What's HOT in Apple Production and Research

(Updated 13 February 2017)

2017 Tree Fruit Schools
The Patrick-Carroll school will be held on Monday, Feb 13.  The Botetourt-Roanoke school will be held on the morning of Wednesday, Feb 14, starting at 8:00 AM. A recently added fruit school, the Southside school in the lineup again this year, and will be held on the morning of Feb 15.  The Nelson-Albemarle (Central Virginia) school (see Registration) will be held in the late afternoon-evening of that Wednesday, Feb 15, starting at 3:00 PM.  The Madison-Rappahannock school will beheld on Thursday, Feb 16, and the Winchester school will be held on Friday, Feb 17.  Additional details on the agendas will be posted when available.  Click here for Proof of 2017 Spray Bulletin for Commercial Orchards.

Proposed pollinator protection plan

Honey bees have been at greater risk in recent years because of Colony Collapse Disorder, which results from a combination of stress factors.  In order to address this, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a draft plan to protect pollinators from pesticides has been developed.  In preparation for a June meeting in Richmond, grower, extension agent and beekeeper feedback is requested.  The draft plan is linked here.  A web application is mentioned in the text; this DriftWatch site is available here.  Please send your thoughts on this proposed program to Doug Pfeiffer (dgpfeiff at vt.edu) by June 12.  Any comments are appreciated!

2016 Orchard Meetings

Nelson-Albemarle:  Meetings begin at 11:00 AM.  April 5: Crown Orchard. We will be meeting at the Johnson Purvis orchard block which is located just south of the village of Covesville.  DIRECTIONS:  From Charlottesville: Travel on Route 29 south for 15 miles (about 20 minutes). Approximately one mile south of Covesville turn left on Route 632 (Faber Road). From Lynchburg: Travel on Route 29 north. Approximately 1 mile north of the Nelson County line, at the top of the hill, turn right on Route 632 (Faber Road).  The orchard entrance is less than a quarter mile down the road.  Turn left and cross the wooded railway trestle. The orchard is on the other side.  April 19: Silver Creek Orchard.  May 3: Saunders Brothers Orchard.  May 17: Dickie Brothers Orchard.  May 31: Fitzgerald Orchard.

Madison-Rappahannock:  Meetings begin at 11:00 unless otherwise noted.  March 11: Grafting workshop, Madison Extension Office, 10:00-noon.  April 20: Williams Orchard, Tommy and Eddie Williams, Flint Hill Rt. 211 east to Ben Venue.  At the crossroads, turn north on to Rt. 729 and go approximately 2½ miles.  Orchard is on the left.  May 25: Jenkins Orchard, Woodville, From Rt. 231, turn right on to Rt. 621, go about 2 miles.  The orchard is on the left by the packing shedJune 15: Stribling and Hartland Orchards, Robert Stribling and Bill Green, Markham.  From Flint Hill: Rt. 522 N, turn right on Rt. 635, turn N/left on Rt. 688, both orchards are located near the intersection of Rt. 688 and Rt. 55 in Markham.  July 20: Graves Mountain Farm, Jimmy Graves, Syria.  Rt. 231 to Rt. 670, meet at the picnic shelter on left just past Syria.

2016 Revisions to Tree Fruit Spray Guide:

The PDF version is available at from VCE Publications site (http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/456/456-419/456-419.html) and the paper version from the Extension Distribution Center (http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/spraybulletinvegguidestore.html) ($15.00 plus shipping). Tables on apple pest efficacy and toxicity to orchard predators will also be updated in the recommendations for 2015.  An abridged electronic version of the Virginia-West Virginia-Maryland Spray Bulletin for Commercial Tree Fruit Growers is available in the Virginia Fruit Web Page.

2016 Revisions to Home Fruit Spray Guide:

The revised Pest Management Guide for Home Apples is now available.  (The Pest Management Guide is available on-line for free. Hard copies are also available for $14.00 plus shipping).  Order from https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/pmgstore.html. Recommendations for home apple trees are also available in the web page

Brown marmorated stink bug and Virginia fruit:

See StopBMSB.org web site!  A new addition to the stink bug complex is brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål).  Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has recently been introduced from Asia into the northeastern U.S.  It was first detected in 1998 in Allentown, Pennsylvania (see NAPIS map; this map underrepresents the situation in Virginia).  It was later found in New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, and in October 2004 it was found in Montgomery County, Virginia, and in Tennessee in 2008.  Injury in tree fruits can be severe, exceeding 25% (individual blocks have been estimated to have much higher levels of fruit injury).  Externally, fruit may have multiple reddish dents at feeding sites, resembling hail strikes.  Upon cutting into fruit, corky areas are seen in the flesh of the fruit.  In vineyards, a unique problem is posed.  Stink bugs may be harvested along with clusters and be transported to the winery in lugs or bins, where the wine can be imparted with a "stink bug taint".  Research is underway to test short-residual insecticides to knock down BMSB from clusters at harvest.  For further information and images, see the Brown marmorated stink bug page.  A working group on organic management of BMSB has been established, with their own web site.  There is opportunity to participate in grower forums.

New!  The College of Agriculture and Life Science at Virginia Tech has established a new on-line Master's in Agriculture and Life Sciences.   This curriculum has been approved by the State Council of Higher Education and is now accepting applications for Fall semester 2007.  In this program, you can earn a master's degree in agriculture while working in your current job - emphasis is on education for place-bound learners, and all courses are taken on-line.  In addition to a core area, there are courses offered in five areas of concentration: (1) Biosecurity, Bioregulations and Public Health, (2) Education, (3) Environmental Science, (4) Food Safety, and (5) Plant Science and Pest Management.  In addition to course work, the student completes a project decided upon in consultation with your major advisor.  Lists of courses within each concentration may be found in the web site linked above.  This program was recently the subject of an interview by Jeff Ishee with Virginia Public Televsion's Virginia Farming.  For more information, contact Doug Pfeiffer (dgpfeiff at vt.edu) or Sharon Proffitt (sproffit at vt.edu) (see 2008-2009 Extended Campus tuition rates).

Mating disruption and Organic certification:
The National Organic Standards Board has recently amended organic guidelines so that many pheromone dispensers for mating disruption will now be allowed in organically certified orchards.  Most hand-placed dispensers are now considered to emit negligible amounts of inerts, and will be allowed.  Sprayables and puffers will not be allowed.  More information will be posted when available.

Special Pesticide Registrations:

Mating disruption tools:

For several years, researchers at Virginia Tech have been involved in developing mating disruption as a control tactic for codling moth and the leafroller complex, including tufted apple bud moth, variegated leafroller, and redbanded leafrollers. Control of codling moth has been very good, even in processing blocks (where CM control is more critical). Several commercial sources of codling moth mating disruption are now available. Several sources of products for oriental fruit moth are also available, including a sprayable product. Mating disruption for leafrollers is available as a sprayable formulation, but check the label carefully. At present it is only available for leafrollers using (Z) -11-14:Ac as the primary component. Such species include obliquebanded lefroller and redbanded leafroller. The main species in the mid-Atlantic region, tufted apple bud moth and variegated leafroller will not be affected.

Pesticides in the news:

Response to Consumers Union Study, "Do You Know What You're Eating?"
A recent issue (March 1999) of Consumer Reports contains a brief account of the recent study performed by Consumers Union. Although this article ("How Safe is our Produce?") probably will be much more visible to the public than the full accounts, it is really impossible to assess much about it because of its brevity. The claims of the short version are that current laws do not protect children from consuming dangerous amounts of pesticides, that such consumption is fairly common, and that one pesticide in particular, methyl parathion, is a major contributor to the problem of residues danger. The shortcomings are not readily apparent until the full account, entitled "Do You Know What You're Eating?" is examined. For a fuller account of this article, and a response, click here.
Other stories deal recently from the Consumer Reports issue: (Fruit Growers News link). On Thursday, Feb. 25, the U.S. Apple Assoc. held a press conference to address this issue. This release followed a statement by the Environmental Working Group that maintained that children are at risk from eating apples and peaches, and recommended parental choices away from these fruits. The Apple Association response provides a more balanced treatment of this emotional issue.

This is the latest is a series of developments relating to pesticides, starting with FQPA (see below). There have been two documents recently from Consumers Union, Worst First ( html and PDF) and Do You Know What You're Eating? (html and PDF) (PDF files require Adobe Acrobat to download). A basic premise of Worst First is that the most hazardous uses are already declining and alternatives to these materials are already available or nearly so (therefore there should be no opposition to loss of these materials through FQPA). The report contains many oversimplifications however, and alternatives are actually not as ready as portrayed.

One area of risk that has been attributed to certain pesticides is estrogen disruption. This has been one cateogry to have been addressed by FQPA. However, an early report of this effect, published in the journal Science, has been retracted. How this retraction affects the public debate is yet to be seen. The "risk" is still claimed in discussions on the web and elsewhere.

A series of pesticide profiles are currently under development for Virginia apples.

The fire blight/insect connection:

White apple leafhopper has been accused in recent years of facilitating infection by fire blight bacteria, Erwinia amylovora. Researchers at Virginia Tech ( Dept. of Entomology and Winchester Fruit Lab) and Mary Washington College recently completed a cooperative research project to determine the actual threat posed by WALH. None of the trials showed any evidence for involvement by white apple leafhopper. This mesophyll feeder feeds on different tissue than that normally most vulnerable to infection by Erwinia amylovora. On the other hand, potato leafhopper sometimes caused a significant increase in fire blight infection as it fed on vascular tissue in succulent shoot tips.

Apple Maggot and Exports to Brazil:

A protocol to manage apple maggot that will allow Virginia growers to export apples to Brazil was recently approved. As modified from earlier versions, it seems to be a usable protocol. Several options are available, at the grower's discretion. One involves the use of regional trapping. This approach uses traps in an apple region; sprays in the whole region start when the first fly is captured. The second approach uses site-specific trapping (traps at a specific orchard). Both of these approaches call for traps to be in place before first fly activity. The third option uses degree day accumulation. If growers can provide daily max and min temperatures, the expected fly emergence can be determined, and correlated with spray records. First adult emergence is expected 900 degree-days above 50 F. Contact Doug Pfeiffer at (540) 231-4183 for help.

Other states:

  • West Virginia Orchard Newsletter, discussing events in West Virginia and northern Virginia

  • Archived Fruit Schools: 

    2016 Tree Fruit Schools
    The Patrick-Carroll school will be held on Monday, Feb 8.  The Botetourt-Roanoke school will be held on the morning of Wednesday, Feb 9, starting at 8:00 AM. A new fruit school, the Southside school (brochure and agenda) in the lineup this year, and will be held this year, morning of Feb 10.  The Nelson-Albemarle (Central Virginia) school will be held in the late afternoon-evening of that Wednesday, Feb 10, starting at 3:00 PM.  The Madison-Rappahannock school will beheld on Thursday, Feb 11, and the Winchester school will be held on Friday, Feb 12.  Additional details on the agendas will be posted when available.

     The agendas of the 2015 fruit schools are linked here:  The Patrick-Carroll school (Mt. Airy) was held on Tuesday, Feb 10.  The Botetourt-Roanoke school was held on the morning of Wednesday, Feb 11, starting at 8:00 AM.  The Nelson-Albemarle (Central Virginia) school was held in the late afternoon-evening of that Wednesday, starting at 4:00 PM.  The Madison-Rappahannock school was held on Thursday, Feb 12, and the Winchester school was held on Friday, Feb 13.

    Fruit Times newsletter from Penn State.