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New Tool Gives Apple Farms Hope in Fight Against Spring Freezes

By Blaine Friedlander, reposted from CALS news [2017-02-24]

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

Apple blossoms killed by a spring frost in 2012, after a long stretch of warm days. Photo by Gregory M. Peck/Provided.

This February’s warm weather is nice in the Northeast, but apple farmers may pay a price if winter roars back. To help growers assess precarious temperatures in turbulent springs, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has developed a new Apple Freeze Risk decision tool.

“I think the warm weather we’re seeing this week may push the apple trees into vulnerable stages,” said Art DeGaetano, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and director of Cornell’s Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Apples are an important cog in New York’s agriculture industry, which produces over 29 million bushels of apples annually, employing over 10,000 people directly and 7,500 indirectly.

Apple trees need dormancy and cold weather so that springtime buds develop properly. When early spring temperatures rise consistently above the low 40 degree mark, the trees get ready to bud, said DeGaetano.

Through their phenological stages in warming weather, the apple trees develop silver tips, green tips, and then bloom.

“They become less and less tolerant of cold, and if a freeze hits after a warm spell, that’s when apple producers begin to see bud damage – and that takes an economic toll,” said DeGaetano, who with Rick Moore, research support specialist, built the new risk-assessment tool. Development of the tool was made possible thanks to Federal Capacity Funds and funding from the New World Foundation.

The Apple Freeze Risk tool shows minimum temperatures for the most recent 30 days, provides a 6-day temperature forecast, and shows the current stage of development in tree varieties. Apple trees are currently dormant, and only a sustained period of 25 below zero temperatures can damage this season’s crop. But as days warm, the buds’ tolerance for freezing lessens.

“The benefit of this tool is that a farmer can access information about a specific location anywhere in the Northeast, and can get detail to within a 2.5-mile grid of their orchard,” said Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. The institute established the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) program, which is developing tools to support individualized, real-time, and data-driven management, through what’s known as “Digital Agriculture.”

“With climate change already occurring, our winters are getting warmer, and farmers are asking us for specific tools and information about what they can do to reduce the risks on their farm, including from freezes,” Chatrchyan said. “The apple tool was built based on stakeholder input, and with the help of our NYS CSF Extension Team, which is training farmers about climate risk and adaptation.”

One likely user of this new tool will be Mark Doyle, manager of Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, New York, which grows apples, peaches, nectarines, currants, and cherries. He is concerned about early warm weather and freezing weather afterward, as he examines factors such as temperature inversions (warm air above cold air) and whether to employ either mechanical or thermal methods to heat the orchard on frigid nights.

Said Doyle: “Along with other factors, I will be looking at this tool to understand the weather situation in front of me and the freeze risk facing our apple trees.”

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

High tunnels, low tunnels, protected culture – Workshops!

Protected Culture WORKSHOPS for Berry Growers!  Three workshops will be held—in Portland, NY on December 14th; in Syracuse, NY on January 17; and in Riverhead, NY on March 7. Yes, we’re spreading the word on protected culture – high tunnels, low tunnels, and everything in between – with these workshops in Western NY, Central NY, and Long Island.

As dramatic weather events increase, pest pressure intensifies, and local markets vitalize, New York berry growers need ways to protect their crop and lengthen their season. Growers, educators and researchers are testing techniques for growing berries under cover and the current state of knowledge on protected culture will be shared with those attending these Workshops sponsored by the New York State Berry Growers Association (NYSBGA).

Plan now to attend one of these three regional workshops to learn more about these innovations in berry growing. These day-long workshops will feature multiple short presentations, hands-on activities, and reports from researchers, educators, and growers. Many New York State growers who are experimenting with growing under cover are having great successes and want to share those with you!  Just one testimonial on the benefits of protected culture …I was able to supply my CSA members with strawberries right through the end of October.

Register soon! Registration for the Protected Culture Workshops is open! Download the NYSBGA Workshop Registration Form( Registration Form.pdf) from the NYSBGA website, fill it out and return it ASAP—don’t miss out on the Western NY workshop, which is December 14th!  Workshop registration is $25 per person for NYSBGA Members, and $50 per person for Non-Members, which includes lunch and take-home materials.

The Portland, NY Workshop Program is packed with information, as the other two workshops will be, as well:

  • strawberry cultivars for low tunnels
  • choosing and recycling tunnel plastic
  • using tools to predict weather events
  • disease and insect management
  • growing raspberries in high tunnels
  • using exclusion netting to protect against SWD
  • hands-on activities
  • a take-home resource guide and supplies

Look for DEC pesticide applicator re-certification credits in categories 1A, 22, 23 and 10.

Participants can save on workshop registration by joining the NYSBGA. 2017 Membership is $125 and applies to two individuals per farm.  Associate Membership is $75 for non-profit agricultural professionals. Business members can join for $250 and receive two advertisements in the NYSBGA newsletter, which reaches berry growers throughout the state and online.

NYSBGA Workshop dates and locations:

December 14, 2016:
CLEREL (Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab)
6592 West Main Road, Portland, NY, 14769
Register by December 7th — Late registrations are being accepted

January 17, 2017:
Oncenter Convention Center Syracuse, NY during the EXPO
Register for this workshop via the Empire State Producers EXPO at

March 7, 2017:
Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk County Extension Education Center
423 Griffing Avenue, Suite 100, Riverhead, New York 11901-3071
Register by February 28th

The workshops are sponsored by the NYS Berry Growers Association, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with funding support from the NYS Legislature.

For more Workshop details
Contact: Cara Fraver, NYSBGA
(646) 284-7762

Register now for Cornell Fruit Field Day, July 20, Geneva, N.Y.

fruit compositePre-registration deadline is July 15 @ noon. Walk-in registrations will not be available, you must pre-register. Register now.

fruit compositeRepost from June 24. From Art Agnello, Dept. of Entomology, NYSAES:

Mark your calendars for the Cornell Fruit Field Day, to be held in Geneva on Wednesday, July 20.  The 2016 version of this triennial event will feature ongoing research in berries, hops, grapes, and tree fruit, and is being organized by Cornell University, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, CALS Fruit Program Work Team and Cornell Cooperative Extension.  All interested persons are invited to learn about the fruit research under way at Cornell University.  Attendees will be able to select from tours of different fruit commodities.  Details of the program presentations are still being finalized, but the event will feature a number of topics, including:


  • Spotted wing drosophila research update in berry crops
  • Hummingbird use, monitoring network
  • Use of exclusion netting for managing spotted wing drosophila in fall raspberries
  • Monitoring spotted wing drosophila for management decisions in summer raspberry and blueberry
  • Behavioral control of spotted wing drosophila using repellents and attract & kill stations
  • Effect of habitat diversity on ecosystem services for strawberries
  • High tunnel production of black and red raspberries
  • Day-neutral strawberries/low tunnel production

 Tree Fruits

  • Apple breeding and genetic studies
  • Research updates on fire blight, apple scab, mildew
  • Bitter pit in Honeycrisp
  • 3D camera canopy imaging
  • Ambrosia beetle management trials
  • Malus selections for potential use in cider production
  • Precision spraying in orchards
  • Role of insects in spreading fire blight in apples
  • Bacterial canker of sweet cherries
  • Rootstocks & training systems for sweet cherry
  • NC-140 rootstock trials on Honeycrisp and Snap Dragon
  • Pear rootstocks & training systems

 Grapes & Hops

  • Sour rot of grapes
  • VitisGen grape breeding project
  • Precision spraying in grapes
  • Managing the spread of leafroll virus in Vinifera grape using insecticides and vine removal
  • Early leaf removal on Riesling
  • Overview of NYSAES hops planting
  • Powdery and downy mildew management in hops
  • Hops weed mgt; mite biocontrol
  • Update on malting barley research


  • FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Field Day details

The event will take place at the NYSAES Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm South, 1097 County Road No. 4, 1 mile west of Pre-emption Rd. in Geneva, NY.

Arrive at 8:00 AM to get settled in. Tours begin promptly at 8:30 AM and are scheduled in the morning from 8:30 to 11:30 and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00. Lunch will be served at the exhibit tent area between 11:30-12:30.

Visit sponsors anytime from 11:30-1:30

Learn about products and services from:

  • Agro Liquid
  • Arysta Life Science
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Dupont
  • Farm Credit East, ACA
  • Finger Lakes Trellis Supply
  • LaGasse Works, Inc.
  • Lakeview Vineyard Equipment
  • NY Apple Sales
  • OESCO, Inc
  • Red Jacket Orchards
  • Superior Wind Machine Service
  • Valent USA Corp.
  • Wafler Farms
  • Tastings from War Horse Brewing

To participate as a sponsor, see the registration website or contact Shelly Cowles (315-787-2274;

Register now!

Admission fee is $50/person ($40 for additional attendees from the same farm or business), which covers tours, lunch and educational materials. Pre-registration is required. Walk-in registration may be available for a $10 surcharge on the day of the event.  Register on the Cornell Fruit Field Day Event registration page,

Regional Small Fruit School, October 27, Bath, N.Y.

Regional Small Fruit School
Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 9:00am to 3:00pm
Bath Civil Defense Building, 7220 State Rte 54, Bath NY 14810

The full day program will include topics on: differentiating disease in berry crops, insect pests of strawberry, raspberry, and blueberries, soil health as a tool for berry nutrition, strawberry and raspberry varieties, blueberry pruning, and managing diseases and insects in small fruit plantings.

We have a top notch lineup of Cornell University faculty: Dr. Marvin Pritts, Chair of Horticulture, Dr. Kerik Cox, Plant Pathology/Microbe-Biology, Dr. Greg Loeb, Entomology, and Dr. Courtney Weber, Professor of Horticulture. Sign up soon to be a part of this great program.

DEC credits have been applied for in categories 1a, 10, and 22.

The program will give you an opportunity to ask questions about your operation and to learn the newest research being done in the field. The fee of $25.00 will include your lunch and all materials. Please contact Colleen Cavagna to sign-up: or 585-268-7644 ext 12. Pre-registration is required by Oct. 19th, 2015. No refunds for cancellations: although substitutions are allowed.

Hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Allegany and Steuben County in conjunction with Cornell University faculty.


  • Differentiating Disease in Berry Crops – Kerik Cox –Differentiating disease from other issues and highlighting reoccurring disease challenges that small fruit growers face yearly.
  • Top Three Insect Pests for Strawberry, Raspberry and Blueberry – Greg Loeb
  • Soil Health as a Tool for Berry Nutrition – Marvin Pritts – Why are we talking about soil health instead of just regular soil tests? Physical and biological factors in the soil contribute significantly to healthy plants and good productivity.
  • Strawberry and Raspberry Varieties – Courtney Weber – Research based recommendations based on suitability in our New York State climate.
  • Blueberry Pruning – Marvin Pritts – Principles of pruning: when, what, how, and why. Learn how to prune blueberries of any age for the most optimal production.
  • Managing Diseases in Small Fruit Plantings – Kerik Cox – Standard management practices for common and uncommon small fruit diseases and selecting chemical management tools.
  • Managing Insects – Greg Loeb – Practices to reduce pest pressure in small fruit plantings.

Tour USDA apple and grape collections in Geneva Sept. 23 and 26

apples, USDA-ARS photo

USDA-ARS photo

From Thomas Chao and Gan-Yuan Zhong, USDA-ARS  Plant Genetic Resources Unit, Geneva, N.Y.

The Plant Genetic Resources Unit of USDA-ARS at Geneva, NY is excited to announce two public germplasm tours of the USDA-ARS clonal Apple and Grape collections on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, and Saturday, September 26, 2015.

Tours will be conducted at the McCarthy Farm, located on 2865 County Road 6 (Pre-emption road) in the town of Geneva (across from the St. Mary Cemetery). Both tours will start at 9:00 am. Please park your car on the gravel parking area near the equipment barn once you enter the McCarthy Farm.

The Wednesday tour (September 23rd, 2015) will feature the world renowned apple (Malus spp.) collection. The total tour is expected to take up to 2.5 hours and will be conducted as a walking tour through the orchard grounds. This year will be the last chance to see the wild Malus sieversii seedling block from Kazakhstan, also known as the “Botany of Desire Wild Apple” block. While these trees are important to the USDA’s mission to preserve important apple germplasm, this block of seedlings must be removed by the end of 2015 to make room for future evaluation and selection of wild collected material from North America and elsewhere.

The Saturday tour (September 26th, 2015) will be a combined tour to see and taste the apple collection and also to tour the USDA-ARS cold hardy grapevine germplasm (Vitis spp.) The cold hardy grapevine germplasm is an important resource of wild North American grapevine species. These species play an integral role in the development of many of the hybrid grapevine varieties grown in the Finger Lakes wine region and also across the Midwest and Northeast. As this tour includes both the apple and grape germplasms, it is expected to take about 4 hours to complete (9 am to 11:30 am for apple and 11:30 am to 12:30 pm for grape).

Because the orchard and vineyard are planted on gently rolling ground, please note that uneven footing is possible and appropriate footwear is recommended. We request that all minors must be accompanied by an adult and all visitors should be responsible for their own safety. It is recommended that all visitors bring along appropriate sunscreen, bug spray, hats, and water bottles in order to enjoy the germplasm fully. Rustic restroom facilities (porta-potties) will be available. We will provide the tours rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather.

If you have any questions regarding the tours, please don’t hesitate to contact me through email:

Extending Local Strawberry Production Using Low Tunnel Technology programs in August and September

Tuesday, August 25th, 2:00-4:00pm
Green Acre & West Wind Fruit Farm
930 Manitou Rd.
Hilton, NY 14612
Monroe County

Friday, September 11th, 2:00-4:00pm
Terry’s Berry Farm
284 Church St
Barton NY 13734
Tioga County

Thursday, September 16th, 3:00-5:00pm
Feura Farm
210 Onesquethaw Creek Road
Feura Bush NY 12067
Albany County

More information.

Limiting Bird Damage in Fruit program August 19

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Saratoga County, 50 W. High St.,
Ballston Spa, NY 12020

8:30 AM-4:00 PM
Lunch included

Gain comprehensive knowledge about successful bird management strategies in susceptible fruit crops, including sweet and tart cherry, blueberry, ‘Honeycrisp’ apples and wine grapes.

In the morning learn which bird species damage fruit, economic losses from birds to fruit, consumer preference for management tactics (e.g. kestrel nesting boxes), NY grower survey, tactics for deer management, regulations & permitting for wildlife control, landscape factors that place fruit at risk, and bird mitigation strategies. Morning session available via WebEx webinar.

In the afternoon enjoy on-farm field demonstrations of scare tactics such as falconry, air dancers and exchange insights through discussions of tactics being used on your farms.

DEC credits available:
Category 10 — 2.5
Category 1A — 2.5
Category 22 — 2.5

Advanced registration required!
Register by Wednesday, August 12
Workshop limited to 30 attendees
Registration fee $10

More info.

State Agriculture Commissioner Highlights New York State’s Blueberry Season

NYSDAM press release:

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced it is peak blueberry season in New York State and encouraged New Yorkers to support the state’s increasing number of growers.  The New York State Berry Growers Association estimates that there are more blueberry plantings in New York than ever before as a result of several factors. From the demonstrated health benefits of eating blueberries and increased consumer demand for locally grown berries to New York’s climate, excellent soils, and ample water supplies, the Growers Association is seeing more people making the long-term investment necessary to bring a planting of blueberries into production.

“Blueberry season may be a short season but it is a very productive season and I couldn’t be happier for our growers who continue to rank well in production year after year,” said Commissioner Ball. “I encourage all New Yorkers to support their growers this season which is as easy as stopping by your local farmers’ market or pick-your-own farm.”

New York growers plant over 40 different varieties of blueberries across the state to provide the delicious fruit for New York consumers for as long a period as possible.  From “Duke” and “Patriot” varieties that can be harvested in early July to “Bonus” and “Elliott” that can be harvested into the middle of September, New York consumers can find local blueberries for about ten weeks.  Peak season is late-July into early August.

Blueberry bushes take about eight years to become fully productive.  In 2014, 700 acres of blueberries were harvested across the state.  While approximately the same acreage is expected to be harvested in 2015, more of that acreage should be approaching full production, resulting in more supply to New York consumers.

Dale-Ila Riggs, President of the New York State Berry Growers Association said, “Many New York State blueberry growers have a bountiful crop this year.  The summer weather and frequent rains have made the berries plump and sweet.  The season is always short so make sure you don’t miss out on the season and visit a local berry grower soon!”

New York State was the 11th largest blueberry producer in the nation in 2014.  Growers harvested 1.6 million pounds of blueberries last year and produced a crop worth $2.8 million.

New York State grown blueberries are now available at select grocery stores, farm stands, farmers’ markets and pick-your own farms across the state.  A map of farmers’ markets across New York State, many of which offer fresh, local blueberries, can be found here or by county here.

Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to prepare and serve for consumers. When preparing blueberries there is no peeling, pitting, coring or cutting involved.  Blueberries can be eaten fresh out of hand and go well with other New York produced fruits in a fruit salad or with New York yogurt.  They are also making an appearance in New York’s beverage industry—now used in products such as Blueberry Wine made at Blue Sky Farm and Winery in Delaware Countyand Nine Pin Ciderworks’ Blueberry cider made with blueberries harvested at Indian Ladder Farms in Albany County.

Blueberries are not only delicious but they provide a variety of health benefits. The fruit is reported to have one of the highest antioxidant contents among all fruits and vegetables. They are also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese, and have been found to maintain healthy bones, lower blood pressure and manage diabetes.

Many blueberry growers proudly use the Pride of NY label on their products.  To join the Pride of NY program, please

The Pride of NY website also lists harvest times and availability of fresh New York produce, depending on the

Blueberry Variety Review Field Day July 21, Schuylerville, NY

July 21, 2015
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Schuylerville, NY
Byron Winney has one of the largest plantings of blueberries in the state. Look at and taste more than a dozen different varieties and learn about winter hardiness, plant form, fruiting characteristics, plant longevity and pest tolerance first hand. There is no charge for this workshop, but please help us plan and register by calling Marcie at 518-272-4210. If you have questions, give Laura a call at 518-791-5038. The workshop is a rain or shine event.


Limiting Bird Damage in Fruit: State-of-the-Art Pest Management Tactics

Date:               August 19, 2015

Location:         4H Training Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, Ballston Spa, NY


Morning Session- Ballston Spa CCE 4-H Center – Juliet Carroll moderator

8:30 – 8:50

(20 min)

Register, collect handouts, sign up for DEC credits
8:50 – 9:00

(10 min)

Welcome, introductions, announcements

Juliet Carroll, NYS IPM Program

9:00 – 9:20

(20 min)

Bird species most responsible for damaging fruit crops

Paul Curtis, Dept of Natural Resources

9:20 – 9:35

(15 min)

Birds in fruit crops: economic and consumer aspects of deterrence

Catherine Lindell, Dept of Zoology, Michigan State Univ

9:35 – 9:50

(15 min)

Grower perspectives of bird damage in fruit crops

William Seimer, Dept of Natural Resources

9:50 – 10:00

(10 min)

10:00 – 10:30

(30 min)

Tactics for managing deer in fruit

Paul Curtis

10:30 – 10:50

(20 min)

Wildlife management: bird resources, regulations and permitting

Ken Preusser, USDA Wildlife Services

10:50 – 11:30

(40 min)

Risk factors for bird damage in fruit and mitigation strategies

Catherine Lindell, Dept of Zoology, Michigan State Univ

11:30 – 12:00

(30 min)

Scare devices investigated in fruit plantings in New York

Heidi Henrichs or Paul Curtis

12:00 End morning session


12:00 – Lunch, provided


Afternoon Session- Farm Demonstrations

12:30 – Travel to field demonstration site

1:00 – Arrive at farm

1:05 (10 min) – Welcome, introductions, meet the farmer

1:15 (60 to 90 min) – Falconry demonstration by local falconer

2:30 (30 min) – Air dancer demonstration by Paul Curtis or Heidi Henrichs

3:00 (30 min) – break & grower discussions of current tactics being used and their success

3:30 (30 min) – Tour bird damage practices in use on the farm

4:00 – Adjourn; safe travels home


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