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A look into Crop Consulting

After working for Crop Production Services this summer and seeing the type of work they do I would be pleased to find a position with this company after I graduate. I would like to dedicate a blog to describing what it is exactly I do for my internship with this company and what role I would hope to play if I was hired upon graduation.

Most of my time is spent looking at my traps that I have hung in trees and counting how many of each key species are present. I do this to mark when the newest of generation are hatching to inform the farmers when they should apply their next tank of spray for these internal worms. A second use of my traps counts are to find commonalities among farms that are close to see high pressure areas that may need a more frequent sprays than other areas where the pressure is not so high.  When I am not checking traps I am helping to deliver chemicals to farmers so they can get their orders on same day or next day delivery. I also attend grower tours, which are led by Cornell or CPS. I find these tours extremely useful because they are demonstrations of in the field experiments comparing the leading products and how they affect the crop. The top two demonstrations I have seen have been done with Apple Scab products and weed spray chemicals. Both of these trials had 8 reps and showed how farmers can expect their product to work in varying conditions. These tours are very informative and help others and I gather first hand experience.  Those are my duties as an intern for the summer, traps, deliveries and to learn as much as possible.









If I were fortunate enough to get a job with CPS, my roles would be more intense. The position I would apply for would be a crop consultant. A crop consultant’s foremost job is to scout farms and look for all different  pests of the crops. Upon conclusion of scouting I would meet with the farmer and show him what the pest looks like and where it is located on his farm. Then we would discuss his spray options and what would be best for him. Things to consider before making a recommendation for the farmer to spray include, what kind of rig is present, how bad the pest is, cost of the pesticide, and what chemicals the farmer already has in his barn.  Whatever material (chemical) is chosen then is written down and the order is called into the warehouse so it can be delivered the next day. Very often the consultants also have to help hook up some spray rigs and calibrate them for the farmer if they do not know how. As one can see, consultants and farmers are in close contact and in most cases become good friends. I personally love this kind of service, working hand in hand with the farmers. In the winter after the growing season is complete the job becomes more “business like”. Meetings every winter are held in Virginia, and Greenly Colorado to recap the season and how the company preformed. This is also the time when consultants will fly to meet with chemical company representatives to learn about new products for the up coming year and to discuss pricing. I love both aspects of this job and hope to have made a lasting impression with this internship to improve my odds of becoming a consultant for CPS in the future.

Cornell Cooperative Extension Tour

This past week I went to a Cornell Cooperative Extension grower tour. The tour consisted of 5 stops and a lunch break at noon. I would like to talk about my favorite 2 stops on the tour that I found most informative. The first stop was a very important update on fire blight. This bacterial infection gets into the trees via new shoots, blossoms, or any part of the tree that has a open wound. Once inside, the infection will take about two to three years to completely kill the tree. The first year of the infection there are minimal signs, however, at the start of the second year the most obvious sign is known as a shepherds hook. With the hook, one can see that the branch also has a burnt appearance to it, hence the name fire blight. Once at this stage the Cornell Extension agent said that you have to cut it out of the tree completely. It is advised to make the cut 6-10 inches below the last sight of the burnt color and then remove that limb from the entire orchard. The main point of this lecture was to tell farmers that if they see this blight AND they sprayed the recommended application of Streptomycin that they need to call an extension agent to have the blight tested for resistance. This is a major concern for famers due to the fact that Streptomycin is the best available spray for fire blight and if resistance starts to build, then it will have to be taken off the market. In the conclusion of this stop, I learned that there have been two cases of resistance and they have been quarantined. However, everyone in the area of Wayne, Monroe, and Ontario County needs to be on the look out.

The second stop was to look at and discuss the impacts of a wind machine on certain locations of a farm. This particular wind machine cost about $35,000 and was propane-powered. In the picture it is hard to see, but the wind machine is placed on a small ridge in the bottom of a valley. This is a great location because cold air will settle in the valley and in the spring, the frost will kill all of the apples. I talked to the farmer that owns this machine and discussed specifics. Looking at the location of this block and the spring we had, there shouldn’t have been a single apple on any tree, however there was about 70% of a crop present. The farmer said the wind machine will move cold air out and protect up to 15 acres of land, however, he was using it for only about 10 acres because that’s how big the valley is. He also shared that he ran it about 7 times this spring for roughly 4 hours each time and that it costs around 30-40 dollars an hour to run depending on how fast you need the blades to rotate. After looking over some more numbers with him we both came to the conclusion that machine paid for itself this spring alone because he saved a crop that is worth around $45,000.

Those two stops were the best in my mind because they seemed to give the most up-to-date information on ways to stay ahead of two major crop killers–fire blight and frost damage.

Apple Farming in Wayne County

As many people know, the area of Wayne County was hit with a very hard freeze this spring and area farmers are continuing to see the effects. While I have been working for CPS this summer, I have had everyone from customers to passersby ask me questions about the effects of the frost. My response is always the same, “it varies a lot and farmers are dealing with it by doing different things.” For this blog, I am going to elaborate on this answer.

When I say the crop amount varies, I don’t just mean town by town or farm by farm. It literally varies block by block. I took two pictures of trees today from not only the same farm, but the same block. The first tree has a full crop of apples and is in good shape due to location. The second tree doesn’t have a single apple because it was on the side of a hill. In this particular block, there is a hill and only the top three rows have apples. Below, the rows have a decreasing load, until about the 10th row, and from there down there are no apples.

Some farmers had a wind machine (pictured below) that pushes cold air up in hopes that warmer air will take its place. These are proven to help reduce the effect of inversion layers. These machines are not overly popular because of their sticker price. They can cost $25,000 to $40,00 a piece and about $300 dollars each day one is on.


After talking to the majority of the farmers in the area, as well as several consultants, the general consensus is that there is only about 30% of an apple crop for the region, as a whole. Some farmers lost everything this year, and petitioned to receive retroactive insurance for crops like cherries, peaches, and pears. If this bill passes, farmers could purchase insurance now and still claim this year’s loss. The plan would only pay out up to 60% revenue, but this is a lot better than the current total loss.  This would greatly help the area to get through 2012 and at least make it to 2013.

Without a crop, farmers are taking this time to complete major farm projects. Several farmers are taking out old trees and replacing them with high-demand varieties. Pictured is an example where the farmer removed and piled 10 acres of trees.

This farmer is also putting up a large cold storage unit that could cost well over a million dollars and is easily larger than a football field. It’s really impressive.

Internship with Crop Production Services

This summer I have an internship with Crop Production Services. My role for CPS is to check traps on roughly 50 farms in the area and look for some key insects that can be really detrimental to the crop. All of the pests I look for are categorized as internal worms. They are Coddling Moth, Oriental Fruit Month, Lesser Apple Worm and Oblate Banded Leafroller. I took some pictures of how I trap them and what some of the pest looks like.

This picture shows a couple good things that demonstrate exactly what I do. In the center of the picture there are two insects and a red cap. This upper insect is  just a fly but I included it in the photo to give a reference for size. Another size reference is the green squares. Each square is 1.5 in X 1.5 in. The bottom insect is the Oriental Fruit Moth. This moth is a dark brown/grey with a darker grey diamond on their back. I see these moths in almost every trap I check, however, they are not a problem to the farmer till they exceed the threshold level. The threshold level varies for each insect and the OFM threshold limit is thirty. I check half the traps every Wednesday and the other half every Friday. This keeps the time interval in between checks the same every week. The past two weeks the counts have been really low because they are in between cycles. The second generation of these moths should take flight in about two weeks from now. When that happens I will upload a picture with a really high pest pressure. The last object in this picture is the pheromone caps. These caps are roughly 1 in long and are infused with a sex pheromone that attracts the OFM towards the traps.These caps are good for about two months of trapping then need to be changed to ensure accurate counts. Once the moth is inside the trap it doesn’t leave because the entire inside of the trap is encased with a sticky goo called tangle foot. This is the worst part of my job. This goo gets on your hands and then gets on everything you touch.  Next week I will take photos of the Coddling Moth and discuss some ways farmers keep pest pressure low after I give them their trap counts.

This picture shows the trap from the outside. The traps are made by a company called Trece and have the tangle foot goo on all three sides of the trap.

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