In cooperation with the Missouri State Horticulture Society
2004 apple & peach cropIn mid-June the Missouri Apple Merchandising Board estimated the apple crop at 545,000 bushels. Several factors have affected this year's production. Hail destroyed the apple crop in the Kansas City area. In central Missouri, spur leaves of Jonathan were damaged by frost, and fruit appears small. Infestations of scale have caused yield reduction statewide. The rains have also caused intense disease pressure. Peaches are being harvested about a week earlier this year than last, and the crop looks good.
Coming - Columnar/upright peach treesColumnar and upright peach trees with narrower tree canopies than standard trees will be released soon by the USDA Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, West Virginia. Crimson Rocket is a new columnar-type cultivar with high-quality fruit (2.7-inch diameter) that ripens one week before Loring. Like other columnar-type trees, Crimson Rocket trees have an upright growth habit, narrow branch angles, and a canopy diameter of about 5 feet at maturity. Sweet-N-Up, a new upright cultivar, will also be released. It has large fruit (2.9-inch diameter) and matures five days after Loring. The recommended spacing is 5 by 16 feet for columnar trees, 6.5 by 18 feet for upright trees, and 13 by 20 feet for standard trees grown at the Kearneysville Fruit Station. In the fifth leaf, columnar trees produced 75 pounds of fruit per tree, whereas upright types produced 150 pounds, and 141 pounds from standard trees at the Kearneysville station. At the recommended spacing, the production would be 725 bushels per acre for the columnar trees, 815 bushels for the upright, and 508 bushels for the standard trees. Although the upright tree is more productive on a per-acre basis than the standard, it requires one and a half times as much time to prune an acre of the upright trees because of the greater number of trees. Thus, growers will need to decide what type of tree or combination of trees works best for their operation.
Latex paint protects fruit budsFor two years, Michele Warmund has been conducting experiments to delay bud break and thereby protect fruit buds from early spring frosts. Two different products were applied on January 14 and February 18 to dormant peach limbs and blackberry canes. The white latex paint treatment was a 1:1 dilution (paint:water). In 2003, latex paint delayed Apache bud break by an average of four days and Navaho by two days when compared with untreated controls. Flowering on canes of both cultivars treated with latex paint was delayed by about four days. Paint did not affect yield per node on Navaho plants, but it did reduce yield on Apache plants. Yield per node was similar among all treatments for Navaho, while it was decreased by latex paint for Apache in 2003.
In 2004, bud break of Navaho and Apache blackberries was delayed by eight days. On April 5, 2004, Redhaven peach buds treated with latex paint were at a mean bud stage of 3.6 (between calyx red and first pink) whereas untreated control buds were at stage 6 (full bloom.) Using a standard chart that lists the temperatures at which 90% bud kill occurs, the treated buds would be killed at 14 degrees F whereas untreated buds would show similar loss at 24 degrees. Treatments did not modify bud temperatures during the periods of data collection but provided a means to delay bud break. Moreover, latex paint provided considerable protection against low-temperature injury when applied during the dormant season.
Low-carb fruits for dietersThe low carb craze in the United States has affected food producers and their industries. For example, the consumption of potatoes, especially french fries, is decreasing. Fast food restaurants are replacing buns with lettuce wraps. Upscale restaurants replace their mashed potatoes with cauliflower.
The low carb phenomenon has also affected the fruit industry as consumers want to know which fruits are considered low carb. Here is a comparison of carbohydrate levels for one-cup servings of raw fruits:
Ron Stephenson reported recently that a customer inquired about low-carbohydrate cider. In response to this inquiry, Penny Perkins-Veazie, USDA scientist was contacted. She commented that the watermelon producers are also battling the low carb trend. She noted that in apples and watermelon, the carbohydrates are from the sugars contained in the fruit, so using low-sugar apples would help reduce the carbohydrate levels in cider. Dr. Perkins-Veazie also suggested that sucralose (Splenda®) could be added to the cider to increase the sweetness. However, she cautioned that the artificial sweetener should be tested to make sure that browning doesn't occur. Another alternative would be to dilute the cider with water, but again the cider taste would be lacking. Another problem would be that the diluted cider is no longer a 100% fruit juice but rather a juice drink with the added water.
The low-carbohydrate diet was popularized by the Atkins diet. This diet has been criticized by nutritionists, but recent evidence indicates that it can reduce weight without the feeling of food deprivation. This diet, along with the South Beach and Paleolithic diets, is effective because it decreases insulin levels and thereby prevents storage of fats. A Harvard study indicates that mice fed diets with the same calories, differing only in the amount of carbohydrates, showed increased fat deposits with high carbohydrates. However, these diets can be deficient in other aspects of nutrition.
The January 2004 issue of Stagnito's NewProducts Magazine reported that 3.6% of Americans are on low-carb diets, up more than 33% from six months earlier. More important, 40% of Americans identified carbs as a "dietary no-no" as compared with 11% in the previous year. The food industry has responded with new low-carb products worth a billion dollars in sales.
It is predicted that the low-carb trend will persist longer than the low-fat boom that occurred a decade ago because these Atkins types of diets work. However, when people go off the low-carb diets, they quickly gain the weight back. Experts agree that the healthy solution to obesity is a sensible diet, smaller portions, and reduced intake of highly refined starches and sugars, combined with increased exercise. Nutritionists will likely continue to advocate fruits and vegetables as a part of the food pyramid and important components of a healthy diet.
Paintball, anyone?Mike Foster, who operates Cedar Hill Farm in Hernando, Mississippi, found a way to bring customers to his orchard and market year-round when his teenage boys and their friends came to the farm looking for a place to play paintball. Using hay bales, old barrels and pallets, the boys first set up a five-acre course that was segregated from other farm activities. Foster purchased a start-up kit of paintball equipment (guns, paintballs, masks) for about $1,500, rented CO2 tanks from a local supplier, and purchased special liability insurance. Next, an old Army tent was set up for equipment rental. Today, this is the most profitable part of business, and it is operated primarily by his teenage sons. Their paintball customers come to the course for parties, company picnics, and church youth group activities. A common misconception Foster hears is that paintball is dangerous. However, no accidents have occurred since the course opened in 1997. The busiest season on the paintball course is December through March, when there are few other customers at the retail farm market. Foster has other ideas as well. He thinks a farm that has a corn maze could turn it into a paintball course when the maze is done. This diversification has certainly fit into his business.
Honeycrisp problems & solutionsHoneycrisp is still a relatively new apple cultivar that has received widespread interest among growers and consumers. This cultivar has a unique flavor and an extremely crisp texture that is retained for up to nine months in common cold storage. While Honeycrisp has been a profitable cultivar throughout northern fruit-producing regions in the United States, it is not always grown easily. Honeycrisp trees are resistant, but not immune, to apple scab infections. They are also susceptible to powdery mildew and frogeye leaf spot. They are moderately susceptible to cedar-apple rust. While these diseases can be problematic, they can be controlled with a good spray program.
The most notable problem with Honeycrisp is that more than 50% of the fruit harvested from young plantings develops bitter pit before harvest or during storage. While bitter pit is common in young, lightly cropped apple trees, this physiological disorder is still problematic in Honeycrisp trees after 4 or 5 years of regular cropping. Typically applying calcium in foliar sprays during summer reduces bitter pit. However, results with calcium applications on Honeycrisp have been variable. Calcium sprays can also be phytotoxic to apple foliage when applied at high concentrations and high temperatures. In some earlier studies, trifloxystrobin (Flint® fungicide) reduced the incidence of bitter pit in Idared, Stayman and Delicious fruit when applied in eight cover sprays in New York. Harpin protein (Messenger®) has also been marketed as a product to enhance growth, fruit development and nutrient uptake in various plants.
Recently Cornell University researchers conducted experiments to minimize Honeycrisp fruit losses due to bitter pit. They applied calcium chloride (CorClear®), trifloxystrobin, sodium borate (Solubor®), or harpin protein alone or in various combinations. Based on the results of this study, calcium chloride was the only compound that consistently reduced bitter pit. Researchers recommend at least six applications of calcium chloride per season with a seasonal total of at least 3 lb/acre of elemental calcium on Honeycrisp trees that can be sprayed to drip with 100 gallons/acre of spray solution. For larger trees that require more than 100 gallons/acre for complete coverage with a dilute spray, calcium application rates may need to be increased proportionately.
Avoiding drift with buffersEarlier this year a federal judge ruled that a 60 feet no-spray buffer zone will be required for a number of pesticides when applied by field equipment near streams and rivers where salmon are found in Washington. The no-spray buffer zone for aerial applications will be 200 feet. This ruling will be in effect until the Environmental Protection Agency determines that the pesticides have no effect or do not harm salmon. The insecticides subject to the buffer zone ruling include Guthion, Lorsban, Dimethoate, Imidan, Sevin, Diazinon, Vendex and Malathion. Fungicides included in the ruling are Captan, Bravo and Roval. Herbicides subject to this are Gramoxone, 2,4-D, Casoron, Karmex, Prowl, Solicam, Surflan, Princep and Sinbar.
While this ruling is controversial because chemical compounds differ in their toxicological and biochemical properties, growers everywhere have a responsibility to avoid spray drift and keep pesticides on targeted areas. Best management practices to minimize drift include the following:
In Missouri, the most reliable native tree to plant in a barrier row is shortleaf pine. Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) trees are available from the Department of Conservation State Nursery at Licking. Scotch pine should be avoided because of its susceptibility to nematodes. White pine is subject to environmental stresses and performs poorly on droughty or wet soils. University of Missouri horticulturist Chris Starbuck is evaluating selections of hardy loblolly pine and hybrids of pitch and loblolly pine for adaptability in Missouri at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin. He believes that these types of pines may be promising in providing a barrier to drift and in producing a profitable crop of pine straw that is sold as a landscape mulch. If you are interested in trying some hybrid pitch and loblolly pine trees contact Dr. Starbuck at email@example.com or 573-882-9630.
Blue replaces red winesRecently there has been renewed interest in making wines from fruits other than grapes. At Chester Hill Winery in Chester, Massachusetts, their specialty is blueberry wine. Rather than using blueberry as a descriptor of flavor, the wine is made with locally grown blueberries. Because of the cold winter temperatures and late frosts in Massachusetts, vinifera grapes cannot be grown reliably. However, blueberries are suited to this climate and require fewer applications of pesticides than grapes. Blueberries are also naturally high in tannins and acids, which makes them ideal for wine.
At Chester Hill winery, berries are lightly crushed and fermented with red wine yeast. The New Blue wine is made in a nouveau style to accentuate the fruitiness of the wine. For this wine, fruit is picked in July, bottled in October, and marketed for the November and December holidays. New Blue is promoted as a wine that accompanies roast turkey - "An American wine for an American tradition...Thanksgiving!" It is also paired with spicy foods (Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Thai), tomato sauces, grilled dishes and poultry.
Another of the Chester Hill products, their Best Blue wine, is aged in American Oak barrels for three to four months. This dry wine (1% residual sugar) is ready for sale the summer after the fruit is harvested. With its "hints of vanilla and toasted caramel," Sullivan suggests that Best Blue is good with cheeses such as Roquefort or cheddar, red meats, salmon, stews and game. It can also be enjoyed with chocolates.
The third blueberry product is Bay Blue, which is a port-style wine. It is a mixture of one- or two-year-old blueberry wine infused with grape brandy that has been aged in oak (6% residual sugar and 18% alcohol by volume). Bay Blue is marketed as an aperitif or with chocolate desserts, cheesecake or vanilla ice cream.
At the winery, they have wine tastings and sell themed products such as blueberry or grape motif bottle bags and cocktail napkins, cobalt blue bottle stoppers, rapid ice bottle chillers, blueberry-scented candles, blueberry tea, chocolate covered blueberries and wine motif silk ties. Chester Hill Winery also participates in wine and blueberry festivals and wine competitions. They have been featured with Bobby Flay on Food Network and in several travel guides.
Mites, mites and more mites!During recent travels to some of the apple producing regions of the state, I have noticed quite a bit of leaf bronzing due to mite feeding. Several growers report that the level of damage they are seeing is occurring earlier than expected in the season.
A common spider mite in Missouri apple orchards is the European red mite (ERM). Depending on the locality and length of the growing season, there can be 4 to 9 generations of ERM a year. The rate of ERM development is temperature dependent - slower in the spring and fall and more rapid during the hot summer months. The first generation generally requires about three weeks to develop, while summer generations may develop in 10 to 14 days.
Injury is caused by the feeding activity of the immature and adult stages on the foliage. The lower leaf surface is preferred, but under high populations both surfaces are fed upon. The injury results in off-color foliage, which in severe cases becomes bronzed. Heavy mite feeding early in the season (late June and early July) not only can reduce tree growth and yield but also drastically affect fruit bud formation, and thereby reduce yields the following year. Additionally, mite-injured leaves will not respond to growth regulators applied to delay harvest drop.
Mite predators are common in commercial apple plantings and should be protected. But mite populations can also be controlled by thorough and timely acaricide applications. The most effective treatments are those applied after new growth has appeared but before bloom. Seasonal control can often be obtained with a single petroleum oil spray directed against the overwintering eggs or application of an acaricide toxic to the newly hatched forms. Against established populations in the summer, it is often necessary to make two applications 10 to14 days apart. Consult the 2004 Commercial Tree Fruit Spray Guide for a list of recommended miticides.
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