CLICK ” Pruning Apples & Pears – Controlling & Directing Vigor – Avoid “Blind” wood: Growing Fruit

· Understanding the click pruning technique – Video: Good Fruit Grower

Stay warm,

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.

February 13: VTFGA & UVM Apple Program Annual growers’ meeting

By Terence Bradshaw

The agenda and registration for the 124th annual Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association and UVBM Apple Program growers’ meeting is now available. Registration and agenda are at: http://go.uvm.edu/2020applemtg. Electronic registration is not set up at this time, please use the old-fashioned snail mail form in the link or check back shortly.

I am personally excited by the quality and breadth of information that will be presented at this meeting. For IPM topics, we’ll have UNH Entomologist Dr. Anna Wallingford and UMASS Extension specialist Elizabeth Garofalo who will each discuss critical pest management and pollination issues. Russell Powell from New England Apple Association will lead us in a soul-searching discussion of the future of apple cultivars in the region. And Rose Wilson will lead a group discussion on future direction of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association and will provide critical insight on marketing your crop. This meeting will be of great use to all tree fruit growers and managers, large, small, wholesale, retail, conventional, and even unconventional.

The program has been approved by VT Agency of Agriculture for four pesticide reeducation credits.

I look forward to seeing everyone. Early bird (discounted) registration deadline is February 4.

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.