Planting time!

April 21, 2014.

Today is the day for planting our apple rootstocks. Soil is in good shape and this should go well. We have planted several pears and plums also where we can get in to the ground. Many spots are still too wet. We hope to plant our raspberries next week if we can get a break from the rain. Strawberries will go in the ground in May.

Planting Root Stock

Planting Root Stock



This is our week for fertilizing the trees and berries.

We installed the trellis stakes in to the fall raspberry rows this week. We do this early because the posts are easy to tap in the ground at this time. Also, we avoid walking on the plants as they emerge.

Our copper sprays for blight suppression and early scab control went on late last week as the green tissue began to emerge. When the buds push out green tissue, they are exposed to scab spores. We should be covered for Tuesday’s rains. But the forecast looks like another scab spray will be needed later this week.

Green tissue is showing in the plums. This is exposing the flower buds and it looks like a short crop of flowers is coming especially for our Japanese types. We will back off pruning on these a little longer till we see what we have. We may not prune them at all if the fruit bud counts are real low.

We have noticed some frost heaving in the trees planted in wetter spots. These trees will survive but we will shovel in some extra dirt to cover the exposed roots. Definitely not a good idea to plant in wet areas. It just does not work out in the long run.

Shovel some dirt on exposed roots.

Shovel some dirt on exposed roots.



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Early Spring Chores

April 09, 2014.

This past week we finished up the raspberry and blueberry pruning. On summer fruiting raspberries, we simply remove the old canes at ground level and tip the remaining canes removing about 10 % of the cane length. We also thin down the total number fruiting canes to about 5 or so / foot of row. Then the canes are tied over to the wires to spread them out. Blueberry pruning is about removing the oldest canes as well and some detail thinning out in the tops. However, we backed off a bit this year because of the heavy crop last year. All the prunings get shredded to reduce damage from stem diseases.

We will fertilize the blueberries beginning in late April with ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) only. The raspberries will be fertilized later this month with calcium nitrate.

I looked at fruit buds on all the fruit last evening to the accompaniment of spring peepers. I was pretty encouraged on how they looked on apples, pears, plums and sour cherries. Peaches are still a mystery. Will not know on those for several weeks.

Hope to spray the peaches with copper later this week for peach leaf curl. We are making preparations for the first apple scab/fireblight prevention spray using a copper fungicide. This will be applied when the leaves are at the green tip stage. Could be in a week maybe two? This spray reduces the fireblight inoculum in the orchard from overwintering cankers. It also protects from scab infections for about a week.

Also, we preparing for dormant oil applications on all the fruit trees. Usually these are applied between green tip and tight cluster stage in apples and dormant to green cluster in the pears. In the apples and pears it kills the immature stages (mostly eggs) of mites and scale insects. In pears it also suppresses pear psylla and this is very important. We usually wait till swollen bud stages in plums and peaches for best results. On these trees we are targeting mites which can be very troubling closer to harvest. The actual timing of oil sprays is determined primarily by calm spray conditions. Also, you cannot spray oils within 24-36 hours of a frost. And you cannot apply oil within one week of spraying captan fungicides or you can get burning on the leaves. Check the labels of any products that are used, for proper directions.

When soil conditions permit, we will plant our apple rootstocks. These will be bud grafted in early August.


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Spring is here! Here we go!!

This is the trunk of a tree that had a Nectria Canker.

This is the trunk of a tree that had a Nectria Canker.

Apple Scab

Apple Scab

Nectria Canker, also called European Canker.

Nectria Canker, also called European Canker.


March 31, 2014.

This week we are wrapping up pruning on apples and pears and we are grinding brush. The leftover brush from trees should be ground up or burned to reduce the carryover of diseases in the limbs. We have found several types of canker diseases in the apples this year including nectria canker, black rot/white rot cankers and a couple fireblight cankers. These can spread diseases to adjacent trees if left in the orchard. In addition, if we find a canker like the above, we will sterilize our pruning tools to prevent further spread.

Black rot cankers on plums can build-up over the years and canker removal is a good control method.  It is best to wait till a dry day just as the trees are showing green buds to prune in the plums and cherries. Peach diseases such as Valsa (perennial) canker can be removed at pruning time as well. Wait to prune the peaches till flowering time. This way you leave any flowers that have escaped the cold winter temperatures that we had.

Rabbit and mice damage may be prevalent this year due to the extended time with snow cover. Not much you can do now but if you have at least an inch or two of bark remaining up the tree, the tree will survive. If the critters have girdled all the way around the trunk, you are likely to have dead trees.

For apples and pears, you can reduce apple scab issues this season by removing leaves that fell under the trees last Fall. This will reduce the disease inoculum available to infect the newly developing leaves this Spring.

Any grafting (scion) wood to be used for grafting this Spring will need to be collected this week before the buds start to push. There may be a few spots left in a grafting workshop coming up in April. Contact the CCE office in Schuyler county at 607-535-7161.

Peach leaf curl is a disease which can be very debilitating to peaches and you must prevent this disease at bud swell which will be late this week or next. We use copper sprays and these are very effective.

Well, as a fruit grower, it is time to saddle up for that wild seasonal ride. Nothing will go as planned nor work out as expected. We just hold on and do our best.

For more information please check out this site:

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Orchard Notes

Well, another fruit season is underway. Since early January we have been pruning in the apples, beginning with the large, mature trees. We took advantage of a couple relatively warm periods and have more than two thirds of the pruning done. We do not prune within three days of super cold weather (10F or lower). This can lead to winter injury near the pruning cuts.

This season we are backing off on the total amount of branches removed because of the heavy crop last year. The heavy crop used up a great deal of fruit buds so fewer flowers will develop this spring. Many folks mentioned how heavy their fruit crops were last year. Over cropped trees have lower carbohydrate reserves for a crop this year so pruning will only remove more potential buds. At our farm we removed over 80% of the fruit as it developed last spring. This will allow for a good crop potential for this year. Crop load management is the most important part of fruit growing.140205

Next up for pruning will be the pears. Again, a heavy crop last year means light pruning this winter. We wait till bud break to prune the plums and cherries and just before flowering on the peaches. This is done for disease prevention and so that a reasonable assessment of crop potential can be made prior to pruning.

Our lowest temperature so far has been minus 7.5F. This will damage some peach buds but we are more concerned about the fluctuating temperatures in between those cold periods. Not much you can do about it but you can cut some branches, place the stems in water and bring them inside to force the flowers to grow.

A silver lining for all the cold will be fewer bugs and diseases this growing season I guess.

Extended periods of snow on the ground can lead to vole and rabbit feeding on tree trunks. It is imperative for fruit growers to check fruit trees that are unprotected with either guards or paint right now. Just go out and pull back the snow from the base of trees and inspect for girdling by the mice (voles). This can kill the trees. Rabbit feeding is usually restricted to cutting the small shoots that they can reach but they can also girdle the trees in winters like this one. The best remedy for both pests are tree guards of one form or another. Also, you can reduce rabbit damage by pruning some branches now leaving them in place. This provides a food source for them instead of your living tree.

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Orchard Notes

The past several weeks have been a down time for many orchard pests. Some Japanese beetles have been observed but not crazy yet. They go right to Honeycrisp first. We always check there first. Mites have been slow to get started, which is good. We always pay particular attention to these in the stone fruits because heavy infestations make for very itchy harvest conditions. After mid-August, it won’t matter on these pests. Trap counts of OBLR, CM and OFM have been low. Apple maggot adults have not yet been observed in traps. If more than a few are seen, then a spray is called for because these will cause ugly tunneling in the fruit. Diseases like sooty blotch, flyspeck, black rot and bitter rot in apples have been addressed in earlier sprays and we will be preventing them again in our last sprays as well. As their names imply, these diseases can cause all manner of rotting in the fruit.

Peach and plum harvest has begun. This year we have a new concern in SWD and we are trapping for these fruit flies with weekly monitoring of traps. Brown rot can be significant at the later stages of fruit development, so we are spraying with appropriate fungicides as needed.

Blueberry harvest continues with no SWD trapped yet.

Pumpkins are beginning to bloom. A cucumber beetle spray went on just prior to flowering. Focus will now shift to mildew.

Fall raspberries are looking good. Focus now shifts to irrigation and tucking the canes inside the trellis strings.

Overall, crops look excellent so far. Just have to keep it clean the rest of the season.

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Orchard Notes

130703_Apple Scab 3

Apple scab infection.

The rain is the thing that is for sure. We cannot catch a break for many of the ongoing chores that must be done to bring our beautiful crop to harvest. For the first time, we had apple scab sneak through our late spring spray program. A couple blocks had scab lesions on leaves that had developed around late bloom time. The worst cultivars were McIntosh, Cortland and Empire. This led to very few lesions on the fruit fortunately. This means, however, that we will have to keep up with a scab preventive program through the summer in those blocks if conditions stay wet.

Fruit thinning is pretty much complete. Just a couple things to touch up—Honeycrisp as usual. The foliage hides the apples underneath and there is always more than you think.

Apple pests of interest now are obliquebanded leafroller, apple aphids, woolley apple aphids, codling moths and European red mites. Our counts of codling moth and obliques have been down but mites and woolleys are building. The foliage of the trees is so lush from the rains that many pests such as aphids will flourish until dry conditions return.

On new apple plantings, we are applying a second nitrogen fertilizer application (the last of the season) and we tie the developing leader shoot to the pole as growth requires.

Brown rot becomes the main concern in developing peaches and plums as they approach harvest. This year we will keep a close eye on spotted wing drosophila (SWD), which can infest stone fruits and cause wormy fruit.

Our pumpkin planting is looking good so we are scouting for cucumber beetles in there once a week for a while.

We covered the blueberries for birds a couple days ago as harvest approaches and we are looking for SWD in there as well.

Fall raspberries look real nice and we are tucking the developing shoots into the string trellis as they grow. This well support the weight of the canes as the fruit develops in August.

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Orchard Notes

130613_Burr Knot

Pheromone traps can prevent dogwood borers from damaging burrknots.

We went through for a second thinning in the peaches yesterday to space them 6-8 inches apart. They look really nice. We will need to touch up a few things we missed in the plums later this weekend. We thinned the pears by hand a few days ago. They look good but a lot of frost rings from the May cold snap. We also began apple thinning in the young trees and varieties like Honeycrisp that are hard to set a new crop for next year. This rain will hold us off a bit, which may be good because some of the smaller apples may come off on their own. Many varieties look very good from the thinners and many are still thinning on their own. Some heat would hasten the process.

Pest issues are in a lull right now. For most pests other than aphids and leafhoppers, which I have not seen yet, it will be another week or so to worry. Apple scab season is over hopefully and fire blight should be in the rearview. We were concerned about dogwood borers in our apple planting along the driveway so we put twist tie pheromone traps in there to control any problems. These trees are grafted high (6-8 inches) and this had led to a number of burrknots on the trunks, which the borers love to get into.

Cornell has placed a number of Spotted Wing Drosophila traps in our fall raspberries to monitor for these critters. They can infest all the soft fruits and lay eggs inside the fruit, which become small maggots. We are concerned about this a great deal in our berries, peaches and plums. An excellent fact sheet on this is available from Cornell.

Planted pumpkins a couple days ago. Four acres went in, and we hope for another great crop of these beauties for our customers.

This coming week it will be hand thinning in the apples. We want to take advantage of the predicted cool, cloudy weather. This can be a very hot, grueling job otherwise.

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